Lets get the rundown on the cast (now, I do realize it is taught in many forms and fashions by various instructors and veteran anglers, but I believe the technique I discuss below to be among the best).

So you're ready to start slinging that brightly colored string back and forth with your rod, right?  Well it's not exactly that simple.

I will only assume you know how to hold the rod from here. If you are reading this, you more than likely understand the general concept of fly casting (especially after reading the above paragraph).  You rather gently GENTLY NOW! swinging your rod back and forth in front of you and behind you, allowing the line to begin to straighten and present your fly to your target. The following rules describe the techniques you should begin with and should always remember if things start to get sloppy.

  1. The Rod/Forearm Continuum. Your rod is one with your forearm and your elbow is planted firmly down toward your waist at your side.  Remember:  It is NOT all in the wrist.  Allow your wrist to bend as much as is natural so you don't look frozen or like a robot, but do not rely on your wrist to cast.  The motion is in your forearm.  You want to pretend that, within reason, your forearm and your fly rod are fused together - your arm is part of the rod and your rod is part of your arm.  They are continuous.
  2. The Eleven and One Rule.  You generally do not want to allow your rod (including your forearm) to move past the two o'clock or the ten o'clock position in behind you and in front of you, respectively.  If your line is slapping the water in front of you or behind you and you are only casting a few feet, then you should pay close attention to whether you are following the Eleven and One Rule.
  3. Hauling.  As you begin to cast the line back and forth in rhythm behind you and in front of you, with each cast behind, or "back cast," you want to "haul" or pull more line out of the reel so that when you come forward the line will extend further toward your target.  Note: there is something called the double haul in which you pull out line during both your front and back casts, but it is more advanced.  We will stick with the basics for now.
  4. Let the Line Straighten Out in the Air.  LOOK OUT FOR THE TREE! When casting, always let the line completely straighten out both in front of you and behind you.  This way it will "lay" out on the water in front of the fish and not wad or curl up, which would create an unnatural and unwelcome sight on the surface to any fish below.  If you let the line straighten IN THE AIR out in front of you and behind you and follow the other rules above, the line should "lay" out in front of you instead of slapping the water and scaring the fish away.
  5. Pin the Fly Line to the Grip of the Rod with Your Index Finger.  After you have completed your cast to your target spot, ALWAYS pin the line to the cork grip with the index finger of your dominant hand (or casting hand).  You must KEEP your finger there. If you don't do this, you could miss a fish biting because the slack in your line is not pulled tight. Here's a secret: many anglers do not put this rule into practice, even some more advanced ones.  So you are ahead of the game already.
  6. The Mend.  This is one of the most important practices to keep in mind right after casting.  The fish generally will not bite a fly that is drifting at an unnatural pace through the current.  For instance, if there is slack in your fly line drifting through the fastest part of the current and your fly is in the slower part of the current, the fly line will start to pull the fly at an unnaturally fast pace.  This can often be prevented or "mended" by lifting the tip of your rod up and flipping the slack between you and your fly against the current, or upstream. In other words all this does is flip the slack in your line up past the fly so the fly drifts properly and isn't pulled rapidly downstream (with the current) by a wad or loop of slack in your fly line.  You want your fly to drift along at the current's pace as a natural fly or other bug would.  This technique can often be the difference in catching fish and scaring them all away.

I hope you have enjoyed and learned from this post.  For my next post, I plan to provide a glossary of important terms, i.e., the basic parts of the rod, line, leader, backing, tippet, and reel.  Soon after that I will go on to discuss equipment essentials; rod types and rod weight or sizes; different types of flies, their uses and what they represent; and later move onto more advanced fishing strategies and techniques, product reviews, fish species and popular fishing locations.  In the future I will be posting audio, video and image content related to each topic, as well as an update to this post soon.  Thanks for reading.

From the water's edge,

Daniel Tackett


Deep South Angler