I had the pleasurable company of Derek and his good friend David yesterday for a session on the river. Not just any session but one that precedes a guided trip to the river San in Poland next week.
Wanting to arrive in Poland with some technical knowledge so as not to waste valuable fishing time, the focus of the session was to cast and fish using a ‘Tactical Presentation Leader’ et al Leader to Hand technique which they’d previously purchased having been advised that this would be a chosen technique to be used amongst others.
Now… I absolutely get this concept and understand totally where it could be advantageous given certain situations and conditions, however, to then try and do so with a leader that has more memory than a rocket scientist and knots seemingly tied by a 3 year old didn’t make things any easier.
The copolymer leader is packaged with lots of information printed on and within to aid your decision on how to set up your system based on your pre determined method of fishing. (Excellent stuff)
Straight out of the packet and unravelled – holding tension removed, it’s like an explosion in a spring factory. No great shakes here, all that it needs is a wee stretch and we’ll be good to go…
I think not!… stretch after stretch it’s ability to straighten improved not one jot.
(Left) I got this as a present from Derek, it is free hanging in this picture having been stretched five times already which by anyone’s measure should be plenty enough.
Derek & David’s were no different through the guides and out beyond the rod. Slack as we know is the bane of fly fishers when trying to load the rod through a given stroke, to do this with very little line mass is difficult enough and takes some getting used to, but with a line in this state casting it was not going to be easy.
Then we looked at the knot that joins the level 12mtr section to the 2mtr advanced taper section…?
And this knot is what exactly?… just rubbish and down right lazy, all 3 were the same.
And as for this tag section supposedly to make the locating of the indicator easier… I despair!
Having put some rights to the wrongs and pulled out as much memory in the leader as possible we set about the cast. Using quite soft tip rods (Hends & Hanak 10ft) and void of any line weight otherwise associated with standard weight forward/double taper fly lines, we worked on shorter casting strokes and increased inertia to work the tip and traject the leader. Once mastered and none too soon after, twas to the water we progressed.
With a snappy breeze and thus sometimes limiting the ability of this system as would be thought, the guys were restricted to relatively short casts teamed with some favoured RNPTN’s and Olive Quill nymphs. Fishing both upstream and up & across so as to work with both slack and taught drifting line techniques, the guys were soon into fish.
Having rattled two prior, David brings his first to the net from the upper reaches
Derek knows no bounds as to the length (depth) he’ll go to get a fly back… Oh yes – it’s one of mine
Getting to grips now with longer line nymphing, this sight, stalk, cast and take was text book
Dave – pleased as punch and deservedly so.
Likewise and casting in a tight tree laden pocket… some sterling fishing from Derek followed.
These beauties came on a size #18 flash back PTN teamed with 2 No4 and 1 No8 shot to drop the fly onto the fish within a foot of the drift. 2 casts resulted in these from the same pocket.
Well spotted and thus avoiding a squish as it hopped across our path – The protected ‘Common’ frog
Late afternoon and returning upstream from whence we came
We targeted likely known holes plucking fish from almost all we surveyed.
Pretty as a picture
The guys performed superbly this afternoon nailing plenty of good fish. If they were any lesser an angler in terms of capability they’d have scored little today… very much a case that their skills far out weighed the quality of the product, in this case the Tactical Leader.
I admired them for wanting to stick with the technique, I feel many areas would have seen a fly line perform better, however in certain runs it was lethal and pulled fish due to it’s delicacy.
They’ll almost certainly be putting the frighteners on those River San residents if they fish in the same vein. I’ve loaned them the rods used today for the trip and discussed some leader material alternatives to source, take and have a play with.
Finally: I will give the tactical leader a further mention in that by the time we’d finished it had lessened it’s grip on retaining coils and straightened a little. Perhaps the pull of fish, the weight of the flies and warmer afternoon temperatures helped but not to a degree where mine will ever see the light of day.
As to this L2H type set up & technique, much has been written, argued and debated… there’s a host more I’ll use before resorting to it… that’s called personal preference and you’ll have yours.