I caught a small handful of fish on “the first cast” this past weekend as I made my way up a small stream in central Colorado. Missed a handful of strikes that happened on the first cast, too. But that’s enough about that part of the story. “Be ready on the first cast …” words from a friend that I was finally wise enough to hear!
Small streams give you plenty of opportunities for “the first cast.” We made our way up the 3.5 miles of creek, fishing the small pools and runs all along the way. And we cast our dry fly just under the tall grass on the other side of the creek. We cast across the riffles as the creek split to move around a small island. Strikes all along the way as we played different stretches of water. I started thinking about the whole idea of “the first cast.”
Of course, when you first get to the pool or run, your first cast may actually be the first of the day – or even week – for those fish. Make it count. I always have to breathe a little, slow myself down, so the first cast is a quality one. I’ve spooked my share of fish by rushing or not getting a feel for not only the water – where do I want to place my fly? – but also for what’s behind me. In my rush to get the fly on the water, I have gotten snagged by either not looking behind me or not looking next to me for what could ruin that first cast.
Variations on the theme: many opportunities arise for “the first cast” as you make your way upstream. I switched flies after a few drifts down one part of the water. Bang. Strike. That first cast was with a black foam caddis. I moved upstream just a few crawls on my knees to cast between some overhanging branches that formed an arch over the water. Bang. Strike. Just a few feet of distance on the water can be a “first cast” for a couple of fish holding in that pool.
While it may be a stretch to think of the “first cast” with these variations, by changing flies, position, and even the angle of my approach, I can offer the fish a different view of the fly, a different drift line, or a different fly in the same stretch of the water. It helps me stay focused, too, in thinking that every cast can be something like “the first cast.”
My favorite of the weekend was “the first cast” in a new run where the small brown took the caddis at just the time the fly hit the water. That’s the joy of small stream fishing and the beauty of the first cast.
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Women's Fly Tying class series: Class 3, Advanced tying techniques, Dry flies