An Introduction to Fly Fishing

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Published on: Jan. 2, 2001

Last revision: Nov. 10, 2010

Fly-Tying Basics

just about all fly casting limits the movement of the rod between the positions of 10 o'clock (in front) and 2 o'clock (behind).

Start with about 15 feet of fly line off of your reel in a pile at your feet and about 6-8 feet of fly line beyond the tip of the rod. You are going to work the line in the pile out by making a casting motion back and forth, or false casting. Begin with the rod in front of you with your wrist tilted down slightly. Lift with your arm, then snap your wrist while briskly moving the rod back to 1 o'clock. At the same time, pull downward with the hand holding the line. The pull accelerates the speed of the airborne line.

An all-important pause takes place at this point in the cast. The pause allows the fly line time to straighten out behind you. Then, bring the rod "smartly" forward, snapping your wrist down a bit when the rod hits 10 o'clock. Release the line in your hand; some of it will shoot forward. Continue false casting until you have the amount of line that you need airborne, and then release the line, shooting it forward for the actual delivery to your target.

The most common errors in fly casting are failing to pause on the back cast, and not applying power on the forward cast. If you do not pause, your line is going to meet itself coming and going, and it may actually snag on itself or snag your rod. If you fail to apply power on the forward cast, the line may simply fall in a puddle at your feet rather than delivering your fly to its target. A third problem is waiting too long on the back cast, which can cause the line to make a cracking sound, like a whip.


If you do not have a friend who can help you improve your fly casting, your local parks and recreation department may offer a fly fishing class. A Trout Unlimited or Federation of Fly Fishers club in your area can show you how to cast and might introduce you to fly tying.

There is beauty in fly fishing. In an article appearing in the magazine of a national fly fishing club, Michael Fong wrote, "What separates fly fishing from other forms of fishing is the joy that comes by feeling and watching as the fly is propelled through the air as the cast is executed."

There is something in the sight of an uncoiling fly line that I find incredibly soothing. I'll bet you will, too.

Useful Items:

  • 9-foot fly fishing leader tapered to 6-pound test
  • One spool each of 3- and 2-pound-test leader tippet to add to above
  • One light-weight fly box
  • Clipper to trim leader ends
  • Hemostat to remove hooks from fish
  • Small landing net
  • Fishing vest (this is the fly fisher's tackle box)
  • A card or book that illustrates fly fishing knots
  • A small selection of flies for the type of fish you pursue

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