How to cast with a fly rod

My first experience with a fly rod was not encouraging.

I was young – maybe 7 – and grabbed the green fiberglass telescopic fishing rod I always used and carried it to the creek near our camp.

When I showed it to my older, more worldly cousin, he laughed. “You can’t use that,” he told me. “It’s a fly pole.”

Without being discouraged, I hooked a worm to the hook I had attached to the end of the braided fly line, and maybe even caught a few four inch trout.

If I had known how this “fly rod” worked, I might have been tempted to try my hand at fly casting, which was a totally foreign concept. Lucky for my ears, my eyes (and my fishing buddies), I didn’t. So nobody got hooked.

The question that may have come to me that day still resonates with novice fly fishermen: How to operate this fly rod?

Yes (lesson one): It’s a fly rod. Not a POLE fly.

And here’s how you make it work. Or, at least, here are a few things you should know.

If you grew up fishing with a spinning rod, casting worms or lures like most of us, you’re used to having a lure weighted down at the end of a mostly weightless fishing line. . The weight of that worm or lure carries the line with it when you cast.

Fly fishing presents the opposite situation. Your fly is (more or less) weightless, and the line has real weight. The fly is postponed because the line requires it. And the line requires it because the fly rod is flexible and bends back and forth when you cast with it.

The key, then, is to get the line to “load” the rod, flexing it away from the direction you want to cast, and then letting it “unload” when you present the fly to the big fish waiting for it. to eat.

A good exercise to practice this movement: instead of lifting the rod up and over your casting shoulder, which you would normally do during a throw, simply wiggle it back and forth in front of you, with about 15 or 20 feet of fly line beyond the highest guide. Watch the fly line twirl to the right. Then pause your rod as it passes through the center of your body and wait for the line to straighten out. When it does, wiggle the rod to the left, watching the line spin in that direction. If you think of the tip of your cane like the hands of a clock and imagine 12 o’clock is right in front of you, try stopping your cane at 2 o’clock on the right side and 10 o’clock on the right side. left.

Pro tip: do this exercise without a fly attached to your leader. You are not fishing at this time. You train. And the most important thing that you work on is learning how to avoid hanging on.

Once you get used to the feeling of loading and unloading the rod, feel free to switch to a more traditional casting position. If you are right handed, let the line rest on the water (or your back lawn) in front of you, then quickly pick it up by passing the rod over your right shoulder. Stop the rod when it comes to about 2 o’clock on the clock face we described earlier. Then, as soon as the fly line straightens up behind you (you can take a peek), push your right hand forward to initiate a forward throw.

Continue this movement, forward and backward, forward and backward, for eight or 10 repetitions. This is called “false casts”. Doing a few before letting the line rest on the water or grass in front of you may or may not be necessary when you are actually fishing, but the false cast is a good way for beginners to start “feeling” the rod. as it loads and unloads.

Two more pro tips: don’t let your wrist get in the way. Your forearm should remain rigid and allowing your wrist to flex will turn a 10 and 2 rod path into a 9 and 3 path, or worse.

And as legendary pitcher Lefty Kreh advised, you don’t have to move your elbow up and down to throw a good strong throw. Kreh advised casters to “keep elbow on shelf” when pouring, and if you imagine this picture, with your casting elbow sliding back and forth on a shelf, this cue will eliminate a lot of foreign movement and of tension on this elbow.

Have fun and practice a bit. Heck, in the next lesson we might even let you tie a fly to your leader and go fishing!

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