A long time ago, outdoor writers used a variety of ways to explain the principals of fly casting. Some referred to a clock to explain the motion, others relied on a metronome for timing, while still others recommended that a book be placed under a casting arm to create form. A lot has changed since the days of split cane and fiberglass, so here are a few easy techniques to learn the basic pick up and set down motion.
1. Begin each cast with the rod in the fishing position (which is with the tip top close to the water).
2. Slowly lift the rod tip until the end of the fly line begins to move.
3. When the end of the fly line moves, accelerate-to-a-stop. What this means is that you should go from a slow speed to a medium speed to a fast speed. When the rod tip passes your shoulder and the line is moving backwards stop moving your rod.
4. Let the fly line unfold until you feel a tug. The weight of your line will pull your rod backwards. If you’re having a difficult time feeling a tug then you might try looking over your shoulder to see the line unfold.
5. At the moment the line is straight (parallel to the ground), push the rod tip forward at the same slow-medium-fast speed.
6. When you rod has moved forward over your shoulder, end the cast with the tip top at eye level. As the line straightens out, drift the tip top down to the water’s surface.
A few key points to remember:
• Fly casting is like any sport and when you make a cast it is in the same way as you’d throw a football, swing a bat or a golf club, or rev an engine before you shift gears on a manual transmission. Slow, medium and fast is the way to go, and many casting errors come from moving the rod in a different manner.
• Let the rod do the work. Fly rods need to bend in order to push out line. Use your elbow as the pivot point and let the tip top travel the most.
• Always begin with your rod tip at the water’s surface. The tension coming from the water will help form your back cast.
There are a lot of other nuances that can be worked on over time, but once you master the pick up and set down you’ll be ready for the next steps. And if you got a fly rod over the holidays you can get started in your side yard!