7 Tips For Making Better Backhand Fly Casts

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A Perfect Presentation Photo by Louis Cahill

A Perfect Presentation Photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

Better Backhand Casting Is All In Your Head. If you are struggling to make a backhand cast, the problem is mental, not physical.

I can’t tell you how many anglers have told me they have a weak or poor backhand cast, or can’t make one at all. It often comes up when we are deciding who’s fishing on which end of the boat. My answer is always, “It makes no difference to me,” and it really shouldn’t to you either. The truth is, if you can make a forward cast you can not only make a backhand cast, you’re doing it already.

The fly cast is symmetrical. It’s impossible to make a good forward cast without first making a good back cast. All of the skills you need to present that back cast successfully are already in use to make a good back cast. Once you get your head around that, making a good backhand cast is almost automatic. The problems happen when anglers change their casting technique to make a backhand cast. It’s all in how you think about it.

Here are a couple of tips to help you make a better backhand cast.

Don’t try to cast across your body

Most anglers approach the backhand cast by trying to throw a cast directly out to their side, by casting across their body. If you are very strong and really understand the casting stroke, this is doable but it’s usually a recipe for disaster. Take advantage of your body’s natural strength and muscle memory by turning your back on your target and looking over your shoulder. This is even easier if you are comfortable with a sidearm cast.

Keep the stroke short

Another common problem is using too long a casting stroke. Psychologically, most anglers equate giving a cast power to using a longer stroke. This is of course not true. The length of your casting stroke is determined by the length of the line outside the tip top and nothing else.

Keep the rod moving in a straight line

Too many anglers, when trying to make a backhand cast, end up with a casting stroke that looks more like what you’d expect on a tennis court than a river. This is usually because they are breaking the first rule and casting across their body. Remember, that for a good fly cast, the tip of the rod must travel in a straight line.

Stop the rod

The energy which turns over the loop comes from the abrupt stop of the rod. When backhand casting, most anglers forget this and drop the tip of the rod on the presentation. This takes the energy out of the loop and it collapses. Stop your rod tip high and abruptly, and hold that position as the loop unrolls. You’ll be amazed how much power your loop has.

Bend your knees

An easy way to put more power in your cast is to bend your knees. This lowers your center of gravity and uses the strength of your core. Have you ever seen anyone hit a baseball or golf ball with their legs straight? It’s the same with a fly rod.

Don’t forget to double haul

Again, this is a thinking problem. Anglers think about making a backhand cast and forget to let their muscle memory do its thing. Your double haul is exactly the same, no matter which end of the cast you deliver.

Focus on your forward cast

I saved the best for last. You can eliminate most of these common backhand casting problems simply by focusing on your forward cast. That’s what your body knows how to do, so stop overthinking it. Just focus on making a good forward cast with a nice tight loop 180 degrees from your target. The rest will fall into place. What will blow your mind later is that making a good forward cast is all about focusing on making a perfect back cast. In the words of Morpheus, “Do you think that’s air you’re breathing?”

Get your head straight and your cast will follow. 


Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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3 thoughts on “7 Tips For Making Better Backhand Fly Casts

  1. To be fair when we were in Argentina and I was complaining about backhand casting I DID have a partially torn biceps!!! Still was a great trip! Good article and advice – I do lose some of my accuracy (left to right) with this technique. Guess I need more practice.

  2. Pingback: First Casts 04.20.16 - Orvis News

  3. Pingback: One Last Dry Fly Fest to End the Trip – Jeff Currier

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