Sunrise Mars BayJonas Magnusson

I was recently fishing the flats of South Andros. Megan Nellen, an angler in our group, was relatively new to the sport, and she was asking all the right questions. We fished together for a day. As she took the bow of our boat, I noticed her ready position was suboptimal but still had a lot of positives. 

We were fishing from the Mars Bay lodge (

Megan's ready position
Megan’s ready position

I gave her some pointers that seemed to work well for her.

Megan in a happy place
Megan in a happy place

This got me thinking – what is the ready position in essence? I like to deconstruct problems into their constituent parts, i.e. simplify them. After some rumination, I like to present this as ….

  1. The length of the fly line outside the tiptop needs to be enough to load the rod quickly, but not so much that it gets into the motor or poling staff or under the boat if dragged boat side. The iron rule is – if it can snag it will. The angler wants as much line out of the rod as safely possible, which reduces the time to the first delivery.
  2. The fly must be controlled by holding it by the bend of the hook (or by the leader just proximal to it).  
  3. The line must be controlled by the line hand.

Any method that satisfies these 3 points will work. The fly can of course be held by either hand.  There are several methods described on the web – I like some and others not so much.

The one that works best for me and is simplest, I think, is – about 15’ of the line outside tiptop – holding the fly by hook bend in rod hand (thumb – index) – line hand holds line ca 2’ from the stripping guide. Sweep the rod away from the fish and let go of the fly. For casts with fish inside 35,’ I have enough to get there without slipping or shooting line. Then if more line needs to be aerialized I can make one forward and one back cast slipping both ways and then shoot more line.

The line stacks. Between the rod hand and the reel, there needs to be a line in the cockpit that is stacked correctly – so the line close to the line hand is on top of the pile. 

Pull off the reel, the length of line that you can cast, and place it in the cockpit of the boat. The line you can’t cast only increases the risk of tangles, so it stays on the reel. Now the line stack has the line shooting first on the bottom, a surefire recipe for tangles and grief. Cast that line out and retrieve, now your line is stacked correctly and is ready.