How to use Spin Casting to learn Fly casting

Spin Casting uses a weighted lure to pull a weightless line behind it, activated by a flexible lever.

Fly Casting uses a weighted line to pull a weightless lure behind it, activated by a flexible lever.

NOTICE THAT BOTH SPIN CASTING AND FLY CASTING ARE ACTIVATED BY A FLEXIBLE LEVER (the rod). Both casting methods need weight to apply energy to the lever (rod), causing the lever to bend. The techniques used in spin casting and fly casting for loading and releasing the energy provided by the weight IS EXACTLY THE SAME.

For the spincaster. Take 35-40 feet of fly line (No fly attached) and stretch it out behind you. Grasp the rod like this- thumb on top, reel down.

Hold the rod behind you parallel to the ground (this removes slack from the line). Choose a spot 60 feet away and 20 feet above your head. The roofline of a house, mid tree, or if you’re standing in the middle of a highway, an exit or directional sign (not recommended).

Use the EXACT SAME MOTION you would use to cast a lure, and throw the fly line towards the target. The flyline will extend all the way out. BOOM! You’re casting forward. That was easy.

Now it gets a bit weird. Imagine you’re standing in the same place, but have to cast in the opposite direction. However, for some reason, you CAN’T turn around and face the way you’re casting! How would you go about casting behind you if you couldn’t face that way.

Simple. You’d hold the rod tip forward (same direction you’re facing- opposite of the direction casting) parallel to the ground. Pick a target 60 feet away and 20 feet above your head, behind you. Going DIRECTLY over your thumb, you’d flick the rod tip back and the lure would fly toward the target. Try it with the fly line that you just threw forward. Same result, except it’s the fly line speeding towards the target. You don’t normally do this when spinfishing- you do it on EVERY cast when fly fishing.

You now have the mechanics for the cast and the back cast. Now you have to put them together.

You don’t want the line to land on the ground behind you, or the fly will get tangled in whatever’s there. The goal in fly casting is to start the forward cast at the moment the fly line is stretched out straight behind you but still travelling backwards. At that moment, you make the same forward cast as you did when you started.

This is a critical concept. Unlike any other sport/activity you’ve engaged in, when fly casting, the fly line MUST be sent backwards with as much, if not more, energy than when coming forward. Think about that for a moment. Baseball, hockey, football, golf- whenever you take your arm or stick backwards in preparation to come forward, it moves slower than the forward stroke. That’s a difficult habit to break.

The forward cast relies on the weight of the fly line acting against the rod as it starts forward. The same applies to the back cast- the back cast relies on the weight of the fly line acting against the rod as it start backwards. In order for the line to apply its weight to the rod, it must be airborne and in motion.

Your left hand is holding the slack fly line. (If you’re right handed. If you’re a Lefty, you’re going to have to translate these directions as you’ve had to translate directions all your life!) Think of your left hand as the brains of the operation. There are two forces acting on a fly rod. The weight of the extended line and the tight holding of the line in your left hand. Think of all the bad things that happen when you let go off the monofilament too soon or too late when spin casting. Same theory. The left hand is to fly casting what your index finger is to spin casting.

When you need to extend more line when fly casting, it’s necessary to release the line with the left hand at the opportune moment to allow the flex of the rod to pull more line out. This can be done on the front cast or the back cast, though when just starting, it’s easier to do on the front cast. The rod unloads, the line is traveling forward, and you release the line in the left hand. Allow a little line to extend, and then re-grip the line tightly in your left hand again. Send it backwards, and do the same thing again, until you have enough line out to cover the water you need to.

This takes practice! Hold the line between the left thumb and index finger. When you let go of the line, form a loop with your thumb and index finger with the line in the loop. Basically, you’re making a large guide with your fingers. When the line has extended far enough, simply close the loop around the line. Easier than it sounds, but it will take a bit of time to become second nature. Since you’re doing this on every cast, it comes faster than you think.

Additional Beginner Fly Fishing Resources