Inarguably one of the most challenging angling techniques to master, fly fishing offers an incredibly rewarding experience nonetheless. Whether it’s just the basic fly fishing forward/backward cast or the advanced roll cast, fly fishing takes lots of practice and patience to be proficient at, but the learning curve can be less steep by achieving an understanding of some basic principles and by having access to open space to practice in.
The fisher generally utilizes a sinker or weighted lure attached to the end of a supple, thin fishing line tightly wound around a fishing reel when casting with a regular fishing tackle. The line gets pulled off the reel thanks to the combination of the cast’s forward momentum and the weight of the sinker or lure.
On the other hand, fly fishing employs lightweight flies made of feathers or fur, making the challenge many degrees more difficult. Fly fishing line is constructed using a thick PVC or urethane coating for that needed heft. During the casting stroke, the energy travels along the line much like a whip, propelling the fly with it. The fly is essentially cast by the line.
The Basic Cast
The fly rod is a lot more flexible than a spinning rod. This necessitates that you feel the fly rod flex and unflex in your hand so potential energy is loaded into the weight of the fly line and the bend of the rod itself.
When basic casting with a fly rod, one is actually making two casts: the back cast and the forward cast. The rod is designed to do 3 simple things. One is for the rod to bend, which makes it loaded with energy. The next thing the rod is supposed to do is to make an abrupt stop, to send the line forward. The rod is supposed to bend and stop twice when making a basic cast, once behind the angler and once again in front. The fly rod is also supposed to get the rod tip to travel in the straightest path possible.
The straighter the path, the tighter the loop and the straighter the cast. If the line travels in an arch, this makes the fly line travel in an arch as well.
To get a good cast and a nice, tight loop, the angler has to start with a smooth acceleration.
Start with the rod tip nice and low. Use your forearm or wrist to pick the rod up and get that smooth acceleration to the abrupt stop, which gets the line to jump up behind you. Wait for the line to roll out behind you. Once it just about straightens out, you can flick the line forward. Watch the back cast, as it is one of the most important steps to a good cast.
Hold the rod like you would when shaking someone else`s hand. The thumb stays on top of the rod and the other four fingers are wrapped around the tool. Since the casting motion has to be executed fluidly, you should keep your grip relaxed like you would hold a golf club. The butt of the rod is kept under the wrist in line with the forearm to maintain a straight plane while ensuring a good cast.
The Roll Cast
Used when there isn’t enough room behind the angler to execute a back cast, the roll cast can prove to be ideal in situations where brush, trees and other obstructions make it difficult to extend the back cast, limiting casting motion. This casting technique should be used while wearing sunglasses and a hat. It keeps the line along with the fly closer to the angler`s body.
Instead of an aerial back cast, the roll cast draws the line backwards slowly and is hung in a loose loop called the D-loop from the tip of the fly rod. This provides the necessary weight that loads the rod for the forward cast. If performed correctly, the roll cast will make the fishing line look like it’s unrolling over the surface of the water, which is the origin of the name of this specific technique.
The cast should be done in the water, since the line has to be anchored in the water to create that characteristic D-loop and then unroll properly.
Lay out about 25 feet of line in front of you to start with. Have the rod tip pointed at the surface of the water. Slowly draw the fly rod up and back with a smooth motion, using just enough force to pull the leader plus the end of the line across the water surface. Stop the casting stroke with the rod tip held high and just a bit beyond vertical. The line should be slack at this point, while drooping behind the rod tip to create the D-loop.
When the D-loop is created, whip the rod forward and stop the acceleration abruptly to unroll the cast smoothly over the surface of the water.