The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 13 No. 14 - January 16, 2013

reel time

The secret to fly fishing

Reel time

Rusty chinnis | submitted
Lefty Kreh, the dean of fly casters, instructs a new
caster in the essentials of a good cast.

The secret to the creation of a successful fly fisherman is really no secret at all. Like anything else, we master and enjoy, it involves the intention to be good and requires a lot of patience and practice. Mastering the fundamentals, applying the principals and practice will pay dividends that lead to a lifetime of enjoyable fly casting and fly fishing.

A beginning fly fisher and proficient caster should pay close attention to the essentials of fly casting. One thing to remember Is that there is no right or wrong casting style. That said, fly casting is governed by physics, and there are some essentials that every fly caster must master, no matter what his/her individual skills or styles. This is the difference between the art (style) and science (physics.)

Fly casting is a lifelong learning experience that you can improve at 9 or 90. Different people learn at a different pace. Some people pick up casting quickly and then plateau. Other start slow, but when they finally get it they’ve got it. To become a good caster you need to practice, but that practice will reward you with a lifetime of pleasure and the company of good friends.

Fly casting differs from spin or bait casting where the weight of the lure or bait loads the rod. The rod then transfers the stored energy of the rod to the lure or bait, which carries the line with it to the target. In fly casting, the weight of the line loads the rod and the line takes the leader and flies to the target.

The Five Essentials

The essentials are the physics behind fly casting. Learn these, and you’ll have a solid base on which to grow your style:

1.) There must be a pause at the end of each casting stroke, which varies in duration with the amount of line beyond the rod tip.

2.) Slack line should be kept to an absolute minimum in the casting stroke. Slack line prevents the rod from loading and applying power to the cast. Common mistakes include not anchoring the line against the rod or with the rod hand; movement of the line by outside forces like wind and water; starting the cast too high; rough, jerky application of power; poor timing between the forward and backward cast. Of these, the most common comes from starting with the rod too high which forms a belly in the line between the rod tip and the water. To prevent this, start with the rod tip pointing at the water.

3.) In order to form the most efficient, least air resistant loops and to direct the energy of the cast toward the target, the caster must move the tip in a straight line.

4.) The size of the casting arc must vary with the length of line past the rod tip. If you are making a short cast, there is only a small amount of line needed, which only weighs a small amoun, and only a small casting arc is necessary to load the rod in a straight line for a cast. As the length of line increases, the stroke must be increased to load the rod. Remember – short cast-short stroke, long cast-long stroke.

5.) Power must be applied in the proper amount at the proper place in the stroke. In general, the power is applied slowly at first, gradually increasing to a peak at the end of the stroke. There should be a crisp stop at the end of the stroke, forcing the rod to come out of its bend. This is commonly referred to as the speed-up and stop.

The essentials are mastered through consistent practice. Create a practice schedule that you can stick to. Start by practicing three times a week for 10 minutes. Any additional time will, of course, be a bonus, but the importance of a regular practice schedule cannot be over emphasized.

There are a wealth of resources on the Internet that can help you learn fly casting. A hands on experience is an excellent way to get started or to check your fundamentals. You can find a Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor in your area at, navigate to Finding a Casting Instructor.

The effort to learn the essentials and practice will pay off in a more satisfying experience and more fish, guaranteed.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper