Common Fly Fishing Observations and Tips

Preparation for fly fishing success.

Its been a full on month here on the river without really any time off for me, and the combination of non stop rain, exceptionally changeable weather, regular, gale force winds and often finicky trout have really tested myself, and my clients mettle. 

It had been a while between drinks for many of my clients due to border closures, and it was great to seem them back put here, sharing time and doing what we all love. 

However, there were some common observations I made across the month that if we could wind back time I would advise all to get out and practice. This was a common theme too with kiwi anglers the past couple of seasons so lets hit up a refresher of some common angling issues and how to prepare to counter each.

First up distance. You don’t get three chances to make the first cast count sadly, and if you are short and hit that fish in the head with your fly, or overshoot and line them, then its all over rover. 

Practicing at targets set at different distances is a great way to better just the length needed to land that first cast. However, don’t look at your targets. Those are the fish. You want to pick a point further upstream/away from you and focus on that. Because that's where your fly needs to land to cover your fish. If you are looking at the fish during the casting process, chances are hand eye coordination will kick in and you will land your fly exactly where you’re looking, so best look where you need your drop. 


Consistency in stroke. 

Lets say I have 40’ of line outside of my rod tip and make three consecutive casts. What makes one land at 39’, another at 30’ and another at my feet? Casting consistency. Your acceleration, tracking, back cast position and tip path should all remain consistent for a consistent result. So practice. Build muscle memory and understand a variable casting arc. 

Also make sure that if you needed that full 40’ of line outside the tip to present that last cast, that its back outside of your rod tip for the next, not in a big loop down by your feet as the fly drops. 


Change something. 

If your stroke is consistent and you need 2m more line, then make sure you pull more than a couple of feet off the reel and get it outside of the rod tip. If your back cast dropped too far back on the last cast, make a conscious effort to stop it earlier and higher on the next cast. Think ‘up’ on your back cast and forward-and-downwards on your forward cast. 


Control your shoot

And if you have enough line out, don't add more to the next cast. Many anglers have a tendency to shoot line regardless every cast. If you have the right distance, simply present it. Again, shooting to targets at various distances with just one pick up and lay down cast builds instinct and the eye for this, further more if targets are to the left, and right of each other. 


Left right variations

If your fly needs to land further to the left or right of the fish to get the right drift, then that's what you need to do. You may get away with one draggy shot at times in the wrong current, but maybe not the second, and if the fish knows you’re there then you will not catch it. 

Again, Pick targets. If you pick a target further to the left or right, and bring your hand in a straight line to that target, your rod tip and line will follow and you will hit it. 

Face your targets. Turn your feet/body and face your intended target. Many find this the key to casting more to the left, or to the right rather than maintaining the same body / foot position. 

Tracking is super important. It not only ensures the most efficient energy transfer throughout your cast, but that it travels true and accurate and follows the path of the rod tip, and the hand to the target. Check out our lockdown lesson here:


Alignment of indicators/dry droppers, and nymphs across currents. 

Always consider where you are standing and how your line will lay across the currents when delivering your flies to the fish. If your leader lands in a slower current and your flies land further across in a faster current, or vice versa, then they will drag. 

Consider your casting position and whether you need to employ a reach, or a slack line presentation to accommodate the differing currents, and catch more fish. 

It seems a lot to think about but really just comes down to practice and time on the water, which is a rarity for most. So get out there regardless and enjoy everyday on the water. Every fish is just a bonus.