Drills Casting

Fly Fishing Western Wyoming fly fishing guide outfitter drills casting

Drills Casting


GOALS: Throw water off the brush so that it flies parallel to the ground for at least 6 to 8 feet.  No water should land on the forearm!

CASTING PRINCIPLES: Constant and smooth acceleration, to a sudden stop.

SET UP: 1 paint brush, 1 bowl with water, 1 – 2 1/2 foot noodle.

STEP 1: Find a grip you like. (Thumb pushing, forefinger pushing, the V between  forefinger and thumb pushing)

STEP 2: Dip the brush in the water bowl.

STEP 3: With a straight wrist, bring your hand up to about eye level and off to the side. (If a stick was sticking out of your ear, it should be pointing right at your hand.)

STEP 4: Check to see that the paintbrush is sticking almost straight up. (12:30 on a clock)

STEP 5: Now slightly cock your wrist back so the paint brush is pointing to 1 o’clock or a little more.

STEP 6: Without bending your wrist, bring your hand and forearm forward as you smoothly accelerate.

STEP 7: Just as you get to the end of your stroke, rotate your wrist sharply forward.

STEP 8: STOP – HARD, at about 10 o’clock.


1) Water lands on your forearm behind your hand. You started to fast. Start more slowly.

2) Water goes off the brush parallel to the ground, but doesn’t go very far. Develop more speed and/or stop more sharply.

3) Water goes off the brush but at an angle towards the ground.  Stop at 10 o’clock!

BACKSTROKE: More unnatural, so really work at this one!

STEP 1: Put water on the brush.

STEP 2: Lift your hand to head high.

STEP 3: Cock your wrist forward just a bit.

STEP 4: Bring your hand and forearm forward into the same position where you stopped on the forward cast.

STEP 5: Smoothly accelerate backward without moving your wrist.

STEP 6: As your hand approaches your ear, sharply rotate your wrist.

STEP 7:  STOP -HARD at 1 o’clock!

NOODLE DRILL: Repeat above with a noodle!


GOALS: Narrow loops front and back, basis for double-haul drill and false casting

CASTING PRINCIPLES: Straight line rod tip path (appropriate arc for the amount of line), constant acceleration. A simple way to think of arc is to imagine your rod is the hour hand of a clock. Straight up is 12 o’clock, parallel to the ground and in front of you is 9 am, parallel to the ground and behind you is 3 pm. The amount of the clock face you use during a casting stroke is the “arc”.

SET UP: 70 ft. tape or rope on the ground with the wind at right angles to tape. Mark the middle with a cone. Place a cone at both ends. Stand in the middle of the tape with your back to the wind facing the tape.

STEP 1: Stand away from tape a little less than 1-rod length. Rod tip should be past rope 1 ft. or so. The line should be parallel to tape with yarn in front of you 35’.

STEP 2: Point the rod at 10:30 am and flex your wrist a little. Rod tip should now be on the tape.

STEP 3: With wrist only slightly cocked, start dragging line towards the backhand side with constant acceleration. Draaaag …

STEP 4: As rod approaches 1 pm, rotate wrist sharply (almost “pop” the wrist) and stop. The line should have created a narrow loop and line and leader should be parallel to tape. Try and hit the cone at the end of the rope with your yarn.


1) Open loop

a) Accelerated too fast to begin with.

b) Rod went too far before the stop or started too far back. (Remember to reduce your wrist flex and resulting arc!!)

c) Your stop was not abrupt enough.

2) The line did not fully extend.  Not enough power applied.

3) Created tailing loop.

a) Not constantly accelerating

b) Too short of an arc or stroke

STEP 5: Repeat one through 4, but as a forward cast.

Note: It is best to simply let the line sit still between the back and forward strokes, especially at first.  If the line doesn’t straighten, have your partner straighten it,, or you back away from it until it is straight. You need a straight line with no slack.


STEP 5 – Same as in Step 4.

STEP 6 – Strip out 10 more feet of line and repeat. Walk towards line about 6” and repeat steps 1 – 5 above.  Rod tip should now be farther down the line. You have increased stroke length and arc as you increase line! Principle: Long line = longer stroke length and longer arc. Shorter line = shorter stroke length and a shorter arc.

Need a Challenge?

STEP 7: Increase line to 45ft. Increase arc and stroke. You will need to move a little closer to the tape.

STEP 8: Begin reducing the length of time the line sits on the ground between strokes until it is simply false casting.

STEP 9: Gradually move the cast to vertical. You will also need to gradually move your body from facing the tape to facing parallel to the tape. This is drill #3 in this clinic.

STEP 10: Repeat Steps 3 through 11 using line hand to control line


GOALS: a narrow loop front and back, line lands parallel to the rope.


1) Constant Acceleration to a sudden stop

2) No Slack

3) Pause

4) Straight line rod tip path

Step 1 – Rod tip down

Step 2 – Yarn at 35 feet

Step 3 – Line straight (no slack)

Step 4–  Lift while consistently accelerating (Line in rod hand)

At 9AM       10mph

At 10AM     20mph

At 11AM     40mph

At 12noon  80mph  STOP

NOTE: Most of the motion in this backcast should occur in the forearm movement. While doing this step, check the wrist. There should be minimal movement until just before the stop at which time it is best to rotate the wrist back a few degrees. Another important key to watch is the thumb. When the stop is made, the thumb should be pointing straight up.

Two ways to think of this step:

a)The rate of acceleration is a lot like flicking water off a paintbrush

b) Play like there is a big jolly giant looking over your shoulder and you are going to jab him in the eye with your thumb.

STEP 5 – After the stop, wait until the line is completely straight behind you.

STEP 6 – Start forward while consistently accelerating. Again, think of throwing water off a paintbrush – straight into the wall in front of you! Pound a nail!

STEP 7 – Towards the very end of your forward stroke, rotate your wrist and stop at 10 am. Your thumb and rod should now be aiming at 10 am.

STEP 8 – After the stop, lower your rod as the line falls. Ideally, your rod tip, line, and leader should all land on the grass at the same time.

Need a Challenge?

STEP 9 – Pick up more line!  Or, pick up the line off the other shoulder. Always make as small a loop as possible.


1) Wide Back Loop – Began with too abrupt acceleration and/or dropped rod too far back. Check your wrist and thumb positions. Watch your backcast!

2) Wide Front Loop – Top Leg Parallel to the Ground, Bottom Leg Dipped. Dropped your rod too much before the stop.

3) Wide Front Loop – Bottom Leg Parallel to the Ground, Top Leg Open Started forward cast too far down and/or started too fast.

4)Wide Front Loop – Bottom Leg Wide, Top Leg Wide Also Problem is a combination of both Started forward cast too far down and/or started too fast of the above faults.

NOTE: Most wide loops are caused by too much wrist action causing a rainbow-shaped rod tip path. Keep that thumb scraping the ceiling, or use the forefinger on the top of the rod butt.

5) Rod Doesn’t Bend Enough on forwarding Cast –  (Line doesn’t shoot all the way out.)

a) The line did not straighten out behind – remember that in order to bend the rod, there cannot be slack in the line or,

b) Not enough power on the forward cast.

6) The line appears to have enough speed on the forward cast, but line dumps before it straightens.

a) Too much power causes the line to “rebound”.

b) Rod tip stayed high as line dropped.

7) Tailing Loop –  Spike in power – smooth it out!


GOALS: Narrow loops kept in the air without touching the ground.

PRINCIPLES: No slack, good timing. proper acceleration, straight line rod tip path.

USES IN FISHING: Feeding line, drying a fly, changing directions, measuring the distance

STEP 1 –  Start with Grass Drill.  Start with 35’ of line. Stop and wait! Wait until line straightens.

STEP 2 –  Come forward with the water-on-a-paint-brush acceleration. Stop at about 10 am. Wait until line straightens.

STEP 3 –  Now backcast as in Step 1.

STEP 4 –  Repeat back and forth and gradually reduce the amount of rest you allow.  Then gradually bring the rod up to vertical. If you have problems, start over with the line on the grass.

Need a Challenge?

STEP 5 – See how many lines you can hold in the air with tight loops!

TROUBLESHOOTING :  [Once up in the air.]

The line doesn’t straighten:

a) you didn’t wait for it to straighten on the previous stroke forward or backward.

b) You didn’t accelerate to a stop.

c) Your rod path looks like a windshield wiper (too much arc)

d) You didn’t apply enough force.

The line hits the ground: 

a) you haven’t accelerated with enough power.

b) Your rod tip is dipping below 1 pm in the back or below 10 am in the front.  (too much arc)

c) You waited too long to begin the next stroke.

The line hits itself (tailing loop):

a) You had a spike in acceleration somewhere in your stroke – smooth it out!

b) You stopped the rod too soon. (not enough arc)

c) You stopped the rod okay, but you ‘crept’ forward before beginning the next stroke.

d) You didn’t wait to start the next stroke. (You started before the line straightened out.)


GOALS: Pick up 25ft of line and feed to 45ft. of line. (Use Pick Up and Lay Down Drill to start.)

Principles: No slack, straight line rod tip path, constant acceleration, pause or timing, arc, and stroke match line length.

STEP 1: Place yarn at 25ft. Rod tip down. Line straight. 20 ft. of line stripped off the reel and coiled on the ground.

STEP 2: Execute pick up and false cast a few times, keeping your line hand on the line.

STEP 3: After a forward cast and stop, let the line go with your line hand.

STEP 4: After a few feet of the line has moved through your guides, clamp down on the line again. By now the line should be straight in front.

STEP 5: Now it’s time to start your back cast. When first learning, you can take a few more casts before again feeding line on the forward stroke. Continue until all line is off the ground.


1. The line does not shoot or dies in a pile on the forward cast.

a) the line was released too early

b) not enough power on the forward cast.

c) back cast did not straighten before the forward cast was initiated (to slack)

d) line was released too late.

STEP 6: Work at feeding more line with fewer false casts.

STEP 7: Work at feeding line on forwarding and back casts.

Need a Challenge?

Step 8:  Starting with your fly at 25’, see how many lines you can shoot in 3 false casts.

NOTE: Feeding and shooting line efficiently is a prerequisite to “Quick Casting” to moving fish. It also allows the angler to spend more time with the fly in the water. (Not a whole lot of fish in the air!)  It also prevents fatigue and helps to reduce spooking fish.


GOALS: Cast 35ft. off either shoulder.

PRINCIPLESNo slack, straight rod tip path, constant acceleration, arc, and stroke match line length.

STEP 1Strip 35ft. of line off the rod.

STEP 2: Place an anchor at 18ft.

STEP 3: Place your yarn in or under the anchor.

STEP 4: Point your rod tip at the anchor and move it to 20 degrees or so to the outside. (Tip-down)

STEP 5With a straight wrist, slowly lift yours to 12:00. At this point, you should have your line coming off the ground about even with your feet or a little behind you. If it is coming off the ground in front of you, move forward. If you still have lots of slack, move back. This is now your starting point. You have created a “D” Loop.

STEP 6: Check your hand and wrist. The hand should be about even with your eyes. Now cock your wrist back a few degrees so your rod is at about 1:30.

STEP 7Check your alignment with the target. The most efficient cast will be aimed in a straight line slightly to the side of your fly line.

STEP 8: Execute a forward cast.

1) Constantly apply acceleration. (paintbrush analogy!)

2) Keep your thumb scraping the ceiling. (Straight line rod tip path)

3) Wait to rotate your wrist until the very end of your stroke.

4) STOP at about 10:30 o’clock.

STEP 9: Lower your rod and follow the line down.


1) Big Open Loop

a) Caused by too much arc (usually too much wrist)

b) too much power too early in the cast.

SOLUTION: Reduce the arc and concentrate on the paintbrush!

2) Line Dumps in a Pile :

a) Caused by driving your rod tip too far down before the stop.

SOLUTION: Stop your rod tip higher!

b) Not enough force applied.

SOLUTION: Apply more force, but make sure to apply the acceleration constantly over the length of your cast.

3) The line hits itself :

a) Make sure to drive your rod to the side of your line – never over or across your line. If the wind is from the side, you need to drive your rod to the downwind side of the line.

STEP 10Repeat from opposite shoulder.

Need a Challenge?

STEP 11Cast into the wind, longer casts, crosswind casts, headwind casts, etc.

FISHING APPLICATION: Take up the unwanted slack, cast with obstructions behind you, pick up a big fly or sink tip line, quickly aerialize the line, get a hook off a rock.


GOAL:  Roll Cast Pick-up 25ft. of line and feed or shoot to 50ft.

PRINCIPLES: No slack, timing matches line length, straight line rod tip path, arc, and stroke match line length, constantly accelerating.

STEP 1: Strip off 50 ft. of line

STEP 2:  Pull your yarn back to 25ft.

STEP 3: Now execute a roll cast, but keep the forward cast OFF the grass and in the air. When the forward cast straightens, begin your back cast. (You may need to aim your roll cast at an upward angle.)

STEP 4: When your back cast has straightened, begin a forward cast and, in the end,  stop … release the line.

STEP 5: Continue False Casting and feeding line until you can reach 50ft.

PROBLEM-SOLVING: All problems should be resolved by referring to the previous drills and their problem solutions.

Need a Challenge?

STEP 6: Shoot as much and as quickly as possible. Start with more line.

STEP 7:  Do the same drill, but over the opposite shoulder.

FISHING APPLICATIONS:  This series of skills are used on a regular basis especially when fishing moving water. It saves lots of time as the amount of time stripping line back to start a new cast is drastically reduced This cast is especially useful when fishing from a drift boat as there are many times you want to get slack out in a hurry, and then make a cast.

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