Now that you have your outfit together, it's time to work on your casting.
Tie a piece of yarn on the end of your leader and get out in the backyard (or park) and practice.
Remember that what you are doing in fly fishing 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? You can’t do it!
Understanding the basic principles of fly fishing casting will help in your progression as a fly fisher.
Basic Principles of Fly Fishing Casting
There are five basic principles in casting a fly rod. Work on these in the order listed below.
First, remove all slack from the line as you begin 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
Accelerate and Snap
Next, accelerate the rod toward the end of the cast and then come to a quick stop. Joan Wulff calls it the “power snap,” Lefty Kreh calls it the “speed up and stop;” the stroke needs to come to a very crisp stop.
Third, for a basic overhead cast the rod tip should travel in a straight line. Some instructors compare a proper fly cast to a clock face, where the rod tip at the end of the back cast is at 11 o’clock and on the forward cast ends at 2 o’clock. It may be easier to think of the proper fly cast as throwing a dart; your hand goes in a straight line, “tossing” toward the target. This generates a tighter loop with your line, making the cast more accurate.
Vary Your Stroke
You can 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 cast, and longer will have have a stroke from 10 o’clock to 2 o’clock.
Pause and Admire
Finally, at the end of your backcast you will need to pause. The rod tip arrives at 2 o’clock before all of your line that you have let out is to loop back, straighten out and unroll. If the line is not able to unroll, it is the same as having slack line and your line will not load to its full ability on the forward cast.
Other Fly Fishing Casts to Know
After you master the basic overhead cast you should be getting a sense of the physics behind your fly rod and line. Keep this in mind, as you transition to learning other casts.
Roll cast: used when you have brush or tress behind you. Unless you are fishing in the middle of a lake, or wide river you will need to learn this cast.
Single- and Double-haul Casts
Single-haul and double-haul casts are used to add distance to your cast with less effort. They use a pull on the line by your line hand, increasing the line speed and resulting in a tighter loop.
Spey casting is used mostly with longer two handed fly rods on larger rivers, but can also be used with single-handed rods.
Mending your Line
It is also 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!