How do we learn to fly cast or for that matter, how do we learn anything? We learn by watching, by listening, and by reading. Then we learn by doing. The surgeon’s mantra is, see one, do one, and teach one. When we see a good caster throw sharp loops, most spectators will find it beautiful to watch, and some will want to learn how to do just that. Some of us are “visual” learners and some are “book” learners, but most of us do both. The listening part comes when you have a casting instructor, which is undoubtedly the very best way to learn fly casting.
“How to fly cast” is the subject of many books, small and large. 28,000,000 results (0.91 seconds) – Google’s report on the search “fly casting books.” The sheer number of books makes it extremely hard (a statistical fact) to find the one that is right for you. Being a visual learner, I favor books with schematic pictures. The one that works for me is, “FLYCASTING SKILLS – for beginner and expert” by John Symonds and Philip Maher. Just under 90 pages and covers both one- and two-handed casting. Lots of drawings and a short concise text. Fly casting is in its essence simple, and neither do we need, nor want, page after page of written instructions. So, that’s the book I like most for my teaching.
About 23,100,000 results (0.79 seconds) – This is what Google told me after I searched for “fly casting videos.” Hence, it’s impossible for a beginner to find good teaching videos on her/his own. However, I can recommend two sites that both have outstanding teaching videos.
Fly Fishers International
First – there is the Fly Fishers International (FFI) website. FFI has developed an international curriculum for casters wanting to become instructors. This curriculum is based on facts of fly casting, and there is also training on the most effective way of how to teach fly casting. The test itself is internationally standardized. This pathway leads to the so-called CCI certification. There is an excellent Learning Center on FFI’s site open for use.
Second – Sexyloops.com is probably the single best site on anything relating to fly casting. This site is owned and run by Paul Arden who is one of the world’s best caster, and a fantastic teacher. Arden has put his teaching videos for free on the web called “Sexyloops Fly Casting Masterclass with Paul Arden.” His videos are superb – short to the point and top-notch quality. You can’t go wrong by studying them.
Those two sites are enough for anyone starting, and I advise against watching other material when taking the first steps.
The Basic Cast
FFI has under the heading “FUNDAMENTALS OF CASTING” a pdf lesson on the fundamental cast and the various loop shapes that we see with casters. https://flyfishersinternational.org/Portals/0/LearningCenter/Presentations/Casting/FFI_LC_Curriculum_Casting_Fundamentals_Overview_sm.pdf
The line drawings are extremely good, and the text is instructional and concise. After the pdf lesson, it is a good idea to proceed to a video where the loops are demonstrated. https://vimeo.com/316931556
Arden’s first casting lesson is the Triangle Method that he uses to teach loop formation. This is a very good tool to use. The students see the line so well because the method is taught starting horizontal. The Triangle Method
The Pick-up and lay down cast
FFI gives an overview of this cast first. – https://flyfishersinternational.org/Portals/0/LearningCenter/Presentations/Casting/FFI_LC_Curriculum_Casting_PULD_Overview_sm.pdf – followed by this video. https://vimeo.com/316926685
Arden’s pick-up and lay down cast is here. Pick-up and Lay-down
We call it false casting when the caster keeps the fly line in the air by casting back and forth, instead of laying it down. FFI has a pdf lesson here https://flyfishersinternational.org/Portals/0/LearningCenter/Presentations/Casting/FFI_LC_Curriculum_Casting_False_Casting_Overview_sm.pdf
To be able to Roll cast is a very good asset to have. Whenever you find yourself without much space for a backcast, the roll cast is there. FFI has a pdf on this cast here. https://flyfishersinternational.org/Portals/0/LearningCenter/Presentations/Casting/FFI_LC_Curriculum_Casting_Roll_Cast_Overview_sm.pdf
And a video with roll cast instructions here https://vimeo.com/317117187
Arden’s roll cast is here The Roll Cast
After you master the basics of the above casts, you are well-positioned to study the rest of it. I recommend strongly that you seek quality teaching at the outset. It will lay a solid foundation for your cast. I struggled for years mostly on my own. Double hauling the line did not occur to me until after some years of suffering. With the methods we now use for teaching fly casting, this progress is much shorter and smoother.
Fly Fishers International has a certification process for casting teachers. There are qualified FFI teachers in every state and then there are local fishing clubs with great casters. Here is a website where you can find certified casting instructors.
After laying a solid foundation for your casting stroke, you can practice and practice until you get the rest of it. This is one of the few sports where you can become better as you get older.