Throwing/Casting Shooting Heads
I can't seem to find a comfortable and efficient way to cast shooting heads. Saw a video by Lefty demonstrating a technique, sort of a Belgian cast, but haven't been able to duplicate it so far. Need more practice. Any suggestions on casting techniques that work for you?
if you are fishing in the bay from a boat, I find that loading the line up a bit (leaving some of the shooting head out and not stripping the line all the way to the leader) while it's in the water and learning to throw a modified cast with two to three (max) false casts should get your line our plenty. I can typically cast 75% of my 350 grain line in three false casts with about 50% coming on the final haul and release. Be sure you are doing a true double haul and allowing the line to build at the backcast and not just the frontcast. Most inexperienced anglers I see think they are double hauling but are really only letting line out on the front cast and not the backcast.
First are you talking about a true shooting head or a sinking head line? Like the teeny. If talking a true shooting head, the running line will determine how you have to cast it. Some like a manufactured running line which is a thin coated running line just like a fly line but normally only .031 in dia. Which you can false cast. Others like braided mono running lines and some may like other types of running lines. The true shooting head is not a line you false cast. You strip in the running line till you have any where from just a foot of running line out of the tip of the rod to just having the first foot or less of the head in the tip. The more running line you leave out with other then a coated running line. The more hinging you will get. If it is a sinking shooting head. You roll cast it out of the water make one back cast with a double haul and let it go on the forward cast. Its not necessary or should you make a number of false casts with a shooting head. As for the double haul. Some people will shoot line on the back cast before making a forward cast. That again isnít necessary but is done by many. I do some times and other times I donít. What makes a double haul is what you do with the line hand. You pull down on the line with the line hand as you pick up the line with the rod. As you make the back cast, you let the line hand move up toward the reel with the line. Then as you make the forward cast. You again pull down on the line with the line hand and then let it shoot as the rod is making the forward cast. That is why it is called a double haul. You need only pull down about a foot or so on both hauls. This speeds up the casting stroke and tightens up the loop. The pulling down of the line with the line hand, is called a single haul. So you see by pulling down two times. It is called a double haul. Now having had to think how to spell all of this makes my brain hurt. bwahahahaha
Last edited by saltfly; 12-05-2011 at 08:16 PM.
Thanks guys for the insight. I have been casting in a similar way to what Rocks and Rye describes. I have developed my casting techniques with floating lines and typically single or double haul on every cast. It becomes second nature. Throwing the weighted line has such a different feel that I haven't adjusted to it. I haven't fished the sinking lines often enough to become proficient. Fly casting is such a pleasure without weight, but to catch fish whether it's stripers in the Susky or trout in Montana you have to get the flies deep in most cases. I used to fish a Teeny 300 but I always had problems with the running line tangling. Based on thread last year in which Wild Bill recommended the Rio Outbound Custom T-11 with the head cut back to 30', I switched in hopes of spending more time fly fishing on flats in the spring than I have in the past. The flats season last year was a bust for light tackle fisherman of course, and I didn't spend a lot of time working on my cast and the new line. Hope springs eternal and maybe next year will be different. I don't have the optimism about the coming season like I did in the old days. I used to catch a ton fish on a floating line on the flats and in the river. Times have changed and to maximize the fish that are available it looks like a sinking line is in order. Thus, I would like to improve my casting with this type of line. Rod is a Sage RPLX 9 weight from the early 90's. I'm not sure if the modern rods offer a significant advantage for this type of fishing, but would consider a different rod if necessary.
Thanks again for the help.
Well if you really want to use those lines and have consistent distance and a easy line to cast. I would go with a 300 grain Rio striper line. It will cast easy on that rod and I think you will find it a pleasure to cast. I had one of those rods and liked it. That rod was very popular but most would use one line size heaver then was recommended. I know lefty recommended that to a number of people. I also think you wonít need any thing heaver then a 300 grain sinking line on the flats. I fish the Ocean with no more then a 350 for most of my fishing and have had no problems getting down to the fish, where Iím fishing. Iíve caught fish in 45 feet of water with a 350. I think learning how to cast a sinking line like the teeny, Rio and any of those types of line. Is a must, if you want to catch fish consistently. I use to use shooting heads alot, but have gotten away from them with all the new sinking lines, that are now available. I've used most of them and have settled on the Rio striper line. Keven Josenhan , recommended them to me. I tryed one and love it.
I grow up fishing the flats and the susky. And had many a pleasant day fishing there. I hope things get better this coming year, up there. A lot of friends that have been fishing there, say things havenít been good the last few years.
Also if you want to use a shooting head and are still having a problem. Try this. I make my own running lines. I use old WF lines that are worn out on the front end. I use a 5 or 6 weight lines. That gives me a thinner running line then what comes on a 8, 9 or 10 weight. I find where the belly meets the back taper. Then measure up from that point 6 feet and cut off the front end of the line. I then put a loop in the 6 foot belly that is left. I then loop my shooting heads to that running line. I find that short belly and the back taper helps in casting a shooting head. You actually have a double taper. The taper from the head to the old lines belly then the back taper of the old line. I still keep a reel with one of those running lines on it. I use it for some T14 heads I still have. Even thought I havenít had a need for them. I keep it around any way.This running line seems to take away most of the hinging. And for me makes casting a shooting head easier.
Last edited by saltfly; 12-06-2011 at 02:43 PM.
Hi Logic1, and welcome.
I know what you mean about casting the sinking lines... definitely calls for adjustments. They seem to cut through the air faster than floaters do, which affects timing, which is so fundamental to all casting. But maybe that is not your particular issue? Also if cast with a tighter loop, dry fly style, in which the two strokes are in the same plane, trouble very well may await the sinking line. It seems to me that the denser, faster flying line is more prone to hit its own extent on the backcast and instantly recoil, producing slack and/or a jangled mess with the leader at about the worst possible time. Then we come forward without the feel of a loading rod and it all goes downhill from there!
After the last presentation is through and enough line has been stripped in to make it possible, I agree that the best bet is then to make the rollcast pickup to get the sinking line out of the water column and onto its surface where it can release easier without prematurely loading the rod. No sooner than that roll cast lands, without any further delay, go into that sidearm, rising (a la Lefty's "shelf" concept) water haul fortified backcast, but tossed with a wider than normal loop. I do make a clean stop, but instead of then holding the rod in place there, I immediately follow it up by tracking the rod tip further back, up and around through a 'horse-shoe' shape headed into the overhead plane.
There is no rush. Use a quiet, modest, steady pace to reposition the rod tip and so keep the casting planes separate. While doing so, I watch my unfurling line and leader's progress carefully, and try to barely ease into the start of my forward acceleration just before the sinking line has straightened itself out. What I look for is the tip of the sinking line plus the leader (often with a weighted streamer trailing) taking on the 'candy cane' or 'shepherd's crook' shape.
Since in most of my fishing I'm normally using a floating line, at this stage I really have to remind myself to neither rush the forward stroke nor to go for the usual tight loop, else I'll toss a tailing loop in that sinker for sure. Make the well-timed haul and let fly, but either already have more than enough line off the reel at your feet, or gradually slow the cast down (gradually closing your line hand) as the loop approaches the landing zone. It may otherwise recoil if its forward progress ends too abruptly, reducing accuracy. Being thinner and more dense, a sinking line cuts through the air well, so the haul(s) need not be especially fast or long ones.
Sinkers will shoot easily, and this can be further encouraged by turning the rod's guides horizontally out to right (for righties), after the stop, as the line slips out through them. This prevents, or at least minimizes, excessive contact between the wet line and the spray covered rod blank between each pair of guides, as the blank continues flexing and counter-flexing in the vertical, forward delivery plane, after the initial unloading. The more of this contact allowed to take place, the greater the reduction in line speed, the more of the cast's residual energy is consumed, both of which cut into our potential distance. I've posted before about this and other post-delivery-stroke 'rope tricks' that essentially take off the 'brakes' for maximum line extension. To my mind, making that little turn of the rod blank is much easier to do than getting the perfect timing, size and speed down for our haul(s). Plus, doing the first, easy thing does not preclude also doing the second, for even more distance.
Speaking of hauls, all I have is your inquiry to go by, and obviously have not seen your cast. But when teaching someone to make hauls, or if I get distracted or fatigued in my own casting, I often notice that as the rod hand comes forward on the delivery stroke (perhaps single-mindedly focused on the timing issues) the caster may well unconsciously close the distance between the stripping guide and the line hand prior to its supplying the tug. We might think of this as an 'anti-haul' of sorts, which instead of helping to more deeply load the rod and speed up the line, robs the rod and the line of these desirable attributes. So while coming forward, watch to see whether or not you are maintaining tension in that segment between line hand and stripping guide. If not, any subsequent haul, no matter how well executed, is no miracle worker; the cast is already compromised too much.
I don't know if any of that might add to what others have already suggested, or be of any help to you, but do a self check-up the next time you get to sling string. Cheers.
Last edited by Don Hershfeld; 12-06-2011 at 09:37 PM.
Thanks again for all the advice. I've got plenty to work with to develop a comfortable-effective casting motion for weighted fly lines. It seems the first thing is to do is transition from developing line speed and tight loops. I think the recoil effect of the heavy line might be part of the problem. Anyway, something to work on before spring. Fly fishing is a continual learning process and that's part of the fun. This goes into overdrive when fly fishing in the West for trout. Different flies for every river and time of day, casting techniques to create dead drift with dry flies, weighted indicator nymph rigs and on and on. In the end I think all the things I don't know keeps me interested.