Ultimate Guide to Improve Your Fly Casting [How To]

Fly Casting - How To

The ancient sport of fly-fishing has been around since 200 CE.

Fly-fishing has even been an inspiration for books and poetry. Like many sports, fly fishing offers the best of recreation and leisure.

You get a rush of adrenaline when a trout attacks your lure.

And best of all, trout and other fish usually caught by fly-fishing are mostly found in remote and stunning locations.

Fly-fishing is almost a meditative experience for many, and that is a reason why it is such an amazing hobby.

Beginners may find this technique incredibly hard (here you can check my comparison - Fly Fishing vs Regular Fishing), and some even give up before they manage to learn it.

But in fact, fly-fishing is easy if you know how to start. With time and practice, you are going to get better and your effort will pay off.

The beauty of fly-fishing is that you never stop learning something new.

If you are a beginner or a seasoned fly fisherman wanting to revisit some of the fly-casting techniques, you will find the below guide useful.



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How to improve your fly casting? 10 Short Tips ...

1. Equipment

As in all sports, the equipment you use can be a game-changer. Here are some things to consider while buying gear for fly fishing.

Rod: Fly casting rods are different from other fishing rods. But some fly-fishing rods also make the best surf fishing rods.

Fly casting rods are ranked by their weight capabilities. That means a rod weighted 8 can cast an 8 weighted line. Some rods will have a multi-rated weight range. This means you can use different weighted lines that are in the rod's range.

The material used for making rods is graphite, fiberglass, carbon fiber, or classic bamboo.

Fiberglass rods are best for beginners as they are relatively inexpensive and durable. Carbon rods are more expensive and lighter but prone to breaking. Bamboo rods are stronger but expensive.

Line: As mentioned earlier, lines are rated according to weight. However, lines also come for specific purposes like seawater fishing and cold-water fishing. One more aspect to consider in fly casting lines is the taper.

Some lines have a taper at one end while others have it at the other end. Some lines come with a taper on both ends. The double tapered lines are easier to control and cast. The heavier the taper, the easier it is to cast. For beginners, the lines with a heavy taper are recommended.

Reel: The reel is made of different materials and used to store and control the line.

The fly reel is mostly one-sided. But you have reels with interchangeable retrievers nowadays. This will allow you to choose where the retriever is placed depending on which hand is stronger. When fly fishing in the sea, always use aluminum reels as they resist corrosion in seawater.

2. Making a delicate presentation

After several casts, your dry fly will soak up water and sink.

When it sinks, it becomes difficult to manage drag and the overall 'dead-drift' performance as the fly cannot be seen. This reduces its efficacy when you are fishing for the rising trout.

To make a delicate presentation, don't slap your fly down on the water and force it and your line deeper. Let it drift down gently onto the surface and rest on the water tension. This way your fly will get less wet and will not scare away any fish due to splashing.

Alternately, you can use a fly floatant on your fly to keep it from getting wet.

3. Fish upstream in a small stream

Trout are extremely skittish. They get spooked and go into hiding if disturbed. When you work upstream, you have the advantage of approaching trout from the rear. You'll drastically increase your chances of hooking one.

Some people use extreme stealth measures like crawling on hands and knees to reach each pool! In most cases, it is enough if you simply crouch, avoid jerky movements, and keep your shadow off the water.

4. How long is your tippet?

In most cases, the tippet sections on knotless leaders are too short.

They are designed to look good during the cast. A short 20" tippet gives you less room for changing flies. It also does not help with drag reduction or delicacy.

You can use a minimum of 4' for your tippet on leaders from 9 to 12 feet long. For a 15-footer, you can even go 5' long! When it comes to furled and braided leaders you can even longer. That's because they'll straighten a 6-foot tippet on a calm day.

5. Use a slip strike

If you are heavy-handed while striking with light tippets, the fish may break off sometimes.

If you use a slip strike, it uses only the friction on the fly guides. Make an "O" with the thumb and forefinger of your line hand instead of pinching the line as you raise the rod tip.

This will let the line slip through gently as you raise the rod tip. The tippet won't break because the tension on the line is so slight.

Fly Casting - How To - Rod, reel and line

6. Approaching the water

Stop well back from the water's edge before you wade in and cast.

Often trout lay close to the bank and when you wade in straight away, you'll end up scaring them.

It confounds as to why trout lie in certain spots that offer no protection. Fly fishermen have often reported huge trout lazily finning in 8 inches of water with a sandy bottom. If you are impatient, you'll never even spot one of these.

7. Casting in the crosswind

In situations where the wind is blowing on your casting arm, turn around and face the other way.

This puts your casting arm on the other side of your body and the wind blows the line away from you.

Here, the trick is to cast normally, but the presentation must be laid down on the backcast. You need to make sure you fully stop the rod tip on that final backcast, to get the line to unroll correctly. You'll get it perfect after a little practice.

8. Tackling thick lily pads or other vegetation

Fish can often see their prey through translucent vegetation and often hide underneath for ambushing the prey.

You can drop a worm or a fly on a lily pad, let it sit for a few seconds, and gently pull it down into a hole. This will result in a sudden and vicious strike. In some cases, the excited fish will gently nudge the lily pad to dislodge the prey.

9. In high water, use bigger flies

Bigger flies are more eye-catching.

You can use lures or flies in sizes larger than what you'd normally use.

This will catch a trout's attention in high water. You can use white and fluorescents on your lures but strangely, black color is more effective in high, dark waters. Patterns with a lot of eye-catching motion are a plus. They will be seen from the murky depths.

You can also try with your own homemade fly fishing lures.

10. An on-water checklist

It is easy to get fixated on the specific task at hand like- drifting a dry fly along with a fallen log or high-sticking a nymph rig through a riffle.

This is because fly fishing is a process-oriented sport.

There are a lot of other things that you have to pay attention to if you want to be successful.

Here is a short checklist that you can run through periodically while fishing ...

- The hook. Is it sharp? Did I remember to crimp the barb? Is the point still there or broken? (Check every 10 casts). How big the hook is?
- The fly. Is it floating or performing as it should? Is it intact? Is there any vegetation or algae on it? (Check every 10 casts).
- The tippet. Are there any bad nicks? Are there any wind knots? Is there any abrasion? (Check every 10 casts).
- The knots. Are they well tied? Do they look smooth? Give a tug to check and retie if anything is amiss. (Check every 10 casts).
- The ferrules. Are they seated properly? Are the rod sections aligned properly? (Check every 25 casts).
- The fly line. Is it floating as it should? Does it have any bad nicks? (Check every 50 casts).
- The wading position. Are you in a safe spot? Is the water level rising? Are there any obstacles that'll make getting out of water difficult? Are there any hazards close by (waterfalls, sweepers, etc.)? (Check often).
- Your health. Have I been drinking enough water? Have I applied sunblock cream? Am I warm or cool enough? (Check hourly).


The guide section will help you take a jump start to fly casting.

But this guide alone is not enough. You need to practice.

Practice casting while at home. You can do it in a large open space. Similarly know your knots. Fumbling with knots while fishing is a certified newbie trait. A week of practice at home will let you learn all the basic knots for life!

Join a guided tour. You'll get plenty of tips to improve your technique from the seasoned pros after they observe you closely. Keep in mind that all angling veterans have a deep respect for their prey.

You are fishing a living creature. Use catch and release and handle your catch with care. Release it without putting too much stress on it.

Lastly, enjoy your fishing. Nothing beats a leisurely day's fly fishing in the great outdoors when it comes to relaxation and excitement.

About Me

Slo-fishing - About Us


I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind Slo-fishing.si and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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