Is it really 30 feet?

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This topic contains 10 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Dark Waters 2 years, 10 months ago.

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  • #3001

    Dry Fly Guy
    Keymaster

    On many occasions I’ve gone out into the yard and placed targets at varying casting distances from where I was going to stand.  Some of these targets are placed at distances as short as eighteen or twenty feet away, and others are out to fifty or sixty feet. Mind you I don’t just pace off a distance or guesstimate it.  I actually measure it out with a tape measure, and I always place at least one target at thirty feet.  I then go stand in my spot and play.

    Every time I do this I’m reminded of just how short thirty feet away is, and of the claim that I assume most (if not all) of you have heard:

    “Most fly fishing occurs within thirty feet of the angler.”

    Having been at this awhile I’m actually a little suspect of that claim.  Mainly because of the little exercise I described above and how it translates to my real world fishing situations.  Unless thirty feet feels a lot different on land than it does on water, I have a hard time believing that most fly fishing is truly done this close. Certainly a fair percentage of my own small (tiny) stream exploits would fit in here, but most fly fishing done by every angler out there?  Even if I don’t consider my anecdotal evidence, I’m still suspect of the claim, and here’s why.

    Let’s assume that the average fly fisherman is using an eight-foot rod and an equal length leader/tippet.  That’s more than half of that thirty feet right there.  So to place a fly at a distance thirty feet away, the angler will only need fourteen feet of fly line out past the tip-top.  I’ll even throw in a few extra feet of line (three to four) to allow for the “drop” and some slack in the presentation for drifting. That’s still less than twenty feet of line actually being cast.  If the rod and/or leader/tippet is longer than what I referenced above, then the amount of line being cast is going to be even shorter than this.

    Maybe you (and a lot of your friends) typically fish that “short” but I know I don’t.  But if the above claim is true, that’s the case or there must be a whole lot of Tenkara and “dapping” going on to skew the numbers.  But even if the fish is actually only thirty feet up stream from me, I’m still likely to need more line and a longer cast to get above them and be able to drift into their feeding lane.

    “Most fly fishing occurs within thirty feet of fly line being beyond the tip top.”

    That I can buy.

    “Thirty feel from the angler…”

    That I’m not so sure about.  (But perhaps that is simply telling of my ineptitude.)

    ~ DFG

    #3007

    Lightline
    Participant

    30+ feet of fly line is more my “normal,” especially on the bigger, open rivers. I usually fish 8-9 foot rods, and 13-17 foot leaders. 15-30 feet of line on creeks or in small side channels. Rod length doesn’t figure into it because I usually stop the rod high for a reach or pile. If the fish is 40 feet away, I’ll need to cast 30-35 feet of line in most cases.

    #3008

    JoeFriday
    Participant

    It all depends on where I’m fishing. There are definitely some streams in my state (particularly the Driftless Area) where 30 ft from the angler is quite common. Personally, I find that distance a little tight, but it is often necessary with the tricky currents on waters that are only 15 feet wide and bending every 40 feet.

    On bigger water, I’m usually in the 40-50ft range then. I can only recall a few times that I was casting longer than that, probably due to streambed conditions not allowing any closer wading.

    When I get the chance, I like to open my cast up and watch the leader turn over. Someday I’ll manage to make ‘the perfect cast’ and after that I’ll probably have to focus my attention on something else… like catching fish.

    Brett

    #3012

    Eric Peper
    Participant

    If I’m fishing a good hatch or spinner fall, I’m typically holding the rod with the fly hooked to a guide and the leader and fifteen or so feet of fly line hanging downstream and another 15 or so feet of line coiled in my hand. This allows me to make an almost instantaneous cast to any riser within reasonable range. It’s a system I picked up on my own, but now when I look at other anglers who are regulars on my home water, I note most of them are doing the same thing.

    Eric

    #3013

    Dry Fly Guy
    Keymaster

    So if I’m understanding you correctly Eric, you have 30 feet of fly line at your ready disposal (15 feet hanging downstream plus 15 in your hand), plus the length of the leader. Which if my memory serves is another 14-16 feet. (You and Lightline are my long leader heroes.)

    So even without the line in your hand, you’re capable of casting to a target ± 30 feet away. (Excluding any slack line presentation like Lightline’s Pile cast you might be wanting to do.)

    Did I get that right?

    ~ DFG

    #3014

    Eric Peper
    Participant

    Yup. That’s about it. Again, I emphasize this is really a YMMV situation. It’s a comfortable way to wade and fish the slow waters of the Henry’s Fork or any similar big, flat tailwater, but it wouldn’t work in a fast, rocky or sweeper strewn river.

    The other aspect of this is that I seldom make a straightaway cast. Most are puddles, or air mends, or “stop” casts with leader and line ending in loose curves to permit a drag free drift through conflicting currents or to cope with the ever-present breezes.

    Eric

    #3015

    Creek
    Participant

    Just depends on what kind of fishing your doing. The majority of my fishing is in faster freestone creeks and rivers. I’m mostly fishing pocket water. A 30 ft cast would be long for me. I only use 6-7′ leaders, and shorter rods. A 30′ cast for me has plenty of line out. I use rods that will almost load with just leader. I have no need for fast rods, or long cast. Getting close is my style.

    I’m hardly ever shooting any line anymore. I pinch the line on the grip, and have just the amount of line I need out. That way I know exactly where it’s going to land. Pocket water casts need to be very accurate.

    When i’m fishing runs and pools i’ll still use a similar method. Dry fly fishing is all about presentation. It’s more difficult to control drag with a lot of line out. My goal is to always catch the fish with as little line out as possible.

    It’s my style to always get close. It even carries over to my hunting. Elk, deer, and bear. Shots are never over 50yds. Closer is even better.

    Being blind in one eye, and poor vision in the other. Has forced me to learn how to get close. Fish and hunt like a cat. It’s rewarding, and fun.

    #3154

    Jasonbu
    Participant

    Something else to consider though it may be simply rubbish. I was casting at a Cabela’s one day and we came inside and the gentleman working there was clearly happy and said he just loved casting with me. He said it was nice to actually cast with somebody who could appreciate the finer qualities of the rods. I figured it was a sales pitch, but it wasn’t. He went on to say that roughly 1 in 22 or 1 in 25 guys that demoed fly rods could actually cast a loop. They were keeping track. Where am I going with this? Maybe the majority of fish are landed within 30′ of the caster because that is as far as the average caster can manage to heave a line. I know, its a long shot, but I figured I would throw it out there. Statistics have a funny way of hiding the truth, just ask your local politician…

    Jb

    #3155

    Eric Peper
    Participant

    Funny you mention that Jason. The conventional wisdom is you don’t have to be able to cast 90 feet, but if you can, you’ll also cast a lot better than most people at 30 feet. I really enjoy getting close for fishing casts because I love watching the take, but when I try a rod or am trying to fit a line to a rod, I’ll pace off a measured 60 feet and begin casting in small increments until I am casting consistently accurately to the 60 foot mark. (That’s net of rod length and leader BTW.) Anything beyond 60 for me is very circumstantial; i.e., wind, currents, etc and seldom worth measuring as a rod test unless it’s a saltwater rig.

    Eric

    #3157

    Creek
    Participant

    I got hooked on long casting early in my career. I even entered a few long casting tournaments.. It was fun for awhile, but dropping a dry softly in a small circle at 30′ takes more talent, and is much more rewarding.

    #3839

    Dark Waters
    Participant

    I think it just depends on the application.

    A few months ago I removed my 75′ Cadno DT3 silk line from the reel and marked it with a red sharpie at the half way point, or at about 37.5 feet. The one end of the line is well broken in, to about 30 – 32′. This line is fished on 6’3″ and 7′ rods with dry flies so that is pretty telling in and of itself.

    I think it’s important to be able to cast at distance, why not? It’s really more for other types of fishing though.

    When I had a 9′ 5wt Winston B2X I could cast all 90′ of a Triangle Taper line and tempt bluegills with a stimulator, sometimes they would hook themselves – just for fun. The leader, tippet and first few feet of line would often resemble free falling spaghetti rather than anything else.

    For dries, can I see it?!? Is the biggest limit to distance to me, which leads to, am I getting a drag free drift? If I can’t see the fly, I can’t see the drift and if I’m not getting strikes I’m likely just wasting time and will fish closer.

    In contrast, if I’m fishing a favorite inlet for striped bass with a (excuse me) streamer.. I want to cast out and let the fly swing deep and slow while I strip it in. I could cast all the line if I choose to, but usually will leave 20-30 feet on the reel. Either way it’s a good way to get into the backing if a fish takes – and I love that kind of fishing as much as any I’ve ever done.

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