Learning fly casting

The satisfaction we get from fly fishing is hard to put neatly into words. It comes from studying the feeding behaviour of the trout, choosing an appropriate artificial fly and then feeling the line tighten when a fish takes it. It also comes from fly casting itself, which is sometimes effortless, sometimes challenging.

First you have to learn to cast, of course, which takes a bit longer than it does with coarse fishing equipment. Most people will be good enough to go fishing after one or two lessons and a bit of practice. They often find the learning process to be much more rewarding than they expected.

My fly casting lessons have been continuing this April at Rib Valley in Hertfordshire and Broomfield Park, London, N13. We start off on grass before progressing to the water. This makes it easier to build up the cast through a series of simple exercises. I take pictures and video clips to share with my students after the lesson, to help them see what is going on.

To introduce some pictures from recent sessions, this is what we want to see at the start of a cast, the rod starting to bend under smooth acceleration:

Start of fly cast

We then need to stop the rod, creating a loop of line that unrolls in the air:

Open loop fly cast

The narrower the loop, the better:

Narrow loop fly cast

A pause allows the line to rolls out smoothly behind (ready to be sent forward again, over the water):

Fly cast pause

The main value of video clips is that they help us identify and correct faults. Here, we have a good narrow loop, but waves and slack in the line indicate that the cast is underpowered:

Wavy line back cast

Here is a similar thing on the forward cast:

Wavy line forward cast

All this analysis may seem a bit dry and technical, but at the end of the day, it helps you catch more fish:

Rainbow trout