One of the fundamental secrets to an awesome fly-fishing experience is casting the fly rod. Yes, this may sound obvious, but think about how important it is to cast the fly rod for a good catch. Getting to learn how to cast a fly rod is extremely important if you aspire to become a successful fly-fisher.
Not everything is hard. The same goes for casting fly-rod. It is very easy if you follow a useful guideline and practice regularly. In this article, I will be discussing some techniques to cast a fly rod. This will help you learn advanced fly casting techniques quickly and you can start your fly fishing with perfection in no time. Before you move on, you need to know where you can fly-fish with ease. For that purpose, you can just have a look at the best places and most suitable times for fly-fishing to get a detailed idea.
Setting up for Casting
There are different parts of a fly-fishing cast. The knots, backing, fly line, leader, tippet, fly, etc. You can learn about different types of fishing knots through studying our another post on tying a fishing knot. Putting up altogether may be a hard nut to crack for most of the beginners, but it’s not that hard, either. It needs a little bit of practice and some basic idea of knotting. At the same time, take a look at what gears to wear while fly fishing to get the most appropriate idea.
Here is a step by step guideline for putting up these items together –
- First of all, see the instructions set by the manufacturers, and attach the rod with the reel accordingly. Usually, you will see the reel will slide onto the rod and will lock itself.
- The backing should be retrieved and pulled off around 100 feet. It depends entirely on the size of the spool and the weight of the reel. You can find a suggestion from the manufacturers of the reel on the backing amount. What you will do is spool sufficient backing. This will make the line and the backing fill the arbor.
- Try to pull off around 3 feet of the fly line and knot it to the backing with an Albright knot.
- Next, pull off 30 yards more of the fly line and put a clip on it.
- There is a secret to get the exact amount of backing. You need to spool your fly line and the backing onto your reel but carry on this task in reverse primarily. The fly line should go first. Remember, you are going for a 30 yards fly line.
- Make sure the line is taut when you are spooling it. Make the line or backing travel evenly across your spool or arbor. The line should spool from the lower side of your reel.
- Carry on spooling your line to the point it is close, yet not attaching to the outer rim. When it is close, you should cut off the excess backing. Get rid of the fly line and the backing.
- Now you need to use an Arbor knot. Lock the backing to the arbor using the Arbor knot with perfection. Next, make the line taut. Spool it spreading evenly on the line across its reel. Don’t forget to spool from the lower side.
- Now it’s time to make a loop. Form a loop at the end of your fly line with a braided knot. What happens with this loop is that it will attach the line to the leader loop pretty easily. It will allow you to switch leaders within moments.
- You need to attach the leader with a loop to loop knot. Consider using a double or a triple surgeon’s knot to lock the tippet with the leader.
- Finally, you need to put a fly to the tippet. For this, an improved clinch knot is a perfect knot that I can suggest.
Well, that pretty much sums up how to set up the casting parts. It may seem like a lot of works to do, but trust me, it’s easier done than said! The best part is, you don’t even need to repeat this process more than a few times. If you don’t change the weight of the line, all you need to do is change the leader and replace the flies. Again, if you are up for different fish at different times, then you will need different fly lines. Try keeping a number of extra reels and rods for that.
The Basic Ideas of Casting Fly Rods
How Is It Different From Regular Casting?
There are some fundamental differences between regular fishing and fly fishing techniques. When you are going for regular fishing, you will be using a weighted lure or a sinker that is attached at the end of the line. The line will be thin and supple. This will be coiled around the reel very tight. When you cast it, the entire weight of the sinker or the lure it will pull the line from the reel. Thanks to the forward momentum created by the cast.
In the case of fly fishing, things are a bit different. In fly fishing, in the place of weighted lures and sinkers, you will use very lightweight flies that are mostly made of features, furs, and other artificial synthetic products. You can already imagine how far you can through it compared to regular fishing. Try thinking of throwing a feather and stone together. You can see the weight factor here, right?
To meet this weight challenge, you have a fly line for the rescue. Contrary to the regular thin and level fishing line, a fly fishing line is a PVC made thick line. It can include a urethane coating as well that increases the weight. The energy that is generated from the casting stroke will transfer through the line, like a lash, and the fly will be carried with it. To sum up, it is the line that actually casts the fly into the water.
When you cast the fly rod, the fly line is moved behind the top of the rod. When you stop your hand and the rod, then move it forward, all the energy from your hand and rod travels through the fly line. Now the fly line comes forward by unrolling itself and moves towards the direction of your hand. While moving forward from the back position, the line creates a tangled form in the air which is best known as the loop.
Now, creating this loop may take a while for you to master. Regular practice is the key to that mastery. When you’re practicing, keep these things in mind.
- The loop top must unroll itself in a parallel position to the bottom of the beginning side of it. Again, both the ending and beginning side of the loop should be parallel to the water level as the top loop unfolds.
- There should a narrow gap between the top and bottom sides of the loop. Ideally, the distance should be at best 2 to 3 feet.
- The unrolling of the loop must be a smooth one. Make sure the whole line and the leader is extending out before the line falls in the water.
To create a successful cast, you should load the fly rod with energy. This energy will be eventually transferred into the line. You can compare this concept to the bow and arrow shooting. You first bend the bow that stores the energy and then releases it with the arrow while it is fired. The same goes for casting with the fly rod. Here, you will load the energy through your hand motion by moving the rod with your hand backward and by the throwing gesture afterward. Thus creating a perfect fly cast.
The Transfer of Energy
Now you don’t need to be an expert to understand the energy transfer that takes place here. The fly rod is loaded with energy, and this energy is needed to be transferred without any hamper. There are two stops while you cast your fly rod and the first stop aids the rod to stay in a straight way that transfers the kinetic energy to the fly line.
Fly Rod Casting
If you are wondering how to cast a fishing rod, then you should know that there are basically two methods for a fly casting. You can choose either of the two based on your preference. The Overhead cast and the Roll cast. I will be covering these two basic casting methods here. That’s fly casting 101, my friend. However, fly fishing casting exercises are very important to master these techniques.
The Overhead Cast
First to go is the Overhead cast. It is the prime method of fly casting in fly fishing. This is the method you are going to use most of the time in fishing. Other casting methods are more or less built on this method using it as the base. The concept of this method is that you just pull up the fly line over your head and send it back, and then throw it forward supported by the kinetic energy it has gained.
The overhead cast can be divided into two parts. The Back Cast and the Forward Cast.
The Back Cast
- First, you need to stand straight with your shoulder straightened. Hold the rod with your four fingers tightly by the grip. Put your thumb on the top and make the reel of the rod face down. Make sure your hand is on the mid-position of the grip. Now Pull the line around 25 feet off the reel. Next, put the line straight and position yourself almost square comparing to your target. Keep your feet wide apart parallel to your shoulder width.
- You must start with the rod tip a bit low. Then accelerate it up and send it back with an even rhythm.
- Take a step back. The moment you see the rod cross the vertical position, you must stop. This stop is planned and intentional. You can see that your pause will cause the line to unroll itself and it will rise above your behind you in the air. When you see the line is opened up to its fullest extent, consider the back cast to be done. Keep your wrist exactly where it is and don’t move. Until the line is tight enough, start lifting your hand.
The Forward Cast
- Now your fly line is totally extended and behind your back in the open air. Gently bring the rod forward by putting force by your hand. Make sure you pull it in a gentle, and accelerating way.
- When the fly rod is coming forward, just stop the rod tip while it is straight up in the air. This will allow your energy to travel towards the line and keep it moving forward.
- Now, as you can see, the line is unrolling itself, slowly lower the tip of the rod. When you keep lowering the tip, you can see the line is rolling out in a straight fashion towards the fly of the rod.
A few points to remember….
- Always keep a sharp eye and pay attention to the point of the tip of the rod points while you cast. The two stops should be stopped while the tip is high and crosses the line position in a vertical way.
- Remember, always keep your wrist straight. Keep both of your elbows attached to your body at a straight position. Use your shoulder and arm to throw the cast. Remember, if you are throwing the cast with your wrist, it may cause unwelcome damage to your wrist in the long run.
- The pause is very important. During the backcasting, take enough time to pause for the line to fully unroll at the backside in the air. You can have a look at it without moving your body much.
- Start and finish your casting with the tip of the rod low. On the other hand, make sure the line is also straight.
- Don’t try to cast immediately after you attempted one. Allow the first cast to finish, then cast the next one.
The Roll Cast
The Roll cast is significantly different than the Overhead cast. In Roll cast, there are no backcasting. In this casting, your line rests on the water surface. Holding the handle on your hand, slowly drag the line backward and hang it in a loop from the rod tip that is commonly known as the D-loop. This produces the weight needed for the loading of the fly rod to generate the forward cast. You can see that the line is unrolling itself over the surface of the water.
- In order to master this method, you need to practice it on water. Practising on the ground is not suitable for it. The line should be placed on the water surface for the D-loop to form. You can practice with a line that extends from 20 feet to 25 feet. Lay it out forward while the tip of the rod should be pointed towards the water level.
- Now, you need to drag the rod upwards and backwards. Make sure the dragging creates enough force to pull the line-end over the surface of the water. When the tip of the rod is high and goes across the vertical position, you need to stop right there. Here, you can see the line creating a visually soothing slack loop, i.e. D-loop.
- At this point, throw the fly rod towards the water with a great force. Stop immediately when the fly line places itself over the water surface a bit in a parallel way. That way you can see the cast unrolling itself with the required smoothness and formulate a perfect casting over the water surface.
A few Points to Remember….
- Don’t drag the line backward with a great force. You don’t need to pull the line out of the water. The line and the water creates a friction that makes the rod loaded to make the forward cast.
- The D-loop is a major issue that you need to consider for a Roll Casting. The more the slack loop looks like a D format, the better casting you will get.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. How do you hold a fly fishing rod?
Answer: This is one of those most common questions for fly fishing.
Well, for the best grip, you need to hold your fly rod by your fingers tightly. Make sure you put your thumb on top and let the reel face down.
2. How do you set up a fly rod for trout?
Answer: The set up for a fly rod to catch trout is no different than a regular set up. Our setting up a cast section has a detail discussion on how to set up a fly rod casting. For the best result, make sure your line is tightly tied to your rod, as trouts can give you a hard challenge.
3. How do you start a fly cast?
Answer: For the most popular casting, i.e. the Overhead Cast, the fly casting will start with the backcasting. The closer your backcasting is to perfection, the better fly casting you will get.
4. Can you use a fly rod with a spinning reel?
Answer: Surprisingly, yes. You can use a spinning reel with a fly rod. The length of the fly rod will provide you an extra advantage while fishing different fish.
5. Do you need a tippet for fly fishing?
Answer: Yes. Even if you don’t consider it to be an essential part, yet if you want to present your fly in an improved way, a tippet is just what you need.
6. How can I improve my fly casting?
Answer: There is no alternative to practicing. You need to find an open field to practice. Regular practice is the key to improvement.
Yes, I know these steps may look tough at the beginning. But, trust me, these are very easy if practiced regularly. Learning how to cast a fly rod far is easier than you can imagine. I have seen many novice fishers master different fly-fishing casting in no time. Just the right amount of practice, improved concentration, and proper dedication are all you need. You also need to train your muscles and build your muscle response rate. But how to practice fly casting? You can always refer to our Overhead cast and Roll cast sections to get the idea.
So pack your fly-fishing gears and start practicing now!