By Zach Lazzari
Most anglers gradually develop casting skills on the water but removing your fly for some yard practice will accelerate your progress to expert levels in a hurry. Not only will you increase your range and accuracy, you will also develop the confidence to make better presentations on the water.
Setup a Course
Head to an open, grassy field if possible. A football or soccer field is ideal because it has plenty of space. Many have lines marking every five yards. This is great for measuring distance without any fuss. The field alone is adequate but adding a few hoops on the ground at variable distances is nice for accuracy tests. Standing hoops are also an option for more advanced casters who want a serious challenge.
Master Your Basics
Start with your basic pickup and lay down cast. Take it slow and watch the loops unfold. Adjust your power and speed while playing with the timing on transitions between back and forward casts until the loops are tight and controlled. Repetitions make all the difference and beginning casters can easily do this a 100 or more times to feel how the rod loads the line and generates energy into the cast.
After gaining control of the pickup and lay down casts, it’s time to false cast. Start with a set distance but also practice shooting line to gain distance. Pay close attention to your loops and accelerate through each casting stroke to kill a tailing loop. Proficient false casters can control the amount of line shooting on each forward cast and can change directions.
When your false casts are feeling good, start working to hit your targets in the field. Short, 10 yard targets are valuable, especially for those fishing small streams and waters with tight underbrush. Working the targets with friends can make for friendly competition and extra eyes can help with feedback on your casting.
Focus on Line Control + Line Speed
Line control is one of the most impactful fly fishing skills you can develop. Passing the line between your rod hand and free hand, stripping the line to tighten before each cast and controlling the line to generate line speed are all critical factors. Practice each step individually until it becomes second nature. Practicing the transition between hands and stripping are simple but generating line speed is a bit more complex.
Line speed is developed by speeding up the rod on the cast or by pulling on the line to force the rod to load. The pulling motion is called hauling and it works wonders for anglers who want to generate more speed and power for distance casting. A single haul is a pull on the line leading into the backcast and is often enough to send the line sailing. A double haul adds a second pull as the rod loads and moves forward. This adds a ton of extra power into the forward cast to punch through wind and to gain serious distance. Watch videos of these and learn the single haul before working up to a double haul. It takes some time for most of us but the payoff is longer, more controlled casts that perform in difficult conditions.
Choosing the Right Fly Rod
You can browse our entire lineup of Mystic Fly Rods here. But what are the strengths of each rod, and which one is right for you? Check out this previous article for a quick guide to Mystic fly rods. We’ve outlined the design behind each rod, and which one we recommend for different fishing situations.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be happy to point you in the right direction and help you get the right fly rod for your next adventure!