8 Tips to Improve Your Fly Casting
After learning how to first cast a fly rod, many anglers don’t think much about the fundamentals of their cast. But just because you know how to cast, you shouldn’t stop thinking about your form.
Even seasoned fisherman should be looking at ways to improve their cast!
In this month’s post, we’ll give some tips on how to improve your fly cast. We’ll also go over some fly casting basics to refresh your memory.
Fly Casting Basics
Fly casting can be an intricate process with a lot of moving pieces.
Below, we’ve outlined some key concepts and terms to know before heading into our tips for better fly casting.
- When casting a fly rod, you’re casting the line as opposed to the lure with traditional fishing rods.
- Casting is comprised of “forward casts” and “backwards casts”.
- While casting, you will bend or “load” the rod during the backwards cast. This will push the line out further during your forwards cast, repeating the process to move your line out further and further.
- The rod-tip path your rod travels over the course of the cast will determine the “loop,” or motion, your fly line makes.
- The “casting stroke” refers to the motion your rod makes in order to create the loop.
- A 10-2 “casting arc,” or angle change of the fly rod, is generally considered best practice. This means if your rod were the hands of a clock, they would go between 2 o’clock for the end of your back cast, and 10 o’clock for your forward cast.
8 Ways to Improve Your Fly Casting
There are no shortcuts to improving your fly casting. At it’s core, improving your cast is centered around getting back to the fundamentals and ensuring you’re not sloppy with your cast (something we are all guilty of at one point or another).
Below, we’ve outlined some ways to ensure your cast stays strong and you don’t lose site of your casting fundamentals.
Understand The Function of the Rod
Remember, your rod is there to do the work.
As noted above, fly rods work differently than traditional fishing poles, which leverage the weight of the lure or bait to cast. Conversely, fly rods leverage the weight of the fly line to cast. Since flies generally weigh almost nothing, the weighted lines used in fly fishing gear is needed to place your fly.
Since the line is so central in the function of the rod, you need to make sure you’re casting correctly for you to both cast the distance necessary and be accurate with your fly placement.
For instance, if you’re trying to start your forward cast before your back cast has been completed, the line will not be cast forward correctly (more on this shortly). This leads to an inefficient cast, and one where you are not fully utilizing the energy created by your rod.
When you are frustrated or stressed, it’s common to speed up whatever you are doing. For instance, it’s common to speak quickly when nervous. Fly casting is no different.
We see this issue with anglers of all skill levels. Generally, it is when an angler is frustrated or in a challenging situation that the issue presents itself.
Not surprisingly, when you move quickly you become less focused on technique. This will decrease the efficiency and effectiveness of your cast, leading to inaccurate and short casts.
If you notice yourself speeding up, breath and try focusing on what you know about fly casting. Then, take out 15 feet of line and cast it over and over again, not letting any new line out. This will get you focused on the fundamentals of your cast, and help you get back on track to good form.
One common area fishermen struggle with is their back cast.
Since it is not the part of the cast you can see or the one that delivers the fly, it generally takes a back seat to the forward cast in the mind of anglers. This is the wrong way to look at it. Your back cast is just as (if not more) important as it sets up and powers the forward cast.
Unless your back cast is fundamentally strong, you will not place your fly where it needs to go.
Next time you are on the river or practicing your cast, take a look back to make sure the line is unraveling completely before starting your forward cast. It’s important when looking back to make sure to only move your head and not the rest of your body. Moving your body will distort your cast by changing your stroke. Not only will this destroy your cast, but it will not allow you to properly evaluate your back cast.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Fly fishing is just like any other skilled sport – it takes time, dedication, and commitment in order to become great. Practicing frequently will help you reach any goals you set for yourself.
Once a day (or as often as you can) spend 15 minutes out in the yard practicing your casting. Not only will this give you repetitions, helping you perfect your stroke, but it will help your body develop muscle memory for your cast.
Want More Tips on How to Improve Your Fly Cast?
Film Yourself Casting
Seeing yourself in action will help you understand any flaws in your cast.
To start, set up a video camera (or your smartphone) on a tripod in your backyard or other open area. Then, take some casts with differing lengths of fly line. You can also try with differing weights or flies to see how that affects your casting.
Once you have taken some video, attach the feed to a larger screen and watch. Take note of what you are doing right and wrong. You can then make adjustments to your cast based on what you see.
Over time this will help you perfect your cast and track your progress.
The only way to catch more fish is by getting out on the river and fishing more. While practicing in an open area will help train your muscle memory and perfect your cast, nothing will compare to getting out onto the river and casting for real.
Unlike in your backyard, fishing out on the river will present you with the reality of casting to catch fish. Practicing in ideal conditions will help prepare you for the trickier situations, but real life experience will help you become the expert you want to be.
Cast into Slow Moving Water, Particularly When Steelhead Fishing
When out fishing for steelhead (or really any fish in cold rivers), be on the lookout for slow moving, or couch, water. When water is cold fish like to conserve their energy. Slow moving water provides them with a gentler place to sit and wait for food.
A good place in the slow moving water to look is where fast moving water is coming into the couch water.
Go On a Guided Fishing Trip
The best way to improve your cast is by getting feedback from professionals. The best way to do this? Go on a guided trip with experienced fishing guides.
Not only will this give you an opportunity to fish with seasoned pros who will help you catch fish, it will also allow you to fish with anglers who can provide real life feedback on your cast.
While your friends may be able to provide feedback while you are a beginner, experienced fishing guides will give you tips to bring even experienced anglers to the next level. You’ll also be around other fisherman who take fishing seriously with whom you can trade tips and gain knowledge.
Guided trips turn anglers into the fishermen they want to be.
Ready to Bring Your Fishing to the Next Level?
Winding Waters River Expeditions will take you on the adventure of a lifetime. Our guides have been fishing the waters of Eastern Oregon for years and know the rivers inside and out. They also just plain know fly fishing, and will be there to help you become an even better fisherman.
All fly fishing trips include:
- Transportation to and from the river from Joseph, OR
- All necessary fishing equipment for success on the river you’ll be fishing
- Full-service guides with years of experience
- All meals and campsites, including gourmet local ingredients and heated tents
Read more about our available trips today.