Fly Fishing Casting

Now that you have your outfit together, it is time to work on your fly fishing casting. Tie a piece of yarn on the end of your leader and get out in the back yard (or park) and practice.

OK, maybe we need to review the basics of casting first.

Remember that what you are doing in fly casting is casting the line. The fly just goes along for the ride. Ever try to throw a fly (or a piece of yarn) very far? Can’t do it! Understanding the basic principles of fly fishing casting will help in your progression as a fly fisher.

I would like to thank Ken Evoy and the staff at SBI for giving me the tools to build this site. 

Basic Principles of Fly Fishing Casting:

It is important to understand the five basic principles of casting a fly rod, and to practice them before heading for the water.

  • First, you need to remove all slack from the line as you are starting to load the rod. You may not be able to remove all of it but it will affect the efficiency of the cast if it is present. Start with the rod tip low and the line out straight.
  • Second, you need to accelerate the rod toward the end of the cast and then come to quick stop. Joan Wulff calls it the “power snap,” Lefty Kreh calls it the “speed up and stop,” others the “squeeze stop.” You get the idea; the stroke needs to come to a very crisp stop.
  • Third, for the basic overhead cast the rod tip should go in a straight line. Some people talk about how to fly cast and the clock face, back cast to 11 o’clock, forward to 2 o’clock. Think instead of throwing a dart. Your hand does not go in an arch; it goes in a straight line, a “toss” toward the target. This generates a tighter loop, making the cast more accurate.

  • Fourth, vary the size of the stroke to the length of line you are trying to cast. A longer line being cast means your cast needs to have a longer stroke. A short line will have an 11 o’clock to 1 o’clock stroke and a long line would have a stroke of 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock. Oops, there is that clock face again.
  • Fifth, there needs to be a pause at the end of your backcast. This allows the line to straighten out and unroll. If it does not unroll then it has the same affect as having slack line. Your rod will not load to its full ability on the forward cast. The longer the line, the longer the pause.

Fly Fishing Casting: Other Important Casts To Know

  • A roll cast is used when you have brush or trees behind you. I live in western Oregon where unless you are out in the middle of a lake you will need to learn this cast.
  • Single-haul and double-haul casts are used to add distance to your casts with less effort. They use a pull on the line by your line hand, which increases the line speed giving you a tighter loop.
  • Spey casting (there are many types) is used mostly with longer two handed fly rods on larger rivers but can also be used with single-handed rods.
  • It will also be important to learn how to “mend” your line. River currents will do odd things to your line, causing the fly to drift unnaturally. Mending is done either in the air during your cast or after the line hits the water.

Fly Fishing Casting Lessons

I recommend finding a fly casting instructor in your area. They can help you with these fly fishing basics. Most fly shops have fly casting instructors who can help.

Whatever you do, get out there in the yard (or park) and practice. Don’t wait until you get on the water, there are already enough flies caught in the nearby trees! I know; some are mine!

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