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How to fly cast


Firstly, fly casting isn’t hard. There are dozens of methods to teach it but the important part is to understand what is actually happening when someone is casting. Think about how the rod tip moves, and how that translates to the line. If you can picture why, then the how becomes much easier. Grab a long piece of string or wool in your hand and try and get it to lay out straight in front of you. To have any hope in doing this, you’ll see you have to stop your hand abruptly to get it to unroll. This sudden stop is the premise of fly casting.

Now, we’re going to presume you’ve seen fly casting before and noticed the caster waving the rod backwards and forward. What’s happening, is the rod tip is travelling in a straight line at speed and then the caster stops the rod moving quite abruptly. If you look close you can see the bend in the rod that’s created when the caster stops the rod. The stop creates the flex, and the flex in the rod pushes the line forward, and back. This energy has the line wanting to propel forwards, and back. The caster is making a back cast, and a forward cast.

When you’re practicing, always watch your back cast. If you can see what is happening behind you when you’re practicing, you will develop faster as a caster. When you’re fishing however, keep your eyes on the target.

A casting lesson is a wise, low cost investment. It will rapidly accelerate your success on the water and help avoid any frustration. It’s often said that casting is 70% of fyfishing, so work at it. Reading and understanding this chapter will make your first casting lesson go a whole lot smoother.


Start with your thumb on top of the rod. You want your grip to be secure, but not so tight that you’re strangling the rod grip.


In your other hand, hold the line firmly. You should never let go of the line in this hand and even when you’re false casting or making your delivery, the line should pass through this hand. To start, keep your line hand around your stomach and roughly a consistent distance from your rod hand as you make a cast.


To start we’re going to talk about some close range casts that are going to get you catching fish FAST. These aren’t the sexiest casts, but they are what’s going to make up the majority of your fishing if you fish rivers.


To start you need to master the pick up and lay down cast. That is quite simply, picking up the line and waving it behind you, stopping the rod tip so it unrolls, and then when it has nearly all unrolled behind you, you start the same motion forward, stop the rod tip again just as you did before, and then follow the fly down to the water with the rod tip.The first part of the cast is what we call the back cast, and the last part is call the forward cast.


  1. Start with your rod tip an inch from touching the water and without ANY slack line in front of you. You must be in a direct connection to your fly. Slack line is your enemy.
  2. The rod tip needs to travel in a straight line. There shouldn’t be any arc in where that rod tip travels. Imagine the rod tip is locked into a train track and you have to stop it derailing.
  3. The speed of the rod tip should ramp up evenly before the stop. Imagine a car, it starts at 0KM/H and slowly accelerates through the gears to 100KM/H before slamming on the brakes (the stop). The car is at its fastest just before slamming on the brakes. The smoother you can slowly accelerate the rod tip to top speed, the less shock and better your casting will be.


The pick up and lay down cast is cooler, but a roll cast is likely what will result in your first fish on fly. This is a cast anyone can do as its just a single motion. Like the pick-up and lay down though - a stop of the rod tip is equally important. When you’re fishing your way up a small stream, the roll cast is your most efficient weapon. It keeps your fly in the water for longer without any fluffing around and allows you to work your way upstream, combing every likely spot for fish.

Start by lifting the rod hand up to your ear. Have the rod tip pointing back just slightly. Let the line sag next to you.

Smoothly accelerate the rod tip forward in a straight line and stop the rod tip abruptly in the direction you wish the fly to go.

Follow the fly down to the water with the rod tip to achieve a nice, delicate presentation.

You did it!


False casting is the extension or part two lecture, of the pick up and lay down cast. False casting is what enables us to introduce more line, and achieve a greater distance cast.

Just as we did with the pick up and lay down cast, we start with a back cast. Wave the rod behind you, remembering to keep the rod tip travelling in a straight line, stop the rod tip so the line unrolls, and then when it has nearly all unrolled behind you, start the same motion forward to begin the forward cast, stop the rod tip again just as you did before so the line un-rolls, and then when it has nearly all unrolled in front of you, you start the same motion backwards again. This is false casting. It should look exactly the same on the back cast as the forward cast and it is repeated for as long as it takes to introduce the required amount of fly line into the cast.

After the stop is made in the cast, the line accelerates forward. The caster should immediately release their hold on the line with their line hand and feather it out, before clamping their hold on the line again as the back cast begins. This is called shooting the line. It can be done on the forward cast and the back cast. For now, just do it on the forward cast.

Once the desired amount of line has been introduced to the cast, a final forward cast is made, you stop the rod tip again, the line unrolls in front of you, and you follow the fly down to the water with the rod tip to ensure a delicate presentation.


  1. The tips rules apply as the pick up and lay down cast. Follow them to a tee.
  2. When you make your final forward cast to present the fly, don’t add more power. Fly casting is not about strength, it’s about timing. Gritting your teeth and flexing your muscles will not make the line travel further. If it’s not going out, you’re doing it wrong and you need to go back and master the pick up and lay down cast.

Flyfishing is 70% casting. If you work hard with your casting, your catch rate will improve dramatically. Practice makes perfect. Golf is very similar in that to hit a ball is easy, but to do it well, takes practice.

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