Alberta Stillwater Adventures

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Troll Casting - Float Tube Tactics

I don’t fish nearly as much from a float tube as my pontoon boat any more. And when in my ‘toon, I usually anchor down and work an area pretty hard before I move on. There are days though when I feel a need to take the float tube out, dust it off and give my legs a bit of a work out. It’s times like this that I go back to troll-casting.

Troll-casting is simply a stillwater technique which combines casting and trolling, a term I came up with to describe my actions to students interested in learning stillwater fly fishing from a float tube. The premise of troll-casting is to slowly work your way along the shore line while casting into the shoal. The idea is to kick away from shore and find the drop-off (where the weeds quickly disappear under the surface) and then slowly kick your way parallel to the shore line trying to keep your tube approximately 20ft from the drop off while casting your fly towards the shore line. Your kicking movement should be very slow with most of the action on your fly coming from you and not from your tube. Right handed casters should be kicking in the direction so their left shoulder faces the shore. This makes casting into the shoal effortless as you can easily cast over your left shoulder.

Troll-casting works with all types of presentations. Dry flies, searching patterns, scuds, boatman, nymphs, minnow imitations, leeches and terrestrials. A floating line is the most versatile of all your fly lines and adding weight combined with lengthening your leader can help you get down deeper if needed. A clear intermediate sink line is my second choice. Retrieves can be experimented with, for dry flies, I’ll stop kicking and let the fly sit on the top of the water for about 10 seconds then start a slow kick while using a short twitching retrieve making the fly skitter across the top of the water. For nymphs I'll stop kicking once my cast is made and let my fly sink before I begin my retrieve.  With leech patterns, I’ll continue kicking but mend my line so when I begin my retrieve, the combination of the tube’s speed and my retrieve will pull my fly quickly from it’s slow, sinking state. Being observant and trying different retrieves and patterns will help you find success.

This tactic offers a slow leisurely pace which keeps fatigue at bay while searching a lot of water. When success comes, it’s easy enough to anchor down and work the shoal area that you’ve caught fish in or turn around and continue troll-casting in the other direction. When fishing with your rod arm facing the shore, you simply turn your tube so your body is fully facing the shore, make your cast and then return to a parallel position and once again start kicking.

Troll-casting is an enjoyable, slow paced technique that does produce well when combined with good observation of hatching insects and fish activity. It can also work equally well when using searching patterns. It’s not confined to float tube fishing alone as pontoon boats, canoes, row boats and motorized boats can also utilize this technique when stillwater fly fishing but when in a float tube, I find the two to be a perfect match and the method I use most.

Mike (Doc) Monteith is the owner of Alberta Stillwaters Adventures, specializing in one-on-one introduction to stillwater fly fishing clinics.

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