The Four Cornerstones of Fly Casting

The Four Cornerstones of Fly Casting

Paul Arden | Tuesday, 2 February 2021

When it comes to structuring your fly casting training I like to look at four key areas; Distance, Accuracy, Presentation Casts and Spey Casts. To become and all-round caster you need to master them all. There is a lot of work, enjoyment and satisfaction to be derived from doing this.

Distance Casting is an interesting one for me, because it involves maximising efficiency, perfecting tracking, applying force at the right time in the right way, both with the rod and the line hand (hauling). Also, particularly if you set the course up at different angles to the wind, it teaches you to do the same backhanded as well as direct into a headwind. Which is very useful when fishing!

What I particularly like about distance casting is that the results in improvement are easily measurable. I would argue that the largest gains in technique often come from learning to throw distance.

Accuracy is another huge cornerstone. It also involves tracking, trajectories, sighting. But at its core is closed stance repeatable loops. When teaching fly casting nowadays I start with this discipline because it’s the perfect foundation. The vast majority of fly anglers have never trained this.

Presentation Casts, of which there are many, involves practise time, not simply to be able to perform the casts, but to be able to perform them at variable distances. After all what’s the point of being able to bend the line if the fly and line bends into the obstruction you are trying to cast around?!

Spey Casting is the final cornerstone. There are 20 variations of basic Spey Casts, all of which need to be mastered. You could - and maybe should - spend one year just working on anchors.

All of the above four areas need to be honed on a regularly basis. Often the first thing that would drop out of my casting when fishing New Zealand, would not being able to comfortably make a long dynamic roll cast on a river. That event would see me training my casting again.

Here in Malaysia, not being able to put fly in place first time (ie on a saucer) will see me working on my shots.

Before championships I spend months working on my distance and accuracy games. Whenever I visit a country such as Spain to do a class, I will spend a month working on my presentation casts – because that’s one of their things.

When I used to examine for the IFF I would always practise my mends before a testing event because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to do them first time, every time  (and as far as I’m concerned you need to be able to walk the walk when examining!).

There is a vast amount of skills and casts to be practised. But that’s what keeps it interesting!

If you haven’t seen the bald guy video section then here it is:

Cheers, Paul