How To Cast a Fly Rod (Properly) – Beginner’s Guide

| Last Updated April 14, 2021

Learning to fly fish can overwhelm beginners.

Fly fishing differs from conventional fishing in both terms and casting. However, it’s easy to learn, but it takes a fair amount of practice to get it right.

This guide is a beginner’s step-by-step and tips to unearth your abilities in casting for fly fishing.

Quick Questions Before Starting

Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin this process. 

How Difficult is This to Complete?

Easy to Medium

How Long Does it Take to Complete?

The time it takes to learn to fly fish varies among individuals. However, with the right instructions and teacher, you can learn the basics just a couple of times out in the water. Though, it takes a long time to master the sport.

How Much Do Materials Cost?

A mid-range fly fishing kit costs approximately $300–$500. If you’re a total beginner, adding other essentials will raise the total cost between $650 and $850.

Fly Fishing Casting Tips 

Fly fishing is a beautiful and relaxing sport, so don’t put yourself in a situation to give up before you even get started. Let’s look at some fly fishing tips to make your experience less daunting and more enjoyable.

  • When learning, it’s good to practice on the grass. It’s a great way to focus your attempts on casting with no other distractions.
  • Start with a comfortable venue with a lot of casting space and fish. It helps you to have a wholesome experience without feeling intimidated.

  • Learning the right and comfortable grip for you in casting is essential. The classic thumb-over-grip helps to create inertia that is needed to propel the fly line correctly. There are other grips you can explore as you continue to gain practice.

  • A perfect forward cast involves a strong back-cast. When executing your back-cast, look back to ensure the line is untangling behind you entirely before the forward-cast. However, make sure you only move your head and not your body, as this will distort your casting.

  • It’s worth booking a fly fishing lesson with an instructor. They will give you a considerable grounding that will remove the frustrations and angst you may experience as a beginner.

Fly Casting 101 - Step-by-Step Guide

Let’s examine a simple step-by-step guide for fly casting, including becoming familiar with how to do a double haul fly cast and roll cast. 

Casting Basics

1. Gripping the Rod

The first step is to grip the rod with your dominant hand correctly. You can imagine this step as the handshake. Grip your rod with your thumb on top while the other four fingers grip the rod around from underneath. Have a firm but relaxed grip and rest the butt of the fly rod on your forearm. 

2. Pulling the Line

Using your other hand, pull about 10 to 15 feet of line off the reel. However, the line’s length will vary depending on the situation, but a reasonable estimate is about three times three times the length of the fly rod you’re using. Let the line droop around your feet while keeping a loose hold on the pulled-out line. 

3. The Back-Cast

The back-cast has two stops at specific locations. Imagine looking at yourself from a side-view perspective, and there is a clock placed on this view. Your feet facing forward represent 6 o’clock, and your head represents 12 o’clock. 

Start with the fly line in front of you. In one slow fluid motion, flick your wrist and forearm backward, casting the rod and line back. This movement will send the line up-and-over your shoulder.

Stop the rod before it extends past the 2 o’clock position that is behind your head. Allow the line to roll out behind you fully. 

It’s good to think of the rod and line as an extension of your wrist and forearm. 

Photo credit: researchgate.net

4. Forward Cast

As soon as the line rolls out behind you, whisk your wrist and forearm forward. 

This time at the 10 o’clock position in front of your head, stop the rod’s forward motion. The line will propel forward with the torque generated by the series of movements, casting it out to your target location while still holding the pulling line loosely. 

Bring the tip of the rod down, allowing the fly to land on the water. 

You must swing your rod in a straight line, backward and forwards. It ensures that your fly line will not sway off from the target location. 

How to Double Haul Fly Cast

We use the double haul cast for absurdly long distances and helps with negotiating with wind effectively. This type of casting eases the strain on your casting arm; thus, you can propel your line to longer distances. 

The Step-by-Step of the Double Haul Fly Cast

  1. Begin with the regular fly cast flick of your wrist backward and forward.

  2. As you whisk your wrist into the back cast, tug downward on the slack line, which will tighten the line and bend your rod a bit more. 

  3. Use the same technique for the forward cast. Flicking your wrist forward together with the downward tug of your slack line will tighten both the line and leader. 

  4. You can repeat this process till you reach the intended distance.

How to Do a Roll Cast in Fly Fishing

We use a roll cast when there isn’t enough space behind you to do the back-cast properly. Like the haul cast, it will take a bit of practice, but it’s ideal for tight situations. 

The Step-by-Step of the Roll Cast

  • Put your hand high and parallel to your ear. Bringing your rod this high ensures the roll cast begins and ends with the correct angles. Here, your rod tip should be at the 2 o’clock position. 

  • See where you want to cast. 

  • As you push the rod forward in one motion from this position, flick the wrist.

  • Stop the rod between the 10 o’clock and 11 o’clock position. 

  • Still holding your rod high, finish by not allowing your rod tip to fall too low. The cast line won’t unravel upon the water if the rod tip is lower. 

After reading this step-by-step guide on fly casting, watch this video to see how easy it is to learn. 

Conclusion

Fly fishing starts with learning the basics of fly casting. Once you understand the essence of fly casting, all you need to do is start practicing. From there, you can study other techniques such as the double haul fly cast and roll cast to support you in varying situations. 

People Also Ask

Fly fishing is often seen as an enjoyable and relaxing sport that connects people with nature very well. This experience is valid for the experts. However, this can feel daunting to a beginner. The more you know, the better you will get at the sport. Here are some frequently asked questions.

How Far is a Good Fly Cast?

A good fly cast for beginners is between 30 to 45 feet. If you want to aim out for 150 feet, then proper gear and learning the techniques will get us that. However, you may never need to cast such long distances if the fish is closer to you. 

How Far Should You Be Able to Cast With a Fly Line?

A casting line can go over 160 feet, but this is professional and tournament-level fly casters. Casting that is 190 feet is quite rare, and the average casting is about 60 feet long. 

How to Cast Farther With a Fly Rod

Learning the double haul fly casting technique will assist your cast farther with a fly rod. Also, remember equipment and gear play a role in effectively casting for distance. If your rod is longer, then your casting distance is farther. 



My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.