Published Feb 20. 2006 - 16 years ago
Updated or edited Nov 14. 2020

Casting a shooting head

Shooting heads give a couple of advantages, which I try to explain in this episode. You can join me on the Danish coast in my usual pursuit for sea trout while I introduce you to the world of shooting heads. For those not wanting to listen, we're talking distance and effortless casting. And the instructions for making your own shooting heads can be found in the links below.
Podcast file: 

Grass blown onto the beach

Grass blown onto the beach

Small stream

Small stream

Heading for a point

Heading for a point

Sun struggling

Sun struggling


Martin Joergensen's picture

Ken, Regarding ta...


Regarding tarpon and shooting heads I tend to agree with your guides.

Not necessarily because most tarpon will be close - my experience is like yours: they tend to be just beyond what you can reach - but more because shooting heads generally tend to be bad at presentation. Most shooting heads will improve your casting distance, but at the cost of elegance. You can present a fly nicely, but many casts will not stretch 100% - especially the long ones. If you really want to present a fly decently you need a carefully tapered fly line and not least a well designed leader.

If you flies don't end up in front of your fly line and at the end of a stretched leader, look at the leader. Turning over large and heavy tarpon flies requires some umph in your leader. Have you tried poly leaders? They have more weight and are typically very much luike a fly line in the butt end. I would concentrate there rather than on creating a shooting head setup.

And let me add a final note: expecting to present a fly nicely at 100 feet - even from the elevated stance of a boat - is very ambitious. Even for a really skilled caster. I would personally get the guide to pole closer. It doesn't really matter whether you spook the fish with the boat or with the cast. Once it's spooked it's gone.

Just my two cents.


PS: You might want to read this article about casting distance and not least the comments for some insight on this subject.

Greetings, I'm looki...

Greetings, I'm looking for advise concerning the use of shooting head fly line in lue of tappered. I do a lot of tarpon fishing and need distance. I am a fair fly caster but tend to push my cast when presured. The larger fly and heavier leaders necessary for tarpon tend to cause my leader to collapse in a pile even though my fly line turns over nicely. I usually overline to to improve my casting at shorter distances. But many times I need acurate casts up 100 ft. I'm thinking that a shooting head will help my consistancy as well as imporving the transfer of energy into my leader for a nice turn over. Most of my guides do not recommend shooting heads because they say that most of my opportunities will be within 50 ft or less. From my personal expirence that is not so true. Most hookup opportunities I have experienced are spooky tarpon on the move - on and off the flats. Can you please give me some advice concerning using or not using shooting heads for tarpon? thank you

Hello Martin, my na...

Hello Martin,
my name is Kai Nolting and I was just listening to your padcast, while tying some flies for the coming seasen, dreaming of some seatrouts and that the spring now may still arrive.
I'm living in a city called Leverkusen near Colone in Germany and staying for two or three times every year in Danmark, flyfishing for seatrouts.
I think it's a very good idea to let us have some of your impression by speaking through the podcast.
So I say thank you while waiting for your next audio-turn and pictures. I hope to listen to a fight with a big seatrout next time.
Tide lines

Kai Nolting


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