Can you learn how to fly cast online? Can fly casting videos help you to shoot more line out? You bet on both occasions! Is it better to have someone in person with you? To have your own teacher and/or mentor? Yes and Yes!
I’ve taught many people how to cast a single handed rod over the years and I’ve learned to spey cast by watching videos. Granted, I still have a long way to go with spey casting, I’m still out there doing it and catching fish. The video got me up off my butt, and gave me a start.
When the spey cast was needed on my first trip to BC, I was skilled enough to break out the new tool.
I don’t want you to be held up if you don’t have the opportunity or resources to get an in-person casting lesson. I’m going to save you a little time by walking you through some resources that will help you become a better fly caster via online tips and tools.
I’m going to leave spey casting for another post, but if interested, take a look at this video series to give you a taste of casting basics. Simon runs through some of his key points like the Balance, the roll cast, the wedge, forward stroke, point P, and crossing the train tracks (don’t do it).
4 Fly Casting Resources
Federation of Fly Fishers
If you have the resources, I would recommend finding a certified casting instructor and setup a lesson. Here is the link to help you find a certified FFF instructor in your area. The casting instructors that are on this list have put in their time and understand what it takes to help you become a better fly caster.
I will be heading to the annual meeting this year and plan on improving my spey cast. Here’s the link to the annual meeting. There are a bunch of great workshops to help with your casting here as well.
Your Local Fly Shop
I guess this is kind of a no brainer, or maybe it’s not – but, a local fly shop would be a good place to start your research. Here’s a link to our map that I hope will become a great resource for everyone in their research. If your local shop isn’t on this map, click here and let me know.
If you have a fly shop nearby, stop in because most shops will give you a quick free lesson. I grew up in a fly shop and I remember many times taking beginners outside for a free basic casting lesson. Most good shops should provide this type of service.
On The Fly Productions
There are a number of good resources for fly casting instruction online. Carl McNeil at On The Fly Productions has some free resources online and courses you can purchase at his site. Take a look at Carl’s youtube channel to help you get started with a few more tips.
Orvis YouTube Channel
Here’s Peter from Orvis with a few intro tips. Peter talks about lengthening your stroke, timing, and the straight line path in this video. Orvis has a number of good videos on casting technique.
Now, I want to give you a few tips that you can work on today. These are all things you can work on one by one if easier for you. Some of the tips below will take years to master, but just understanding them is the first big step.
9 Tips to Add Distance to Your Fly Cast
1. Slow down and relax
I used to play golf, and there is no question that without fail, if I tried to hammer the ball as hard as I could, it would take a dog leg left into the trees. But, when I just relaxed and focused on making a good swing and not killing it, I would get the best shot of the day. Fly fishing is no different. Focus on getting the stroke right, and not on your super powers.
The guys over at Gink and Gasoline use a metaphor from Lefty Kreh here about the speed of your stroke, minimizing overpowering and avoiding the dreaded tailing loop.
Lefty says it’s like trying to throw paint off of a brush. In order to avoid getting the paint all over yourself, you start out slow and smooth, then speed up towards the end – at the very end, stop abruptly and turn your wrist over. This is how you cast a fly rod as well.
2. Higher Line Speed
One way to make a longer cast is to get more line speed. Is this easier said than done? How do you accomplish this? The double haul is the best method to accomplish higher line speeds.
Here is a good intro video to the double haul. I know that the double haul will take some time, so start off small. Don’t try to cast a country mile as first.
Left Krey talks about the basics of the double haul here. He uses a good little tip to try out. Take your rod apart and use just the tip section of the rod to practice casting. This forces you to tackle the proper technique as it shows the faults in your cast clearer.
You should be able to double haul with just the tip section. If not, keeping practicing.
3. Stop by Squeezing
One of the biggest issues fly casters have is not stopping abruptly and not stopping at the correct angle. One way you can accomplish this is by squeezing your hand on the back cast and forward cast at the moment you stop. It helps your body to wrap itself around the idea of stopping.
You don’t want to introduce “creep” into your cast – where your arm never really stops. It creeps forward or back and reduces your power. Give it a practice right now with the pen that’s near you. (I want to see the look on the people next to you)
No, seriously, I’m waiting……….. Give it one practice cast with that pen or whatever.
Feels good, right?
4. Tight Loop
I know you’ve probably heard that having a tight loop is the key. Well, I’m here to say that, having a tight loop is the key. No surprises here.
Tim talks about the proper location to stop your rod at 10 and 1:00 here, by stopping the back cast at 1:00, in relation to looking at a clock, and 10:00 on the front cast.
By stopping at these locations and keeping your cast in the same line plane on your front and back cast, you will properly load your rod which turns into a tighter loop.
5. Lengthen your Stroke
The casting stroke is the total distance the rod tip moves during your cast. The stroke is very short for short casts and longer for longer casts. Bumcast has a good video here that shows you what I’m talking about.
When you are making short casts, 15 or 20 feet out, you can do a really short and compact stroke. But, as you add more length of line out, you have to increase your stroke or the distance your tip moves.
How far back and forward your arms goes. With a long double haul cast, you will have a very long stroke. This isn’t rocket science as you can see, but does take some effort.
6. Line Trajectory
Another way to increase your length of cast is to change your line trajectory. Take a look at this link to see what I mean. For longer casts, you will want to stop your forward cast a little bit sooner, thereby changing the trajectory of the cast. So, instead of stopping at 10 o’clock on the forward cast, stop at 10:30.
This change increases the time your fly line is in the air. Similar to changing the bullets trajectory from a gun – raising the gun up a little more into the air, increases the distance a bullet will travel.
Much of what I have already covered touches on timing since it’s all connected. So, we can sum up much of this into getting the correct timing. How long do you let your back cast sit back behind you?
One way to see what your back cast is doing is to look back at it. What does it look like? Is it laying out straight behind you? You need to get the line to load up properly behind you, and this is all about timing. Bumcast does a good job of showing you what I’m talking about here.
This is also known as creep when you are off on your timing. Remember, as noted earlier, to stop and start your cast abruptly.
8. Practice, Practice, Practice…..
Did I Say PRACTICE?
The best place to practice is on the water, but a yard of grass, a street, or in your garage may do just fine. You need to get out there and put some of the content I have showed you into practice.
Go out everyday if you can. If you can’t do that, get out every other day, or every week – JUST GET OUT AND PRACTICE. You can’t expect to become a good caster without practice.
And regardless of what Iverson says, you need to show up for practice everyday!
9. 180 degree backcast
Find the spot you want to cast, then make your back cast 180 degrees in the opposite direction. If you get off this path, you loose energy and it affects your casts.
Think of it like a parallel set of train tracks. You make the backcast behind you similar to the tracks in front of you.
Read through the 9 tips above to get a few ideas to think about. The video links will help clarify. Then, get out and practice. Then practice some more. Stop by your local fly shop if you have one nearby to get a quick lesson.
If you have the resources, take a look at the Federation of Fly Fishers page and find a teacher and/or someone who can mentor you.
I will be right there with you. I’m still not a great spey caster, but instead consider myself a great fisherman. I plan on changing that this year. Follow me along on my journey here, where I document my fly casting journey with the spey rod.