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Week of July 8th: Casting the rod for efficiency

First and foremost, Happy Independence Day from South Branch Outfitters! I hope everyone had time with loved ones and stood a moment to appreciate our democracy and the principles our nation is founded upon. 

Summer Time Terrestrials for Chub

There have been a few windows - cool evenings in New Jersey -when river temperatures dip down into the safe zone - 65 degrees and below.  Early rises are reporting a healthy Trico hatch and those with some patience and 7x may land a few Summer trout - but my mind is on bass and panfish.  They are not as predictable or easy to catch as one may believe.  Simply tossing out a popper doesn’t guarantee a large mouth from the golf pond; nor does throwing small streamers or nymphs for sunnies or crappie yield hours of catching.  Adjusting our trout tendencies is rewarding and I have enjoyed the time exploring banks of park ponds and lakes.  The NJ fishing digest has lists of opportunities by county or species.  One of these is the chub.  It is as glorious as its name and does have a description of regulations regarding fishing for creek chub on page 29 of the digest under “Baitfish.” Here are the details: you may keep river chub year round and can take home up to thirty five! But, seriously, why would an angler with a fly even target them?  The answer is: they take dry flies. 

Call it practice or placebo, casting for creek chub is a blast.  I made a sojourn to a park where a creek meets the Delaware and had smallmouth on my mind.   I got a decent bass on an unbeaded bugger, too: 

But the rising fish in the pool below the riffle I was fishing were too frequent and enticing to ignore.  I assumed they were chub - and they were - but it was delightful to have so many targets. I clipped off the bugger, added a few feet of tippet and tied on a Stimulator.  Originally, I was going to move swiftly down the pool toward the next riffle.  I actually never made it to the bend and, after an hour and a half, discovered I had only progressed about half the distance I intended.  The takes were too frequent and some of the creek chub were ten inches and one was better than that!  They fought surprisingly well and I will admit missed a few strikes too.  

Stop by for some stimulators, hoppers, ants, and beatles  - or the materials to tie them! Gentle breezes and gusts of wind knock these bugs into the water and the fish cruise the banks waiting for the windfall.  Attractor patterns and buggers are also good choices to place along the banks and reed beds in the fall.  Practicing casting precisely is as fun, at least for me, as watching the takes.

 Casting the Rod for Efficiency

The fly rod is a finely made machine and we provide the juice.  It is a lever and a spring and our arm is the fulcrum. Understanding how energy our arm provides transfers through the rod and is sprung from the tip into the line can help improve distance and lessen fatigue. I encounter anglers who want to cast farther and more accurately and the key is letting the rod do the work.  

Since focusing on casting for panfish and bass,, I felt better casting during some recent trips to tailwater fisheries.  The East and West Branch of the Delaware have the space and often call for a long cast. I get as much line out as I think I can cast and then restart by pulling all that line back in, all the while facing a rising trout that could be thirty to forty feet away. First, I have to reel in my thoughts and refocus on the cast.  A few deep breaths while I stare at the tip, then I lift the line and remember to keep my rod hand traveling in a straight line - back to front without breaking my wrist.  I turn my head to watch, first my hand and reel come towards my face before turning to watch where the back cast will go as the line plays out behind me. Then, moving my rod hand laterally forward but keeping my fist and fingers on a straight plane. The final “Power Snap” provides the spring at the wrist and the thumb works to send the line in a straight even loop towards the target. When it works, it works. Sometimes a trout takes the fly, too:

There are casts that just feel right and I can tell the rod is working as it should. Other times, when I am rushing or not focused, I can tell the cast isn’t going anywhere and I have to start over - hand line everything back in, wiggle out a fresh start, lift the tip, breathe, and begin again. Heading out to the points where our and Pennsylvania's streams and river mouths converge with the Delaware are fun places to find smallmouth bass - and potential for striped bass, but certainly chubs!  Do not wade out too far, but enjoy the open space and see how far your rod, with your help, can cast the line.  See you out there!

Roy B


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