Trout bravely, life/casting coaching

I have a fear of guiding for trout.  

Living in a small rural community we do not have access to many of the services that folks in larger towns might.

One thing lacking here is the type of therapy that would help me work through the anxiety associated with quantifying success in trout fishing.

When you are steelhead fishing, or salmon fishing, and you catch one, you have succeeded.

That’s simple.  But I am really not sure how this fits with trout fishing.  Catching one coastal cutthroat is cool, but it does not in and of itself raise the day to an unqualified success.

Yes of course, “being outside”,” Fresh air”, “look at the eagle”, “Just great being here” and all that shit.  I am totally on board with that, and I really do think its true.  

But ONE trout ?

No, you need more.  To catch a lot of trout on the north coast you need at least one of two things.  One is for the trout fishing to be really good.  That is, lots of hungry cutthroat around, eating bugs, and well rested.

And or two, you need to be a really good trout fisherman.

Item 2 is a lot more interesting to me.  Because it turns out the skill set involved in being really good at catching coastal cutthroat is identical to the skill sets involved in catching salmon, steelhead, bonefish, snook, striped bass and eel pout.

Step one.

Understand and develop the skills required in casting a one handed fly rod.

This requires decent fly gear, a little coaching, and a lot of practice.  

Here are a couple awesome video’s that really get to the heart of good fly fishing.

The video by Capt. Chris Meyers is super basic, and pretty much perfect.  These are moves you should practice, a lot.

The video by by Carl McNeil is the greatest fly fishing video of all time.  I have bought it and I can tell you, for sure, if you practice once a week, for a summer, you will be able to throw all those casts.

In fact I will bet you. (more on that later)


Neither one of these guys are casting a super fast rod. Food for thought.

Notice in the Carl McNeil video he never says “the most important thing in fly fishing is to be able to get a piece of yarn to the other side of a parking lot really fast”

Tight loops are a solid place to begin to learn how to fly cast.  You should be able to cast effortless loops with a sink tip, indicator, chicken fly, whatever.

The casts in carl Mcneill should be considered basic fly casts.  That is to say, if you haven’t learned to reach cast, wiggle mend and one hand spey cast, you have not learned the basics of one handed fly casting.

What bums me out is that these casts are REALLY EASY, but very few fly fishers even begin to try.

Once you have a firm foundation in the basics of casting, you can begin to think about the basics of presentation.

Wait, hold on, I am definitely not saying you should not go fishing, a lot, in the mean time.

You should be stopping on the puget sound for a shiner perch, lake washington for a semi-torpid winter blue gill,any where, for anything.

I feel like one of the best approaches to learning more about casting and presentation is to dedicate say, 15 min of each trips fishing time to practicing  a certain technique.

Casting in a parking lot, or on the grass, is fine, But you will only increase your skill level there if you challenge yourself.

Try this: 

1.How slowly can you cast a tight loop to 40 feet?  What is the least amount of effort that will achieve this?

Practice at that speed and effort level each session.

2. What is the largest thing you can tie to your leader and still cast a good loop?  Start with adding a bunch of yarn, then a bunch more.  Then try a dog toy or a hot dog, wiffle ball.  Try to make it hard.

3.Don’t worry much about distance. Using a well balanced rod line combo, if you can cast a good loop effortlessly to 40 ft you have developed the form to cast pretty much as far as you want. So concentrate everything on perfection at 40 ft.

If you are hammering away and throwing open or tailing loops trying to get to 80 ft, you are ruining your form, and maybe your shoulder.

So once you have basic casting in the bag, you just need to get your presentation in order.

Catching fish like this is often relatively easy, if you have a firm grip on the basics.

The most interesting thing about this even after scouring the internet for a full 15 min I could not find a video that did justice to this topic.

Presentations fall into several categories, aimed at achieving hundreds of different goals.

In short we want complete control of the fly in any situation.  The ability to control its speed, direction and depth at all times.

This is accomplished with correct rigging and mending, but more importantly…….


Jim Kerr

raincoast guides

Forks wa

Posted in Winter Steelhead Fly Fishing Report | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

10 Responses to Trout bravely, life/casting coaching

  1. Paul says:

    Excellent write up Jim. Excellent.

    I’ve always enjoyed catching and releasing cutties …just as challenging
    and rewarding as the big fish.

  2. ROOSTER says:

    You should probably stick to steelhead.
    And come instruct at the guide school I am putting on in May.
    You and Billy can car-pool.

  3. Ken Johnson says:

    So, what would bee a more successful day, one three-pound sea-run from the boat on the Quillayute, or twenty 6-10 inch cutties walking the upper Hoko?

  4. GLaw says:

    I’m intrigued by the eel pout

  5. Dan K says:

    Nice to read something non-holy-sh#@-the world is ending related… thanks for that.

    Folks’ attitudes on casting is interesting. I know a handful of people who are equally avid golfers and anglers… all of whom who will gladly hit bucket after bucket of balls to improve their swing, to get some minor tweak that might gain them 5% more distance or control… yet how many anglers take even remotely that approach when it comes to casting, to taking time to practice, to learn new casts…

    People tend to be self deprecating about their golf swings, yet defensive about their casting abilities…

    Good read and thanks Jim.

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