SPLAT CAST PRESENTATION
To be heard in loud situations, you must be loud. You wouldn’t see a commander in the heat of battle whispering his battle plans amidst the gunfire, nor a quarterback mouthing his plans on the final huddle of the game, or a skydiving instructor quietly telling you when to jump.
Enter the world of fly fishing.
At the base of a plunge pool, water rushes overtop your fish; there they sit awaiting dinner. If you think your gently-placed, miniature-hackled, size 20 mayfly will be seen in this type of environment, think again.
To be heard in loud situations, you must be loud.
To be heard in these situations there is a style of casting I employ. In heavy riffles, fast water, or any time I really want to get that fish’s attention, I use the splat cast.
You can assume what type of a cast this is - one where the fly does not gracefully place itself on the surface, but rather where an abrupt attention grabbing *SPLAT* will echo into that trout’s noggin’. Dinner has landed, and he better move quick because everything in the forest probably heard that explosion.
HOW TO SPLAT
This is not a graceful, picture-perfect cast. To understand the technical side of the splat cast, there are two possibilities you can try:
1 - Overpower your forward cast.
2 - Use a very short leader.
1 - Do a regular backcast, then punch out powerfully on your forward cast aiming right at the water. This will create a ton of forward momentum, which will make your fly crash onto the surface. The splat will grab their attention, and sometimes rewards you with a beautiful trophy… or sometimes, nothing. Overpowering my forward cast is the most frequent way I do a splat cast. Sometimes, I don’t even do a regular backcast if there is something behind me I will start a roll cast and just whip the fly down onto the water. This is good stuff for a beginner to try because what you are after is the end result, the splat. Anyway you achieve that splat in my book is fair game. Just be accurate.
One thing to keep in mind with this is that at long distances it can be rather inaccurate. You may be able to send that fly out 50-60 feet accurately, but trying to employ a splat cast at that distance will be unfruitful.
Most of the time I use this presentation about 10-20 feet away. Remember, I like small streams, and that is about as far as you usually are for any of your casting.
2 - If you really think you are going to be doing a splat cast all the time, for example in high water, you can shorten your leader. What this will do is create more momentum/ energy from the thicker fly line, and the short leader will not lose as much energy as it would normally with a 9 ft. leader. This will cause your fly to come crashing down and create a splash. I wouldn’t recommend this, because when you need to go to a softer presentation for more calm or flat water you would have to cut your fly and tippet off and put your fly back on, or dramatically under power your forward cast for a more delicate presentation. However, it does make a splat cast very easy, as you hardly have to think about performing it.
WHERE TO USE A SPLAT CAST
The primary places I use this tactic are in small streams, high water, or when I am fishing terrestrials. Therefore, this is more frequently a spring/summer tactic.
Small streams are one of my favorite places. I love trout that spook to a shadow, but aren’t usually too picky to a well-placed fly. When that water is gushing around boulders and beneath deep plunge pools, the splat cast is usually the first type of casting presentation I will use to grab their attention.
High water creates, as the name implies, water levels that are deeper than normal. This means if you fish a dry fly, it will be farther away, less visible, and usually a lot faster than the fish normally see. Thus, in order to get their attention without fishing a nymph, use a splat cast.
Terrestrials are alien to trout. Food that somehow drops from the heavens and is pretty much defenseless once landed. These don’t just seemingly appear from nowhere like an emerging mayfly, caddis, or midge. No, a terrestrial’s arrival is like that loud guy at the game right behind you. You hear him come, and you are quite aware of his presence the whole time he is around. Terrestrials often fall because of wind, weather, or just because every land animal trips or falls sometimes. Therefore, a splat cast is perfect to use when fishing terrestrials. These are a big meal and are incredibly common on streams in summertime.
WHERE NOT TO USE THIS
Everything has a time and place, and there may be lots of situations that splatting your fly on the surface will only spook the fish. For example, on sight-fishing on large glass-like pools, if you slam that fly down on his nose, 9.9 times out of 10 you will probably spook the crap clean out of that fish, and it will be under a nearby rock before you blink. However, there’s always that one fish…
So if it’s not one of the situations I mentioned before, I might still try this presentation, but only as a last resort, because you risk spooking every fish nearby.
WHAT STYLE OF FLY TO USE
With this presentation, I most often use a terrestrial pattern. It’s unnatural for a small mayfly to make hardly any sound if he accidentally falls in, or if a caddis looses his footing, it won’t shake the ground beneath him. However, if a beetle, hopper, cicada, or some other kind of big bug slips into the water below, the fish around will feel his entrance.
For this reason, I usually use foam flies, or ones with deer or elk hair as the body. Some specific examples could be a Humpy, a Goddard Caddis, or the foam fly I created pictured below.
What sets these flies apart is their ability to float even after they have crashed onto the surface. They actually make a decent plop sound when they strike the surface, and these style flies provide a beefier silhouette on the surface so they are more visible to the fish below.