Tuesday Tip: Adding Line to the Cast

Written by: Truel Myers and Phil Monahan

Forward Cast

Learning to add line to the cast is the key to distance-casting.

photo by Steve Hemkens

[Editor’s note: Over the a few weeks, Truel Myers, head instructor at the Orvis Fly-Fishing Schools, will walk us through The Orvis Progressive Method to Fly Casting. This is the teaching methodology used at all Orvis fly-fishing schools, and it’s designed on a building-blocks approach that begins with the most basic mechanics of the cast and moves toward the double haul. This is Lesson #3. Click these links for Lesson I and Lesson II. ]


In our last lesson, we learned how to control the line hand during casting, as well as how to “shoot” line by releasing the line at the end of the forward cast. After shooting the line, you then pinched the against the cork handle in what we call the “fishing position.”

Now we’re going to put lessons 1 and 2 together to learn how to add line to the cast during false casting. This is the skill that allows you to lengthen your casts after you’ve stripped line in.

1. Start with 25 to 30 feet of line beyond the rod tip in front of you, and 20 to 30 feel of line stripped from the fly reel. Hold the line in your line hand.

2. Make a back cast and then a forward cast, in which you stop the rod higher than you did in the last lesson, at about a 45-degree angle.

3. When the rod stops and begins to “unload,” throwing the fly line forward, release your grip on the line, allowing it to slip through your fingers momentarily. Don NOT let go entirely, or you may lose control of the line for the next step.

4. Pinch the line again before you begin your back cast.

5. Since you have added line to the cast, you are now carrying more line in the air than you were before, so the timing of your cast changes slightly: you must wait a bit longer for the longer line to roll out in back and in front of you after the rod stops. Your casting stroke will also be slightly longer each time you add more line.

6. When you’ve added about half the slack line to your cast (this should take 2-3 false casts), you’re ready to shoot the rest on the presentation cast.

7. Your presentation cast should look just like the false casts before it. Stop the rod high and release your grip on the line, allowing the slack to shoot through the guides. (Make sure the rod stops first.)

8. Lower your rod tip as your line settles to the ground (or water).

9. Strip in your line and repeat the process.

A few tips: Avoid trying to pick up too much fly line—say more that 40 feet—off the ground, at least in the beginning. Picking up too much line will affect your timing and you may not have enough leverage to pick up a lot of line.

Practice these steps over and over. The timing of when you release your grip and then re-pinch the line is crucial, and it is something you will learn to feel. If you release to early, the rod doesn’t unload correctly, and your cast will underpowered and crash to the ground.

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