Spring Edition

Spring Edition
Spring Edition

Monday, May 25, 2020

Middle Fork Feather River Fly Fishing Report ~ 5/25/2020

The Middle Fork Feather River is still fishing quite well, and pretty much on cruise control with a few slight variances. There was a significant amount of rain that fell last week with extremely high snow levels. So being that Eureka Peak and other neighboring peaks like Mt. Washington are at 7,400 feet, there was rain on snow causing more of the snowpack to melt. Water levels came up a tad and the clarity remained about the same - clearish. 

Fishing is a little better in the upper river from Clio to Two Rivers mainly due to slightly warmer water temperatures (52-56), then downstream of where Jamison Creek comes in (48-53) on the lower part of the Recreational Zone of the MFFR. Fishing pressure is still light, but there were an influx of visitors to the Northern Sierra over the holiday weekend, with your typical spin anglers at the more popular bridges.

Tight Line Nymphing has been the most effective for catching numbers of fish, but there are plenty of dry fly opportunities to be had. With the upper river dropping, there seems to be more fish on the move heading downstream, and many runs, pools, and large slots have many fish holding together. If you catch one, keep fishing, there’s more in there. A guest of mine last Saturday pulled out 5 rainbows in a spot that was 10 feet long by 7 feet wide. 

Yep, they’re stacked up in certain favorable spots that have a steady conveyor belt of food, protection from the heavy currents, and structure that offers security to predators. Overall I’ve been impressed with the size and girth of the trout, but we are starting to see much smaller trout in the system with water levels dropping and the bigger fish on the move. There are so many different types of water to fish right now that the fly angler must carefully dissect that piece of water they are fishing, namely depth, and the intensity of the current. Using heavier flies or adding more weight to the leader while TL Nymphing can make a huge difference.

The aquatic insects are going off in the upper river! 2 different PMDs, a size 12, and a 14. Pink Alberts (epeorus) in a size 16 that looks just like a PMD except it only has 2 tails, and is a little brighter in color. BWOs were out thick last Friday with the cooler drizzly weather. It’s all about those clouds when it comes to BWO hatches. The Black Dancer caddis is out, it is an early season caddis that is quite large (#12-14), has a metallic sheen to it and is most active during the day. 

Other bugs on the menu include a few different other caddis like the ginger caddis, creamy crane fly, a few Golden Stones, and still seeing a few Gray Drakes. Evidence of Salmon Fly shucks has been observed. Best dry flies to present are Adams Parachute, Quigley’s Cripple PMD, and Cutter’s E/C Caddis. Best Nymphs have been Flashback Pheasant Tails, Mercer’s Z-Wing, and Hogan’s S&M in olive. Smaller flies seem to have been more productive in the last week, with mayfly nymphs being the best.

Conditions will only get better with the incoming hot weather as the water temps will increase. Better get it now, once the water really heats up in the upper river, those trout will move downstream to find a more suitable habitat to summer over in. As we go into June and the latter half, be sure to carry a thermometer to check water temps and quit fishing when it gets to be 68 degrees and above. Brown trout do much better with warmer water temps than rainbows. 

Busy is the word with me and all at once. In the last 3 weeks I’ve never been so consumed with trip inquiries than my previous 24 years of guiding and booking trips. Being a totally independent guide is challenging, but I truly do love my work and sharing all things fly fishing. June is booked up, with 4 days open in July. 15 days available right now in August. I’ll be back up to the Northern Sierra in a few days and finally getting on Lake Davis, reports to follow. See you on the water where the wild things are…

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Middle Fork Feather River Fly Fishing Report ~ 5/16/2020

Conditions remain very similar to my last report with a few exceptions. First, the water temps have come up a few degrees. On a recent trip I was fishing a few miles below the last feeder creek in the Graeagle area, Smith creek, and the water temperatures of the MFFR were at 56 in the afternoon. You’ll find great variances in water temps and it all depends on location. Secondly, the flows in the main stem remain about the same as my last report, even on the feeder creeks as well. Overall fishing is great and the MFFR has really come back strong since the drought, in fact it’s the best I’ve seen it in a very long time.

Streamers have not been that effective since the water has cleared up, though I have not tried super low light conditions like first light, and the magic hour towards dark. That could be worth considering if you have a hunch where a big apex predatory trout lives. The next couple of days could be really good with these series of strong spring storms. Right now, Tight Line Nymphing is dominating throughout the day. Rubber leg stones, flashy caddis pupa and mayfly nymphs, worms, and attractor nymphs like psycho princes, and rainbow warriors. There are many different depths that are holding fish now, so dial in your added amount of weight, or the weight of your flies while also using the depth gauge from the bottom of your sighter to your bottom fly. Make your drifts from the mid water column and gradually go deeper until you are bouncing your flies off the bottom. 

Mid-day to late afternoon has been good for dry fly fishing, and dry dropper rigs. Some of the trout are being picky and it may take a little time to figure out the puzzle as each fish may be eating something different. Also each run will have different hatches going on so be sure to observe more and cast less. It makes a difference. Lately it seems generic patterns have had better results than specialized emerger/adult/spent patterns. There are SO many aquatics out right now! Little green stones, PMDs, BWOs, Gray Drakes (both duns and spinners), caddis (creamy #16), Golden Stones, and little yellow Sallies. Yesterday there were tiny black termites on the surface which the fish seemed to be keyed in on and eating for a short time. A drag free presentation, even in fast water is a must with fishing a dry fly. With so many varied currents and structures in the MFFR, high stick short line dry fly presentations have been extremely successful as it allows for a better natural drift and also keeping the leader of the water. Get stealthy and get as close to your quarry as possible while maintaining a lower profile. It helps.

A few days are still available for the end of May, and only 3 days for the month of June. Call, email, or text me if you want the best and most knowledgeable guide for the Middle Fork Feather River. If you plan to come up, make sure you are totally self sufficient with everything you will need including the basics: food, water, shelter, and fly fishing gear. Practice safe and responsible COVID procedures, please be prepared to practice social distancing as much as possible and bring your PPE: (Personal protective equipment, mask, sanitizer, wipes), whatever makes you feel comfortable and safe. See you on the water...

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Middle Fork Feather River Fly Fishing Report ~ 5/7/2020

I’ve been secretly scouting and fishing the Middle Fork Feather River since the early opener. It’s nice to be back on home water and actually very therapeutic during these difficult times. I’m doing better than expected and so thankful for the support and the understanding from my guests to most others in the fly fishing industry. Pre-paid trips, letting me keep deposits, rescheduling, donations, and custom tackle orders have helped immensely.  If you are going to visit rural communities to fish, or go on a guide trip with me, you must take special precautions. I would advise for the next month or longer to just come up for the day (or dry camp far away from folks) and be totally self-sufficient with everything from food to supplies for the entire intended stay. Those rural communities want you to distance yourself from them. They have signs up to let you know too. Plumas National Forest is open, just be safe out there and do the right thing.

Pinnacle Pool

So onto the fishing... The season started off with cold higher off colored water, which really is a blessing on the Middle Fork Feather River. During such conditions there are more and bigger fish in the system, but it’s not easy and you really have to know where the 10% of the habitat that holds 90% of the fish is at. Runoff peaked last week with warmer temperatures and all the feeder creeks to the MFFR were running at their highest for the season, cold and clear. Hint: fishing may be slower directly downstream of feeder creeks due to snow melt water temps. 

The Middle Fork Feather River water temperatures are varying depending on whether it is the upper river (52-55), mid river (48-51), or the lower river (47 to 53). The mid river water levels near the Graeagle section has dropped considerably, the feeder creeks are dropping too, but still icy cold. While there is not a huge snow pack to melt, prime fishing conditions will come quickly, and the best conditions will be gone by the end of June. That’s the thing with the Middle Fork Feather, it drops into shape quickly with all day good fishing, then it’s a morning and evening game, then it’s done until fall. I don’t fish or guide when the water warms up over 67 degrees. It’s hard on the wild rainbows (the browns do much better in warmer water temps) and it’s not worth it to do damage to such a beautiful and pristine fishery.

Castle Pool

All types of presentations are working right now. The most productive is tight line nymphing, though we are getting some bigger trout on the streamer – You just got to put in the time, kind of like steelheading. In the afternoons dry fly opportunities exist including dry/dropper rigs. The trout are moving around a lot right now which is also typical for the river during spring when water levels recede. The bigger trout will mostly move downstream to the deeper canyons for late spring and summer where they will find cooler and more water within the system, along with plentiful food items. A longtime friend of mine, who is a fisheries biologist, once told me that the larger trout will move 15 to 25 river miles within the Middle Fork Feather River, and most of the spawning occurs in the feeder creeks where they can find the needed suitable gravel to make a successful redd. As always, move until you find the concentrations of fish, or visibly see consistent rise forms. Don’t leave fish to find fish, if you’re not catching, figure out the puzzle by the process of elimination.

Little Green Stonefly

What makes this river so special is the amount of aquatic insect life that it has - Super rich and diverse. The upper and mid sections have some incredible hatches right now. The Little Green Stone, a special stonefly of the genus Isoperla from the Perlodidae family, and not to be confused with Yellow Sallies, or the Little Yellow Sally (alloperla). It’s a size 12, bright green underbody, and hatches mid-stream like a PMD mayfly. Yesterday they were pouring out from the surface of the water in pools and runs directly downstream of major riffles. The trout were not taking the adults as they were flying away too quickly, but the emerger rising to the surface. The Leisenring lift was the right technique to use, and it paid off for a few trout. These special stoners will be out for the next month, it’s utterly amazing watching the emergence.

Drunella Grandis ~ Green Drake Nymph 

Other adult bugs that are out are Golden Stones, Gray Drakes, PMDs (good numbers), BWOs (waning), the start of Caddis fly hatches (look for these to intensify), and the early season creamy crane fly. In the drift and the best subsurface flies to use are stones, worms, smaller mayfly and caddis patterns, and midge pupa. On our trip yesterday we were walking through a waist deep silted in gravel bar and noticed that we stirred up dozens upon dozens of immature PMD nymphs as they rose to the surface with their slow pulsating swimming movement. It was so cool! Terrestrials out too like pavement ants (red!), Carpenter ants, and even small early season hoppers.

In my opinion the Middle Fork Feather is fishing the best since the late 90’s. More and bigger fish are in the system and profuse hatches too thanks to the prior big water years of 2017 to 2019. Still, these fish are shy at times and you got to put in the work before you are rewarded. What made yesterday so much fun was fishing with fellow guide and good friend AdamEisenman of Woodgrains Guide Service. (FYI – If I’m booked, or if I must cancel, you will be going out with Adam. He’s got the skills, great with people, and the same mind set as I do when it comes to fly fishing and the natural world). I got to show him some new areas, and he in return showed me a few things with flies and techniques. We put in a lot of miles yesterday with 3 different sessions, and to be honest I can’t fish all day, especially tight line nymphing as it’s so demanding on my shoulders. My body definitely feels its past of a bumpy dirt road that included a professional snowboarding career, racing motocross, skating vert ramps, and climbing the vertical granite walls of Northern California. So, I happily watched Adam, checked out the bugs, and other fascinating experiences with the flora and fauna. Yesterday was magic!

Puttin the wood to 'em! ~ Adam Eisenman

If you can leave your home, be safe and responsible, and are symptom free, I see no reason why we can’t go fishing. I’m taking special precautions on my trips and a new protocol, pretty much the same types of things we’ve already been doing. Face masks, distancing 6 feet, using hand sanitizer, and thinking smart. Keep in mind I have a lot to share and teach with the Middle Fork Feather River and fly fishing. I’ve been fly fishing it since the early 70’s, and guiding it for the past 24 years, plus was a resident of Graeagle for 15 years. Experience counts. See you on the water…

Friday, May 1, 2020

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report ~ 5/1/2020

It's that time of year when the call for water by the Ag community rings loud and the flows increase on the Lower Yuba River. I'm usually long gone by this time to the Northern Sierra, an annual pilgrimage to fish and guide. With our current COVID situation, I'm slowly making that transition again, at least scouting the waters of the Lost Sierra. This report is for those that are actively fishing, it is not my intention to force you to leave your "Shelter in Place" sanctions, or put you at risk of getting the virus, or being fined. I'm simply giving a fly fishing report, my last one until fall for the Lower Yuba River. It is up to you to do as you wish, me? I'm keeping on the low side and being safe, yet living life. 

As you can see in the last two weeks the river has gone up at a moderate pace with a few sharp jack ups in the flows. From a little over a thousand to currently 1,800 cubes. With a slower overall rise at the least the fish can adjust to new holding areas. 

With the increasing flows it does make it harder for the walk and wade angler to be proficient, but it can be done. During ag flow time, this is where drifting is much more beneficial, but we must keep six feet apart so getting into a drift boat with a guide is not really feasible. Pontoon boats is a great option which you can use as a taxi and get to places where walk and wade anglers cannot get to during the higher flows. I've created a great informative handout that is provided during my pontoon workshops, you can purchase it here for a $10 - http://www.baiocchistroutfitters.com/fly-fishing-shop/

Ever since our last big storm, the mayfly hatches have not been as consistent, I do see a ton of March Brown spinners in the morning with the spinner fall happening at the heads of riffles. There are sparse hatches of BWOs, PMDs, and a few Pinkies. You just never know with the Yuba, especially during a transition time like spring. It's not like the daily rhythms we are use to seeing during a light or dry winter. The caddis are the most prolific bug out there now, and during my last trip free living caddis patterns, and Mercer's Z-wing caddis crushed them. As the weather get warmer and warmer, it will be all about fishing hoppers in the afternoon, and caddis in the evening. The last hour of light is money, they don't call it the magic hour for nothing. As always, nymphing will be your best bet during the higher flows.

The gateway to "The Narrows" downstream of Deer Creek

For the next few weeks I'll be busy in the office, lots of rescheduling of trips, and workshops. Keep tabs on Lost Coast Outfitter's schedule of events, I'll be doing several of them from mid summer to the fall season. Still tying lots of bugs too, organizing gear, making repairs, and catching up on the little things. Once again, thanks for all your support, I'm in this to help, share, and educate all things fly fishing and carrying on my family's legacy of conservation and a greater awareness of our natural world. See you (someday) on the water.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Cal Trout ~Trout Camp 2020 Virtual Gala & Auction ~ 5/1/2020

You're invited to a live stream event and an evening of virtual community, celebration, support, and fun. Hosted by CalTrout Executive Director Curtis Knight and CalTrout Board Member George Revel, owner of Lost Coast Outfitters.

The broadcast begins at 7pm on May 1st. Lots of great prizes, and trips to bid on. Show your support during this challenging time for the fly fishing community and conservation. 

For more information go HERE: https://event.auctria.com/ad603ff1-b806-478b-9274-e4b6e260a1b5

Sunday, April 19, 2020

The Brookie Master ~ 4/19/2020

Original artwork by local artist Karel Hendee


Sunshine and water, shimmering reflections

Bubbles and foam lines converge

Seams of joy

Searching, drifting, hoping

The take, the line goes tight

A battle of wits

Victorious, a scoop of faith

Admiration, vibrant colors glowing

An image to share

A memory to last forever

The release, water splashing

Disappearing once again

Taking in the experience, smiling happily

The Brookie Master knows nothing else.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

The Free Living Caddis ~ 4/18/2020

The free living caddis, also known by old school fly anglers as “the green rock worm”, is the most well known caddis fly, and also one of the most important food items available for trout. They prefer to live in swift aerated sections of cold water within a rich river system. They do not make protective cases of pebbles or organic material like most caddis fly larvae. No way, these critters are as tech as you can get. The two main genus I encounter are Rhyacophila, and Hydropsyche. Their body profiles are slightly different from each other, and also their behavior varies to some degree. This is the aquatic insect that really turned me onto the whole fly fishing/entomology world, so much in fact that my first brochure for my guide service featured a hand drawing of a Hydropsyche larva on the cover. Free living caddis is very prolific in all of our watersheds, from our valley rivers, to the upper Sierra freestones.

Hydropsyche larva is plump with a juicy green body, and a large blunt black head. I’ve seen them as large as a size 10 in the Blue River upstream of Dillon Reservoir in Colorado, and as small as a size 18 on the Yuba River. At the ends of their legs and at the base of their rear section is hooks that they use to cling to rocks. They are very well adapted to their environment. From the “Net Spinner” Family, they build permanent structures made of pebbles that serve as deflectors from the heavy current. In between these structures, they produce silk webbing that can be in the form of mesh fences, elongated tubes, and bags. These web formations collect algae, fine organic particles, and tiny insects that become food. Hydropsyche larvae lead a busy life of cleaning and repairing their nets around the clock. The adult is known as the Spotted Sedge (shown at the top of the post).

Rhyacophila are mostly plump in the mid-section of their body, and their head and rear are noticeably skinnier and tapered. Their bodies are various shades of olive, sometimes bright green, and their head is brown to black but much shorter than Hydropsyche. Rhyacophila is the purest form of the free living caddis, and are the most primitive representatives of that order. They also use their own silk as well, but as an anchor line like a rock climber rappelling down a face of granite. That’s some really cool evolution right there. In his book “Caddisflies”, Gary LaFontaine discusses his increased success fishing with net-spinning caddis larva patterns when he colored the last 18 inches of his leader white to suggest this silk anchor line of the natural. That is so Gary, always thinking so far outside the box, that the box didn’t even exist. Most are predacious, but a few will eat organic material being scavengers. When I sampled the Yuba River for aquatic life after the huge water events of 2017, these caddis larvae was always the first to appear in the samplings. They are very hardy and resilient. The adult is known as the Green Sedge.

The larva, pupa, and adult forms of free living caddis make up a very high percentage of a trout’s diet. Often it is the most where populations are prolific. Because the larva is so actively working and feeding, they are susceptible to being dislodged and thrown into the drift. A trout also has a good chance of eating them when they are in their behavioral drift, meaning the larvae periodically crawl out of their shelters, let go, and drift downstream 40, 50, or even 100 feet, thereby relieving competition and allowing the colonization of underutilized areas. This activity occurs on a daily cycle, and peaks near sunrise and sunset.

While living in Breckenridge Colorado in the early 90’s I kept finding samples of Hydropsyche in the Blue, South Platte, and Arkansas watersheds – Like a lot! I didn’t have a fly to copy, or the luxury of the internet to comb though, so I just laid out my tying materials with a specimen in a test tube of alcohol, and went to work. Immediately the pattern was a success. My good friend and fishing buddy Chris Fukuchi @shogun_of_denver and I caught so many nice trout on that first pattern. He called it the Killer Green Bug, which morphed into the KGB caddis. It quickly spread within our tight knit fly fishing crew in Breck including the fly shops, and about a year later there it was in the Orvis catalog “Killer Green Bug”. I was not even fazed due to my relentless pursuit of fishing 24/7. I simply didn’t care. Another great tip from Gary and aslo featured in his book “Caddisflies”(which you should all own, if not already) “A good imitation of a Rhyacophila larva is going to catch a lot of trout in swift, bouncing stretches of a stream. The same fly is going to do poorly in slow areas of the same stream. A fly fisherman can avoid wasting time in the wrong sections of a stream by working leap-frog fashion instead of in a straight line. If he is using an imitation of a fast-water insect he should fish only the swift, broken currents, skipping past the slower current areas. Likewise, if he is using an imitation of a slow-water insect he should only cover the quieter pools and flats.”

Like all my patterns, over the years I’ll change materials, details, and some innovative features. Some of the changes shine and some fail after extensive testing. I added an emerging wing to the KGB, an idea I got from Dominic Traverso’s Serendipity fly. I actually got to hang out with Dom one time at Fort Fitzwater on the Fall River. He had some new super tech emerger patterns he used for droppers off a dry fly that he shared with me back then. I still haven’t seen anything like them, and you won’t see me posting pictures of them either. 

I tried a bunch of stuff to make the free living caddis look more real, but in the end the pattern I use today has been the best. A plump green body with segmentation, whitish feelers at the rear, a big black head, and rubber legs is really all you need. In my opinion, these are the key elements that induce the trigger mechanism for a trout to strike when seeking free living caddis larvae in the drift.

Here are some tips when tying your free living caddis patterns. For sizes 10-14 use medium V-Rib, for sizes 16-18 use the small size. The end of the V-Rib material can be bulky when applying it onto the hook. I like to cut the end of the material at a 45 degree angle so there is a thinner section to tie on. One of the really cool innovative ideas I had when first tying this pattern was to wrap the hook shank with lime green krystal flash before wrapping the V-Rib. Being that the V-Rib is clear with a pigmented color, the krystal flash reflectiveness punched through, and the overall color glowed. I’ll take a brown sharpie and coat the top of the Krystal flash before wrapping the V-Rib so it is darker than the bottom of the fly, making it look just like the natural. You can experiment with different colors of flash to get the custom look you desire. When it comes to putting on the legs with the rubber floss, I will take my bodkin and split the material in half for a smaller size so it looks more natural and not so bulky. Lastly coat that big black head with clear nail polish for a wet glossy look.


Hook: TMC-2457 #10-18.
Thread for body: olive (8/0 for small patterns, 6/0 for larger patterns)
Thread for head portion: black (8/0 for small patterns, 6/0 for larger patterns).
Body: Larva Lace V-rib. 
Under body option: lime green krystal flash.
Legs: J Fair rubber floss, olive.
Tail hooks: white antron fibers

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Lower Yuba River Fly Fishing Report ~ 4/16/2020

Before I get into the details of the Lower Yuba River I thought I would get you up to speed on what I’ve been doing during our recent “Time Out”. Tying lots of flies has consumed my time, and filling custom orders for long time guests of mine. It’s been a whole lot of fun to be honest and reacquainting myself with the moves that each special pattern requires. You can check out my flies HERE on Instagram, or HERE on my Facebook page. I’m also riding my bike now that the snow has melted from the Highway 20 trail system. It’s pretty rad to be able to go door to door on some epic rides from here at the ranch. There are so many downed trees and limbs all over the trails from the last big low elevation snowfall we had in mid March. Mother Nature’s pruning in full effect.

Here are some ways you can help support me and keep the machine going. First, I have 10 different educational handouts on a variety of subjects like “Pontoon Boats for Rivers”, Lake Davis & Frenchman Lake Fly and Hatch Info”, and “High Water Tactics” to name a few. These are very informative handouts that are worth every penny, and at $10 a piece you will have the PDF file forever. Go HERE to see the entire list and purchase some through PayPal.

Many past guests are also buying full and half day trips with no date picked out yet, just a credit for the future. You can do that as well, or leave a deposit HERE.

Lastly you can order Baiocchi’s Troutfitters merchandise like t-shirts, hoodies, custom bug trucker hats, water bottles, and coffee cups HERE.

So, onto the Lower Yuba River report, the weather is back to being warm and the rattlesnakes are out! I nearly stepped on this guy, just inches away! For the past two weeks I had been getting some excellent reports from close friends who tell it like it is. No BS, and plenty of pictures too. I went out last Tuesday with a close friend and it sucked. My mentor Jimmy was out there too with 2 other anglers who are great sticks and they got blanked as well. Just one of those days I guess – That’s the Yuba for you. Our last storm was pretty significant. Deer Creek came up quickly with a sharp spike of flows up to 4,291. It’s currently at 84 cubes. The Lower Yuba rose to 5,465, and is perfect right now (flow wise) at 1,085. There is color to the water and some days there is 3 feet of visibility and other days down to 18”. This is caused by clouds of sediment coming into Englebright reservoir from the South, Middle, and North forks of the Yuba and passing through the dam. I’ve seen the same conditions like this before that last for weeks after a good flushing from a heavy spring storm.

Lots of folks out fishing too, including spin anglers with barbed treble hooks at the bridge. Saw one fly guy standing on redds upstream of the bridge as he was hooked up. With the water being colored up I’m sure he did not realize he was crushing eggs. Oh well, I’m not a cop, but I do like to nicely educate people if they are willing to listen – Most don’t want to listen LOL! The poppies, lupine and some other varieties of wildflowers mixed in are going off right now! So cool. I must admit it was great for the soul just hiking around through all that magnificent color. What a game changing attitude adjuster that was. 

So many aquatics out right now, it’s unbelievable to be honest. The Yuba’s bug population is off the charts and bodes well for the future. Caddis flies everywhere including several different sizes. Olive, tan, ginger, and bright green bodies have been observed. Believe it or not, the Skwalas are still out and a report from Poncho last week stated there were hundreds in the drift on the lower river for about 3 hours. Golden stones are out as well as the salmon flies (Pteronarcys), and in pretty good populations, more than I have ever seen on the Yuba. Yellow Sallies are out too, the smaller ones (aloperla). Mayflies – PMDs, March Browns (I’m seeing more spinners than duns), a few BWOs, and am waiting to see the Gray Drakes pop which should be any day, if not already. Also some Pink Alberts in the mix too. As always after a big runoff period and colored up water, stones, eggs, and legs under the indo will be best if you’re all about the catching.

Overall the Yuba is fishing decent with some spectacular days, and some off days. I’m starting to venture up to the Northern Sierra to scout and fish, but I cannot guide on Forest Service land at this time as there is a state wide closure for commercial guides. All I can say during this mess is to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, it is our saving grace. See you on the water.

Friday, April 10, 2020

Casting Tendencies ~ 4/10/2020

Another helpful post in my current state of mind of reaching out and sharing my thoughts and knowledge on all things fly fishing. I do find such to be comforting during this unusual period of our lives. So for those new to the sport, I hope this brings some enlightenment, and answers a few of the questions on casting that you may have. Special thanks to my past guest Seth for the topic, it's been really cool to see his skill set improve to the point he can now go out and be successful on his own.

I’m not a FFI Certified Casting Instructor. I do know how to break down casting instruction that is easily digested though, and often in baby steps as to not flood my students with too much information. I think that is key, to just take each step slowly so muscle memory is at least opened up to having good habits form. Below are the most faults I see while instructing on a day to day basis, or simply watching another angler from afar while out in the great outdoors of water, flora, and fauna.

Overpowering your cast – I’m guilty of this at times and it’s typical of most men to do, thinking more power will equal a greater distance. This is why most women excel at casting because they rely on finesse and timing. When overpowering rods that are a slow and medium action, they will fold and collapse with wasted energy, and not reaching the rod’s fullest potential. All one has to do is slow down their casting stroke while relying on the basic fundamentals

Often, it is the last final forward cast where the entire series of casting strokes fail to become a good presentation because the caster will force the rod forward, which will deflect the rod energy more than the previous casts and ruin the tempo, thus affecting the loop and the final delivery which most often results in the tailing loop.

Elevated casting plane – If your fly, leader, or your fly line is hitting the ground on your back cast, your casting plane is too elevated. This results in frayed leaders, broken hook points on your flies, and sometimes snagging the ground behind you. An elevated casting plane also affects the final forward cast where your fly line dies out, comes up short, and does not reach the intended target. I see this type of situation the most. To understand this better, let‘s look at an even casting platform. The rod stops at 10 o’clock on the forward cast, and 2 o’clock on the back cast. Drawing an imaginary line from the forward stopping point to the backward stopping point displays a level horizontal line. An elevated casting plane occurs when the rod stops at the 10 o’clock position, and on the back cast at the 3 o’clock position, or even worse as far as the 4 o’clock position. Now draw that imaginary line between the two points, and you can envision that upward unwanted angle that makes your cast die out and fail. Reverse the scenario for a downward casting plane, where your fly, leader, and line come down too aggressively and crashes onto the water’s surface (not ideal for dry fly fishing LOL). 

Breaking the wrist – There will always be some sort of wrist movement when casting, it is the excessive movement of the wrist at the wrong time that robs the caster of producing a nice sexy loop. It is a problem that can affect all casters from beginner to expert. 

I see this all the time too with most of my guests. When a caster breaks their wrist between the stopping points of their casting strokes it moves the tip of the fly rod off a horizontal casting plane, and the result is sloppy at best, both on the forward cast and the back cast. 

Cracking the whip – We’ve all done this when we first started, and it’s not pretty. When I’m guiding, I like to nip this in the bud as soon as possible. Lots of flies can be cracked off to faraway places and disappear in a short time. This is caused by not letting the line full extend on the back cast, while rushing the forward stroke. 

It’s ok to look over your shoulder and watch the line fully extend before starting your forward cast, at least then you can see what adjustments you need to make to be successful. One must be patient to achieve this. Remember, the more line you have out, the longer the pause between strokes, even if its fractions of a second.

Too much false casting – Depending on the length of your presentation, it should only take 4 casting strokes at a minimum to achieve your target, and dry your fly off if your dry fly fishing. This fault is painful to watch because 80% of the time the new student is doing a great job and only needs to send it, but they continue to cast, and cast, and cast until the rhythm is lost resulting in a tangle, or a wind knot. “ok, you’re good, drop it in”, “ok next forward cast send it!”, “ok, next one for sure…..” Then it all goes bad.

Practicing a good sequence of casts then laying it down will do wonders. Practice that in sets, over and over, and you’ll be dialed in no time.

Unsuccessful lob cast with nymphing rigs – Whether I’m teaching indo or tight line nymphing, many of my students struggle with making the proper lob cast back upstream after a drift has been made. First a typical nymph rig has a lot of moving parts and hinge points. Anywhere you have an indicator, tippet ring, swivel, added split shot, and multiple flies there is going to be hinge points. Add all those up together and much can go wrong resulting in some of the most horrific bird’s nest ever to be created. When starting the lob cast back upstream, be sure your line is fully extended and taut downstream. This simple act will help the rod load and be able to function properly. Next, bring the split shot, and flies near the surface so there is a clean exit from the water. Too many times I have witnessed my students trying to make the lob while the heaviest part of the rig is near the bottom of the river, 4 feet down. Add slack in the line, and the motion of making a lob is fruitless. So, after the drift is made, extend your arm downstream, make sure the line is taut, bring the heaviest part of the rig near the surface, then bring the rod up and slightly behind you and make the lob cast with a slow to fast acceleration. As the nymph rig exits the water, continue the motion of the rod upstream, stopping the tip to your intended target.

Here’s a bullet list of some sound fundamentals to think about when your practicing, or better yet – Fishing!

  • Keep a level casting plane.
  • Abrupt stops at the end of each casting stroke.
  • Wait for the line to fully extend before making the motion to the next stroke.
  • Slow to fast acceleration from the beginning to the end of your casting stroke.
  • Keep a slightly off center casting plane to your side to keep the loop away from your body.
  • Send it, earlier than you think.
  • Learn the single haul as your skill set progresses, increased line speed is your friend.

Improving your casting does not have to be painful, or too technical that you just want to give up. Make it enjoyable by keeping it simple and fun. The goal is to be able to make a successful presentation in real time fishing conditions that will enhance your experience on the water. Your cast can be compared to a golfer’s swing, once you learn the proper mechanics, one can tweak the cast to their own personal style that suits them best. For further reading on the subject go here: https://www.fix.com/blog/fly-casting-faults-and-fixes/

One of the best certified casting instructors ever, Jeff Putnam has not only taught me a lot about my own casting, but some very helpful tips to teach casting more proficiently with my students: https://www.jpflyfishing.com/

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