How to Get Started Fly Casting

Updated on January 4, 2018
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We are a group of avid fishermen: COAF Field Team. We post tips on our blog and publish articles for those who may be interested in fishing!

Merry Christmas... Fly Fishing Rod/Reel Gift, Now What?

Question: I received a fly fishing rod and reel for Christmas, but I don't know how to cast a fly rod. Now what?

Answer: The best answer is to take fly casting lessons from a professional. They may charge you a fee but it is money well spent.

Question: But what if I cannot take a fly casting lesson from a professional?

Answer: There are several options.

1. Demonstrations

Check sporting goods stores in your area like Cabelas, Bass Pro Shops, and Orvis that offer fly casting demonstrations for free.

  • Both Cabelas and Bass Pro Shops host special events that bring fly fishing experts to their stores to host fly fishing seminars and fly casting demonstrations to customers for free.
  • Also, fly fishing special events, conferences, and festivals often have seminars and demonstrations hosted by fly fishing experts brought in specifically for the special event (see footnote - Fly Fishing Special Events: Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex).

2. Ask a Friend

If fly casting lessons and demonstrations are not an option, ask someone you know who is a fly fishermen for assistance in getting you started. You might learn bad habits as well as good ones this way, but it will get you started until you can take fly casting lessons or attend a demonstration.

Key takeaways to learn from another fly fishermen are:

  • Ask them to show you how they setup their fly fishing rod and reel including - specifically, the backing, fly line, leader, and tippet and the knots used.
  • Ask them to look over your fly fishing rod and reel and provide suggestions on its setup and balance.
  • Have them cast your with rod and provide feedback on how it casts compared to their rod. Note their proficiency in casting with both rods. If there is no difference between the two rods, it is likely your rod is good for fly fishing as well.
  • Finally, ask for suggestions and tips on fishing flies to use for your area, and stock your fly box accordingly.

3. Teach Yourself

Finally, you can teach yourself by reading books, searching articles online, or watching videos posted on YouTube.

The series Orvis' Fly Casting Video Lessons series is available online, it is free, and you learn from a professional at your leisure. It is an excellent resource for learning; do take advantage of it!

Key takeaways to learn in this manner are:

  • How to setup your fly reel - specifically, backing, fly line, leader and tippet and the appropriate knots to use.
  • Understand the basic concept of fly casting such as the weight of the fly line and not the weight of the fishing fly is used when casting with a fly rod.
  • Basic types of fishing flies and ones to use for your area as well as suggestions on how to fish with them for a given fish being sought.
  • Recognize this is a temporary solution also and does not replace taking fly casting lessons or participating in a demonstration.

PS: It's okay to do all of the above, retaining the good and discarding the bad information.

But I want to go fly fishing now!

You answered the question about what to do with my Christmas gift, and I get it. I should take lessons or attend a demonstration, else learn from someone, or go online... but, I want to go fly fishing now! Help!

4. "Start Fast, Stop Fast" Concept

If you want to get on the water and start fishing anyway, before you have your lessons or participate in a fly casting demonstration, we will help you.

If you must start fishing with your new fly fishing rod and reel, we suggest the "Start Fast, Stop Fast Concept".

We make the following assumptions:

  • Since the fly fishing rod and reel was a Christmas gift, we assume it came pre-spooled with backing and fly line, and it came with a tapered leader and a sampling of fishing flies.
  • Also, we assume the line and rod/reel are balanced. For example, the rod and reel are rated as a 5 weight, we assume the fly line is a 5 weight as well.
  • Because you are in a hurry to wet your line, we will focus on being able to cast a distance of two times the length of the rod less the length of the leader and tippet. Example: With a 9' rod, we will cast 18' of fly line which results in a 27' radius being fished.

In the video below, we demonstrate the "Start Fast, Stop Fast Concept" that calls for:

  • Starting a cast by lifting the fly line rapidly (start fast).
  • Stopping the rod abruptly to throw the line behind you (stop fast).
  • Starting the rod forward rapidly to start the line forward (start fast).
  • Then, stopping abruptly to send the line forward (stop fast).

With practice and awareness of the "Start Fast, Stop Fast" Concept, you should be able to get started fishing with your new fly fishing rod and reel!

Good Luck and Good Fishing!

Field Team

Start Fast, Stop Fast Demo

Concept in Hi-Vis Slow Motion...

Fly Fishing Suggestions...

Fly Fishing Suggestions and Tips

Fly fishing suggestions and tips that may be of interest to Readers!

The Right Fly Rod?

Setting up a Fly Reel

Fly Lines...

Leaders and Tippets

Choosing Fishing Flies...

Footnote: Fly Fishing Special Events

Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex

Fly fishing special events in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex that offer fly fishing seminars to include fly casting demonstrations and lessons:

  • TRWD Flyfest - Annual fly fishing special event hosted by the Tarrant Regional Water District. Held March of each year along the banks of the Trinity River in Fort Worth, TX. Includes a Big Trout Fishing Contest, too and it's FREE. For more, see TRWD Flyfest.
  • Texas Fly Fishing and Brew Festival - Annual fly fishing and craft beer event that combines fly fishing seminars with craft beer tasting. Held in Plano, TX, it is a two day event. For more, see their website.
  • Fly Fish Texas - Another annual fly fishing event hosted by the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens, TX - about an hour south of Dallas. Offers fly fishing seminars and fishing for trout! For more, see TFFC - Special Events.
  • Troutfest - Although not in the area, Troutfest is another fly fishing special event to keep in mind for those visiting the Guadalupe River in Texas. Hosted by Guadalupe River Trout Unlimited, it is one to attend if able! For more, see Troutfest.

Other Options...

For Veterans

Other options available to Veterans are support organizations like Project Healing Waters. And, for those in the Austin, TX area, there is Veterans Fly Fishing - an organization that offers free fly casting lessons for veterans. For more information, see their website at Veterans Fly Fishing.

Questions & Answers


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      • hbng84 profile imageAUTHOR


        2 years ago

        The article lists opportunities where free fly fishing lessons and demonstrations are offered. While viewing the Texas Fishing Forum, we saw a post of an event at Possum Kingdom near Graford, TX. May be of interest to some on Jan 20!


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