There is an immutable law of flyfishing: in the broad scheme of things, presentation counts for much more substance. The manner in which a cast is made, and where, counts for more than the material make-up of the fly.
There are, however, a number of qualities a fly needs to embody, if the walk up start a good cast provides is to be taken to full advantage. Here's a four-pack of essentials. Flies that don't measure up get thrown out of my box quicker than a bagpiper gets gonged on Red Faces.
First and foremost, a fly has to have castability. Air resistant flies, weighted flies and those which soak up water like a mop aren't very good at defying the laws of gravity. Patterns like Lefty's Deceiver and the Bill and Kate Howe developed Flashy Profile series were specifically designed so as to present the smallest possible crosssection from a head on perspective so as to make them castable. The side on view, which we like to 00gb at when the fly is just about to come out of the vice and what we presume the fish sees, shows a fishy outline, flash and creates an illusion of bulk or substance.
Dressings thus arranged do add a drag factor - to use the aeronautic term - when the cast is in flight, but this is a far smaller casting evil than having to shunt flies where everything is arranged in a full-frontal manner.
You can't afford to use flies that foul. Either in flight, or as a result of a missed strike. A common shortcoming is when hackles or winging material catches in the bend area of the hook. Sometimes you see a fish following a limping fly and you can almost imagine the rationalisation - "What the hell is that l". There are basic tying techniques that prevent such happenings. Fishability has to be built into a fly.
The hooking capabilities of a fly have to be considered. This becomes important in selecting a certain hook pattern for a particular style of fly. Does the arrangement of dressings compromise the hookup potential? Avoid that. Thought should be given, when fishing cover and over rough bottom, to making the fly as immune as possible to hang ups. Flies with upwards riding hook points such as douser's minnow and bend back streamers can be negotiated through some fairly fearful territory. While on those two essential evergreens, try tying Clousers with the hook slightly modified to the bent back style: bend the hook eye and a couple of millimetre of the shank just a spifteenth. I believe it makes the fly sit at a more enticing attitude.
Another bit of ant-brush bastardry is to do a pull-down on the gape of Mustad's evergreen #34007. Give it a baggy-arsed look. By making the lowest riding part of the hook the gape area and not the point, streamers based on this hook can attack a lot of tight country. Weed guards are handy, but where ever I can, I'll pass. They hinder, by a few degrees, both presentations and the conversion rate. With good casting and fly manipulation, a skilled angler can go bareback in waters that beginner wand wavers can't handle. Sometimes the obstacles are too great to dispense with weed guards. In those situations I go with a mono loop(s) arrangement when fishing top water and when working current and tides a dual fine wire sprag set-up, much like the landing skids on a helicopter. Tighter Tippets !
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