Change of direction casts, at least the ones recommended by FFI and the casting instructors are all really what I call “river casts” or single-handed Spey casts. They are fine for short casts wading in clean water, but they aren’t really helpful when you are sight fishing on a skiff, which is what I do. Snake rolls are to setup a roll cast, something we don’t really do in sight casting from a skiff or kayak. Double Spey? Forget it. Galway cast? We’re getting warmer.
I’ve used the Galway, which is two back-to-back forward casts, from a flats boat, basically because I had no other choice. I was on a trip out of Venice LA, where I was on deck and the wind was coming from my right and being right-handed, I was very limited with what I could do to cast to my right. Naturally, the guide spotted a fish on my right and behind me. It was a massive alligator gar in the 100 lb range. Gar was not the primary fish, I was there for redfish but I guess I remember it because it was such a massive fish and sight casters just have a hard time passing on a fish. At least I do.
So the guide spots this fish and calls it out.
“Big Gar, four o’clock, 40 feet!”
The guide knew I was going to have serious difficulty with it being on my off side and with the wind from that direction I couldn’t false cast through the boat with him, his 22 foot pole and my buddy in the boat. The guide said, “backcast to him”. What he was asking me to do was make a forward cast and try to drop my backcast on the fish. Well, when I tried dropping the backcast on the fish my casting plane was off because I was trying to be safe and false cast away from the boat. Needless to say, the fly fell behind the fish. It was awkward having to look forward and then crane my neck around, not to mention trying to haul to get the heavy fly to shoot where I needed it. Now, the fish was now almost to five o’clock and I tried again, this time trying to turn my wrist, in a Galway. I was attempting to be more accurate and I needed a proper haul to shoot the line and heavy fly. It was awkward. I blew it.
Well one day out during my yard practice sessions I decided to try and learn how to do an effective or a more accurate Galway. The Galway is a cast most often used when the backcast area has trees or obstructions but with a void or hole in it. By turning and forward casting you can put the line into the hole in the vegetation because you can see where you are casting. You can’t do that do with a true backcast without eyes in the back of your head or at least it is very awkward and your fly can end up in a tree. The cast, in my opinion, is really for blind casting when you have obstructions behind you and when you don’t have to shoot line. Joan Wulff calls it, “pickin’ leaves”. Most fly fishers have had this situation and may have made the cast whether or not they knew they were doing a Galway cast or not.
But trying to turn and make a proper forward cast out of a backcast, my wrist is too constricted. With a Galway for a 4+ o’clock cast, the casting plane should be in line with the fish, but in this case the wind, guide, pole and buddy made it unsafe to false cast in that plane. Hauling and shooting line like that is ugly. The result is, I just couldn’t be accurate enough for sight casting with a standard Galway. By the way, the best resource for a Galway cast is Paul Arden’s Sexyloops website
But then I realized I had my stripping bucket on. When sight casting, the line is in the bucket when you spot the fish. I realized all I had to do is add a twist to the Galway.
Literally a twist. I begin casting in the opposite direction of where I need to cast and when I have the right amount of line out, I simply turnaround, to my left. The turn really just requires a re-positioning of my left foot and is easily accomplished on a casting deck. If I had line on the deck or in a stationary bucket or line mat this would mean wrapping myself in fly line, but since the fly line is in the bucket, it simply makes the turn with me. In my kayak I don’t have a guide on a platform behind me with a 22 foot pole so I don’t think I will ever need to use it from a kayak. But from a casting platform on a skiff, this will be a great help. I can false cast safely out in front of the boat casting to the point at the end of the casting plane I need my forward cast to be in. Then on my back-to-back cast I can turn around and confidently and safely bring my forward cast overhead and over the middle of the boat to hit those 4+ o’clock positions. I will be able to be accurate, using the correct casting plane and I can shoot the distance I need.
I intend to use it on those herky-jerky Jack Crevalle this summer when they run to my offside. The stripping bucket makes it possible and since I always have it on when sight casting, this modified Galway is now another arrow in my quiver. I’m calling it the GADway.