Heavy fliesJonas Magnusson

Why can’t I cast this Clouser?”- is a question I often get. “I am using the #8 rod and #8 line, and I have no control over it.” The misbehaving Clouser usually has big lead eyes and is very heavy. We all have experienced this problem at varying stages of our development.

The way to analyze the situation is first to –

Consider the equipment

The Line;

The line weight must match the fly’s mass. So, it follows that the line could simply be too light (Occam‘s razor). The shape of the fly line especially the front taper. The key point is that any fly that resists moving because it is either heavy and/or very wind resistant requires a significant “pull“. The best way to achieve that is with a heavy line. The front taper must be powerful (short and/or heavy tip) to maintain as much energy as possible to have the necessary oomph to turn over a heavy fly.

The leader;

The leader‘s butt end needs to be thick enough (more mass). The length of the leader could be too long and often is. The leader needs to be massive and short enough to turn over a heavy fly. If the leader is too long there is insufficient energy left in the leader to turn over that fly. So, a shorter leader is better suited to turn over a heavy fly.



Considering the casting technique

  1. Because of its mass, the heavy fly’s residual momentum will be substantial when cast with the standard technique. So, it will kick with a hard stop. Its momentum causes it to bounce, and now it becomes very difficult to impossible to fashion a straight backcast. Thus, slack is introduced and control over the line is lost, and it becomes very difficult to cast a line with a lot of slack in it. The rod doesn’t load properly, the line doesn’t accelerate because it isn’t straight. When there is a heavy fly at the end of the leader all problems multiply. When a casting stroke starts the line/leader must be as straight as possible.
  2. By avoiding the stop we can prevent the kick. We do this by using an oval path for the fly on the backcast and maintaining constant tension on the fly. Now, we swing the fly back horizontally and instead of casting straight back, we bring the rod tip up, thus swinging the fly upwards, and then commence the forward cast. This cast is called the Belgian cast.


Technical consultant: Bruce Richards