Journey To Fly Part 10

Basic Fly Presentations – Landing Styles

By The Angler – Skill Enhancements

[ To splash or not to splash, that is the question ]

I have often said that fly fishing is not just a sport but an art. Look at how a master artist paints a picture. He or she uses different strokes, pressure, and tools to create different effects on a painting. Lighter strokes makes finer lines. Strokes that end with a sort of a flick gives a type of a narrowing ending. Harder strokes gives harder lines. A “poking” or “dotting” kind of stroke gives smaller but more splashy kind of strokes. I am not artist, so I don’t know the terms. But I hope you catch what I am saying.

When it comes to presenting flies, it too is like painting a picture. The artist, in this case the fly angler; casts out a fly in a graceful manner. How the fly travels through the air, how it lands, and what it does when it is in the water is all in the hands of the angler; the artist. It is all in the technique and how one controls the cast.

In this article we take a look at landing presentations. This simply means how one’s fly lands in the water. Will it make plenty of noise, creating disturbance, plenty of vibrations, and in a way; chaos when the fly breaks water? Or will the fly land gracefully making a gentle landing as it touches the surface of the water, like a silent assassin tiptoeing towards his or her target? There are reasons for both of these “landing styles.”

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So, how you land a fly?

Making A Grand Entrance

Why on earth would an angler want to make a “grand entrance” or “enter with a bang?” Isn’t silence better? It depends on what we are targeting and where we are fishing. If fishing is all about being quiet, then what is the use of poppers and floating propeller lures? These lures are made to create a racket and to attract to the attention of fishes. A splash also mimics a falling fruit or insect, a leaping baitfish, etc.

So, what can you do to create a splash? This comes down to the angle (trajectory) of your cast, and how fast you bring the fly to the water. The sharper the trajectory, the bigger the splash. A trajectory of 45 degrees will create a bigger splash as compared to that of a gentle 20 degree trajectory. The nearer the cast and the sharper the trajectory, the better the splash.

This is achieved by how you end the forward movement or final movement of your cast. If you end your cast by pointing the rod right down at the water (forward cast ending with the tip pointed down low at the water in one swoop), you will create a nice splash. Spooky fishes nearby will shoot for the weeds or underwater branches, to take cover. Curious angry predators will pay attention and decide whether to attack or not, or may just attack out of reaction.

If you are fishing in a pond that sees a large amount of fishing activities, and where the fishes are easily spooked; you may want to consider a much softer landing approach. But if you are fishing in a wild pond that sees very little fishing activity, then you can give this a go.

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Delicate Or Quiet Entrance

What if you prefer a more finesse, more delicate, gentle, and quieter landing or in fly casting terms, presentation of a fly? Many a time we want our flies to land as gently as possible to “keep the peace” in the water and not scare the fishes away with a bang. This is especially true when we are fishing in high pressured waters where fishes are always “on guard” and get freaked out by the slightest disturbance.

To land your fly quietly what you will need to do is to end your cast in a more gentle and delicate manner. As you push your rod (line and fly) on its final forward movement, stop abruptly with your hand at about eye level and with your rod pointing upwards, before slowly and gently lowering it towards the water. Imagine pointing it at your fly and following it all the way until it lands on the water.

This quiet, delicate, and gentle cast is great especially when you spot a fish holding water. You want to quietly and gently land your fly a certain distance in front of it to not spook it, and strip your fly back towards it. Hopefully it takes the fly and runs. But if it does not, the next thing to hope for is that it does not swim away and go into hiding. It may not be interested the first time round but it may just go for it after a few times of trying.

[    But if you are not sure; always go delicate, gentle, and quiet first before going with a bang. And yes, sometimes you just have to make some noise.   ]

Things To Note

Do take note that fly lines are thicker and heavier than braided lines and monofilaments. This said, the splash (splashes) does not only come from the fly as it breaks the water’s surface. The lines themselves will create a certain amounts of splash depending on your cast. Great if you are “waking or calling” the fishes up or trying to get their attention. Not good if you need to be subtle or to fish in “stealth mode.”   

Also do note that the weight or size of your fly does make a difference. The heavier your fly; chances are you will be creating a bigger splash. Although flies are generally lightweight, adding things to a fly such as beads, wires, etc. does add weight to the fly. Sometimes a split-shot is added to the terminal tackle to bring the fly lower (depending on the presentation wanted). These do bring up the weight of the fly. However, casting a heavier fly on a lower than recommended line weight may be difficult for most casters in general.

So, which landing styles should I use? Again this will depend on the water that you fish at. If you are familiar with the lake, pond, or stream; then you will know which to go with. But if you are not sure; always go delicate, gentle, and quiet first before going with a bang. And yes, sometimes you just have to make some noise. Stay tuned for our next part of A Journey Through Fly.


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