Tuesday Tip: The Basic Cast

Written by: Truel Myers

Truel casting

 Orvis head instructor Truel Myers.

[Editor’s note: Over the next couple of 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.]

Step 1. The Basic (Pick-up and Lay-Down) Casting Stroke

This is the simplest way to learn the proper mechanics for the casting stroke. You are not trying to keep the line in the air or work line out through the guides. Instead, you are going to start and end with the line straight out in front of you, on the water or the ground.

1. Let the fly rod do most of the work. The fly rod needs to do basically three things: Bend/flex, also known as load; stop (at the end of both the backcast and forward cast); and travel in a straight path/line between the backcast and forward cast.

2. Grip
A thumb-on-top grip gives most casters maximum strength and control. Gripping pressure is put on the thumb and forefinger, while the other three fingers gently wrap around the grip. The “meaty” part of the palm should be positioned slightly to the side of the grip. The wrist should slightly “cocked” in a downward position, with the butt of the rod level with the arm. If you have difficulty with the thumb-on-top grip, try the “V” grip, with the thumb and part of the forefinger on the sides of the grip. The rod should be parallel to the caster’s forearm. 

Grip 1

The best grip for beginners—the one that offers the most power and control— keeps the meaty part of the hand on the side of the cork handle.

Grip 2

When you grip the rod, put your thumb on top. Grip the line against the cork for now. Later, we will work on using your other hand to control the line. 

3. Stance

For a right-handed caster, the right foot should be positioned slightly behind the left foot. This position gives the caster more range of motion and will put you in a comfortable position to watch the rod tip and fly line on the back cast. 

4. Back-cast Mechanics  

With your casting hand, pinch the line between your forefinger or middle finger and the grip. Work out 25 to 30 feet of line beyond the rod tip. Start with the rod tip low—below waist level. Smoothly raise the rod tip to drag the fly line up off the ground, accelerating the rod/hand/forearm to an abrupt stop, stopping the rod tip in an upward and back position. This acceleration to an abrupt stop releases energy in the rod and produces line speed. As the line begins to straighten, you can begin the forward cast.


Begin with the line in front of you and the rod in a low position, with the tip below 
your waist level. This allows you to start with no slack in the line.


To make the backcast, accelerate the rod tip to a stop behind you. This will allow the rod to unload, throwing the line into the air behind you. 

5. Forward-Cast Mechanics 
Just as with the back cast, start your arm/rod moving smoothly and gradually accelerate the rod to an abrupt stop, stopping the rod tip at eye level. (The back and forward casts are the same motion, just traveling in opposite directions.) After the loop is formed and the line begins to straighten, lower the rod tip.

Forward cast

Once the line straightens behind you, accelerate the rod forward to a stop at eye level. 


When the line begins to straighten, lower the rod tip back to the starting position. Repeat. 

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