only the shadow knows…


It is a good idea to check your back cast. Good back loops are the key to a successful presentation. A knowledgeable casting companion is worth their weight in gold. However, most of the time we are casting by ourselves. Watching your back cast is great but it is not a great habit to develop.  I like to watch my shadow and snap some photos of it. A picture is worth a thousand words and certainly not “fake news”. Pinch your fly line on the rod and use your non casting hand to snap a photo right when you stop the rod on the back cast. It is a little tricky but if I can do it, so can you!  – Jim Solomon

stay in the zone…


Practice, practice, practice. It’s the only way to make your casting look effortless and your loops smooth and tight. I try to cast at least once a week with my friends just to stay in shape. It is always a good idea to downsize your outfit so you can work on your technique without fatigue. Practice like you fish, NO YARN!!!  put a fly on the end of your leader but bend back the hook and barb. Try to stay consistent in the length of your leader setup, especially if you are sight fishing. Cast when its windy. Practice casting over your opposite shoulder for when the wind change direction. The Flyzone will help you practice correctly so when you do get that opportunity to fish in big fish country, you are not intimidated, you are ready to play with the big boys and seal the deal. Consider a lesson or two with Jim and me. We love taking anglers to the next level.

-Al Q

a few notes on double hauling…

I think I will rename this cast to the “Cry Me A River” cast. I do not mean to be harsh but I have watched so many casters over the years throw their rods in frustration because they cannot manage the double haul. Here is the problem in a “nut shell” – they cannot cast a good loop without hauling! They have too much slack in their loops and you can drive a UPS truck through them.  Cure – take casting lessons from The Fly Zone and correct your basic casting stroke. You need to understand loop control and line speed before you step into the “black hole” of the Double Haul! 

Here is a great exercise to try and master:  Determine how much fly line you can false cast with good loop control and a smooth stroke. Then increase your stroke speed while maintaining a good loop.  Once you are proficient with this cast, see how much line you can shoot without hauling! You will need to false cast approx. 3 to 4 times with smooth controlled loops before releasing the line that is pinched to your grip. Keep your left hand in your left pocket. You don’t need it. Next, increase your line speed while maintaining controlled loops and let the line fly. I bet you will cast farther this way than with a bad loop and a double haul.  At the FlyZone, we specialize in correcting bad casting habits and teach you the right way to cast. 

– Jim Solomon



lending a helping hand…




Cleveland Healing Waters

Years ago in March, I fished with the Ohio Steelhead guide, Monte Casey, on Ashtabula Creek for steelhead running out of Lake Erie into the feeder creeks and rivers. The weather was 17 degrees and after 15 minutes on the water I really wanted to end the trip and go back to my mother in laws house in Lakewood where I was staying with my wife, Diana and our two children. It was so cold, my fly line was frozen to the rod. Yes, to the rod not just the guides. The nymphs we were using were not detectable, they were just cubes of ice. Yeah, slinging ice requires an open loop. 

The first fish on was a real cluster mess. Running and sliding through the ice with a frozen reel was strategic and challenging. After the glow of the fight and landing, I forgot the pain of numb fingers and toes. Many fish were landed that day and the walk back was concerning knowing that frostbite may be an issue. It all worked out and another experience to remember, especially what I learned from Monte, an excellent guide and angler. 

I stayed in contact with Monte. In September of 2017 Diana and I visited her mother. Monte and I spoke about his Healing Water’s event at the Cleveland Metro Parks Expo and I offered to help. Monte introduced me to Janis and her service dog, Frank. Janis suffers from PTSD . Along with her dog and fly fishing/fly tying Janis has a reason to carry on. We all need a reason and I am dead certain that angling gives me that “eternal hope” to get through the rigors of life. I showed Janis how to tie a white buck tail Clouser and she was very grateful. I love it when people are grateful for your help – makes my day. Little did I know, that six months later Janis would really make my day.

In April of this year Diana and I flew back to Lakewood, Ohio to take care of her mother’s house. Yep, I contacted Monte for a day steelheading. The weather was iffy but we got out and fished the Chagrin River. Monte’s hopes were not high but that is always a good sign to me and I was right. We put a lot of steelhead on the banks of the Chagrin and this time it was a warm 40 degrees and raining. I was a happy camper promising to help Monte with the Sunday Healing Waters event on Rocky River. Monte was shorthanded and needed my help with the 8 vets showing up at the fabulous Cleveland Rocky River Metro Park. I was honored to help out, especially with the VETS. 

Janis is a quick learner. Realizing a firm wrist and short accurate cast is “the ticket” she managed to hook and release her first two steelhead. I will always remember her comment as we walked downstream with a 7 pound steelhead – “You know I think I would rather be tying a fly”. The second fish may have changed that. I hope so but hey, fly tying in itself is an art and a healer . 

I was so stoked when Janis hooked her steelhead. It will be one of my grand angling moments. You see, I have caught my share of fish. Don’t get me wrong, I love to fish “my guts out”; however, now in my old age – it really gives me a great thrill to help someone “hook up”. Maybe this is what it is all about? Thank you Janis for letting me help you – and thank you Monte Casey for a giving me the opportunity. 

– Jim Solomon, MCI

there are no false casts when you drive a golf ball…

I was having a conversation with my friend Jim Solomon the other day and he made this wonderful analogy, “there are no false casts when you drive a golf ball!” I thought this was great, and he was right! A great cast requires one good backcast and one good forward cast, period. We have a cool casting exercise where we try to throw maximum amount of line with one back and one forward cast. The way to do this is to allow the proper amount of fly line (head with overhang) laid in a straight line in front of you, with rod tip down, make one pick-up and backcast/haul, and one forward/haul release. Try to shoot as much fly line as you can throw, with no tailing loops. Sound easy? This is a great exercise for distance casting. This exercise leaves you little room for error, you must deliver a solid back and forward cast with a smooth, powerful acceleration to a distinct stop or you will not be able to throw that eighty foot cast. We often rely on many false casts to mask our casting mistakes, then deliver the one to the target that feels the best. Unfortunately we do not have that luxury when fishing, especially when a fish is tailing at 60 feet and our knees are knocking and the guide is telling ya to throw. Remember driving a golfball long…learn to make a quick, long cast to a bonefish or tailing permit with no false casts, it requires practice.

Try it!

Al is right on about the pick up and lay down cast, especially on the flats. Fly casting to a moving fish on the flats, especially in the wind, is combat casting but not with a machine gun. Minimizing your presentations ups the chances for a hook up. The more you false cast in the air the more chances of spooking your prey like the shadow of a bird. Think like a golfer – one shot!

Being able to pick up and quickly and softly lay down is money! And being able to change the direction of your cast is double money! Belgium casts, opposite hand casts, off shoulder casts and spey casts are in my tool box.  Especially on windy days. We focus our teaching around these casts. Learn these casts and deliver your fly COD!


poetry in motion


I love watching Andy Mills cast to bonefish.

Number 1:  He is totally focused on the fish. His eyes never wander or lose sight of the fish.

Number 2: He instinctively knows the distance of his cast and is unconscious of his casting stroke and loops.

Number 3: His shoulders and body are square to the target. His body is quiet – not twisting and turning to watch the back cast.

Number 4:  When he stops the rod the tip is in alignment with the target, like throwing a dart.

How can you cast like this? Practice! And practice the right way. This is what we do at the Fly Zone.