Why in the world do fly fishermen have to cast multiple times before they land the line on the water? It’s a question we’re commonly asked by puzzled beginner fly fisherman - especially those accustomed to spin cast fishing methods.

The answer is simple. Most flies weigh near nothing. The combination of the long, whippy fly rod and a weighted “fly line” allow you to shoot the line, gaining momentum by every back and forth stroke, until you’ve reached your desired length. This is what allows fly fishermen to deliver delicate fly presentations to picky fish.

Casting the fly rod is a critical skill to master as you begin fly fishing. You’ll want to take your time here and make sure you don’t pass up any fundamentals. While there is a library of different casts you can learn online, we’ve selected the most useful for you to learn right away. We’ll cover the situation in which to use the cast, provide a helpful video, and go over the key points of each cast.

Practice makes perfect. In your spare time, go to your backyard, local park, or any open area. Make sure you are always casting towards a target. Our targets of choice are a loaded mousetrap or hoola hoop. Both work great and can be an excellent way to build accuracy.

basic cast

Situation: Anywhere and anytime you fly fish. This will be the standard “free throw” of fly fishing. Every cast is all built off these fundamentals.

Key points to understand:

Grip: Make sure thumb is on top.

Let the Rod Do The Work:Casting should feel effortless when done right. Make sure to “load” the rod by completely stopping at the top when the rod reaches 90 degrees from the ground. You’ll wait for the line to catch up and then abruptly shoot it forward. This will allow the tip of the rod to “load”, shooting your line out towards your target. This takes a considerable amount of practice to get right at first, but it is critical to learning how to cast a fly rod.

Move your Wrist / Forearm Slightly: Releasing the fly rod towards the target with the help of your wrist / forearm. This will provide some pop in your cast and deliver the line with added power. Some use their wrist, some keep their wrist still while their forearm bends forward. Either way is the right way. You must release one or the other. You’ll be able to feel when you’re doing this correctly by how effortlessly you can throw the line forward.

Straight Path = Tight Loop: The straighter the path that your fly rod travels throughout the motion, the tighter the loop. Generally, the tighter the loop, the better the cast and eventual presentation you’ll put on the water. Make sure to travel in a straight line when doing standard fly casts.

Roll cast

Situation: Use this cast whenever there are obstructions behind you and you can’t do a back cast. You may even use this cast when using heavy nymph rigs and streamers and can’t do an effective back cast. It’s very useful and versatile and a must learn!

Key points to understand:

D Loop: The larger the “D Loop” you create behind you, the more leverage you have to launch the line. If your loop is large, it will be quite effortless and result in a tight loop and land softly, straight out in front of you. If it’s a small loop, then you’ll have to muscle the line out there, likely resulting in a less effective cast with poorer presentation. Opt for a larger D Loop whenever there aren’t overhanging tree branches or obstructions that might force you into a smaller D Loop.

Follow the Train Track: The closer in line you are to your loop, the more efficient and accurate your roll cast will be. Never cross over the track as this can be dangerous and make it nearly impossible to get to your mark.

Forward Stroke: Make sure to move your hand 18-24” forward before moving the angle of the rod forward while shooting the line.

Double haul

Situation: Add some turbo charge to your fly casting arsenal! If you find yourself needing some extra distance or are caught in a tricky wind, this will be your cast of choice.

Key points to understand:

“Down Up, Down Up”: I don’t know what it is about saying this outloud when learning the double haul. Just by saying the motion, you’ll learn it twice as fast. It takes a minute to get the timing and coordination so be patient with yourself.

Timing: Make sure that when you are pulling on the line, you are timing it with the bend of the rod both ways. Once the line has mostly caught up with the rod, you’ll pull on the line. This takes practice to get the feel right, but you will know when you’re doing it right when the line zooms out in front of you to your intended zone.

Advanced Casts

"Many of the casts I use, I first learned from playing around with the rod in various scenarios. It was only when I started reading books and watching videos on fly fishing that I started to learn the names of these casts. By exposing yourself to a variety of scenarios, and trying to manipulate the fly rod to do what you want, you’ll learn how to get your line to any intended target you face."

- Berkely, Team Ventures Fly Co.


By learning about many of these casts and how to do them now correctly, you’ll fast track yourself to success. Learn these casts and play around with the fly rod while fishing. This is the fastest track to becoming a competent fly caster.

Reach cast / Ariel Mend

Situation: Most fly fishermen are taught to immediately mend as soon as the line hits the water. This is sound advice...unless they know better! The aerial mend is a “pre-mend” where you cast to your intended target and then move the slack line in the direction of the current. The result is a beautiful drag free drift as soon as the line touches down to the water's surface. Once learned, you won’t be able to unforget this fly fishing hack!

Key points to understand:

Left & Right Reach Cast: Depending on what angle you are approaching the river, you’ll want to make sure that you learn how to reach cast in both directions. To reach cast to both the left and right, the technique is identical, but just mirrored to the side you will shoot the slack line to. Cast your line straight out as you would on a basic fly cast and then move your rod horizontally to the intended direction while the line is still in the air on the front cast. It will take a minute to learn the nuances of this cast but the effort will be well worth it.

Timing: The longer you wait to mend in the air, the longer the cast, but less line you will mend up-current. The shorter you wait to mend in the air, the shorter the cast, but the more line you will mend up-current. Play around and practice this.

Parachute / pile Cast

Situation: Useful for when casting a dry fly to a rising fish downstream or across stream. Allow for your fly to land like it fell from cloud 9!

Key points to understand:

Drop the Rod to the Ground: Start the parachute cast with a standard back cast. In the forward stroke, quickly bring the rod low to the ground. This will kill the momentum of the line and create a buttery soft dry fly presentation.

Bow & Arrow cast

Situation: This is the cast that you use if you’re between a rock and a hard place. It’s your last resort if you’re out of options. You’ve got a tight window, surrounded by trees, bushes, and on your knees. Time to unleash your inner Robin Hood and use the bow and arrow cast!

Key points to understand:

Hook Hold: Don’t hook yourself! Make sure to either hold onto your knot of the fly line or the bend of the hook with the barb exposed and away from your finger.

Hand Position to Cast Length: The higher you hold on the fly line, up to a point, the longer you can cast. This is not the cast to make it across the river. This is the cast you use when there are no other possible options, often found in small stream fishing.