Updated: Oct 17, 2020
Some anglers say fly-fishing is more than a past time and hobby, it is a sport and an art, requiring a lot of concentration and patients from the angler. Its different to other fishing in that the angler uses fly’s which he can make or buy ready made from their local tackle shops.
To watch an experienced fly fisherman/woman is like watching an artist in motion. It has taken the experienced fly fisherman/woman years to perfect their skills and to land his cast and fly delicately on the water no matter their surroundings. Of course it takes years to become a highly experienced fly fisher, but learning the basics can happen very quickly.
The good part is that you don't even need a nearby river or fishery to practice on. You can practice in your own garden or nearest playing field.
To learn to be a good fly caster, find an expert that will show you their talents and offer you advice on your technique. This could come by way of paying someone at your local tackle shop, taking a class at a local fishery.
Usually I think you'll find that people who like to fly fish like to share their knowledge and expertise. If you are not fortunate enough to find someone to teach you first hand, the second option would be to buy a video and watch and study it and then go out and practice the techniques you’ve learned. But remember that you will pick up bad habits that can only be rectified by an experienced fly fishing instructor.
You must become familiar with your fly rod and reel and the fly line itself. Make the fly rod an extension of your arm. If you keep your wrist rigid and your elbow relaxed at your side, imagine the rod as a finger now bring it up to the side of your face and with a quick flick of the rod stopping at the 10 o’clock position
The fly casting stroke requires only two short bursts of speed, one accelerating straight backward with a quick stop and one accelerating straight forward with a quick stop. The key is to know at what point to change directions and at what point to stop. Unlike a golfer a fly fisherman/woman has no follow through when casting.
When I first started I used to use the football pitch around the corner from my home. The best method I found was to place a largish plastic ring (like a hoopla ring at the fair) and with about 20' of line extending out from the rod, plus a 9’ leader with a bit of cotton wool tied to the leader as a fly (you have to be careful in open areas where the public and dogs go). I would stand square to the ring with one foot slightly behind the other for balance. Grabbing the rod firmly just above the reel with my fingers wrapped around the cork handle and the thumb on top facing up. With my other hand, I would grab the line, and hold it next to my belt buckle. Keeping the rod tip low. Now remember, there are only four parts to a cast, the pickup, back cast, forward cast and presentation of the fly. With my wrist locked and elbow relaxed at my side, I would slowly move my forearm back in a smooth motion. The pickup lifts the line out of the ground. I would then slowly and smoothly accelerate the forearm into the back position being careful not to go past the two o'clock position.
The line would fly over my shoulder and behind. I would then accelerate my forearm into the forward position being careful not to go past the ten o'clock position. As soon as the line straightened out in front of me, I would slowly lower the rod to the ground thereby presenting the line and the fly. The leader and the fly should flutter down slowly and rest gently on the ground and hopefully the fly in the middle of the ring.
The most important thing to remember when fly fishing, is to relax. The more you relax, the smoother your casting will be, there is nothing worse than being all taught when fly fishing as it can affect your casting technique and also your muscles ache at the end of the day. As they say “Practice Makes Perfect”.
Let’s break down the fly casting technique as follows:
1. When you begin the cast, the rod is roughly parallel to the water as you start the pickup.
2. The back cast must be learned by feel, this will take time as you get used to the actions of the rod during the false cast. Bring the rod backward with the elbow relaxed down by your side and the wrist rigid to about the two o'clock position where you stop and wait for the line to straighten out behind you. This is when the rod begins to "load". If you don't get this just right it can result in two totally different but equally frustrating results. If you wait just a bit too long, it will result in your fly either; landing behind you or lodging in a tree or other object. If you start the forward cast too soon it will result in a loud snapping or cracking sound which will ultimately result in your fly being dislodge, never to be found again or even worse the fly hitting the tip of the rod and breaking it..
3. As soon as the line straightens behind you the rod is brought forward in a smooth accelerating motion to a stop at about the ten o’clock position. Wait for the loop to unfold in front of you.
4. Once the line straightens out ahead of you, slowly lower the rod to the water guiding the fly gently down and presenting the fly.
When taking up fly fishing for the first time it can be a daunting experience not knowing what to purchase, hopefully the following information will be helpful in some way. When you do take up the art of fly fishing, try to get some lessons from a reputable fly fishing coach, that way you won’t pick up bad habits that will cause you to cast badly thereby catch less fish.
The fishing coach will have a good idea of the type of rod, reel and line that will be suited to your casting technique, not everyone casts the exact same way due to many varying factors like:- body build; (male or female); left or right handed; the way that you cast etc. Some casting coaching is good as it helps to iron out any small faults that you may have picked up in the short time that you have started fly fishing.
If you are taking up fly fishing for the very first time, or if you know someone who is then this great book will be ideal 'Cast the First Fly - Fly Fishing for Beginners' available from Lulu.com