How to Work a Fly Fishing Rod

How to Work a Fly Fishing Rod
At first, many people view fly fishing as a somewhat intimidating method of catching fish. The line, the casting and the associated leaders, flies and accessories can seem overwhelming. However, when stripped down to the basics, fly fishing is actually no more difficult than using a spinning or casting setup. With some basic knowledge, practice and patience, almost anyone can be introduced to the wonderful world of fly fishing.


Difficulty: Moderate

Things You’ll Need:
  • Fly rod Fly reel Fly line Leader Tippet Flies
  • Fly rod
  • Fly reel
  • Fly line
  • Leader
  • Tippet
  • Flies
Step 1
Assemble the fly rod, making sure that the eyes of the rod line up with the reel seat. Lock the reel into the reel seat by sliding or screwing down the lock rings. As many starter reels are pre-spooled with backing, line and leader, thread the line through the guides and out the rod tip, leaving several feet of line from the end of the rod.
Step 2
With your dominant hand, grip the rod handle as if you were shaking hands with the grip. Wrap your hand completely around the handle, with your thumb coming to rest on the inside of the grip but extended forward. This is the thumb over grip, the most commonly used grip. Face the target you will be casting to and stand comfortably with feet shoulder width apart.
Step 3
The overhead cast will be your best bet at as a beginner. To accomplish this, imagine your casting arm is the hand on a clock face. In front of you is 11:00, and 1:00 is behind you. These are the stopping points for your casting motion. The line should be watched to insure it is looping as you pause and that there are no popping sounds, which indicate your motion is too fast.
Step 4
Unspool the fly line from the reel and move it forward and off the rod by slightly shaking the rod. You will need six to eight feet of line in front of you. Slightly raise the end of the rod which will begin to move the line up from the ground and toward you. Next, raise the entire rod up with a smooth but quick motion and back to the one o'clock position. As before, briefly pause, allowing the line to loop and then return the rod back to the forward 11:00 position.
Step 5
To cast the line forward, follow the line from the rear or 1:00 position. As it movers forward, follow the line toward the target. As the line descends lower the tip of the rod which will allow the line to settle on the water rather than splashing. Keep in mind that the overall idea is natural presentation of the fly. Most insects either softly drop or land on the water will little to no splash.

Tips & Warnings

Practice, as will most any new endeavor, is the key to success. There are also many online and in print resources which can offer tips and techniques which may help as you learn to fly fish. Patience is key, do not allow yourself to become frustrated.
As you learn to cast, make sure you are aware of the fly's location at all points during the cast. It is easy to lose track and allow yourself or someone else to become painfully hooked by a sharp fly hook.

Article Written By Tara Dooley

Tara Dooley has written for various websites since 2008. She has worked as an accountant, after-school director and retail manager in various locations. Dooley holds a Bachelor of Science in business management and finance.

Keep Me Informed

Weekly newsletters, announcements and offers from to your inbox.

Sign me up!

We HATE spam and promise to keep your email addresses safe and secure.