Tip of the Month

December Tip of the Month

Happy Holidays to everyone.  Think about giving your special someone a gift certificate for casting lessons this year. Call me at 337-344-0908 and I will get it to you before Christmas.

Keith Richard, MCI

November Tip of the Month

A recent trip to the Grand Isle area reminded me of the benefit of knotless leaders. While fishing for redfish after having forgotten to bring along a net, I was attempting to lift the 8lb. red out of the water by picking it out of the water by the custom made leader. To my disappointment, the leader snapped at the barrel knot between the 20 lb. and 15 lb. fluorocarbon section. What happened? Bad knot, possibly. Bad fluorocarbon, possibly. Bad technique, possibly. What I do know is that if I had simply used a 3 ft. leader of straight 15 or 20 lb. line with one end attached to the fly line and the other end to the fly, the line would most likely have held. Another lesson for “simpler is better”.


October Tip of the Month

When it comes to the topic of “Accuracy” there are many facets worth discussing. For the purposes of this discussion, we will break it up into a couple of segments, the last of which will be covered in next month’s Tip of the Month. Let’s begin by covering Stance, Clothing, and Grip. For the cast which is relatively close in nature, i.e., 20-30ft. or so, a slightly closed stance or even a square stance is appropriate. It is much like that used when throwing darts (the right foot is slightly ahead of the left foot for a right handed caster and the reverse for a southpaw) or both feet are directly below the shoulders forming a square with the shoulders, hence the term square stance. Since the cast is short requiring very short stroke lengths and narrow arcs, we can easily accomplish the necessary mechanics of the cast with the above stance. As the length of the cast grows longer, it will become necessary to increase our stroke length and arc. Such increases may require us to move our right foot rearward of the left foot. Not all casting styles will require such a repositioning of the right foot, however. With a high elbow style of casting (that of Master Bruce Richards) and elbow to the side style (that of Lefty Kreh) it will be necessary to position the right foot farther and farther to the rear to allow for the increases in stroke length and arc needed to cast greater and greater distances without tailing loops. Make sure your clothing allows for the increased body movements without restriction so as to accomplish the longer body movements as we increase our casting distances. Avoid Velcro or any article of clothing such as baggy pockets which can snag the fly line as we false cast or shoot line. Keep aritcles dangling off fly vest closely attached to the vest. Hemostats on a lanyard have ruined many a fine cast and spoiled a chance at an unsuspecting trout. While many grips are promoted by numerous fly casting authors, we will discuss the merits of three, the thumb on top, the “V” grip and the pointer finger on top grips. For those short casts, as in the case of shooting darts mentioned above, the pointer finger on top is a fine grip to use. Many spring creek fishermen use this grip to perform the delicate short casts required with small flies at short distances. As the distances increase and we need more power in the grip, an excellent choice is the thumb on top grip. This grip allows us to utilize the muscles of our wrist when casting longer lengths of line. When we begin reaching distances of say “50ft. or more”, there is an inherent fault with this grip, however. As we begin to reach farther rearward during the back cast, our wrist reaches its’ limit in its’ ability to travel straight rearward and begins a slight turn to the left. This results in the tip of the rod traveling to the left as well opening up the loop and the two legs of the loop not to travel in parallel. Accuracy and distance will suffer. Once you notice this problem occurring, you may consider the option of switching to a “V” grip similar to that which tennis players grip their tennis racket handles. This grip will allow you to reach as far back as you desire during the back cast without the wrist twisting. Tighter loops with parallel legs will result. Anxious to know more, well you will have to wait till next month’s Tip of the Month. Tight lines and tighter loops.


September Tip of the Month

When introducing children to the sport of fly fishing, several things need to be considered to make it an enjoyable experience for the child to get “hooked” on the sport. Pun intended. Consider the age and physical characteristics of the child. Some experts agree that until around the age of 10 or so, children aren't physically able to handle such long and seemingly awkward equipment. With this in mind, should you decide to let your child try the sport on for size, consider scaling down the equipment. Try a 7 1/2 or 8 ft. rod rather than his grandfather's 9 ft. heavy fiberglass pole. Todays gear is much lighter and may fit him or her better. Introduce them to smaller species at first requiring say a 4 wt. rod, line and reel rather than introducing them to redfish with a much heavier 8 wt. rig. If their first experience is positive, they are more likely to continue. Consider a lesson or two with a professional who may wish to consider teaching them how to cast with both hands rather than just one. Hope this is good food for thought. While you are at it, consider signing up for our next full day casting session at the Camp Fly Fishing School. I can be reached at (337)344-0908 or e-mail me at krichardthecamp@yahoo.com


August Tip of the Month

When you are considering the purchase of a fly fishing reel, first consider these questions and possibly save your hard earned money.  You may need the dollars saved to put on a new rod or extra lines instead.
1.  Will the reel do little else than store the flyline?  If not, buy a less expensive reel.  These will generally be of cast aluminum  and will be adequate for the job at hand. 
2.  Am I going to be using the reel in the salt?  If not, stay away from the more expensive anodized reels which helps to prevent the effects of the salt water. 
3.  Do I need an expensive drag system?  If your quarry won't be taking drag screeching runs like bonefish, why invest in a drag system you routinely won't need.  Even redfish can be handled quite nicely with a little practice without the routine use of an expensive drag. 
4.  How much backing do I really need?  Again, if you don't fish for species which are known for long runs, stay away from larger reels which generally drives the price up. 
Want to learn more, consider signing up for our upcoming clinic on Sept. 10th.


July Tip of the Month

Consider shortening your leader if you are having difficulty turning over your loop at the end of a moderately long cast.  If you are having difficulty desingning or modifying your leader, why not join us at one of our advanced casting clinics where we discuss leader design?  The upcoming clinc is Sept. 10th. 

 


June Tip of the Month

If you are just getting started in the world of flyfishing, consider joining a local club.  Fly Fishing club members can be some of the most sharing people on the planet.  It has been my experience that they typically love to help newcomers learn the art of their passion.  Incredible fly tyers are most often some of the best teachers.  The learning curve regarding fly casting can be shortened from years to months.  A good place to start is the Federation of Fly Fishers.  Their website can be a source for instructors and clubs in your area.  Clubs generally meet monthly and have fly tying sessions on a regular basis as well.  Annual fees generally run anywhere from $15 to $35 per year.  If joining a club is not your thing, another consideration is attending a fly fishing conclave.  Conclaves are generally held annually and sponsored by the local clubs, regional counsels or national fly fishing organization, the FFF.  Obtaining info about the conclaves can, also, be obtained from the FFF website or by contacting the local club members.  Conclaves are typically 1-4 days in length and are a meeting place for some of the best fly tyers and fly casting instructors in the country.  Many of the instruciton is free to the public or provided for a nominal fee. The cost is always worth the info you will obtain. Hope to see you at one of the upcoming conclaves.


May Tip of the Month

Practice sessions should be focused with one or two specific purposes in mind in 15 to 20 min. sessions, 5 days a week.  I believe this will bring better results than hour plus long sessions 7 days a week.  During practice sessions, the goal is to develop muscle memory which can be duplicated when fishing at a time when you don't want to be thinking about every aspect of the cast.  You just do it and the fly goes where it is intended.  Practicing correctly, slowly, and purposely will develop good muscle memory.  Casting rapidly for hours when your muscles are surely fatigued will not get you the desired result.  It will only increase your odds of developing some form of tendinitis in your wrist, elbow or shoulder.  Keep a rod strung by an exit door ready for use and get out there in the morning prior to leaving for work for 15 min.  If you like, repeat the process when returning in the evening.  Remember to cast with a purpose and keep the sessions short. One last thing, always cast to a target.
Once again, 15 to 20 min. sessions.  Your wife and family won't miss you and you will be impressed with the results.


April Tip of the Month

When out practicing, remember the basics and begin each cast with the rod tip low to the ground/water.  This will allow you to see if there is any slack in the layout which should be taken out by stripping the line in or making a roll cast.  Practicing this simple maneuver will keep you from developing some bad habits and costly coaching sessions.  To learn more about this potential problem, review "Common Casting Error No. 11". Hope to see you at one of our upcoming clinics this year.

 



March Tip of the Month

Recently I had the pleasure of fishing the Louisiana coastline with accomplished fellow anglers I have grown to respect for their casting abilities. Up to this point in time my fishing experience with them had been for cold water species for which they excelled in making excellent cast with long leaders and light flies.

However, this was not to be the case this particular weekend chasing reds in the marsh. The cast rarely landed where expected and so the ongoing discussion as to” Why?” steered more at blaming the wind and less to do with the real problem.

All too often the wind gets a bad rap. There are a few times when it can actually be your friend. Positioning the boat so that I am casting downwind is often a fruitful endeavor. It often helps to mask noise or movement made by the caster, especially in clear and/or skinny water. The wave action can hide you from the fish you may have otherwise gotten too close to.

They reiterated to me how their practice sessions were very productive and accuracy didn't seem to be a problem. The problem stems from the fact that most of us practice with yarn or small flies with the hook cut off and only practice when the wind is calm. Their line set- up matched their cold water needs, long leaders with flimsy tippets, not the present fishing conditions they found themselves in at the time.

As I mentioned before, it wasn't the wind giving my friends the excuse they needed to hear. It was their set-up. Used to fishing clear water for cold water species, they were accustomed to 9 ft. plus leaders and light flies to avoid spooking the fish and matching the hatch. This day, however, the species sought called for a toad fly pattern with a considerably larger hook, 2/0 for example instead of the 16s and 18s they were accustomed. The 9 ft. leaders simply did not allow for adequate control of the large flies. We cut the leaders back to 5 ft. and while this helped, it wasn't enough. We then tied on smaller profile toads and their accuracy improved along with our hook up rate.

The real message here is that whenever possible, for best control of your fly, use of the shorter leaders and smaller flies can be much easier to cast accurately than those long flimsy leaders with large profile flies. Also, make your practice sessions mimic your upcoming fishing conditions. If you are preparing for a trip to the coast for reds, practice when it's windy with short leaders and large flies. Now watch YOUR catch rate improve.

By the way, don't forget to call about our upcoming classes in April and May.  (337)344-0908

 


February Tip of the Month

While most fly fishermen/women I speak with will admit to their love affair with dry flies, it holds true that most of the feeding by the fish we seek is done under the surface. We are drawn to the dry fly for the thrill in the splash. The surprise! The visual effect of seeing the fish rise to take the lure is, to me, the equivalent of the thrill of making a great 50 yd. shot at passing doves. When it happens, we're all smiles. So while this method of seducing our prey to the fly is, perhaps, aesthetically pleasing, the fact remains that more creels are filled with fish caught on sub surface lures. It would behove all of us to practice the techniques necessary to productivlely fish for our game with clousers, nymphs, leech patterns, or droppers, to name a few. The list goes on and on. Nymphing, for example, for cold water trout is arguably the most productive form of catching them, especially in the winter when few bugs are rising. Take the time to learn how to create and effectively fish dropper patterns. Join us at one of our casting clinics and discover how easy they are to make and fish effectively.


January Tip of the Month

When fishing wet flies, we often use fluorocarbon lines.  This line has a refractive index very
close to that of water and is nearly invisible to the fish (a claim made by the manufacturers, not  the
author).  An added advantage is that it, also, sinks.  When you attempt to change to a dry fly pattern, consider changing your tippet to regular mono or it will have an affect on the way the dry fly sits on the surface.  It's easy to forget this effect of the tippet on the fly but could be a costly one.

    Best of the New Year and Happy Holidays to you and yours.
    Keith & Debbie


December Tip of the Month

I am often asked how I determine what tippet size to use.  My response is a simple one.  I use the largest tippet I can that will pass two simple criteria. 
No.1.   It will NOT spook the quarry I am after?   If the tippet is too large, some species will avoid the bait.  I believe they see the line and simply avoid the bait, therefore, I use the largest which I feel I can get away with depending on the clairity of the water and the whims of the fish. 
No.2.   It will still allow the lure to perform in the manner I wish it to perform .  If the tippet is too large a lure which is suppose to swim may simple retrieve without any swimming action and come in straight.  A large diameter tippet may interfere with a topwater lures action as well.        I use the largest tippet I can that meets both criteria.  


November Tip of the Month

       I recently had the opportunity to fish with an old acquaintance.  It had been some time since we had been able to fish together.  It was a most enjoyable 2 days spent in the marsh chasing redfish.  The reason for my pleasureable experience had little to do with the cooperating fish and more to do with the new found info we found each other sharing with one another.  It was a reminder that sometimes we get comfortable doing the same thing over and over (fishing with the same partner because it's comfortable, you know how he or she thinks and you can predict what's going to happen.  It is simply PREDICTABLE and we all seem to want to avoid the unexpected.  I was reminded, however, by this trip that sometimes a new or renewed partner can be a refreshing departure fromt the old tried and true.  It allows for learning something new.  Perhaps a new fly pattern or knot or casting technique is in store.  So I challenge you to fish with a new partner this coming month and see what's waiting to surprise you.  For me it was some new redfish lure color patterns.  Surprisingly enough, the lures were almost identical to the tarpon flies he and I had used 2 years earlier.  Only the hooks were of a smaller ga. wire.  And, oh yeah, I learned a few new hunny holes as well.  Now go and find your new hot spot.


October Tip of the Month

     When it comes to the end of the day and you are putting your tackle away, pay special attention to the cleaning of the rod and reel.  When fishing in the salt, it is especially necessary to rinse the rod with fresh water to remove any salt deposits.  These deposits, if left to dry and attack metal surfaces, may casuse unnessary damage to the guides or any other metal parts of the rod.  This is expecially true of the reel where it may be more challenging to get to all the nooks and crevaces for a thorough cleaning and drying.  Take the reel apart as per manufacturer's recommendation and wash with warm, mild soapy water.  Removing the line and backing after leaving to soak in the soapy solution may be necessary to completely dry before putting them back on the reel.  This may seem tedious, especially if you have a few hundred yards of backing, howerer, may save you some displeasure the next time you examine your reel after it has been in storage for a while.  You know the saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."  In this case it may take more than just a pound. Dry your reel's parts completely with a hairdryer or soft cloth.  Treat your line as per manufacturer's recommendation and allow the backing to dry as well.  Now, reassemble the reel with the line and backing. Dry your rod thoroughly before putting it away in it's sock.  Now go get a good nite's sleep.  The fish will be biting tomorrow. 



September Tip of the Month

      If Tailing Loops are causing you some consternation in your casting, a simple remedy is to open the arc of the cast just a tad till the tail disappears.  We all occassionally throw them, however, the advanced caster sees them then immediately reacts with some simple maneuvers to get them to disappear on the very next cast.  Want to learn more about the causes and remedies of those knot tying tails, come to a casting clinic. We will teach you all you need to know to get rid of those tails.  To reserve your spot call Keith Richard , MCI at (337)344-0908 or e-mail me at krichardthecamp@yahoo.com   .

 


August Tip of the Month

If you haven't signed up for the upcoming Sept. 11th Advanced/Instructor's Prep Class, don't put it off much longer. This class is designed to help any casting student advance their casting skills, regardless of whether or not they intend to be an instructor. If you are preparing to take your CCI test any time soon, this is the refresher course for you to know if you are ready or not and to fine tune your skills. Contact Keith Richard, MCI at (337)344-0908


 

July Tip of the Month

Recently I was invited to fish a small river for bass for the day with a group of new acquaintances. As the day progressed, the fact that I operated a fly fishing school quickly spread and one member of the group became particularly interested in acquiring some casting advise. He was an excellent caster and I could tell this wasn't his first outing with a fly rod. Most of our cast were less than 30ft. in length. He admitted that while most of the cast were without fault, occasionally his line would not shoot. He admitted rarely having this difficulty with longer cast out West on larger streams when trout fishing. Shooting line was practically routine. “What's possibly going on”?

We discussed the fact that at the short distances we were routinely making, less than 25ft., the rod simply did not have enough resistance with which to fully load. I reminded him that any given rod with the appropriately weighted line for that rod needs the first 30ft. of fly line to fully load the rod. You can compensate for this and still make shorter cast and shoot a few feet of line by over lining the rod by one or two line weights or simply applying more speed or power to the cast. By “over lining” I mean using, for example, a 7or 8wt. line on a 6wt. rod. It turns out this was not his problem because he was appropriately adding enough power /speed that his line should be shooting fine.

A dirty line will not shoot well either. Nor was this his problem. The line was new and this was his first outing with it.

The timing of his release for the shoot was appropriate, as well.

I noticed he had several feet of slack line on the bottom of his kayak. I asked him how often he tried to shoot some or all of that slack line. “Oh, every 20 or so casts” was his reply. I informed him that every time he casts without casting the entire amount of line that he had stripped from his reel, he was imparting an inherent twist in that slack line. After making 20 casts and twisting his line each time, when he tried to shoot line, the slack had enough twist in it that it impeded his shooting abilities. In order to remove the twist, he needed to cast all of the line and retrieve it. On subsequent cast he would only remove from the reel the amount of line needed for that cast. That way no twist in the line was created. He would pull out more line from the reel only when he needed the extra line to shoot.

Problem solved and we went on to each catch our limit of 10 bass that day.


 

June Tip of the Month

I was recently asked to give some casting instruction on a small freshwater stream in Louisiana. The basic cast utilized was no more than 20-25 ft with overhanging limbs constantly creating challenges for the best of casters, even at those short distances. It soon became apparent that shorter rods (71/2 to 8ft.)would have made staying out of the tree limbs somewhat easier. The roll cast was, also, the obvious choice and not a difficult one to master in the low lying and easily maneuvered kayaks. However, many of the individuals complained that at those short distances, they couldn't get the rods to load properly. When you find yourself in that situation, remember that every rod is designed to load with the first 30ft. of a similarly weighted fly line. (A 7 wt. rod loads best with the first 30ft. of a 7 wt. line.) Since the cast were less than 30 ft. we compensated utilizing a technique called “overlining”. By using an 8 or even a 9wt. line we were able to get the rods to load and cast properly.


 

May Tip of the Month

Having trouble with the fly line not shooting through the guides? Could be a mismatch of the fly line to the rod. Perhaps it's technique? Most often, however, I find the primary fault lies with a dirty fly line. I am continually surprised at the number of students who fail to realize the importance of proper fly line maintenance. You spend a great deal of money purchasing a quality fly line. It has the potential to last for years IF properly maintained and not abused. Follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance procedure which accompanies it. Personally, I don't believe you can overdo the cleaning and treatment of the line. Fly lines will pick up microscopic algae, dirt, scum, etc. from the practice lawn and/or water and need to be routinely cleaned and treated. I cast every day weather permitting and clean my lines weekly or when I notice they don't perform properly. There are a number of good products on the market such as Teeny or Glide, and are available from various sporting good outlets such as Pack & Paddle and OCR in Lafayette, La. for just a few bucks. It's a minimum investment of time and money to insure your line will last for years. Also, avoid storing your line in direct sunlight and in tight coils. Avoid exposure to petroleum products and grease which have been linked to premature cracking of the outer coating of the line by leeching out the softeners in the fly line.

A clean and conditioned line will perform to the specs it was intended and will keep you performing at your max as well.


 

April Tip of the Month

Fluorocarbon Advantages:
1. Nearly invisible underwater
2. Breaks down over a period of years, therefore, line strength is more stable for the first 5 years or so.
3. Sinks because its’ specific gravity is greater than water.
4. Does not lose strength when wet.
Fluorocarbon Disadvantages:
1. Excess line is hazardous to fish and animals since it lasts a long time in the environment. Be sure not to leave your excess line in the water or on the ground. PICK UP YOUR TRASH.
2. Will alter the performance of top water lures by sinking.
3. Cost more than monofilament.
4. Somewhat more difficult to tie knots than monofilament.
Monofilament Advantages:
1. Can be treated with a flotant to float with the smallest of dry flies.
2. Breaks down quickly so I don’t recommend using line in excess of 12-18mo. old, especially in the smaller diameter lines (10lbs. or less). Once again, remember to PICK UP YOUR TRASH.
Monofilament Disadvantage:
1. You have to replace your line more often than fluorocarbon.
2. Tendency to absorb water.

A few other things to consider: “Is the species you are fishing for leader shy and demands a line with a light reflective index similar to water?” “Will you be fishing with dry or wet flies?”
Check back with us for more updates.