It is said that practice makes perfect but how many of us practice
flycasting on the stream in real fishing conditions? Very few. I have a
practical suggestion that works for me.

Whenever I used to spook a big trout when wading or whenever I put down a
big trout by sloppy casting, I used to chalk it up to experience and go on
fishing. I still do that if I am into a situation where the fish are
feeding actively. But, by moving on to the next fish, I discovered I wasn't
learning much except how to spook trout.

Most large trout have a favorite lie or feeding area and will return to it
time and again. These may be prime lies which will hold trout even if it is
not the same one you spooked. It then stands to reason that by practicing
your presentation repeatedly to the actual lie of the trout, you will
improve your chances of catching that trout the next time. And because you
are practicing with a purpose it will hold your interest and you will
improve. It will also reveal faults in your casting strategy and skills
which need improvement.

This is my approach to the situation after I have blown a cast or spooked a
good fish:

I mark the spot mentally so that I will remember it the next time. I do
this especially if I have inadvertantly spooked a good fish. I always
remember where I caught the big ones and I always fish those lies
religeously each time. Don't you? I'm saying remember where you spooked
them as well.

Secondly, I ask myself what is the best approach to the lie. Where do I
want to be when I make the cast? If I blew the presentation, I ask myself
if there was a better approach to the trout? Could I be in a different
location to make an easier presentation? Along with this I look at my
casting strategy and ask if there is any hinderance which makes the cast
difficult or impossible. This is usually a branch that catches your
backcast or a low lying branch that can hang up your forward cast. If it is
a dead branch I remove it. If it is alive, I leave that decision up to you.

Then I ask myself why. Why did I blow the presentation. Was it equipment?
Too heavy or too light? Usually it's drag. Sometimes it is the fly. If it
is the fly and there are not other trout rising in or near the lie, I will
wade into the lie and sample the surface. This is tricky because the trout
that you spook could very well up go to where you plan to fish next,
spooking those trout as well. It's the fish telegraph effect so I do this
only if I am really desperate to catch that fish.

If it is drag, again ask why and try to analyse what you could have done
differently. An in the air mend perhaps rather than a reach mend. A
downstream approach with a parachute mend rather than an up and across
cast. A whirlpool? Try a puddle cast - with a long tippet.

Once you have decided, get into position. If you need to be on one knee,
get down. Now try to make your presentation. Keep practicing until you can
make the cast or are reasonably sure there is no way you can make the cast.
If you can't make the cast ask why. The answer will usually be that you
lack the skills to make the type of cast or mends necessary for an adequate
presentation. You have just exposed a weakness in your skills that needs
improvement, and you have learned something *very important* about your

Now you have some incentives to *work* on those skills. If you were
successful, the next time you need to fish to that lie you will have a plan
and will have executed that plan before. Your chances have improved

Copyright 1996 by Henry Kanemoto.
No reproduction, electronic or otherwise, is allowed without permission of
the author.