Stillwater Fly Fishing: “How Far Should I Be Casting?”
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Stillwater Fly Fishing: “How Far Should I Be Casting?”

Being able to cast a long distance is a great tool to have in your bag.  Anybody can cast a full fly line, regardless of how many reps you did at the gym this morning.  I am a firm believer that having sound fundamentals and timing is much more important than the diameter of your biceps, I also believe that just because you can cast a great distance does not mean you will catch substantially more fish.

A very common question while guiding both new and experienced anglers on our local waters in the Kamloops area is “how far should I be casting?”.  The response depends greatly on the situation we are presented with at that time.  Are we in shallow water?  Is the water off-colored? Are the fish being very particular?  There are scenarios where longer casts will catch fish and scenarios where shorter casts will catch fish.  Here’s a quick breakdown of both:

When Should I Cast Far?

Shallow & Clear Water Fishing – You are standing on the casting platform watching fish cruising around in 4 to 6 feet of gin-clear water.  Every little movement seems to affect the way they behave, and it is hard to get them to commit to your presentation.  This is where having the ability to throw a cast of 60 or 70 feet comes in very handy, allowing you to target the fish that are a long ways from the boat.  It doesn’t guarantee that you will get them to eat, but it definitely gives you a slight upper hand over fishing close to the boat.

Searching – This seems overly simple, but the further you are casting the more water you are going to cover.  For example, when I am blind fishing with a booby pattern I will often throw the furthest cast I comfortably can.  This allows me to cover the most water in between the fly and the boat on each cast, but be mindful of where your fly line is stacking while you are stripping.  If you hook a hot fish and have 40 feet of stripping line at your feet, make sure it is not vulnerable to tangling while the fish is picking it up at high speed.

Deep Water Fishing with Sinking Lines – Whether you are fishing leeches, blobs or dragonfly nymphs in deep water, a longer cast will allow your fly a longer window to reach the desired depth.  If you are hanging up on bottom, either shorten your cast or begin stripping sooner after the fly hits the water.

When Should I Cast Short?

Chironomid Fishing in Deeper Water – Often when you are anchored in water greater than 10 feet deep, fish will not pay a whole lot of attention to a boat that is sitting a ways above their head.  I will rarely have guests casting more than 30 feet of fly line when we are chironomid fishing with a strike indicator setup in deeper water.  A big advantage to fishing fairly close to the boat is that the depth of water you are casting into with a short cast will likely be consistent to the depth of water you are anchored in.  Sometimes a long cast will put your fly into water that is much deeper or shallower than what you are anchored in.

Off Coloured or Stained Water – Fish that inhabit water that is tea-coloured or murky will often be slightly more naive than those in clear water.  They are typically less concerned about their surroundings, especially when on a heavy feed.  I have had great chironomid fishing in 6 feet of stained water while fishing less than 30 feet from the boat.

Aggressively Feeding Fish – Fish that are feeding heavily will rarely pay attention to the boat.  They seem to enter some form of tunnel vision where food is the only thing on their tiny little brains, while it is rare it can sometimes translate to some incredible sight fishing opportunities at close range.

So how far should you be casting?  Take a moment to assess the conditions, what the fish are feeding on and the manner in which they are behaving.  Spring stillwater season is still going very strong, the last three remaining days for guided fishing are June 26, 27 and 28th.  If you would like to pick up any of these days for a day on the water, leave your name below and we will make it happen!  Thank you for reading.




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