On the face of it, casting a fly might seem pretty simplistic, and it is when you’re practicing in a nice open space. In actual practice, the casting of flies can become rather complex, and it is a good idea to have several options in your bag of tricks. Here’s a list of 10 fly casting techniques that have proven useful in the field and will be practical for you in tight spots.

1. Bow and Arrow Cast

This is the perfect troubleshooting cast for beginners or experienced anglers looking for accuracy.

  • Grab a length of line roughly the distance from rod tip to reel and hold it with your off-hand.
  • Point the rod tip toward the intended target.
  • Pull the line back, bending the rod like a bow.
  • Let go of the line and let the fly snap forward like an arrow.

This cast lets you place your fly right where you want it with minimum practice. It’s particularly useful to utilize in tight areas with lots of brush where a back cast or overhead cast aren’t possible without a snag.

2. Tuck Cast

a girl fly fishing

Image credits: David Mark via Pixabay

This is the easiest cast to learn early on to make sure your fly hits the water before your line comes down.

  • Cast upstream horizontally.
  • When the rod tip is nearly at the end of the cast, pick up on it gently.
  • Gauge the lift required to make the fly contact first.

This cast allows you to mimic live bait landing on the stream in tight areas with overhanging vegetation. If you intend to use nymphs, you may want to master the tuck cast, as it gets them in the water quicker compared to other methods.

3. Classic Overhead

There’s a reason this cast is the standard, and every fly angler needs to know how to execute it properly.

  • Cast with your shoulder, not your wrist, thus, moving directly overhead.
  • Move your rod tip from 11:00 to 1:00 on an imaginary clock above you.
  • Make a few false casts to get a feel for the end of the line.
  • Let the fly land in the water.

A few hours of casting will feel like second nature and your accuracy will improve greatly.

4. Lob Cast

fly fishermen fishing

Image credits: Frank Glittenberg via Pixabay

This cast is what you’ll use when it’s really tight and nobody is grading you on your form.

  • Make an abbreviated overhead cast and skip any false casts.
  • Toss or lob the fly out upstream and allow it to drift back toward you.
  • Set the hook the instant you feel a hit.

This cast works best in small streams or overgrown creeks and is another useful one for getting nymphs to the water, fast.

5. Back Cast

There are several versions of this cast, but this is the most effective for general use.

  • Cast with your shoulder in a diagonal direction, normally upriver.
  • Stop at 11:00 and 1:00 just as with the overhead.
  • Make a few false casts and let about 25 feet of line out.
  • Let the fly drop and drift down.

This cast is useful when you have to make use of an open area in a river that contains overgrowth.

6. Forward Cast

This cast is a slightly modified version of the classic overhead cast, but geared toward greater accuracy.

  • Cast with your shoulder, moving the rod from 11:00 to 1:00 on the imaginary clock overhead.
  • Make a few false casts, letting out the line.
  • Bring the rod tip down to a horizontal level with the water and let the fly shoot out.

With some practice, this cast can be very effective for placing the fly in front of a fish or under a bank, or near a fallen tree.

7. Roll Cast

fly fishing at sunset

Image credits: Udo Schroeter via Pixabay

This Roll Cast works well with still water such as ponds or lake fishing.

  • Allow the line to float out on the water in front of you.
  • Pull the line back rapidly in the manner of a bullwhip.
  • Whip the fly forward, causing it to loop.
  • Let the fly fall back to the pond surface in front of you.

If you get good at this one, you can fool almost any fish in quiet water.

8. Steeple Cast

This cast looks a bit ugly but is effective in many situations.

  • Start by arcing the rod into a back cast. With the rod at a high trajectory.
  • Around 1:00 on the imaginary clock, drive your shoulder and line down from about 90 degrees.
  • Once your shoulder is at eye level, change the trajectory of the line to sail the line forward.
  • Bring the rod tip down horizontally with the water, and whip the fly and the pile of line out.

This one takes some practice but is effective in areas with tall trees or thick brush.

9. Haul Cast

This is a method designed to increase line speed and cast distance.

  • Set up for a classic overhead cast.
  • Proceed to make a back cast and come to a dead stop at 1:00 to give a tug on the line.
  • With your free hand, lightly pull the line from the reel down near your hips. In practice, this is to add tension and control to the line that’s extended.
  • Setting up for a back cast, ease your holding hand into it, and let the line go.

This one is complicated to learn when first starting, but is an excellent choice for those breezy days.

10. Double Haul Cast

Once again, this technique is designed to increase speed and distance.

  • Set up for a classic overhead cast.
  • Tug on the line during the back cast.
  • Tug on the line during the forward cast.
  • Let the line go.

Properly executed, this technique can generate a great deal of increased distance for your cast. Furthermore, it is best used with heavy flies such as streamers.

The Final Word

Regardless of which techniques you choose to implement in fly-fishing, it is important to keep in mind that nobody gets the hang of this angling discipline on their first try. Ending up with nothing but a big knot in your line the first time out is half the fun and half the challenge of fly-fishing. After all, fishing is a game of patience, whether it’s catching or casting. So, the next time out, try switching up your fly casting techniques with one of these 10 fly-fishing casts.