The sport of fly fishing is truly and art form where the rod acts as the extension of the arm. One can argue that presentation is the most important aspect of this sport and that all begins with the cast. You’re probably thinking “how hard is it to cast a fly rod?” While the initial back cast is easy to master, its not always the best option for all situations. Therefore it is crucial to be able to present your flies under any circumstance you are faced with. With all things considered, here are 5 casting techniques all anglers should know or learn before your next outing.
The Roll Cast
The Roll Cast is a tried and true casting style and not to mention, one of the more simple approaches. Often times you will find yourself deep in the tree canopy with little to no room for casting. Stress no more! The Roll Cast is designed to improve your ability to cast in tight or close quarters. Having your flies in the water more often than not is key for success, and this cast will give you that security.
How to Execute the Roll Cast:
- To begin the Roll Cast, be sure to have your line on the water and your rod tip behind you.
- Your hand position should be across to your ear and shoulder, and your rod tip should be turned outward.
- Make sure your line is pointing in the direction you want to make your cast.
- When loading your cast, make a D-loop with your fly line, pause across from your ear, then flick your hand and thumb forward.
- Keep your rod tip at eye level once the cast is executed.
Simple yet highly effective, the Roll Cast has been around for decades and should be in every anglers’ bag of tricks!
Bow and Arrow Cast
Brought to light by the legend Joe Humpfreys, the Bow and Arrow cast turns the impossible into the possible. This technical approach will give you the opportunity to reach pieces of rivers and streams the normal back cast wouldn’t allow. Out of all of the casts on this list, this happens to be a more difficult one to master. This is due to the intricacy and precision that it takes to place your flies where you what them. There are multiple techniques for the bow and arrow cast. One of which would be to hold directly onto your fly. Another would be the “Joe” method, coiling or bunching the fly line into your hand which enables the ability to reach much further in the water column.
How to Execute the Bow and Arrow Cast:
- Grab your fly line slightly above the cork grip.
- Point your rod tip at your target and pull the line back to your ear creating a nice bend in the rod.
- Once you are lined up with your target and have a nice bend in the line, release your grip and your line will jump out towards the target.
While technical, this cast can save you in tight quarter situations and should definitely be added to you arsenal!
Double Haul Cast
Are you a fan of chucking streamers in fresh or salt water? If so, the Double Haul cast is the cast for you! Often times, larger flies can become more difficult when using the typical back cast and this is where the double haul cast can be implemented. Creating that extra tension on your fly line allows you to control your flies as well as shoot them to reach longer distances. The double haul cast is commonly used amoungst saltwater anglers who need to increase the reach of their flies.
How to Execute the Double Haul Cast:
- Start by performing your routine fly cast flicking your wrist back and forth.
- When flicking your wrist back into your back cast, simply tug downward on your slack line. This will tighten your line and give your rod more bend.
- Perform the same motion throughout your forward cast. Flick your wrist forward and simultaneously tug downward on your slack fly line to tighten you line and leader.
- Repeat this process until your cast is at the desired distance.
Although the double haul cast can be tricky to learn initially, once mastered you will find yourself in control of those big ole’ streamers and bait fish patterns.
Often when fishing tight or small creeks and rivers, the typical back cast is a death wish and this is where the Steeple Cast can come in handy. The steeple cast can be coined as more of a vertical rather than horizontal back cast. The key to the steeple cast is to create a very high trajectory on your back cast and then change 90 degrees to send your fly out to your target.
How to Execute the Steeple Cast:
- Start your back cast with a high/steep trajectory. (Almost a 90 degree angle)
- Stop your rod tip abruptly around eye level to achieve an effective presentation. (Stopping your rod tip abruptly will lead to delicate presentations)
- Lower your rod tip down to allow your fly line to fill out the cast.
- Be sure to avoid powering your line or slapping it on the water because this will likely spook weary fish.
While this may not be as effective as the roll cast, it is a great cast to add to your arsenal when pesky obstacles are in the way.
The Tuck Cast is a cast common amongst nymph fishermen allowing your nymphs to sink effectively and at rapid rates. By lifting your rod tip at the end of your forward cast, your flies will kick downward causing them to sink to the bottom quickly. Everyone knows the faster your nymphs reach the bottom, the better hook up ratio you will have. The goal with this cast is to make sure your nymphs are hitting the water before your fly line. Often times this cast is popular within the euro nymphing community where weighted flies are predominately used.
How to Execute the Tuck Cast:
- Start by making your basic cast up stream.
- As you cast up stream, apply a slight lift to the rod tip at the end of your forward cast. (This will allow nymphs to sink faster)
- Make sure your nymphs are hitting the water before your fly line.
- Avoid an abrupt lift to the rod tip but rather a delicate lift to improve the presentation of your nymphs.
Enjoy fishing with nymphs but have trouble getting your flies down? The tuck cast is the cast for you and will likely yield better results!
The moral of the story is versatility. We are all students of this craft learning each and every time we hit the water. While some casts may be easier than others, having the ability to perform each of these when needed can become very valuable. Keep in mind that these instructions are just the basics, we all have quirks and modifications to our casts that work for us. That is the beauty of this sport! Now that you are prepared with 5 essential casting methods, grab your rod and hit the water!
[…] Many fly fishermen use gear like nymphs as they sink quickly and move rapidly to attract some of the best fish at the bottom of the water. When using this gear, you will use the simple type of cast, but lift the tip of your rod when you are going upstream with your rod. […]
Thanks for pointing out that one’s eye level is also important to be mindful of when it comes to casting techniques when fishing. I’m interested in looking for a guided fly fishing trip soon because it’s been a long while since I went fishing. Maybe bringing my little cousin along will make it a nice bonding moment for us.