How To Cast A Fly Rod and Fly Fish

How To Cast A Fly Rod and Fly Fish

Fly fishing is known to be the easiest variant of fishing. Skilled professionals actually recommend teaching children how to fly fish over traditional fishing. Albeit, less popular in some states this sport is quite enjoyable and relaxing overall. In this article you will learn what fly fishing is and what it isn’t, the core principles of fly fishing and a detail method of casting a fly rod.

To cast you must stand sideways with your opposite foot forward. Grip the fly rod with your thumb on top of the grip, ideally positioning it at the end. Lightly move your wrist upwards or downwards to cast your line. Remember always begin and end your casts with the rod tip below your belt line.

What is Fly Fishing?

The very principle of fly fishing is quite simple. It is basically a form of fishing where traditional practices are put to rest while more skill and technique is used.

Fly fishing dates back to the 2nd century when Roman Claudius Aelianus was documented to have created the first artificial fly. By the 18th century, fishing rods started to become more sophisticated allowing fly fishers to have more control of the cast and the fly. By the mid-1600s, the industry of making rods have been commercialized and dozens of innovations have started to surface.

By the 1800s, the reel has been modernized and improved using modifications made by George Snyder. The innovation behind these reels gave rise to the cast and mechanical reel we use today.

The difference between fly fishing and regular line fishing falls under the art of casting and luring. Through the specialized lures termed as “flies”, fly fishers are able to land and eventually fool the fish into thinking that these artificial lures are actually a source of food that may be consumed. The whole element of finesse has definitely made this type of fishing into an art form for some and not just a source of livelihood.

Misconceptions About Fly Fishing:

There are three common misconceptions about fly fishing that we are going to debunk today.

Is It Difficult?

As mentioned, it is the easiest form of fishing that even children find easier to do. It may seem complicated but with practice and the proper form, you will be fishing like a pro in no time.

Is It Limited?

Fly fishing is often associated with freshwater fish only, people are not aware that you can also fly fish in saltwater. Choosing to fish in saltwater may be more complicated in terms of equipment and technique, but it is still easier compared to more complex techniques in angling.

Is It Expensive?

With dozens of innovations in the market, the industry of fly fishing as definitely improved and in turn become more affordable. Starter kits with quality tools and items are available at really good rates. If you’re seeing expensive tools for fly fishing, you are probably looking in the wrong place.

Five Basics Things You Need To Know About Fly Fishing:

When you’re starting out in fly fishing there are quite a few concepts you need to grasp in order for you to appreciate the beauty of this sport. Fly fishing is not as complicated as what most people put out to be. Here is a breakdown of what you need to know about fly fishing:


The rod is an important part in fly fishing but is not the heart and soul of it. It merely acts as a lever that helps cast the line much easier. When selecting your fly rod you must take into consideration its weigh, length and action. Choosing based on these variables will help you cast your line better.

A. Weight:

Lines are weighed in grains, the higher the number, the thicker and heavier the fly line system would be. In order to choose the right rod, you would need to know the correct thickness of your line for it to be appropriate for your rod.

For example, a 1 wt fly line system would need to be mounted on a 1 wt. fly rod. A 2 wt. fly line system would need to be mounted on a 2 wt. fly system, and so on. Basically, try matching up your rod to your line system.

Here are ideal rod weights for the type of fish you want to catch

Rod Weight Rod Type Fly Used Best For
1, 2, and 3 Ultra Light Dry Flies Trout
4, 5, and 6 All Around Dry Flies
Wet Flies
Small Mouth Bass
7, 8, and 9 Heavy Duty Dry Flies
Wet Flies
Large Mouth Bass
10, 11, and 12 Bigger Game Wet Flies
Most Saltwater Fish
13 to 16 Heavy Duty Wet Flies
Big Saltwater Fish

The ideal rod weight for beginners is those within the 4 to 6 range. Anything more and anything less would be better for more skilled fly fishers who have mastered their techniques.

B. Length:

Ideally, the best size for your fly rod would be within 7.5 to 9 feet. Manufacturers of fly rods have designed it to be at this length to be ergonomic and comfortable to use. It won’t be too short that it would start casting awkwardly, it won’t be too long to be imbalanced in your hand causing you to tip over. There are rods that go over and below the range, but these are specialized rods that would require a specific technique and is not advisable for beginners.

C. Action:

The action of the fly rod depends on the point of flex. Choosing the best action for your rod would be dependent on your preference and use. There are basically three types of actions:

        A. Slow Action (Full Flex)

                Is when the point of flex is at the thickest part of the rod itself.

              Commonly used for still water and dry flies to delicately land on the surface of the water.

        B. Medium Action (Mid Flex)

                Bends halfway down the rod.

              Mid-range and useful for all around fishing.

                Ideal for beginners.

         C. Fast Action (Tip Flex)

                Most of the rod is stiff, only the tip of the rod flexes.

                Ideal for fast movement and skilled fly fishers.


The reel has three major functions which are all for the benefit of the line system.

A. It holds the line system in place during and after casting.

B. It allows you to reel the line in after casting, or when you’re ready to pack up.

C. It provides resistance when a fish has caught the line and is strong enough to drag it.

When picking out a reel, you have two types to choose from. Your regular cast reel or a mechanical one. There is certainly nothing wrong with using a regular cast reel over a mechanical one, but if you can afford to buy a mechanical reel it is more durable and convenient in the long run

Line System:

The line used in fly fishing is the most important part of fly fishing, in fact, you can still fly fish with just the line on you. The term “Line System” is used to describe the line since it is composed of three major parts:

A. Backing:

This is attached to your fly line. It is usually made of braided Dacron that is able to retain its strength and does not swell when it is wet. Buying a regular kit would come with a fly line with backing, but you can also choose a backing and fly line separately and have them set-up by the store you bought it from.

B. Fly Line:

The fly line is what you are actually casting within the fly line system, it provides the weight and control during the casting phase. As mentioned earlier, the weight of the line must be equivalent to the weight of your rod. This is to ensure support and reduce the chances of breakage. In turn, the thicker the line, the heavier the fish it can catch.

C. Leader:

If you do not have the right leader, your entire fly rod system will not be as efficient. Choosing the right one for the job is simple, in terms of length, your leader is supposed to be the same length as your fly rod. Anything less or more will throw off your casting and eventually be awkward to use.


These are basically the lures used in fly fishing, they are quite realistic to what they are supposed to represent, making it hard for fish to avoid. Flies come in three types and have distinct functions:

A. Dry Flies:

These flies are pretty lightweight and are made to look like insects floating on the surface tension of the water. They are highly effective in shallow and still waters especially with fish that treat insects as their main food source.

B. Wet Flies:

Also known as “Nymphs”, these flies are made to go below the surface tension and act as larvae or newly hatched insects emerging from the water. Wet flies are a bit heavier which allows it to sink through the water.

C. Streamers:

These flies are large, heavy and are ideally used for deep and turbid waters. Going back to the concept of bigger fish will eat smaller fish, streamers are often meant to represent smaller prey or larger insects to attract bigger game.

Choosing the right fly for the weather, current, and fish is definitely important to ensure the success of your catch.


Of course, an essential part of the process to start fly fishing is water. It couldn’t hurt if there were some fish in the water too! Beginners should definitely start somewhere small and safe, there’s no need to rush to get in waders and go through a strong current. There are plenty of still water areas that can get you started practicing while you are on dry land.

Basics of Fly Casting:

Time and time again, we have mentioned how easy it is to fly fish and here are the steps you need to follow in order to successfully land your first few casts. After choosing the right equipment and finding the right place to start, you are definitely ready to make your first cast.


You must stand sideways and keep your opposite foot forward when preparing to cast. This way you have more support and the likelihood of you tipping over would be close to impossible. This stance also balances out your weight and ensures a more comfort even during long hours fishing.


When gripping the fly rod, you would want to keep your thumb on top of the cork grip and positioning it at the end of the grip itself. This allows you to have more control of the rod during casting and gives your more strength when reeling in your fish.


The act of casting is basically the movement you make with your wrists going up and down to maneuver the line system. There are two types of casting in general; you have your upcast and downcast. Once you have perfected these two types of casting more techniques such as swinging, jerking, jigging and twitching come into play.

Spey casting is another technique in fly fishing. This method requires two longer and heavier rods. It is often used for fishing in large bodies of water for large fish.

Follow Through:

When following through with your cast, would always want to end below your belt line, which is the same place you started at. Some people may be more comfortable holding the rod higher, but this is definitely not good practice especially for long fishing hours. Resting your rod below the belt level lessens the strain and tension on your back and arms.


Practice always makes perfect, by consistently practicing your up and down casts as well as the following the correct grip and stance you are definitely well on your way to becoming a skilled fly fisher.

Proper casting will boil down to following the correct techniques constant use in practice. Choosing the correct gear and finding the right spot will only come in second unless you know what you are doing. Here is a related post

Dean Jensen

I started fly fishing in 1972 and I have learned quite a bit about this wonderful sport called fly fishing and I want to share some of the things that I have learned.

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