Fly-fishing Voices

The sound of silence 

Local fly fishing guide and columnist, Don Oliver, lights a cigar in anticipation of the morning ahead, fishing for trout along Lime Creek — one of his favorite haunts.
Photo Credit: Courtesy Jeremy Wade Shockley

After reading the above headline you are probably thinking this writer has finally lost it or is just a big fan of Simon & Garfunkel. If it is silent, how can it have any sound? Further, if you are a techie nerd, or have a degree in English, as does SWMBO, you would be right. However, I am not a nerd, nor after reading my columns will anyone in their right mind accuse me of having a degree in English. Therefore, I am free to think what I want. Ignorance can be so satisfying. 

The silence I am talking about is what you should hear when your cast is perfect. When you make a back cast, followed with a forward cast, there should be no line noise. I call any noise you hear a whooshing sound. It can be heard with either the back or forward cast. 

So, what makes a perfect cast? To start with, check your equipment. Your rod, reel, line, leader, and fly need to match. I’m not talking color, but weight and size. Your four-weight rod needs to have a reel that fits the rod. If you attach a ten-weight reel, designed for saltwater to a four-weight rod it will be butt heavy and difficult to cast. The cast will take lots of effort, which can cause the whooshing sound. With the proper reel attached, make sure it is spooled with a line matching the rod weight. Next, don’t put a heavy bass or saltwater leader on a rod set up for trout or panfish. Again, the force needed to make a cast with a rod that has line and leader that is over-or under-weighted for the rod will contribute to the whooshing. Lastly, the size fly you attach to the leader needs to reflect what you’re fishing for.  

If your rod, reel, line, leader, and fly don’t match, the power or force needed to make the back cast or forward cast will be difficult. Your back cast most likely will not straighten out, this is followed with extra effort to get the forward cast to go the distance you want. Even with extra power, your cast will usually fall short with a loud whooshing. It can be very frustrating. 

The reason I’m writing about this is that recently, while casting with my hearing aids in, I noticed that tell-tale whooshing sound. Since I’m not new to fly fishing it was a safe bet that my equipment was a perfect match. After discussing this with a friend, who is a very good caster, it was decided I was overpowering my cast. I was not letting my back cast straighten out. Then I was using more power on the forward cast, plus bringing my rod too far down. This resulted in my very own whooshing. To correct it I waited longer on my back cast, allowing the line to straighten out. When I did this, I needed less power on the forward cast. I also stopped my forward cast sooner allowing for a tighter loop. The tighter loop moved through the air faster with less effort and no whooshing. The cast also traveled the distance I wanted. My cast felt and sounded really good. 

Now, if you’ve been fly fishing a long time, have developed a good whooshing style, are catching fish, and really don’t care if people around you are moving away from you to enjoy some quite time, don’t change. If, on the other hand, a whooshing sound bothers you, follow some of the advice above. Or just take your hearing aids out and enjoy fly fishing in total silence. I’m taking my hearing aids out. 

To top