How to Cast a Fly Rod

This post was last updated on December 18th, 2021 at 05:03 pm

Casting a Fly fishing rod is not a very difficult thing if you learn it right the first time. Learning how to cast a fly fishing rod is very important when it comes to knowing how to fly fish for trout. Its easy to get bad habits, so you should learn to cast properly from the start. This article will teach you how to cast a fly rod for fly fishing. I will be adding videos to this section as often as possible. I will start with short and simple instructional videos and gradually move into much more advanced casting, mending, and drifting.

This is a very short 60 second video on some do’s and dont’s of fly casting. The main thing you need to keep in mind (you will see it in the video above) is to not cast with your wrist and to cast using your shoulder and whole arm. Once you learn the timing and the proper technique you will be casting 80′ in no time flat.

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How to Cast a Fly Rod

The basic motions for casting a fly rod. The main thing to focus on is not letting your rod go too far backwards on your back cast. By stopping your rod too far back, you cannot get any distance. Note the travel path of the rod tip is almost in a straight line.

Fly Casting Tips and Cures to Common Casting Problems

Cures to common fly casting problems, How to cast a fly rod, how to throw a fly rod, how to roll a fly rod, casting a fly rodIf you are a new fly fisherman or just a little out of practice, you might be able to benefit from this simple fly casting trouble shooting page. There is a precise way to achieve good distance and accuracy during your fly fishing casting motion. If you suffer from lack of distance, your fly fishing line not shooting properly, your line piling up in a heap or other common casting issues—we might have the solutions for you here.

Common Problems – How to Cast a Fly Fishing Rod

Your Flies Snap off on your Cast

This is a common issue for new fly casters. Almost every time I take new anglers on the river, within the first several minutes of casting the flies will suddenly be gone and you will hear the tell tale noise of a loud crack (similar to the sound of a whip).

  • Solution: The cause of the flies getting snapped off on a cast is almost always because of a lack of pause on your back cast, in conjunction of most likely bending your wrist at the end of your cast. You are not allowing your line to completely straighten out before you begin your forward cast. You can easily fix this issue by watching your fly line on your back cast and waiting. Another common method which you should get used to doing, is waiting until you feel your rod bend backwards. You will know your line is fully “loaded” or extended at the moment that your rod suddenly jerks backwards, this is your Que to initiate your forward cast.
  • Tippet Too Light: This happens, but it is much less likely than the above problem. If you are tying a heavy bead head nymph on to 7x, you might simply be using too light of tippet. However if your flies are popping off on your cast, chances are the solution above will fix your problem.

Your Fly Line Drops Too Low Behind You on Your Cast (It Might Even Hit the Water Behind You)

This is a very common problem that can be caused by a variety of mistakes. You should easily be able to identify your issue with one or more of the causes below.

  • Not Enough Power on the Back cast: This is extremely common for new fly fisherman, especially when they have a fishing background of casting bait casting and spinning rods. When you cast a standard rod and reel you will bring your rod back slowly and put much more emphasis on the forward cast. This is not the proper way to cast a fly fishing rod. The back cast used in the fly fishing cast is just as important as the forward cast. You need to bring your rod backwards with enough power to allow the line to extend completely behind you totally straight. You also need to ensure that when you stop on your back cast, that you are stopping your rod abruptly to ensure that your rod can offer adequate energy to propel your line backwards. A weak cast will cause your line to hit the water behind you and often even hit you on it’s way back forward.
  • Rod Tip Dropping Too Low on Your Back Cast (Too Much Wrist!) : This is almost certainly caused by the bending of the wrist at the end of your back cast. Stiffen up that wrist (even if you have to tie it stiff by using duct tape). Another method to ensure you will use less wrist while learning the proper cast, is to tuck the butt end of the fly rod into your sleeve. This should help you at least feel when you are bending your wrist, because when you do-you will feel the tension on your shirt sleeve.
  • Too Long of a Pause on Your Back Cast: It is not likely this is your issue, but I have seen it happen, so we can’t rule it out.
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Piling up fly line during your cast has a few different possible causes. The most common cause is using too much wrist on your cast.

Your Fly Line Lands in a Pile

This is very common to new and many experienced fly fisherman who just haven’t gotten fly casting down pat yet. If your line continues to land in a big pile, or just won’t quite turn over all the way, the solution to your problem can be found below.

  • Too Much Wrist: There is a good chance that if you cannot achieve good distance and your line keeps landing in one big pile, you are bending your wrist. You need your fly line to extend straight behind you. If you are bending your wrist, your line is not going straight back, it is moving in an arching motion which will never allow you to get distance, and you’ll never get your line to straighten out properly.
  • Releasing your Line From your Non Casting Hand Too Soon: As you hold the line in your non casting hand, you will need to release it toward the very end of your cast. If you are trying to release the line half way through your cast, your line will not have enough speed and power to turn it all over.
  • Attempting to Release Too Much Line Without Enough Power to Back it up: During your cast, you need to ensure that your rod has the appropriate amount of energy built into the cast to properly shoot the amount of line that you want to. If you have 20 feet of line laying on the ground (or in the water) that you are attempting to cast, you had better be sure you are casting with enough power to allow it all to slide through your guides and straighten out in front of you. Another solution is to stop the line towards the end of your cast with your hand that is holding the line, this should allow your line to straighten out prior to hitting the water.
  • Not Enough Pause on your Back Cast: This is another common issue for new anglers. Perhaps the most common reason for bad casting is attributable to the pause during the back cast not being long enough.

Helpful Tips – How to Cast a Fly Rod

If you are having a hard time keeping that wrist straight one of these casting tips might help you become a better fly caster.

Fixing your fly fishing cast so you don't use too much wrist, Cures to common fly casting problems, How to cast a fly rod, how to throw a fly rod, how to roll a fly rod, casting a fly rodPicture your fly rod as an old school cordless phone with a long antennae on top. Imagine your fly reel is the bottom of the phone where the microphone would be. At the end of your back cast you want to look like you are answering your phone with the antennae in a slightly less than vertical position. When you are talking on one of those phones, your antennae will be almost straight up and it certainly would not be parallel to the ground or facing straight behind you. Of course you don’t want to actually bring your rod too close to your face during your cast, but from the side it will almost look like you are talking on a phone when you stop in the proper position.

Tucking Your Rod’s Butt into Your Sleeve

Tucking the butt of your fly fishing rod into your shirt or coat will help to fix your cast, Cures to common fly casting problems, How to cast a fly rod, how to throw a fly rod, how to roll a fly rod, casting a fly rodA very simple solution to help remind you that you are using too much wrist in your cast, is to tuck the butt of your rod into your sleeve. As you can see in the image, when you are using a lot of wrist in your cast you will feel it by the tension on your wrist from your coat. Of course you aren’t going to want to fish like this, but during your practice, this technique might help to improve your muscle memory for keeping your wrist in the proper position.

Key Takeaways – How to Cast a Fly Rod

Fly fishing is a sport enjoyed by people of all ages and experience levels. The sheer number of variables that can affect your fly rod cast means it’s not always easy to get the hang of casting on the first try. Fortunately, there are many tips you can follow to improve your skills in this area. Once you get casting correctly, you’ll need to learn how to clean your trout. You might be bending your wrist or releasing too much line during practice casts. These mistakes will only make it more difficult for you when you go out fishing. There are many other variables involved.

This article discussed all about how to cast a fly rod. We discussed wrist positions, common problems with fly rod casting and more. Hopefully this article answers all your questions about how to cast a fly rod.