Seek Qualified Fly Casting Instruction

The fastest and most efficient way to learn a new sport such as fly casting is with the guidance of an experienced instructor. Ideally this experience includes understanding the various modalities of teaching and recognizing what methods work best for the student. For example, one student learns best through visualization, while another is an auditory learner. Other methods might include an instructor using a hands-on approach holding the fly rod with the student and mimicking a cast, or teaching through pantomime.

No doubt there are fly casters who improve through self-discovery but most only succeed in reinforcing bad techniques. In my experience the intermediate caster is often the most difficult to teach because the bad habits are ingrained with “muscle memory”. I prefer a beginner anytime.

While fly fishing guides do a commendable job putting anglers on fish, most lack a basic teachable knowledge of casting fundamentals. An ability to cast and guide does not always translate into an ability to teach. I tend to look at fly fishing guides and fly casting instructors as two different professions. Not competitors but experts that should complement each other with the shared goal of setting the stage for a more enjoyable fly fishing experience with their clients.

Personally I hope more fly fishing guides and others in the fly fishing industry become more interested in teaching the proper fundamentals and essentials of fly casting. Positive signs in this direction are becoming more common. I am aware of some fly shops in my area of Idaho and Montana requiring FFI (Fly Fishers International) casting certification for their guides.

I would encourage fly casters of all levels to seek out qualified instruction to improve their casting. The Fly Fishers International website provides a list of qualified instructors throughout the USA and worldwide who have undergone extensive training in teaching fly casting techniques.

Doc Frangos
FFI Master Certified Casting Instructor

The Value of a Casting Partner

Nothing works better in your casting than having two sets of eyes that are watching your casting.  Having a casting partner for the last 9 years has been invaluable.  Working out problems and continue to improve my casting.  It is impossible to view your casting from all angles and with a casting partner you are able to evaluate all aspects of your cast.   Whereas when you are casting by yourself you are generally only looking at one parameter such as tracking, loop formation, translation, rod stoppage.  With a partner you have the luxury of someone that can walk from side to side and back to front and can critique you on the spot instead of trying to remember individually what you did wrong and what you did right.  Combine this with videoing a casting partner is a huge asset while the video is recording.  Your partner can help direct the casting session while it’s being videoed.

In addition to the physical aspects of having someone observe your casting and comment on it, your casting partner also serves as someone that you can have extended dialogues about fly fishing all elements.  It’s nice to be able to bounce questions off someone on a regular basis and discuss and dissect fly fishing.

Your casting partner does not need to be a certified instructor, just someone who is willing to work with you on a regular basis and someone who can be honest about your casting.

I would encourage anyone who is interested in improving their casting to hook up with someone on a regular basis.