Peninsula Fly Fishers

Presenting The Fly To Fish In Shallow Water

by Leigh West
of the Tampa Bay Fly Fishing Club
from the FFF ClubWire Email Newswire

You're wading the Tampa Bay flats on a cool overcast morning in late December. The wind finally dies down, the water becomes glass calm, and redfish tails start waving in the air like flags a short distance ahead. Will you be prepared to make the delicate presentations necessary to avoid spooking them? The following suggestions might help you in your quest for the perfect presentation.

On the forward cast, throw the line with a trajectory parallel to the water's surface. Allow the entire fly line to fall gently to the water, rather than aiming the fly directly at the fish. Once the line stops traveling forward, the entire fly line and fly should fall at the same rate and parallel with the water surface.

Try throwing the forward cast slightly upward from a low position. As the fly approaches the target, drop the tip of the rod to the water, so that the line closest to you touches first. The line should roll out across the water surface. The fly will enter the water last.

Try varying the size of the loop on the forward cast. A larger loop may not be good for long casts, but one can avoid a few tangles as well as reduce line speed, improving presentation. If you are on fish and need to recast, begin the backcast slowly so that the fly line is moving before it clears the water and before beginning the backcast in earnest. This allows one to clear the line and fly from the water silently. Reposition the fly as above.

Shoot the fly to the fish rather than carrying line above the fish. Try to keep the fly line close to the water so the fish doesn't see it. Keep your arms and hands in close to your body and the rod low when casting to fish that are close. It's not uncommon to hook redfish with barely any of the fly line out of the rod tip (as close as fifteen feet from one's feet)!

In addition to casting techniques, the fly line (weight, taper and other physical properties), leader (weight, taper, length) as well as the fly (shape, size and materials) can all affect presentation. Calm conditions and shallow water might mean dropping down to a lighter rod and line weight as well as using a longer leader and smaller, lighter fly.

When fishing a flat, practice these presentation techniques on various targets while waiting for fish to appear. This will allow you to get your range and presentation under control under the actual fishing conditions encountered.

Good fishing!

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