I recently had the privilege of spending a day with my dad for a guided fly fishing trip. My main focus was to introduce my dad to fly casting and fly fishing but I also learned a lot that day. One issue I’ve been fighting is a flaw in my casting technique. Oftentimes, I spend half my time on the river untangling my leader because I mess up my forward cast and the line curls up on itself. This has been very frustrating, but without the help of someone to point out the error in my ways I was at a loss.
Our guide, RJ, from Elk Springs Resort, WV watched me cast a few times and was able to help me correct my forward cast to remedy the tangling issue. Without elaborating on the details, my problem arose from my lack of follow through (or short, choppy forward cast) that was making super-tight loops that were crossing each other on occasion, especially when I am fishing a tandem rig. I practiced casting using a more fluid motion and found my fly casting improved greatly, tangling less and laying out on the water a lot smoother than before.
Here are a couple things I’ve noticed that can really mess me up when it comes to casting a fly rod:
- Not lifting the line off the water before the backcast
- If I don’t pause long enough to let the rod fully load before casting forward
- Going through the casting motion too quickly in general will often lead to tangles and inefficient casting
The easiest way I found (and how I still like to cast when possible) is to cast backhand up and across the stream, let the fly drift down and swing until it is directly downstream from me, and then with the rod loaded from the downstream current, cast back upstream.
I can’t say I became a fly casting pro after a 30 minute diagnostic test, nor will I say that I will never tangle a leader again. I will say, however, that some professional instruction can go a long way to help work out bad habits or simply make good habits better. If you get a chance to go on a guided trip or lesson, definitely take advantage of the advice and instruction. If a guided trip isn’t in your budget or your style, try to spend some time with someone that’s been fly fishing for a while and see what insight they can provide on your casting. After all, any help can go a long way towards smooth casting and enjoyable days on the river!