Fly Fishing Casting Techniques
Of all types of fishing, either fresh or saltwater, fly fishing casting techniques are arguably the most difficult to master. The combination of timing, coordination and accuracy are crucial to being successful, whether on a stream or lake, using a streamer, dry or wet fly. The key to becoming proficient at fly fishing casting is practice. No matter what type of rod is used, practice is what will bring satisfaction when that first fish is caught on a fly rod.
- Be aware, in fly fishing you are casting the fly line and not the fly. Unlike any other form of fishing, you are using the action of the fly rod to propel or cast the line and fly to a desired spot on the water. With spinning and bait casting rods and reels, the weight of the lure is what propels the line.
- Begin with the basic overhead cast by holding the fly rod in one hand and use your free hand to pull enough line from the reel to give the leader and fly line enough slack so you can begin to false cast. False casting is keeping the line in the air by whipping the fly rod forward and back without delivering the fly on the water.
- Hold the line in your free hand, grip it between your thumb and index finger and keep pulling line from the reel to increase the casting distance as you false cast. False casting is most important when using a dry fly because it allows the angler to cover more water and makes it easier to dry a fly in the air before letting it fall on the water. Wet fly and nymph fishing do not require as much false casting, if at all, because there is no need to keep the fly dry and you do not have to cover much distance.
- Time your motion and watch the end of your line. The more line you have in the air, the more time between the forward and back casts. This is where your timing is critical. If you wait too long to bring the line forward, the line will drop and hit the water behind you. If you come forward too soon, the line will not give the rod time to load so that you can increase distance.
- Visualize you are hammering a nail, the rod being the hammer. The arc of the rod should not exceed the 1 o'clock position on the back cast and the 10 o'clock position on the forward cast. When you have set your target on the water, bring your rod forward to the 10 o'clock position and let the fly gently drop to the water. Never release the line from your fingers when delivering the fly as this will make the line shoot forward from the rod tip and go off target and fall heavily onto the water.
- Practice the roll cast, which is used when there is not enough room to make the overhead cast. The roll cast is made by not performing a back cast. With your finger holding the line against the rod grip, keeping the line on the water in front of you, bring the fly rod up to the 9 o'clock position and snap the rod forward. This will cause the line to roll out from the rod tip and have the fly fall gently on the water.
- Master these techniques and you will be prepared for most fishing conditions.