Trip Report 2019

Trips during this years block booked period of July and August received glowing reports on both the fishing and the services provided at the Villages Lodge. After all the turmoil with the appointment of a new head guide in late 2018 then the sudden loss of Shimano, Bob as new head guide with Beia as his deputy, have stepped up and are doing a great job in organising the guide rosters and the daily fishing activities. This together with the hard working staff who keep everybody well fed, those who service the rooms and those who tend to the thirsts at night are ensuring that The Villages is building on its reputation as the premier lodge to visit on Kiritimati.

As the result of some issues last year, we decided this year to have either Andy Vockler or myself present for the whole 8 week period to make sure everything ran smoothly. These issues usually arise when there are inexperienced group leaders who unaware of the island system and consequently have problems with resolving situations to everybody’s satisfaction.

Andy Vockler’s Report on Weeks 3 July – 31 July

In July, I had the pleasure of being at the Villages for the entire month looking after 4 different groups of anglers. The best part was being there for the entire month and fishing through a full moon cycle. Over the month all of the fisherman caught plenty of great fish. This year saw lots of good sized bonefish with plenty caught in the 3–6lb. range,a good number of 7lb. fish were caught as well and of course there we plenty of stories of the one that got away.

Our guides worked tirelessly making sure all clients were fully satisfied at the end of each day. Another pleasing aspect for me was the advancement of our younger “trainee” guides, all of them are developing into fine guides, they do themselves, their families and the Villages proud. Great reports and feedback was received about them all from the anglers.

Over the full moon we fished the Paris Flat bonefish aggregation. I don’t think I can recall seeing so many big bonefish in the one spot. Massive schools of fish!! The surprising thing for me was that they were also swimming on the surface. Fast stripped flies would see 6 and 7 lb. bonefish peel off and chase the fly down like little tunas, very visual and a lot of fun. Over the neap tides we fished for shallow water bonefish and trigger fish. Once again lots were caught and as always plenty were lost for various reasons.

A few groups fished the Korean wreck on several occasions for a good variety of solid bonefish, triggers, bluefin and GT. One memorable capture down there was from Marty, an angler from Tassie who managed a very good barracuda on a clouser. Lucky he hooked it in the side of the jaw as he wasn’t fishing with any wire trace. Milkfish were always available just outside the lagoon during the early mornings on the run out tides. As is always the case with milkfish, thousands of casts were made over the weeks with a total of 6 fish landed, that’s milkfishing!! The GT’s were plentiful throughout the month with some great fish caught on Orvis, Nine Mile, Smokey and up around the backcountry. Throughout the month we were blessed with fabulous weather with only a couple of days lost to heavy cloud. I can’t wait to do it all again next year!!

Nial Logan’s Report on Weeks 31 July – 28 August

The fishing was much the same as in Andy’s report with plenty of bonefish and the inevitable tales of lost triggers. Late one afternoon, one of the groups encountered a feeding mayhem by a pack of GT”s, estimated in excess of 50, creating mayhem on a large baitball near Orvis Flat. They managed to pull 3 or 4 up to about 40lb out of it and reported that there were some huge specimens that refused the flies. Needless to say they came back to the lodge a bit shell shocked. The last 2 weeks of the month saw an increase in the wind speed to about 30-40 km per hour for close to 24 hours a day. Needless to say a lot of the popular flats on the far side of the lagoon and close to the lodge were unfishable due to the stirred up sand resulting in cloudy water. Consequently, areas at the back of the lagoon, the backcountry and nine mile flat area were the only opinions to find clear water. It takes longer to get there but the fishing justified the extra time on the boat to get there.

Another 9 young potential guides underwent a week of training. It is a necessity to keep the “production line” going to ensure there is a full quota of trained competent guides available. It takes a 3 year apprentership  before they are classified as a fully qualified guide. The training involved setting up the gear, knots, learning to cast both right and left hand, some simple fly tying and a days fishing where they were given pointers to casting to fish, stripping, fighting, landing and handling the fish to ensure a healthy release. It still amazes me how quickly they pick up the basics of casting. The ones showing potential and who have a reasonable grasp of English are referred onto the head guide for further evaluation and on the job training. It’s rewarding to see the the trainees for the last few years doing so well, getting good reports and enjoying their work.

The king of the kids. Colin Merriman had been helping out the preschool with printer, ink and a supply of paper to assist the teachers with their lessons. In appreciation, they performed some traditional dances as well as providing lunch.

Some Photos from this Year






Customising a Stripping Basket

by Nial Logan

Love them or hate them, there are instances where a stripping basket is as essential as your fly rod. If you are a saltwater exponent, where management of 70 or 80 feet of flyline is critical, they are invaluable. Whether you will be wading an estuary, standing knee deep in the surf, fishing off the stones or just walking the shore watching for an opportunity to present itself,  never leave home without one. Many of the commercially available baskets, while having some good design features, are let down by equally bad shortcomings. Whatever design you finally decide on, practice or use it on a regular basis and become familiar with its use. Use it once and you will quickly decide it is not for you.

The original home made stripping basket made use of a plastic 20 litre box however the ones now available are brittle and crack very easily. After some research, the following design has been trialled both here in Australia and overseas and has proved to fulfil all requirements and it’s still cheap to produce. It can be quickly taken apart and is ideal for storing reels to prevent damage when travelling.

Materials List

 Plastic bucket with handles – can be found in hardware stores and most cheap shops but some are made of a thinner material than others. Try and locate one made of a thicker material. The bucket size used is 32cm diameter across top and 23cm high.

Closed cell foam – camping mats are ideal

Toilet seat retaining screws – 2

Silicon Nozzles – 7


Step 1 – carefully remove the handles with a sharp knife


Step 2 –  use a hole saw and drill 3 holes about 3cm up the side of what will be the back of the basket for drainage.  These will eventually be on the side closest to your body. If water gets in, this allows you grasp the front of the basket and tilt it towards you to drain any water out quickly.


Step 3 – Make the two attachment points by pop rivetting 2 small stainless saddles spaced about 20cm apart and 2-3cm down from the top of the bucket. Alternatively, the cheapest way is to drill two holes and make a loop by knotting each end of some stiff cord on the inside of the bucket. These are the attachment points for the belt straps that position the basket below waist level to enable long strips. Note – if using pop rivets use some thin aluminium as reinforcement to prevent the heads of the pop rivets pulling through the plastic.


Step 4 – The secret of any basket design is to have some sort of retaining clip for the flyline coming from the reel. If you don’t have one, the action of casting will pull the line on the bottom of the basket causing the line on top to tangle. I think this is the main reason a lot of people find baskets troublesome. The clip will also stop the line spilling out of the basket in strong wind or as you move around.
It was found the best system is comprised of hook and loop velcro attached to the side of the basket. Position it on the front end of the basket with the opening facing out away from you. One piece (about 2-3 inches long) with hooks is attached to the side of the basket (pop rivet in each corner). Stick the other piece with loops on a piece of flexible plastic and attach on top by one end at the rear with a pop rivet in each corner. The system allows the line to be pulled clear as the fish take up the slack line.


Step 5 – drill 2 x 9mm holes in the bottom that are large enough to thread the foam bottom retainers through. These are the plastic screws that are used on toilet seats and can be bought at hardware stores.

 img_4361_1  img_4367_1

Step 6 – Cut a piece of solid closed cell foam(camping mats are ideal) to fit neatly into the bottom of the bucket.

Step 7 – Place it in the bucket and drill holes for the retainer screws. Mark the position for the silicon nozzles and drill holes in the foam.

img_4365_1  img_4369_1

Basket assembled ready for use.

img_4371_1  img_4372_1

Step 8 – The basket is hung from two cord loops that are knotted on the top so that they can slide around the belt. This allows the basket to be positioned to suit individual preference for position. The loops lower the basket below waist level to allow long single handed strips when positioned on the side or double handed strips when positioned on the front. This avoids the uncomfortable necessity of holding the rod high to strip as you have to do with many of the commercial baskets that are worn about waist high. 

The lower ends of the cord loops are fitted with clips that connect to attachment points on the side of the basket. The basket can be unclipped or swung around out of the way when fighting a fish. More importantly, you can sit down in a boat with the basket on and still be ready to make a quick cast if an opportunity presents itself.

As a rough guide when making the loops measure the length so that top of the basket is positioned at the top of your thigh. Test the position and adjust to suit yourself.


Does Line Colour Really Matter?

Some time ago, we had an extended conversation about the colour of flylines used for bonefish on Christmas Island. It coincided with the time that Rio produced their orange bonefish line and subsequently the bonefish quickshooter hivis model. The conversation got to the stage that, in an endeavour to prove that colour has little influence on spooking fish, a variety of coloured lines were laid on the water. With the use of goggles and snorkel the opposing sides took it in turns to go under water and look up at the lines. From underwater all you can see is the dark under side of the line even clear lines.

When I returned home some research turned up the article below that about sums it up. My apologies because I can’t remember where it came from but it was penned by Louis Cahill.

Article by Louis Cahill

“Why do you need a bright coloured fly line and does it spook fish?

A reader asked for an opinion on this and that’s what you’re going to get….my opinion. This is one of those hotly contested arguments that anglers can’t seem to agree on and my saying one thing or another isn’t going to settle it. I do have strong opinions on the subject, so since you asked, here they are.

The colour of your fly line doesn’t matter, until it does.

For most fly fishing, if you’re doing things well the colour of your line doesn’t matter any more than the colour of your eyes. There are, however, times when it can make a difference and the difference may not always be what you think. When I make a purposeful choice on line colour, it’s usually not to keep the fish from seeing it.

What doesn’t matter

Assuming for the moment that we are talking about trout fishing, if you are thinking that you are being stealthy by using a dull coloured line, you’re coming at things from the wrong angle. If you are putting your line over the fish, it doesn’t matter what colour it is. Fish are very attune to shadow and movement. If your fly line passes over them while casting, they will see the shadow of the line, even if it’s clear. The same goes for motion. Colour doesn’t matter.

If you are floating the line over them, on the surface of the water, things are worse. They now see the depression of the water’s surface as well as shadow and motion. Sure, they can see that a bright orange line is orange and a green line is green but they will find neither acceptable. The bottom line is, if you’re spooking fish it’s a presentation problem not a colour problem.

If it matters at all, it’s in the margins. Meaning, do fish see the colour of your line when you are casting on the edge of their field of vision? You thought you were far enough away but you weren’t and maybe they would catch a glimpse of an orange line but not a green one. Maybe, and maybe they’d see it while it’s still on the reel and you are passing by. You can make yourself crazy about stuff like that if you like.

Personally, I choose my fly line based on the taper, the materials and the performance. The colour is secondary at best. There was a time when I went completely the other way. I used to buy white lines and dye them camo, olive and tan. You can do it in the bathtub with fabric dye, changing colour every few feet. It’s a pain and will not make your spouse happy, trust me. In the end I decided it didn’t make any difference.

What does matter

When I choose a line for its colour, it’s usually for its visibility. It’s also usually for fly fishing in saltwater. In saltwater fishing it’s crucial that you always know the attitude of your fly. Where it is in relation to the fish. Whether it’s moving or still, slack or swinging in current. The best way to know that is by watching your line. I want a line that is bright enough for me to see in my peripheral vision, so I can watch the fish and still know what my fly is doing.

Swinging flies with spey rods is another case where I want a bright line. I want to see my line so I can effectively manage my swing. Again, the attitude of the fly is what’s most important and I need a line I can see. You are in no danger of spooking a steelhead with a Skagit head so the sky is the limit.

I do like clear tip intermediate sink tip lines for streamers. They allow me to use a short leader, 4-5 feet, to effectively get the fly down. Since the tip sinks there is no surface depression to worry about and they are stealthier. I like clear tips for migrating tarpon as well. They give you better odds at not spooking fish when casting to schools on the move.

What does matter way more than the colour of your line is your confidence as an angler. If a bright line, that you can see, gives you confidence in your casting or in detecting a take, by all means that’s what you should fish. If you feel the need to get in the tub and dye your line camo to be confident, then have a go at it. Make your own decision, try it and respect the decisions of others who don’t feel the same need.”


 Another Consideration

There is another factor that has could be taken into account besides line colour when fish spook.

If you look up from under water, you will see an area above water that is in focus. If the surface is particularly calm, clouds can clearly be seen. This circle of focus to above the water world is at an angle of about 97degrees from the viewing point and is referred to  as Snell’s Window. The area around the circle is a reflection of the seascape, and as such is much darker than the sky.

When fishing in skinny water, this could be another reason why fish spook apart from flyline colour. Assume the fisherman is 6ft tall and he is using a 9ft foot rod, then the moving tip of the rod would be between 13 and 15 ft high. Let’s say the fish is 30feet away and if the Snells Window principle is applied, this movement is in focus and can be readily seen by the fish. Proof of this has been observed in glassed out conditions, when the fish spook as soon as the rod is moved even at considerable distance. At certain times of the day when the sun is at a particular angle, the flash off the glassy finish on the rod can be seen from a considerable distance away and certainly by fish at close distance.

The solution to lessen the effect of Snell’s window and rod flash is to crouch down and use a low rod angle to make the cast.

Easy Shrimp Eyes

Making your own eyes using beadchain is quick, simple and cost saving. In addition it allows you to design them to suit your own needs.


  1.  Take some bead chain in colour of choice but black and orange seem to the most favoured.
  2. Cut the chain into individual pieces.
  3. Thread some monofilament through the bead – 40lb for medium size, 30lb for small.
  4. To stop the bead slipping off, melt the end of the mono and while still hot press it flat. If you wish, blacken the end with a black permanent marker.
  5. Apply some UV glue over the entire eye.

The added advantage of using the beadchain is that provides weight and does away with the need to attach barbell eyes on some flies.

Fly – Saratoga Fly


Hook:  #4 or #2 Gamakatsu B10S or Mustad Stinger
Thread:  black flat waxed
Tail – black rabbit fur
Bodywrap – min peacock coloured estaz chenille
Head/Wing  – black deer body hair

Tying Steps:
1. Lay down a base of thread from the hook eye to the bend and finish with the thread over the hook point.

2. Select a piece of tail material equal to the length of the hook.  Tie in over the hook point and over-wrap back to the hook- bend.

3. Tie in body wrap at the hook bend and transfer thread back to hook eye.

4. Using close wraps but not overlapping, wrap body material around shank back up to 5mm behind the eye, tie off and trim excess.

5. Select a small clump of deer hair, use a hair stacker to even the tips and trim the butts even.

6. With the tips facing forward, attach the butts about 5mm behind the hook eye and over wrap up to the hook eye. Move the thread back to about at least 5mm behind the hook eye.

7. To form the bullet head and the wing, fold the hair back over the tied in butts and secure with six wraps of thread. whip finish and apply a small amount of head cement.


Making a One Cast Presentation

 by Nial Logan

Many of the species in the saltwater are not static in their habits and move constantly in their environment to seek food or to avoid predators. Consequently, having the ability to make quick long presentations is a must learn skill to take maximum advantage of the sometimes fleeting opportunities.

One of the most crucial parts of this ability to make a one cast presentation, or any cast for that matter, is the pickup action

The first consideration is understanding what happens at the tip of the rod during the casting stroke. After the stop is executed with the rod butt, the inertia of the rod tip causes it to go past the rod straight position, further flexing the rod tip briefly in the direction it was moving before the stop. After this counterflex, it rebounds to the rod straighten position again.  All this happens in a fraction of a second. (See Figure 2)


Studies have shown that the rod tip is actually moving fastest after the rod straight position for a split second during the start of counterflex.

This is one of the reasons why many find that it’s harder to form a tight loop with a soft rod where there is a greater amount of counterflex. On the other hand, stiffer rods have less counterflex and are not as prone to this effect.

 How does this effect the casting stroke?
At some stage during the initial pickup, many casters tend to rotate the hand and forearm from the elbow. This action causes a slight semi-circular motion that might not seem so great at the hand level however, at the rod tip nine feet away, the effect is magnified. The result is usually a large loop because the fly line will follow the path traced by the rod tip.

onecast_3This larger loop generated by the semi-circular hand action is then exaggerated by the counterflex that projects the flyline downward rather than back. The typical indication is the flyline dipping down immediately after the rod tip (Figure 3). The effect of this is to cause an even larger loop that lacks power to penetrate wind and the end of the flyline will, on many occasions, hit the water or be caught on the vegetation.



In this situation, apart from the loop lacking power to act against wind and in some cases even to straighten out completely, it also causes problems with the forward cast.
To maximize the rod loading (bending), the fly line must be straight behind the rod tip. When there is slack caused by virtue of the large loop, a portion of the forward casting stroke movement is wasted taking up the slack before
the rod tip will load. (Figure 4)

The shortened casting stroke means that not as much effective power is applied therefore the cast distance will not be optimized. The application of power over a shortened casting stroke may also lead to tailing loops

 How can the pickup be improved?
The trick to improving this aspect is to learn how to use the counterflex to your advantage.


Move your hand in a straight line from the pickup position to the stop position. This means that rod movement tends to be upward so that after the stop, the counterflex throws the line upwards rather than down (Figure 6). Combining a short haul just before the stop with the action as described will result in a small loop that will easily punch into the wind and unroll in the air to fully extend with little or no slack to cause wasted movement during the forward cast motion.

Learning the Sequence

The main prerequisite for making a one cast presentation is having the ability to shoot line on the backcast. This ability does a couple of things.

Firstly – Combined with perfect timing at the start of the forward stroke, it yields an additional early load on the rod.  This is sometimes referred to as “pre-load”. Put simply, the weight of the fly line pulls the rod tip slightly to the rear as the loop straightens and this provides extra resistance as the forward cast begins and this contributes to more effective loading of the rod.

Secondly – It delays the turnover of the head. This combined with line/loop speed allows more line to be carried behind the caster which in turn facilitates the previous.

To effectively shoot line on the backcast, you must first establish:-

  •  that the casting loop on the initial backcast has the power to shoot line.
  •  what length of line can be comfortably picked up off the water; and
  •  how much line to shoot. This will vary depending on a number of factors:

               1. The distance sought,
               2. The casting conditions. (wind, etc.)
               3. Type of line (long head floating line, shooting head etc.)
               4. Type of fly (large or small has an effect on wind resistance) and
               5. The ability of the caster.

 Easy Steps to Learning the Skill

  •  Develop smaller more powerful loops. Firstly, before you can progress any further, you must be able to produce a tight loop on the pickup back cast that is capable of allowing you to shoot line (about 10 to 15 feet) easily. 
  • Establish the amount of line that can be comfortably picked up off the water. Mark the line at the optimum length with a waterproof marker. The longer length you can pickup off the water means less you have to shoot on the backcast. If you can pick up 20 feet, then you will need to shoot a minimum of about 10 to 15 feet of line to get the head of the line clear of the tip
  • Determine the length of line that you can shoot. Hold the line at the pick-up mark point, make the backcast (at this stage don’t shoot any line), make the forward cast and present the fly. Take note of the distance achieved.
  • Now repeat the process and this time shoot a few feet on the backcast to see if that helps increase the cast distance.  If it does, next time shoot a few more feet.  So long as the addition of more shot line helps, continue. 
  • Once you get to the point of diminishing returns, back off a little at a time until the your performance and sense of “feel right” is reached.  So that you can easily recognize this point while casting, nail knot a piece of 4-6lb test monofilament onto the fly line.
  • Once you have mastered the basics, introduce a haul. You can either perform a single haul just before the stop on the forward cast or use a haul on both the back cast and the forward cast.

From this point on it is just a matter of practice. If you have difficulties, it has been found that it is best to break up the sequence and practice each increment individually rather than the whole action. With experience, further refinements to make adjustments for wind conditions and other variables such as fly size, type of line, etc. will become automatic.

The development of this skill, apart from allowing you to make quicker casts, will also help you to make more effective casts off your backhand. An essential for saltwater applications when casting from boats and overcoming the problems caused by wind on the casting arm side.

 During your practice sessions, momentarily turn your head to watch the backcast. This allows you to quickly identify if there is a problem. An added benefit is that it will also help you to develop a sense of timing to judge the length of pause to avoid the ‘whip crack’ as well as the slack caused by not pausing long enough to allow the line to straighten.

Over 90% of the people who have attended coaching to correct the problem of a poor backcast, do not watch their backcast. In many instances, they easily identify and correct this type of casting problem when they turn their head to watch what is happening on the backcast.

Fly – Polarfibre Minnow

 Original pattern by Paul van Reenan

polafibre3  polafibre2

Hook: Any short shank hook from #10 to 3/0
Thread:  Monofilament
Body – white Polafibre
Gill – Fluorofire in pink or orange
Lateral Line – Comes Alive in silver or pearl
Wing – Polafibre (green and grey are popular colours)
Eyes – 3D silver/black, red/black or gold/black
Head – Softex or Epoxy

Tying Steps:
 1   Polafibre consists of a number of different length fibres. After the required size bunch is cut from the backing (cut it as close as possible) you can adjust the length by the drawing the longer fibres out. You can also vary the fullness of the body by removing the short butt fibres with a comb.

2   Once the material is adjusted to the desired size, trim the butt square and tie in above hook barb. Make sure that the material is directly on top of the hook shank and don’t overdo the tying – just catch the end so that it is secure.

3   Add a small amount of Fluorofibre – optional but recommended. polafibre5

4   Add lateral line of Comes Alive, silver or pearl flash in front of Flourofibre towards hook eye.

5   The color toppings are tied progressively towards hook eye. Do not over wrap with thread. Make sure of the symmetry and that the material is barely caught on the final tie. This leaves a sloping head ALL the way to the hook eye.

6   Place 3D eyes above hook point or where they look best.

7   A head finish of epoxy or Softex will make it bullet proof. Apply to the entire head in a crescent shape back to where the gills would be.

8   Add highlights with marker pen if you like. To add bars – Cut the nib off a waterproof marker with a sharp blade. You want a chisel point i.e. not a round point. Now with the fly in the vice, hold the materials close to the head & start dabbing on the marks with a ZIGZAG motion. As you go slide your hand back to the tail of the fly. This keeps the fibres taught for you to mark. .


Fly – Estaz Crab


Hook:  #2 to 6 Gamakatsu SL45 or #2 – 1/0 SL12s
Thread:  salmon flat waxed
Tail – tan marabou
Bodywrap – rootbeer estaz chenille
Legs – tan spinnerbait shirt
Head – Built up thread
Eyes – gold barbell

Tying Steps
 1. Lay down a base of thread from the hook eye to the bend and finish with the thread behind the eye.

2. Attach the barbell eyes behind hook eye and wrap thread back to the hook bend.

3. Tie in the marabou over the hook point and bind slightly around the hook bend. (When sitting on the bottom, the marabou needs to be pointing upwards. This not only ensures that the fly turns over so that it is hook point up but also it allows the marabou to wave around enticingly in the water movement.)

4. Tie in body wrap at the hook bend and transfer thread back to half way along the hook shank.

5. Attach three rubber legs using figure of eight wraps and move thread to behind the hook eye.

6. Using close wraps but not overlapping, wrap body material around shank back up to barbell eyes, tie off and trim excess chenille. Whip finish thread in front of barbell eyes.

7. Remove from vice, hold the legs out of the way and trim the sides of the body to a “crab shape”.

8. Trim the bottom of the crab flat. Spread the legs and apply a small dollop of silicone and work it into the materials on the bottom of the fly.

Roll Casting

by Nial Logan

Mastering the roll cast is a skill that many fly fishermen ignore.  Executed correctly it is an invaluable addition to your arsenal of casting techniques to put the fly in front of your quarry.
These are a few applications – there are probably many more:

  • Remove slack prior to the pickup.
  • Use it as a presentation cast when a strong wind from behind collapses any back cast  made. Roll the loop high and let the wind carry the line to the target.
  • The roll cast is useful when obstacles behind the angler prevent the normal back cast.
  • When there is limited room, use it to roll a fly under a snag.
  • Allows a length line to be kept at the ready when changing positions eg when sight casting.
  • It is also used to lift sinking lines to the surface allowing the angler to make a normal cast.
  • Reposition the line on the surface to enable a change of direction for an overhead cast.

There are a couple of things to bear in mind before making a roll cast.

  • Firstly – If you want to make long casts, it is preferable to use a fly line with a longer belly – in the order of 40-50 feet.
  • Secondly – Forget all other actions you use or were taught and use the same action as you do for a normal forward overhead cast.

Basic Roll Cast Action
Begin with the rod tip low to the water with no slack in the line.
Angle the rod to the side and move the rod arm slowly rearward so that the line slides across the water surface. Stop the motion when your arm is fully extended to the rear with the rod parallel to the ground at about shoulder height with the line hanging in a loop by your side. You will need a least 6 to 10ft of line in the water to provide sufficient resistance to make the cast.

Once the line has stopped sliding towards you, with your hand at the start point reaching back as far as you can, bring your hand forward leading with the heel of your hand while still maintaining the rod pointing to the rear (this starts the line moving). Hold this position until you reach a point where it starts to become uncomfortable, then rotate your wrist forward and fully extend your arm in one movement. This has the effect of loading the rod tip because the movement of the wrist and the movement of the rod must conclude at the same time. The wrist only moves a short distance however the rod tip which is 9 feet away has to accelerate to complete moving  at the same time. This translates to the additional power required to overcome the hold on the line by the surface tension on the water.

Remember, that on your casting arm side, the roll can only be made to the left (right for left handers) of the line in the water otherwise the line will catch on itself. To make a cast to the right of the line in the water, it is necessary to tilt your rod tip over the opposite shoulder and perform the action on the backhand side of your body.

If the rod tip is stopped high, the line will unroll in the air. Stop the tip lower and the majority of the line will unroll on the water. Shooting line is similar to a normal cast where line is shot immediately after the rod has stopped. It will be easier to shoot line if the rod tip is stopped high at the completion of the cast. A haul can also be employed to greatly improve distance. As with the normal cast, the haul is done during the power part of the stroke and completed at the same time as the stop.

Long Roll Casts
Tom White, one time noted Florida guide and FFF Master Casting Instructor (now deceased) was a great exponent of the full line roll cast. His method consists of three essentials for making the longer roll cast or for that matter, any cast.

Rule 1– The tip must travel in a straight line from the starting point at the rear to the stop point at the front. Imagine a  line between these two points and follow that line with your hand. Straying from this line will result in a semi-circular tip path which translates to a large loop .

Rule 2 –  To make a longer cast, make a longer stroke. Put simply, the longer stroke allows the application of more power.

Rule 3 – It is of little use to make a longer stroke if you don’t have an adequate amount of line beyond the rod tip. The more line there is beyond the tip, the more “weight” there is to load the rod tip.

To perform the cast you will need about 20-30 feet of clear area behind you. Lay the about 50’ of line out straight on the water. Start with the rod tip at water level. This will give you maximum water load for the next part of the stroke. If the tip isn’t in the water from the start, you will have a problem lifting the line.

Lift the fly line off the water, similar to picking up for a normal overhead cast. Use only  enough speed to throw the belly of the line behind you and to bring the end to within 6 to 10 feet in front of you (this is the anchor). If you lift too hard, you will shoot the end of the line behind you, not hard enough, and the end of the line will be too far from you and you won’t be able to make the cast.

After the stop on your back cast, allow the loop of line to fall on the ground behind you. At the same time, allow your casting hand to lower down to shoulder height at the same speed as the line falls to the ground. This is the position to start the forward cast.

In summary the position is:

  • The end of the fly line is now about 6 to 10 feet in the water in front you – or the bank (anchor).
  • There is a loop lying on the ground behind you. (D-Loop)
  • Your rod tip is almost horizontal with the ground (2 o’clock) with your arm extended straight back. You will have to open your stance to allow your shoulders to turn to accomplish this.

Now, simply make a stroke as described for the basic roll cast and always remember to maintain a straight tip path. The other ingredient you can use to cast further is to add a haul at the end of the cast just before the stop. You will notice that the rolled loop now has the power to pick the line off the water and shoot it.

 Troubleshooting the Roll Cast
Generally, there are four common problems that cause difficulties:-
Problem 1 – Lack of power
Cause and Solution – Failing to  take the rod far enough behind the caster before making the forward stroke.  The solution is obvious – reach back as far as you can.

Problem 2 – Making a big high loop that doesn’t travel very far and is hard to aim.
Cause and Solution – This is caused by doming of the rod tip path on the forward stroke.  The solution is to make a standard overhead forward cast ensuring a straight line path of the rod tip. The stroke length should also be proportionate for the amount of line being thrown.  If done correctly, this should yield a much smaller egg-shaped loop that is relatively flat on the top.

Problem 3 – Not being able to get increased distance.
Cause and Solution – This can be a combination of the preceding two problems.  It can also be due to failure to get enough line behind the caster before making the forward stroke.

Problem 4 – The line lands in a pile well short of the target.
Cause and Solution – This is usually caused by sweeping the rod tip out and down at the end of the forward stroke.  The solution is to have the rod tip traveling straight toward the target at the conclusion of the stroke.

If you don’t live close to water, practicing the roll cast can be near impossible if you don’t have a few tricks you can fall back on.
One method is to have about a 5 inch piece of tube or dowel about ½” to ¾” in diameter, fixed to a 8 inch square base plate. Tie a 2 inch loop in the end of the leader and that loop is placed over the tube.  This acts like the surface tension of the water and when you make the roll cast, the loop slips off the tube. The problem is that the caster or someone else has to take the time to replace the loop over the tube for each practice cast.
Al Buhr’s ‘Grass Leader” is another way to do it.  This consists of some stiff leader material with multiple blood knots tied every 4 to 6 inches with the tag ends left protruding about a ¼ inch long.  These catch on the grass and simulate the effect of the water surface tension.
The best way to simply practice various size loops as well as high and low placement of tight loops on the roll cast is to catch the end of the leader on a clip board so it won’t pull loose and place a rolled up bath towel on the leader next to the clip. The towel prevents the tippet breaking on the edge of the clip after casting for a while. Step back varying distances, and practice loop after loop.  This allows you to get lots of practice in a short time interval with instant feedback. 

Of course, nothing is the same as using water however practicing loop control using on these methods will go a long way to enable you to effortlessly employ both long and short applications  of the roll cast to broaden your fishing opportunities.


by Nial Logan

Many believe that sight casting or polaroiding as it is more commonly called, is the ultimate in fly fishing. The sheer excitement of spotting fish before casting to them is hard to equal. Once experienced, blind casting into a body of water and hoping that some fish will commit suicide will have little attraction for most anglers.

Maybe it’s a resurgence of our primeval hunting instincts or the anticipation of the coming event that gets the adrenalin running. Seeing the fish tends to make the mouth dry and the palms of the casting hand sweaty. At this point, the novice anglers tend to find that this temporary state causes them to forget all those casting and fishing techniques they have tried so hard to master. Disturbing as this may seem, it doesn’t matter what level of experience, everybody can affected. This state is why we all enjoy sight casting.

Irrelevant of whether you are stalking a wily trout in a small mountain stream, a spooky giant herring in a foot of water off some remote Cape York beach or a nearly invisible bonefish in some tropical paradise, the same techniques will apply. The first thing to be aware of is that fish in shallow water are very wary of predators and will spook at the slightest opportunity. It is a matter of spotting the fish before they see you.

Due to design of its eyes and their positioning on the head, a fish’s ability to see objects with both eyes is limited to a narrow field in front of it. The refraction of light at the water surface has two effects on the fish’s ability to see out of the water. Objects above the water appear to be higher up than they really are. Secondly, they are seen in an inverted cone shaped field with the apex at the fish and at an angle of approximately 97 degrees. Outside this angle, the fish simply gets a blurred and distorted image and reflections of the underwater world. This explains the belief that there is a “dead angle” near the surface preventing the fish seeing a fisherman who is low on the shore or water.

A thorough understanding of where the fish are likely to be and of their feeding behaviour is a basic essential that allows the identification of likely places where fish are to be found. This is particularly applicable in saltwater where their location is directly related to the stage of the tide. Good water clarity obviously helps in this sort of fishing. However with practice you should be able to spot fish in most situations.

Polaroid lenses are used because of their effectiveness in reducing reflected surface glare and this enables you to see beneath the water surface. There are many different manufacturers offering a huge variety of styles and lens colours. This is definitely an area where the little extra you pay for quality is well worth it. Many believe that, from an optical point of view, glass lenses are best however the newer polycarbonate lenses now available have nearly the same properties. Colour seems to be a matter of personal choice. As a rough guideline, in low light situations the lighter “amber” type colours seem to be best while “smoke” or “reflective” colours are best for bright middle of the day use. Glasses that fit close to your face and wraparound the sides prevent light entering and reducing their effectiveness.

Spotting with the sun behind or directly above you is usually preferable to give the best spotting conditions. With the sun shining directly into your eyes or if you are facing the water at an unusual angle (sideways out of a boat for example) you may discover that it is very difficult to observe below the water surface. To overcome this, change your location so that the sun angle is more favourable. Another piece of equipment that is necessary is a cap or hat to assist to reduce light entering from above the glasses.

For those who have had some military service the words shape, shine, shadow, silhouette, spacing and movement will rekindle the content of those long forgotten camouflage lessons. Basically these words reflect the situations that indicate or betray the presence of our quarry. Probably the most important “pointers” we utilise when spotting fish are shape, shine, shadow and movement.

When searching for fish, the important thing to remember is not to actually look for the fish themselves. Most fish are first spotted because of shadow as it is usually much easier to see than the fish itself. This is particularly applicable with some of the saltwater fish that are so well adapted to their environment that the shadow is the only thing you will see until they are at very close range. Fins are also a give-away, especially the pectorals or tail fin that often contrast to the bottom background and they are the portions of the fish’s anatomy that are moving. Every once in a while a feeding fish will flash its flank, revealing itself. Surface, or near-surface feeding fish are often obvious by the water they displace with their feeding movements. In saltwater, this may or may not include baitfish breaking the surface in order to escape.

When polaroiding, concentrate on looking through the water as opposed to at it. Focus on looking at the bottom itself and scan from side to side working in bands starting at a close range and gradually moving out. Many find it difficult to spot if there are waves. In this case, the trick is to change your search pattern and use the waves as a type of magnifying glass and look through the face of the wave as it moves toward you. There are two other techniques that are useful in certain circumstances. Try moving your head up and down or side to side or glasses about your face to change your viewing perspective slightly.

Take your time and give the fish a chance to move and reveal itself. Remember shape, shadow, shine and movement are the best indicators. Once you have spotted the fish, remember that it may be able to see you, so take yourself out of its sight angle. Be careful not to spook the fish with sudden movement, your shadow or that of your flyline when you make the cast.

With practice you will quickly go from making a cast to that rock or shadow you think maybe a fish to “knowing it is a fish”.