Good Lord!, where did you learn to fly cast? : Skinny Water Charters Blog
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Good Lord!, where did you learn to fly cast?

by Captain Jim Barr on 09/14/16

I give a lot of private and some group fly casting lessons, and before we begin each lesson I go through a process of casting the student's fly rod and line combination if they have brought their own equipment. Half the time the combination is horrible- totally wrong, 25% of the time the combination is "just OK" with the balance being "pretty good", but most of the time none that perfectly matched. So where do these abysmal decisions as to line/rod combinations come from? I suppose some come from people who buy their combinations "on-line" through an internet store, some combinations are purchased at big box stores and from a sales person who is not qualified to provide good advice on fly fishing equipment, and some come from fishing shops who should know better on how to counsel the customer but who don't either carry an adequate inventory to provide a diverse selection, or who lack the casting expertise to provide good advice,  and/or worse yet- who are motivated more with profit pushing with products with the highest margins.  In almost every case, the customer does not have the benefit of knowledgeable advice that creates a solid value proposition.

My recommendations are straight forward:
  • If you are just starting with fly fishing, ie. you've never gone before, and you don't know where to start, get to an IFFF Certified Fly Casting Instructor for a few lessons. Don't even think about buying your own equipment before your lessons. Thank your friends for offering their help, but find a professional. Every good instructor I know has a quiver of fly rods and line setups they can bring to a lesson for the student to play and experiment with. I would much rather go to car dealer who carries ten different makes and models than to go to the Henry Ford dealer, where you can have any car you want as long as it's a black Ford.
  • If you have been fly fishing for some time but you're struggling with your ability to consistently cast 40 feet with accuracy, get professional lessons, and in that process your instructor can test your fly rod/line combination. It may be that you fall into that 50% category where the majority of your problems come from mismatched equipment. A good instructor will also immediately recognize poor casting form and start to put you on the path to improvement. Many instructors will take video of your casting technique and provide you with not only immediate video feedback, but assemble a short series of videos they will provide you illustrating before and after techniques, and to reinforce advice provided the day of your lesson.
  • If you know how to fly cast reasonably well and are in the market for a new rod or fly line, buy that equipment from a seller who is knowledgeable and who will allow you to thoroughly test several rods and lines so that you are making a tested and well informed decision. Buying fly rod and line combinations must be a much more cautious process than selecting surf, spinning or conventional casting rod and line combinations.
Where do you go for good advice and qualified instruction, my recommendation is find a Certified Fly Casting Instructor associated with the International Federation of Fly Fishers based in Livingston, Montana. ( Take a tour of their website first to become familiar with the organization, but hone in on the "Casting" page and specifically in the drop down box, "Find a Certified Instructor"... here's a direct link.(
Every state has certified instructors- find one closest to you and take a solid step towards improving your fly casting and fly fishing fun.

It only stands to reason, that if you can REACH more fish, you can catch more fish.

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