How far should I be casting?

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by PatrickH, Jan 23, 2014.

  1. PatrickH

    PatrickH Active Member

    Aug 14, 2013
    Likes Received:
    Snohomish County Wa
    I have a Okuma Cascade Fly Fishing Combo 5/6 SA Air Cel Trout Weight and was wondering how far should I be able to cast during normal fishing? I'm still learning how to cast and was needing to know if I am casting as far as I should be able to or if I'm falling short.
    When I'm out casting, I feel like I need more rod to get more distance or at least a heavier action rod..
  2. Pat Lat

    Pat Lat Mad Flyentist

    Oct 6, 2012
    Likes Received:
    How do you get to Carnegie hall?...Practice.
    It really depends on what you're fishing for and where, but you can catch fish at any distance, both long and well, not so long. just ask the tenkara guys, they always say they catch a lot of fish and I'm sure you are casting further than any of them.
    Overlining rods to early in your practice to feel the rod better will likely instill bad habits as you dont yet have the muscle memory and feel that you get from repetitive casting with a light rig. At least thats my opinion. So just keep flailing for a while then go take a class somewhere and practice your knot un-tying skills.
    Good luck.
  3. DanielOcean

    DanielOcean Active Member

    Apr 27, 2009
    Likes Received:
    I think the most important question is how long do YOU think you should be casting.
    KevinLS and Michael v.d.Bogert like this.
  4. Michael v.d.Bogert

    Michael v.d.Bogert Active Member

    Oct 24, 2013
    Likes Received:

    Distance is not 'highly' important. After many hours practice you will discover that distance is not the clue to catch fish. Proper presentation skills are the key factors to catch more fish. Also the right taper sizes you need for the fish you looking for are very important.

    Krusty and KevinLS like this.
  5. formerguide

    formerguide Active Member

    Nov 27, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Bonney Lake, WA
    First off, while not overly familiar with the gear you are using, chances are that 1) it's more than adequate while you are learning and 2) if you really get into fly fishing, regardless of your budget you'll likely buy more and better gear down the road.
    Now, here's the real long and short of it (pun fully intended btw...) While there is no "fixed" distance that is key to catching fish, the fact of the matter is that the further you can cast, is simply an indicator of your overall skills as a caster. Or more to the point; I know lots of really good casters. When I say good, I mean that they can place a fly with accuracy, can cast in windy conditions, and have proper line control and mending skills. They can all also cast considerable distances, but that is simply an indication of their overall casting skills, and not the means to an end. Let's look at a few examples of actual on the water situations...

    You fish only small mountain steams with a 7' 3wt. Mostly pocket water dry fly work, and the occasional small pool or meadow section. Obviously, the ability to boom out 100' of line is unnecessary and pointless. Short, accurate casts and the ability to snake your backcast into narrow areas are paramount. However, as you continue to fish such small waters, and improve your line control and overall casting skills and abilities, chances are, you've also increased your distance ability as well, even if it doesn't factor into your on the water needs or situations.

    Now, let's assume you're beach fishing for searun cutthroats (something I've come to love.) Here, the situation is you have fish roaming up and down the beaches, almost always constantly on the move. Most of the fishing is blind casting baitfish or attractor patterns and retrieving them all of the way back in, then repeating the process as you make your way down the beach. The absolute truth of the matter is that the angler who can consistently cast further will catch more fish, it's just a matter of percentages. If the more skilled caster is casting 90' at a time, and the less skilled caster is only casting 45', then 2 things are happening. Obviously, the 90' angler is covering far more water, and is presenting his or her fly to more fish, pure and simple. Additionally, and I think every bit as importantly, this angler is casting less, and their fly is in the water a higher percentage of time. In blind, percentage style fisheries like the above, it absolutely pays to cast further. I used to do a good deal of striper fishing back East, and I was always working on my distance casting. Guys who could cast further than I could were catching more fish, consistently, and it stood to reason that I'd also increase my catch rate with improved distance.

    Finally, let's take a big river with lots of tricky surface current, imagine The Henry's Fork at Harriman's Ranch (also an old favorite of mine.) Lots of water, as wide in spots as a mall parking lot, and the only way to fish it effectively (for the most part) is to wait and target rising fish. Line control, accuracy, skilled mending are the key in this situation. Also, skilled waders who can stalk fish and get close without spooking the large rainbows sipping PMD's (just an example, could be Drakes, flying ants, etc...) well, these anglers are catching more fish consistently. But, there are also going to be examples where a long (think 70' +) accurate cast is needed for a particular fish that won't allow for anything else. Again, while accuracy and presentation are needed, here, there may be the best fish of the day in which you need a hero cast to have a shot.

    When it comes down to it, with overall skill and casting ability comes increased distance. While distance is not necessarily the end-all, it definitely has it's advantages, and no disadvantage to speak of. There are techniques specific to good distance casting tht you can work on basically anywhere you can cast (I cast in my street all of the time) and as others have alluded, it's all about practice.

    Find a good local fly shop and ask about instruction if you're able, or if you ever find yourself headed to a South Sound beach, drop me a PM and maybe I can join you. Also, chicks dig the long cast ;-) ...

  6. if your not hitting the backing on every cast your prolly not getting the fly in the fishes sight.

    but seriously have you hear of "the curse of casting to the far bank"? there is a reason its a curse
    astrofisher and KevinLS like this.
  7. Upton O

    Upton O Blind hog fisherman

    Mar 9, 2009
    Likes Received:
    out of state now
    Home Page:
    Dan obviously knows a thing or two about casting and fishing, great narrative. There are a number of resources around where you can get free or very inexpensive casting lessons from certified casting instructors. These lessons, and casting on the lawn of a local park, really helped me with my casting, not that I'm any good, just better than I was.
  8. silvercreek

    silvercreek Active Member

    May 19, 2012
    Likes Received:
    To add to what Dan said, for every casting situation in moving water, there is an optimum place from which to cast. That location is one which places you closest to the fish without spooking it; AND allows you to make the easiest cast that requires the fewest mends and line manipulations to present the fly.

    In still water, the same principle can apply. However the in that situation, you may have to intercept a cruising fish.

    You goal then is not only cast but reading water, locating fish, and stalking the fish so you can get into position without being detected. When you practice casting, your goal should be not only to become a better caster in terms of distance but also in terms of making in the air mends with your casts and on the water mends.

    Most beginners think only about casting because casting is the most obvious difference between fly fishing and spin or bait casting. But the fact is that a thick fly line with mass allows you to manipulate the fly line in the air during the cast and on the water after the cast. That is also a key difference between the thin line version of fishing and fly fishing.

    Google mending fly line. Here's a couple of articles.
    Nooksack Mac likes this.
  9. jwg

    jwg Active Member

    Aug 22, 2009
    Likes Received:
    West Richland, WA
    First make sure you do have a tapered leader on when practice casting.

    I would guess you will be able to cast,to 30 feet without much skill and top out at about 50-55 feet single handed casting without single or double haul.

    Here is one way to think about it. The line is meant to properly load the rod when 30 feet of line is out. The rod extended horizontally adds 9 feet. Leader adds 7-9 feet. That adds up to 46 - 48 feet.

    The main point is you are not aiming for 70+ foot casts right now, and you can fish many situations with casts of 30 - 50 feet.

    PatrickH likes this.
  10. Drifter

    Drifter Active Member

    Mar 15, 2011
    Likes Received:
    You can balance a cheap rod with a good fly line and cast pretty good. A cheap fly rod with a horrible fly line is, well, horrible! Take your rod and line to a shop and see if it's balanced.

    I helped a guy with his rods once and changed them to a good fly line that matched his old fenwick fiberglass fly rod and turned it into a real winner. He was amazed at the difference and kept mumbling something like =

    plecoptera419 likes this.
  11. Smalma

    Smalma Active Member

    Dec 12, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Marysville, Washington
    Patrick -
    While throwing a pretty line a long distance is a wonderful thing to see let's remember in a fishing situation the goal of fly casting is to deliver our flies to the fish is such a matter that we have a chance to catch one now and then. In the fishing situation the distance we can cast in certainly a handy skill but being able to put the fly where you want it, being able to present the fly without scaring every fish in the immediate area can be equally important.

    An angler that can consistently hit his target with a 30 foot cast with minimal fuss/false casting cast after cast may well catch more trout than an angler that in process of making hundred foot casts spray the line all over the place with lots of false casting and water slapping.

    Here in the PNW there a lots of pretty good fishers that are mediocre casters. My advice to you is by all means try to get some instruction to learn the fundamentals of casting with minimal bad habits but as you develop your skills focus on working a comfortable length of line (whether 30, 50, or 70 feet) that you throw with only a couple false casts, trying to being able to complete the same cast every time and hit a reasonable size target (3 foot circle?). As you become comfortable with that situation you can slowly increase the distance you attempt to achieve and begin adding some variety in the casts you attempt. By focusing on the presentation aspect over the distance part you will find yourself in the fishing game quicker (though of course there will be situations where a few or tens of feet more in your cast would be desirable).

    Remember once you reach the point your are comfortable with a 30 foot cast there are a number of fisheries where you can expect to achieve success - small streams are an example. Try matching your first fishing efforts on those fisheries that match your casting skills. Success will drive you to improve and refine your skills. There are a lot of fish caught in these state where the angler that only requires 50 or 60 foot casts (that ranges from small water trout and pan fish to large stream steelhead to such fringe games as ling cod).

    Finally if you have concerns that your current outfit is not a good fit for your try to try other outfits (either testing at a fly shop - a good shop is your best friend in learning the game - our borrowing a buddy whose casting you respect outfit for a test drive.

    bennysbuddy, Krusty and Kent Lufkin like this.
  12. underachiever

    underachiever members only

    Jun 9, 2012
    Likes Received:
    suburban hell
    Dan pretty much covered the bases about casting and distance. I'd imagine a skilled caster (btw, that's not me) could take your current setup and cast the entire fly line. If you want a new setup then by all means get one, but don't do it to fix casting problems.

    When I first started, one of the big casting breakthroughs came when I started to understand line tapers and how to get the best performance out of them. I couldn't find any specifics about the line that you have but if you peel the entire line off the reel and examine it you should look to see if there's a spot in the line where it transitions from a larger diameter to a smaller one or if it's got a taper on the front and back of the line but mostly the same diameter in the middle.

    If it does transition to a smaller diameter then mark that spot with a marker so you can easily see where that is while casting. To cast any of the line beyond that mark you'll need to shoot it and not have it aerialized as part of your back cast.

    If it's mostly the same diameter in the middle of the line (you have a double taper) then the limiting factor in how much you can aerialize in the backcast is the line speed you can generate.
  13. Olive bugger

    Olive bugger Active Member

    Oct 25, 2009
    Likes Received:
    Woodinville, WA
    The casting aspect has pretty well been covered by those that know.
    But look at it from another angle. Casting is in and of itself, a learned skill. So the suggestion of practice is of paramount importance. Perhaps the instruction of a good fly fisher might help avoid bad habits. I can teach you lots of bad habits, but that probably is not in your best interest.

    BUT, and there is always that ugly but, distance ususally has very little to do with catching fish, and more to do with ego and self satisfaction.
    I know that many fly fishers, myself included, are convinced that that big lunker is just right over there.... outside of my casting range.
    This idea leads to the thought that if I had a bigger rod, and a heaver line, and the wind was right, I could reach that spot.

    Truth be known, a lot of nice size fish have been taken within a few feet of the fisher. Presentation, topography, water temperature, sunlight or lack of, and fish's attitude toward the fly you are offering all have more to do with success than distance.

    A good fisher can pick up any rod and catch fish with it. That said,
    some rods are more fun to fish than others. Some will cast further because of the action of the rod and weight of the line. But most all will take fish under the right conditions. The old adage "EVEN A BLIND HOG WILL FIND AN ACORN SOMETIMES, comes into play here.

    So PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE is good advice.
    Go fishing and enjoy the trip is even better.
    From my barstool, fish are a bonus.
  14. Old Man

    Old Man Just an Old Man

    Jan 1, 2002
    Likes Received:
    Butte, Mt
    You should be casting just far enough out to catch fish.
    Jim Ficklin and astrofisher like this.
  15. Travis Bille

    Travis Bille Active Member

    Oct 12, 2010
    Likes Received:
    McKinleyville, CA
    As far as you can, every time