There is no doubt that there are many “secret” tips in the world of fly fishing. These tips are meant to encourage an emerging angler to persist and learn more quickly what took many thousands of anglers before years of positive and negative experience. In my opinion, one tip stands out and on almost every guide trip I have ever done I try and get across at some level the importance of a good reach cast. For beginners just mentioning the possibility of including the mend in the cast gives them a level of aspiration to achieve. For more advanced casters often it is simply showing them how to correctly do the reach cast and by the end of the day they are throwing high fives.
To be honest, I cannot recall when I picked up on the reach cast, likely early in my years in Jackson Hole, a point when I refined my dry fly presentation. Up until moving to Wyoming from Alaska and Georgia I had primarily fished wet flies… bunny leeches, buggers, clousers and a ton of nymphs. But the new challenge here was a perfect presentation with a small dry on the Henry’s Fork or Flat Creek, and without a good reach cast those challenges were not easy to perform and at times impossible. Since then I have incorporated a reach in almost all my fishing, whether I am on a river or lake the cast sets up any basic presentation that would require even a subtle mend the chance to keep the fly properly in the strike zone a bit longer, the essence of presentation.
The basic mechanics of this “modified” cast are quite simple and with some practice it seems to come more intuitive and easier to master. Here are my tips to get started:
1- Get into a relaxed false cast rhythm with the basic overhead cast. If you tend to haul a lot try and minimize until you feel the reach is effective.
2-On the delivery of the last forward loop allow the loop to nearly unfurl and begin to sweep the casting arm in the direction of the desired reach. You are simply changing the trajectory of the bottom side of the loop(running line). This sweep is either going to be to the outside of your body or across the front of your chest.
3-Once the line is on the water then additional mends or stacking line is perfectly ok. The idea of the reach cast is to give the angler an extra advantage over river currents or wind lines.
The reach cast is not limited to dry fly fishing, use it while fishing streamers and nymphs to get the flies sinking as soon as they hit the water. Remember to keep it simple, it is a slight modification to the basic cast but the benefits can be huge. Good Luck out there and keep learning!