The Reach Cast
by Paul Prentiss

I first heard about the 'Reach Cast' in talking with Doug Swisher in the late 1970's. I subsequently bought the book that he and Carl Richards wrote in 1975, Fly Fishing Strategy. This casting technique was featured prominently.

The object of Reach Cast (left or right) is to place as much fly line as possible upstream of the fish so that the whole line must drift downstream before drag sets in. In a typical cross stream situation the Reach Cast allows three to four times the amount of drag free drift compared to other slack line casts.

 

Reach mends are in-the-air mends, meaning that they're made after the cast has been completed (after the stop), but before the line falls completely to the water's surface. Therefore, it's necessary to stop the rod high enough on the forward cast so that the line straightens over the water. The sooner you reach after you stop the rod, the farther along the line you can put the reach. As you reach, you'll notice that the fly will be pulled toward you unless you shoot line during the reaching motion.

In addition the reach right or left, there is also a reach down and reach up. The reach down is like puddle cast. While casting upstream one stops the rod abruptly and a bit higher than normal and then droops the tip towards the surface. The reach up is for a downstream presentation. You simply reach up as if you were getting ready to throw a roll cast then drop the rod while feeding line to the current. Keep in mind that these four casts can be combined together in various combinations depending on the situation.