Of all of the four species that we flyfish for it is Sea Trout that is the most difficult and causes the most frustration. Firstly, there is the not inconsiderable hurdle that, in the UK at least, we fish for Sea Trout at night, and the second problem is, that in all but really low water conditions, it is necessary to fish with tackle setups which are heavy enough to get flies down to where the Sea Trout lie which is often at the bottom of deep pools.
We generally fish for Sea Trout with single handed rods, and a mid-to-tip action 9ft 6in #7 rod would be a good choice. Some prefer to fish with 10ft #9 or #10 rods but casting a heavy rod all night can be a pretty tiring experience. There is more about fishing setups for Sea Trout on the Sea Trout Tackle page.
Left: making an overhead cast with a single handed rod
If you are lucky enough to fishing on a river where you can make a back cast without the hindrance of trees or high banks it will be possible to use the overhead cast (see the Trout Casting Section) and this is ideal for most tackle setups. Long and very accurate casts are often needed for Sea Trout fishing because the fish will nearly always be lying under the far bank of the river. The first thing you will notice about casting in near pitch darkness is how difficult it is to judge distances accurately - the far bank will appear much closer to you than it really is because your vision is affected by shadows of overhanging vegetation on the water. The second problem is that, without seeing your fly line passing back and forth across the river the timing of your casting becomes disrupted and confused. Only time and practice can solve this problem. Don't be too ambitious with distance to begin with, just get used to casting in the dark before trying to cast long distances - tangles are night are much worse than tangles by day! A smooth and gentle casting action is essential: any jerks and sharp movements will result in tangles, especially if you are casting a team of two or three flies.
The ability to spey cast with a single handed fly rod offers a great advantage for Sea Trout fishers since the fly and line never pass behind you and are, therefore, kept well out of the range of bankside vegetation and overhanging trees. It is possible to perform all of the spey casts described in the Salmon Casting Section with a single handed rod.
All spey casts are based on the Roll Cast - for a detailed description of the Roll Cast see the Trout Casting page.
(Use this cast in an upstream breeze.)
When fishing from the left bank (which bank am I on?), hold the rod in your right hand. There are three stages in this cast are the lift, the sweep, and the hit...
1. Stand facing the target but leave the rod tip pointing downstream towards the fished out line, with the rod tip down at the water.
2. Raise the rod slightly towards the near bank and, by bending your upper arm at the elbow, to about the 10 o’clock position. Pause briefly…
3. With your right hand sweep away, out and round an imaginary plate sitting on your right shoulder until your right thumb comes around to the right side of your shoulder and up to a position level with your right ear. This movement should have swept the line and the fly upstream so that the last metre ( about three feet) of line and the leader touch down approximately 1.5 rod lengths away and upstream of you with a D loop formed behind the rod, which should now be facing the target. Pause briefly to allow the line to land on the water…
4. Punch the rod forward, stopping sharply at the 10 o’clock position in front of you to launch the loop of line out across and above the water. This is a wrist and forearm movement not a shoulder movement. Gently lower your right arm as the line settles on the water.
(Use this cast in a downstream breeze)
This is essentially a single spey cast with one extra movement. It is not a great distance cast unless assisted by a strong downstream breeze. When fishing from the left bank, hold the rod with your left hand; when on the right bank, use your right hand. The double spey cast is described below for fishing from the right bank of a river; simply swap hands for a description of casting from the left bank.
1. Face the target, holding the rod in your right hand leaving the rod tip pointing at the fished out line downstream.
2. Lift the rod just slightly and tow the rod and line upstream until your right arm is across your body and the rod tip is pointing upstream. This will bring enough line upstream to form the loop during the sweep stage of the cast, but the fly will still be downstream of you.
3. Just as you did for the single spey, lift the rod to the 10 o’clock position and slightly in towards the nearside bank upstream. Pause briefly...
4. As in the single spey, sweep the rod tip out and around (back downstream) to end up with your right thumb level with your right ear. As you do so the line will peel back and round to form a D loop behind the rod just off your downstream shoulder with the fly, the leader and the bottom of the loop anchored in the water. Pause briefly...
5. Drive the loop out across the river as in the single spey cast.
(Use this cast only in a downstream breeze)
Like the double spey cast, for which it is a more powerful alternative casting technique, the snake roll must be used only in a downstream wind. The snake roll can be used to create very deep loops that load the rod fully on the back sweep; as a result, for distance casting the snake roll is much more efficient than the double spey cast.
This description is for casting from the left-hand bank of a river. Simply swap hands for a description of casting from the right-hand bank.
Note that when you are casting from the right-hand bank the 'e' will be reversed (as you see it) as though you are looking at its reflection in a mirror.
When you know that Sea Trout are in the river, probably the most common cause of failure to catch fish is not fishing deep enough. One it is completely dark it may be necessary to change to a heavier tackle set up in order to get your flies down deep enough for the Sea Trout to see them.
When using a sinking line for Sea Trout fishing, it is advisable first to roll cast to bring the line up to the surface prior to recasting across the river using an overhead cast. Spey casting a single handed rod with a heavy line and flies is extremely difficult and so if the use of heavy tackle is called for and bankside vegetation means that you are unable to overhead cast it is a good idea to change to a smallish double handed rod - say 12 - 13ft. This will make lighter work of spey casting a sunk line and heavy flies.
A critically important factor when casting a sinking line is to keep the line moving once you have brought it up to the surface. Do not pause after the preparatory roll cast or the line will immediately sink below the surface again making an effective spey cast virtually impossible.
Mending the line when fishing for Sea Trout is seldom a good idea. It is essential that your casts should reach the far bank of the river where the fish are lying. Having achieved that (difficult enough in itself, especially in pitch darkness!), mending the line which immediately wrenches the fly away from the Sea Trouts' lies under the far bank before they have had time to sink to the right depth is a complete waste of time. If you believe that mending the line is required it is far better to spend some time (during the day0 learning the 'air mend' technique described below.
Shown on the left is the the casting technique for casting an 'air mend'. With practice you can create an upstream mend by means of a gentle side-to-side movement of the rod while the line is still travelling through the air. This is particularly useful when fishing with fast-sinking lines, which are very difficult to mend once they have touched down onto the surface of the river.