How to Cast a Fly Rod

Learn how to cast a fly rod and how to cast a fly reel. If you are a beginner, fundamental casting techniques can polish your technique.

Casting a Fly Rod

One of the ways casting in fly fishing is unique from casting in other forms of fishing is due to the action of the line. Instead of the line following the lure, fly fishing requires you to cast the line and have the fly follow.

This is why some people occasionally refer to fly fishing casting lessons as learning how to cast a fly reel as opposed to a fly rod. For consistency, we will stick with our standard terminology of casting rods.

Learning how to cast a fly rod is somewhat of an art form, and there are many fly fishing casting techniques to master depending on your location and the conditions. Here are some of the most commonly used methods and steps for executing them properly as you learn how to fish.

The Overhead Cast

When learning how to cast a fly rod, for beginners, the overhead cast method is usually taught first. As the most fundamental casting technique, the overhead cast is the one you will likely use most often when fly fishing. It will also serve as the foundation for other casting variations so it is important to get it right.

To learn how to cast a fly rod with this popular technique, you must master the following two components:

The Back Cast:

  • Pull out three rod lengths of line from your reel. Hold the rod out in front of you and make sure the line is free of tangles.
  • Stand facing your target directly with your feet slightly apart.
  • Bring the rod tip back in a swift motion, stopping when the rod tip is pointing up and just slightly behind you.
  • Pause as the line unrolls.

The Forward Cast:

  • Bring the rod forward in a fast, smooth motion.
  • Stop the rod tip when it is high, just past a vertical position, so that the energy will carry the line forward.
  • As the line unrolls, lower your rod tip.

Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the instructions. Mastering these seemingly simple steps can be deceptively difficult even for experienced fishing aficionados learning how to cast a fly rod.

So if you’re a beginner, take your time and practice, practice, practice.

The Roll Cast

If you don’t have a lot of space behind you for a back cast, or if there is a stiff wind at your back, knowing how to cast a fly rod using a roll cast is a good option. This method is particularly effective when fishing on creeks or streams. Here are the four steps required to complete this cast:

  • Hold the rod out in front of you and make sure the line is untangled.
  • Bring the rod tip back, letting a small amount of line hang loosely in a D-loop behind your casting shoulder.
  • Move the rod forward slowly and smoothly, speeding up steadily.
  • Stop when the rod tip is just past vertical and watch the loop unroll.

Mastering these two techniques will yield ample results for most beginners. Soon, you’ll catch sight of a trout leaping to the surface to snag a fly from you while unfurling the string twice. You will also start clamoring for new fishing casting tips to add a new technique to your repertoire.