Fly Fishing Instruction - fly casting methods

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Fly Fishing Instructor - fly casting- overhead and roll casting

Overhead Cast instruction
Fly fishing instruction - Overhead Cast (Fig 1)

There are two distinct families of casts that encompass all fly casts. A cast is either a derivative of the Straight Line Cast or Roll Cast. Before attempting any of the more advanced casts it is important that the two basic casts are understood and learned, then they should be practiced until they become automatic. With a good foundation in fly fishing techniques expanding your skills to incorporate additional features is relatively easy. Without accomplishing a foundation with the basic fly casts further advancement is difficult.

In my experience as a fly fishing instructor a general purpose single handed fly rod say a 9 ft or 9ft 6in rod for a AFTM #5 or #6 line is ideal for learning the basics. Any rod that has nice progressive action is best for learning the timing, controlling the casting stroke and loop size. A quality modern floating fly line either weight forward profile or double tapered and an 8ft length of reasonably stout leader material around 0.3mm diameter with a piece of wool to represent a fly will complete the essential tackle for learning to fly cast. It is possible to buy very cheap fly lines, most of these are inferior and are likely to inhibit your fly fishing. Make sure that you have a good, smooth, memory free line to start with and that it balances your rod. A line that slightly overloads a rod sometimes helps beginners to feel what is happening so ensure that the line is not too light (eg the wrong rating). To minimise the possibility of eye damage should you make a mistake it is strongly recommended that safety glasses or sun glasses be worn when using a fly rod.

Straight line casts - Overhead casts, side casts etc

This group uses the straight line principle (i.e. the line must be straight before starting each cast). They all use the same straight line back cast followed by a forward cast. So to make a “cast” the angler actually has to make two casts, a back cast and a forward cast with a pause between them to allow the line to straighten (usually in the air) before starting the next cast. Fig 1 illustrates some of the terms used in the Overhead cast.

Roll casts - Spey casts, Switch casts, Underhand casts etc

Roll Cast instruction
Fly fishing instruction - Roll Cast (Fig 2)

The roll cast family does not use a separate back cast, it is a circular motion cast and it uses a tensioned curved loop of line called the “D loop” (because of its shape). No stopping of the rod is allowed during any form of roll cast because if you do the line will fall, tension will be lost and the cast will fail. The same air space should never be used twice either so the formation of the D loop is always in a different plane to the delivery of the cast. Roll casts include the Spey and Underhand casting techniques and are very important methods especially for river and salmon anglers. Fig 2 illustrates some of the terms used in the Roll cast.

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