How to be an Expert Fly Caster

by Fly Fisherman

How to be an Expert Fly Caster

You can’t do any fly fishing without doing some fly casting. In spite of this obvious truth, about ninety-eight percent of all fly fishermen never take the trouble to learn the fundamentals of good fly casting.
Fly casting is easy—if you get the fundamentals right. To do this you only need to know what those fundamentals are and to practice them enough so you can do what you know. It’s as simple as that. Here are the fundamentals:

(1) Pick up the line with a smooth accelerando (start slow and finish fast) movement of the rod. You pick the line up—not back; the spring of the rod will put the line back. The cast starts (with the line tight) with your forearm parallel to the water and the rod at an angle of 22 1/2 degrees above the horizontal. During this movement your hand, arm and rod are all going upward.
(2) Stop the back cast abruptly when your arm is vertical and the rod is 221/2 degrees back of the vertical position.

(3) Pause long enough at the end of the back cast for the spring of the rod to throw the line high into the air above and behind you. This pause must be long enough for the line to almost, but not quite, straighten out in the air. It is absolutely necessary that this backcast be kept high. By this I mean that the line must extend high and straight in the air above and
behind you—at an angle of at least 221/2 degrees above the horizontal.

(4) The forward cast is again an accelerando movement. Start it slow—forward, not down; finish fast—forward-anddown—with a sharp pressure of the thumb at the end.

(5) Stop the forward cast when the arm is parallel to the water and the rod 221/2 degrees above the horizontal. At this point the spring of the rod will straighten the line out flat along the water. You just let the line drop the last two feet through the air by itself.

This forward cast is for a delivery cast—one in which you let the fly light on the water. For a false cast, such as you use regularly in dry fly casting, you stop the forward cast earlier, when the rod is 45 degrees above the horizontal, let the line straighten out in the air in front and then make another back cast before the fly or line gets low enough to hit the water.
These are the fundamentals of the overhead cast. There are a lot of things I can tell you about how to learn to carry them out most easily.

In the first place, you’ll probably say: “This guy  must be a nut to expect me to measure an angle of just 22 1/4 degrees in the air—especially that half a degree.”
Well, it isn’t so hard because from the horizontal to the vertical is 90 degrees, a quarter of a full circle. 22 1/4 degrees is just one quarter of this 90° segment. You’ll find, in doing it, that it’s a lot easier to judge a 22 1/2 degree raise of the rod than it is a 15, 20, or 25 degree raise. Take a pencil in your hand now and try it. Wasn’t I right?

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