How to Shoot Fly Line During a Cast: A Quick Q&A

Shoot Fly LineWhen you’re fly fishing in Alaska, casting more than 20 or 30 feet doesn’t happen very often. We respect fellow anglers who don’t think it ever needs to happen when you’re stalking trout on a perfect river. Saltwater fly fishing is an entirely different situation to shoot fly line, but that moves into a discussion that’s similar to comparing apples and oranges.

So, what do you do when those steelhead or salmon seem out of reach? You can pull up, scout around, and wait, or you can try shooting your line during a cast. It’s a great technique to add to your personal resume of angling expertise, and you don’t have to master it to enjoy the returns of improved production and just plain fun on the water.

How Hard Can It Be to Shoot Fly Line?

img_1620-1Shooting line to cover distance isn’t considered an art yet. You don’t practice it because you want to perfect your presentation. You learn the technique because there are times when a basic cast can’t put your fly where you want it. Shooting line happens when you stop on the final stroke of your forward cast and release as much as the throw can carry. To make it happen, you change your loop direction. Sending it up increases your distance.

Is It Really That Easy?

Like so many things that we love about fly fishing, a little finesse goes a long way with this type of cast. It’s not hard to make a stop behind and then a stop in front to get a nice loop. Still, it takes patience to wait until you see that loop unrolling on the rod tip before your line hand lets go. Shoot fly line is as simple as releasing after your stop so that forward momentum gets it out there where you want it. The trick is getting good at letting it slide, keeping the rod down low, and then stripping back in.

Are There Any Do’s and Don’ts?

If you’re new to fly fishing, you already know that practice is too much fun to be considered work, so we highly recommend it. If you’re a seasoned trout bum, you know that there are always things you can do better and worse. Out of respect for everyone, we’ll keep our rundown of do’s and don’ts short and sweet.

  • Do get really good at feathering the line and releasing just as the rod stops.
  • Do learn how to quickly get the line under your finger if you have to strip and straighten out.
  • Do make sure that the rod tip travels straight so that it produces a tightly energized loop.
  • Don’t release your line too soon causing the rod to unbend and lose the cast.
  • Don’t hang on so long that the rod flips and counterflexes at your stop.
  • Don’t get discouraged over the time it takes to perfect your timing.

Finally, do enjoy how this technique can help you avoid bushwhacking when you need some distance but the tree line has your back cast hemmed in. So lets get praticing on how to shoot fly line.

22Do You Need to Get Good at This?

It’s easy to think of a long cast as a liability, but it can be the difference between a slow afternoon and the kind of action that livens up hot tub conversations at the end of the day. It’s all about your timing and technique. Concentration on accuracy pays off with consistent results. You don’t have to master shooting line, but getting good at it definitely ups your casting prowess. That’s something you can always enjoy taking with you wherever you go fishing.

If we could be the very best at our favorite outdoor sport with just a few casting tricks, it wouldn’t be the same. If there were less than countless ways to tie a fly, we’d be lost. Fortunately, fly fishing in Alaska gives us plenty of room to keep working on all the angles and enjoying every minute of it. That’s how we like to spend our quality time, and you’re always invited to join us here at No See Um Lodge.

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