One Great Fly Casting Tip

April 11, 2018

I guess I take casting with a fly rod for granted. It’s not that I’m some fantastic caster or that I don’t have my struggles. But in truth, I can usually put the fly where I want it. And after all these years watching good and bad casting from other anglers, I believe the difference comes down to one key element — speed.

My own education happened naturally. Over a period of years, fishing day in and day out, I developed a casting technique and style that works for me. But it took time, and I know that not everyone has such a luxury. Inevitably, for the anglers I meet who struggle to cast a fly, whether working with a dry line, tight line nymphing, or casting wets and streamers, it comes down to one thing — they aren’t aggressive enough.

The fly rod needs an angler to take control and be bossy. Good casting requires acceleration between 10:00 and 2:00, with hard, deliberate stops at those points. That’s what I mean by aggressive. The cast should be crisp. It must stop between two positions, and it must stop with purpose. The casting stroke should never be lazy, and it should not be cautious. Otherwise, fly placement and accuracy falls apart.

As we approach overhanging limbs near a riverbank, being cautious is the worst thing to do. Caution is accompanied with a slowdown of the rod speed. And when we’re too careful, the line loops open up, the leader sails high and the fly sticks in a tree.

Speed | Force | Flex

Decades ago, my Dad was the first friend whom I ever taught to cast a fly rod. And his trouble was the same as what I still see every day while guiding clients. Most people who cast a fly just aren’t aggressive enough. All good fly casting needs acceleration and hard stops at 10:00 and 2:00. I touched on this before in a Fifty Tips article, but the point here is to be deliberate. Be confident. It’s not enough to stop at 10:00 and 2:00. Between those stops there should be purpose, speed and force to get the rod flexing. That’s how we take control of the cast. And that’s how we place the fly exactly where it needs to go.

I may have lucked into learning all this. When I look back at my own history, I realize that a lot of things lined up for me, charting a logical course toward a full picture of the fly fishing game.

My fly fishing experiences started on small waters. I fished for wild brookies and brown trout in the headwaters. I explored brushy, woodsy streams with my Border Collie, on an endless quest for new adventures. Those wild places filled me up inside. The vacant, lonesome and deep woods of Pennsylvania forests were a refuge — and they taught me good fly casting.

I used a short, seven foot leader with a four or five weight fly line. And I learned to punch the line and leader under branches and guide the fly toward a target, around wet logs and greedy limbs. I quickly realized the concept of 10:00 and 2:00 was only a starting point. I cast sidearm and backhand, with circle casts, water hauls, roll casts and whatever angles necessary to boss the line, leader and fly toward one point on the water.

READ: Troutbitten | One Great Nymphing Trick

Regardless of the particular type of cast, I learned that it should be done with force and purpose. There must be speed and acceleration in the cast, accompanied by crisp, clean stops. Anything less, and I ended up in the trees. If I cast softy — if I was too cautious — I was asking for trouble.

Now, all these years later, this is still my best fly casting tip. Whatever you’re casting (dries, nymphs, wets or streamers), do it with some speed in between two points. Cast with authority. Don’t be the butterfly. Be the bee.

Fish hard, friends.

Enjoy the day.
Domenick Swentosky


Click here for details.


Tips / Tactics

Read more Troutbitten Tips and Tactics

What do you think?

  Follow the comments on this article.  
Notify of
Domenick Swentosky

Hi. I'm a father of two young boys, a husband, author, fly fishing guide and a musician. I fish for wild brown trout in the cool limestone waters of Central Pennsylvania year round. This is my home, and I love it. Friends. Family. And the river.

time regulations Spring Creek Night Fishing musician small streams camera Galloup Camping the Mono Rig Plans brookies marginal water fluke simplicity Christmas Lights It's just fishing George Harvey safety tippet George Daniel indicator fishing mono rig Streamers skunked etiquette boys brush fishing solitude mayfly fly patterns bar boots Fly rods tips Fly Fishing Boat TU posted land friends tight lining Stockies Wild Brown Trout mistakes conservation PSA beadhead winter comp fishing Harvey Pusher Backing Barrel Presentations Press Whiskey Whiskey Drinker efficiency tight line nymphing Wild vs Stocked droppers night-sighter PFBC science matters bite windows waders Discovery winter fly fishing tracks fly rod flood club fishing Pennsylvania How it Started wildlife brown trout high water gear drop shot nymphing reading water backcountry Baseball fly tying big brown trout DHALO spot burning catch and release rigs swinging Peace Sighter nymphs dry flies tiny flies Dad Orvis leaders nymphing Weather family Burke wading front ended Mystery public land Fifty Tips Floating net Tippet Rings nymphing tips mud FishHard Quote Fish Hard summer Dylan fly fsihing fall cookout BES big fish friendship travel silence giveaway last cast casting spawning wild trout Wild Mushrooms river Industry Stuff Ask an Expert Night Fishing Chapters History split shot indicator nymphing Trout Unlimited photography Jeff Aiden Resources walking rules montana winter fishing dog flies fly box explore Grobe Bad Mother DJS Central PA traction Float Fishing PA Gold Sawyer rookies Joey stocked trout Headbanger Sculpin patience Trust Grandfather mousing come on man fishing with kids dorsey yarn indicator dry fly fishing drifting snags surf fishing Night knots Euro-Nymphing stinky bass Fly Casting wet fly fishing dead drift strategy Oakiewear DIY Little Juniata River home-stream hiking angler types Troutbitten Fly Box wading boots Gierach backcast Buggers wet flies saltwater trout bum summertime fishing Dry-Dropper ice fighting fish float suspender fishing shark LBI wet wading Namer Big Trout Rich favorite streamside One Great Tip thunderstorm carp Streamer fishing fly line Doh falling in tightline fishing tips Davy Wotten tenkara philosophy Memories