The biggest difference between spin fishing and fly fishing is the way you cast. With spin fishing, you put your lure in the water and wait. With Fly Fishing, you do an artistic cast out over the water (over and over) until, hopefully, a fish strikes.
Fly casting takes a lot of practice but anyone can learn. Remember: forget everything you know as a spin fisher because Fly Fishing is a completely different technique. All fly fishing guides teach the cast on dry land. This can take anywhere from an hour to a day to sometimes several days. My son and I learned a basic cast on dry land in less than an hour before we moved to a stocked trout pond.
Take your time to learn how to cast on dry land to ensure success in the water!
The line on the fly rod is the weight so it’s important to make sure your rod is setup with the correct fishing line.
Hold the rod’s grip in your hand with your thumb on top. Your thumbnail should be facing up. A cast is always in a straight line from 10 to 2 on a clock. Another way to think of it is as a “V”. Keep your elbow stationary, your wrist tight and let your forearm move your rod back and forth to the top of the V. Avoid an arc by keeping it straight.
Each Basic Cast has two basic moves: pause in the back cast and pause in the forward cast. You always start and finish with your rod tip down.
Hold the rod with the tip down. Sweet ngvthe rod tip back slightly behind your shoulder but keeping it straight. You want to keep the line in the air and not on the ground (or a tree or bush!). Always keep your wrist straight and it will help keep your rod straight.
After pausing at the back cast, move the rod tip forward and start letting out a little line. Pause, then repeat the Back and Forward until you have enough line out to hit the spot you want to land. Lower the rod to waist level and let the line float out in the air and softly drop into the water.
📌 There are many different types of casts. Once you get familiar and comfortable with the Basic cast, move on to the D cast and the Roll Cast.
Setting the Fish:
When a fish takes your fly, give your fly rod a quick but short yank upwards to set the hook. Do not do a hard big yank like is customary in spin fishing!!! Fly Fishing equipment doesn’t require the hard yank and pull.
📌 A fish will always swim in opposite direction of where pressure is applied. Use your fly rod to steer it’s head because a fish will can only swim in the direction it’s head is facing. If wading, steer the fish towards the banks so you can be on firm ground.
Drags and Mends:
You could have the best fly and an awesome cast but the water creates a “drag.” A drag in fly fishing means two things: an unnatural drift of your fly in the water or the variable degrees of tension on the fly line from the reel. Let’s talk about fixing the drag in the water….
Trout are pretty smart. It can usually tell when the drag is off and something appears fake. To help fix drag, you sometimes have to do a “mend” cast. A “mend” cast is not a full cast but more like a slight pickup and place down to avoid the current dragging your fly line. Drag is the #1 reason that a fish will not strike.
Spooking Fish… Just Don’t Do It!
When we were first learning to fly fish, we made the most crucial mistake in fly fishing: spooking the fish. It’s incredibly easy to do. Once fish are spooked, you have probably lost them for hours and your fishing for the day might be over. When you first reach your fishing location, do not cast! Stop and observe before casting. And whatever you do, do not quickly approach the fish. Move slow and stay as far away from them as possible. Use your fly rod to Cast out to them. More on finding fish and sneaking up on them in the next section. It’s definitely a game of stalking!
Where to Cast?
Upstream? Downstream? Banks? Rocks? Check out How to Read the Water for more details.