Top 5 Most Common Fly Casting Mistakes


One of the biggest falsehoods about fly fishing is that learning how to properly cast a fly rod is extremely difficult. Over the years this misconception has prevented countless numbers of people from picking up the sport. To help clear this up, Backwater Fly Fishing  is bringing you the top 5 most common fly casting mistakes that beginners and avid fly casters tend to make.

#1 Forcing the Cast – The force is ‘too strong’ with you

Remember the classic line from the movie Happy Gilmore, “Just tap it in…” Well, casting your fly rod is very similar to Adam Sandler learning to, “tap it in”. Some fly casters have the tendency to force the ball(fly line) where he or she wants it to go instead of letting the putter(fly rod and fly line) do the work for them.

As the rod loads the line, momentum builds up and allows the line to carry your fly where it needs to go. The most important thing is not being overly forceful with each false cast. Allow the rod to naturally load the line on the tip of the rod and give adequate time for your loop to build before moving through with the next casting step.

This will ensure you create a smooth cast that does not hurt accuracy or decrease the line’s momentum.

#2 Lowering the Rod Tip 

In order to fly cast long distances it is important to keep the line up and unobstructed during your false casts. In order to do this it is extremely important to keep the rod tip up at all times. If you drop the tip on your back or forward cast then the loop you have created will begin to open, and the momentum that was in your line will dramatically decrease. Making this mistake allows your line no option other than to drop. This is something that beginning anglers often struggle with.

In order to fix this problem envision you are tossing each false cast up onto the roof of a second story building that is roughly 20 ft behind you, and one that is 20 ft in front of you. This will help you keep the rod tip up while making you focus on casting the line up and back, as well as, up and forward.

The result of doing this will be that your line will maintain momentum and your casting distance will improve.

#3 Not Hauling Line In Step With the Load of the Rod

As beginners get more comfortable with fly casting they often figure out that hauling line either in a single or double haul will drastically improve line speed, making casting in the wind much more enjoyable. While this is true, this is also where multiple problems can start.

Learning to effectively haul your line can be a difficult process. It is important to learn how to single haul properly before you can accurately time a double hauled fly cast. The single haul is executed by first beginning to lift the line off the water in front of you. As the rod tip loads and become elevated you will make a quick strip of line with your free hand. If you make that strip too soon or too late, the line will not increase the load pressure on the tip and the entire effort will be in vane.

If executed properly you will notice an increase in line speed as your loop forms tightly behind you during the backcast. In order to perform a double haul it is critical to time a second strip as the rod is loaded during your forward motion. Timing here is just as critical as before. If you get it right, your line will maintain momentum and a tight loop as it moves forward towards the target.

If you mess up timing with either haul, you will not have the accuracy or momentum needed to perform a smooth fly cast.

#4 Moving the rod Back and Forward on Different Lines

This is very common and most people never notice they are doing it unless it is pointed out to them. The mistake is made when the fly caster moves his rod in one direction during his or her back cast, but fails to maintain that same line moving forward.

You will know you are doing this if your line continues to come back on itself or is constantly creating a swinging motion during the end of the forward loop. Focusing on this casting flaw is quite simple and correct results are immediately seen each time the caster maintains the same line. Momentum and accuracy are also greatly effected by this.

#5 Casting Square With Your Body

It is very common for most people to want to stand with their shoulders squared while directly facing their target. However, this is often not the best position to be in while trying to accurately and delicately deliver a fly to a feeding fish.

Instead of squaring off you shoulders with your target, position yourself at an angle with your casting arm farthest from the target. This will force you to cast in a motion that crosses your body in front of you rather than fishing off to your side. This angle is similar to the stance you take while shooting a rifle or a shotgun. Doing this will increase accuracy and allow you to look down the line as your forward loop progresses towards the target.

I hope you have found these tips helpful. Be sure to share this with you friends and other members in your fly fishing groups.

Also, be sure to LIKE Backwater Fly Fishing on FACEBOOK in order stay caught up on our HD fly tying videos, as well as videos from our local and destination trips!

As always, “keep your hearts right, and your lines tight!”

Capt. Jesse Males



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