When I Started Water Loading My Casts it Changed How I Fly Fish | Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

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As fly anglers, we’re always seeking ways to improve our casting skills and catch more fish. One technique that can significantly enhance your fly fishing experience is water loading. In this article, I'll provide you with the basics and a few examples of how to perform this type of cast.  More importantly, you'll walk away with a simple technique that will truly help put ease to your casting.  It's something so simple but when you start doing it more often it will change how you fly fish. 

What Is Water Loading?

Water loading is a casting technique where you use the water’s surface tension to load your fly line before making your forward cast. Instead of false casting in the air, you rely on the water’s resistance to load the rod. It’s particularly useful when you need to cast quickly or when there’s limited space behind you for a traditional backcast. Key to the technique is positioning your anchor point 180 degrees opposite of your intended casting direction. 

This video does a good job of explaining the water load cast.

Intended Purpose of Water Loading

The primary purpose of this casting technique is efficiency. You can make casts faster, easier, and more with the technique. However, like anything it has an intended use and purpose but that is up to you as an angler. Here’s why it matters:

  1. Reduced Fatigue: With fewer false casts, you conserve energy and can fish longer without tiring.

  2. Increased Casting Distance: A well-executed cast allows you to shoot more line effortlessly. The water’s resistance helps load the rod, resulting in longer casts.

  3. Quick Presentation: When you spot a rising fish or a feeding lane, casting with this method lets you present your fly quickly without multiple false casts.

Tips for Effective Water Loading

1. Choose the Right Line

  • Slick Fly Lines: Consider using fly lines intended for shooting. Because you are loading with the water, the intension is to shoot line to obtain distance. Textured lines or shooting intended designs will help achieve your goal.
  • Weight-Forward Taper: A weight-forward taper line works well for this cast. It efficiently transfers energy to the leader and with little line out of the guides the loading of the grain weight can effectively shoot the line. Think of a spey caster or skagit caster with a shooting head.
Learn all about fly line grain weight in this article. 

    2. Master the Technique of Water Loading

    • Positioning: Stand with your feet in the water, facing your target. Keep the rod tip close to the water’s surface.
    • Backcast: Instead of a traditional backcast, sweep the rod tip backward along the water. Feel the water load the rod. Additionally, you can start in the backcast and only forward cast. It's the utilization of the water and loading the road to shoot your line that counts.
    • Forward Cast: Accelerate smoothly into your forward cast. The loaded rod will propel the line forward.

    3. Practice and Adapt

    • Practice: Spend time practicing in different scenarios—swift water, still water, and tight spaces.
    • Adapt: Adjust your technique based on water conditions. For example with long leaders and indicators, a heavy nymph or lead may be helpful.
    Here is another video showing the water load cast and shows a specific example of it in use.

      Water Loading

      Water loading is a game-changer for fly anglers. By mastering this technique, you’ll cast more efficiently, present your fly quickly, and spend less time untangling lines. Try water loading large flies, small flies, indicators, and with minimal back cast scenarios and you have a tactic in your repertoire of moves that is extremely advantages. 

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      Here is another article I think you'll enjoy. Become a Better Angler 

      Christian Bacasa, Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast

      By Christian Bacasa
      Host of the Fly Fishing Insider Podcast
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