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Earlier I already did attempts to organize mistakes of anglers that threw me in the eye during the 10-15 years of my work on the rivers of the Kola Peninsula. Unfortunately we can not always be appropriate to engage in a radical therapy or even surgery in the treatment or correction of mistakes and tactically wrong decisions when fishing for salmon. It happens quite difficult to explicitly state the need for change the stereotypes of fishing. It is easier to help the angler, who has not yet sustainable habits and views on how to be and how to fish salmon. Most of this lability depends on the success of fishing.
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When we first start we are keen to cast as far and as well as possible. For most men the emphasis is on the far before the well. The problem is that we are so focused on the casting that we forget that its purpose is to put the fly in front of the salmon, at the right depth and moving realistically. There's a full explanation in the Fast Food and Broad Beans post, but to recap briefly, realistic means;
As novices our attention is magnetically drawn to the far bank. The water there unfailingly looks darker, deeper and more promising. If the far bank is lined with interesting rocks and features, the attraction grows even stronger. For men, the fact that it's a long way away makes it almost irresistible: why commit just one sin when you can do two? Or even more? So off we go, happy sinners, casting to our maximum and beyond, tempted to wade ever deeper to reach the salmon nirvana under the far bank. But despite our best efforts and the expenditure of enough testosterone to make every hen fish in the river have a hot flush, we don't get so much as a take. Our failures spur us on to even greater efforts: if we try harder, put on a stranger fly and cast more often, we shall surely succeed. Sadly, we don't. Why not?
In his long-running and outstanding Spey casting DVD, Michael Evans uses a phrase - "if you're working hard, you're working too hard". Simon Gawesworth calls it 'bashing'. If things aren't going right we tend to apply more effort and energy in the sincere belief that if we work harder, they'll come right in the end. I suppose it's a a man thing and the product of testosterone and our Anglo-Saxon work ethic: these are good things in many areas, but in salmon fishing excess effort and aggression usually leads to things getting worse, not better. The salmon are unimpressed by our exertions and cannot be beaten into submission. They take when they feel like it, not when we've earned it.
If you felt proper resistance, then you're not far from success, but you must take the excess muscle out of the business. You tried too hard and carried on applying power until the direction of movement of your rod tip was downwards rather than forwards. Try the following simple trick, and you may be surprised by the results. With your upper hand, hold the cork between forefinger and thumb only (if your rod is 15' I'll allow an extra finger). Now you can't welly it. Relax, look up and try a couple of casts. Behold, you'll get 80+% of your maximum range, nice and straight, because the rod has done the work, just as it ought. (With grateful thanks and acknowledgement to Jim Curry who showed me this trick in last year's brush-up session).
If you were punching air, then the rods just wasn't loaded by the weight and resistance of the line. It's most likely that you were putting too much effort into the back cast and swing, which mucks up the formation of a good D-loop and leads you to break the 180 degree rule.
By putting too much effort into the first stage of the back cast you throw the line upstream, leaving only about 10% to form the D-loop behind you. This often happens if the fly is sunk and/or you are using a sink tip. You give a good heave to get it out and you just keep on heaving. You're in such a hurry that you cut the corner between back and forward movements, rather the correct circular track to bring the D-loop behind you. Don't try so hard: just do a nice easy downstream roll cast to bring everything up to the surface and break the water's hold on the line. Then you can make a nice smooth swing to create a well aligned D-loop.
The whole thing of not trying too hard becomes even more important if you are using a modern short-headed line or a shooting head. Too much muscle or hurry and it flies all over the place - everywhere except into your D-loop. Just slow down, relax and look up.
Why do I say 'look up'? When we're trying too hard we tend to lean forward, tense the muscles and look down at the water surface. This will always make us follow through beyond the stop point by which stage our upper/right hand is following an increasingly steep downwards curve. Try the forward cast motion using just your right hand, without a rod, and watch the track that it naturally follows past your ear. Look down and repeat; and then up and repeat. Any downward motion of the top hand in the forward cast will make the near end of the line hits the water first. Just like shooting the shot/line goes where we're looking, so if we raise our line of sight our shoulders are further back, and we'll find it easier to hold the stop on the forward cast and project the line in the desired upward trajectory. This gives it the time in the air to turn over to its full length and straighten before it reaches the water.
Above all, remind yourself that the line you're trying to throw only weighs a couple of ounces, so only apply forces that are proportional to that load, and let the rod do the work. It's simple: your forward cast bends the rod by accelerating the mass of the line; you stop; and then the rod throws the line (not you!).
If you're getting really frustrated and explosive, take a break: chocolate's wonderfully soothing; avoid coffee (you get even more twitchy); and remember that more than 2 units of booze will start to degrade your timing (or in my case, puts me to sleep).
Because a fly line is not rigid it behaves in ways that don't always make sense to us (I'll spare you the maths). The Snap T or Circle Spey cast is a case in point. When we accelerate the top of the rod downstream, downwards and inwards to the bank, why does the tip of the line fly upstream in precisely the opposite direction? Why can you cast a lot of line off the water with a Double Spey, when even half that amount will kill a Single Spey stone dead? If getting the line up and moving back can be such a heave in a Single Spey, why does it lift so easily with a Snake Roll? With your rod and line combination, what is the critical amount of line you need behind you for a Roll cast to go airborne?
So once you've found your secluded spot, explore and experiment to gain understanding of how and why the line behaves in response to different movements of the rod. Without the pressure of fishing or spectators you can break your cast down into sections, stop, look and start again. Above all, you can confirm and embed the basics: you won't be a good Spey caster until you've understood the dynamics and mastered the Roll and the Jump Roll. And whatever else you may try, don't step into the river with people watching and attempt a Snake Roll unless you've perfected it in lonely isolation.