Every beginning fly fisher thinks that the experienced angler is an expert who never misses a beat. Meanwhile, every experienced angler knows all too well that there are good days and bad days. Casting a fly rod is a lot like playing golf: practice and more practice will hone the skill and make it more possible to replicate the proper movements time and again. Even a Phil Mickelson or a Lefty Krey, on his best day, shanks one into the trees. But they keep on practicing.
The object of mastering the cast in fly fishing, like the art of mastering the game of golf, isn’t to be perfect 100% of the time, but rather to minimize the flaws and mistakes. Once the participant figures out what works, how to control the club or the rod in various conditions and situations, the trick then becomes building a sort of muscle memory that will repeat the proper form over and over again without the mind interjecting too much. It’s the old adage: practice, practice, practice.
The truth is that fly casting can’t be taught in a blog post. Some of the basics can be addressed, and some food for thought can be brought to bear, but eventually the prospective fly fisher will have to put a rod in hand and give it a whirl. While most experts in the fly casting game have different points of view on how to approach the subject, to a person they agree on one point: hands-on experience and training under the guidance of an experienced teacher/instructor is invaluable. And, by the way, this is true for the beginner or the veteran (indeed, the highest ranked professional golfers probably have more professional instruction each week than most amateurs have all year).
The first tip on fly casting, especially for the beginner, is to find an instructor, take a class, or get an experienced friend to show you the way. The best place to learn the basics of the fly cast is on the river, of course, since it will present you with real-world conditions. However, casting ponds can be good instructional places, as can open space like a park. Just be sure to watch for people and obstructions, especially power lines and small children.
What follows are some of the tips and ideas we have gleaned from the world of fly fishing as it related to learning how to cast.