Slowing Down and Casting Easier Can Improve Your Fly Cast

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Fly casting can often be improved by slowing down and casting easier. Photo Louis Cahill

Slowing down and backing off the power will help out your fly cast.

Read the title of this post and try to live by it.It’s my attempt in “one sentence”, to help fly anglers quickly improve their fly casting, and it’s made me twice fly caster and fisherman I am today. There’s lots more to fly casting than slowing down and casting easier, but if anglers focus on doing both together, they often will find that it can greatly improve their overall technique and control. Ask any professional sports athlete how they maximize their performance and potential, and almost all will reply with excellent technique. It’s no different in fly casting. If you want your fly casting to reach its full potential, you have to first build a strong foundation of fly casting mechanics and principles that you can consistently live by on the water. I’ve found personally that when I take the time to slow down and cast the fly rod with less power, it’s much easier for me to focus on the most important element of my fly casting, my technique.

Let your fly rod do the work

I’ve noticed a great deal of fly fisherman over the years cast with a tempo that’s too fast (rushing their cast), and they also often apply far too much power during their casting stroke. The majority of fly anglers that fall into this category are usually intermediate fly casters. They’re generally skilled enough to fish multiple types of rigs and cast their flies close enough to their targets to catch fish, but they’re approach has them expending far too much energy in the process. Furthermore, this style of casting usually yields a casting stroke that is slightly out of control, creates loops that are inefficient (sloppy) and presentations generally suffer. Put all these negatives together and you’ve got a fly rod that’s not able to perform its job effectively. Remember to always let the fly rod do the work, don’t try to be the power house. It will only work against you in the long run.

Why slowing down and backing off the power will help your fly cast out

First, by slowing down and watching your forward and back cast, you’re going to improve your timing and eliminate the creation of slack, because you’ll be matching the pause length correctly to the amount of fly line your casting. Second, by decreasing your power and casting easier, you’ll find it easier to smoothly accelerate your fly rod through your casting stroke, and keep it traveling in a straight line path throughout the cast. And because you’re not overpowering the rod, similar to flooring the gas pedal in your car, you’ll be able to feel the rod loading and stop the fly rod more abruptly (at its fastest point during the casting stroke). This will allow you to form more uniform and aerodynamic loops that will transfer the energy more efficiently from your fly rod, down through your fly line and leader, to your fly. You’ll find this all translates into you achieving the highest level of technique and efficiency in your fly casting, and your fly rod will be able to maximize it’s power and potential.

So what am I trying to emphasize here? If you cast too fast and too powerful, you’re going to find it very difficult to focus on your technique and it will suffer greatly. And if your technique isn’t where it needs to be in your fly casting, you’re overall casting mechanics will be lacking, and that my friend, will keep you from casting and fishing at your full potential. Not only will you be unable to get the most our of your fly rod, you’ll also greatly be impeding your ability to improve and advance your fly casting skills over time.

Next time you place a fly rod in your hand and hit the water, remember to slow down and cast easier. Doing so, you should find increased grace, and with grace, excellent technique follows.

Looking to fine-tune and dial in your fly casting? Check out our Gink & Gasoline hosted trip to the Bahamas at Andros South. We’ll be dedicating a portion of the trip to fly casting instruction for each of our group attendees.

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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19 thoughts on “Slowing Down and Casting Easier Can Improve Your Fly Cast

  1. Amen to that. Whenever I have problems in my cast, it’s usually related to my tempo (too fast) just like you said. It’s a bad habit that creeps up on me from time to time, until I realize it and have to make a conscious effort to slow down. It also tends to speed up when I get excited… A tempo that’s too fast definitely causes a lot of problems for me and it’s amazing what you can learn about your cast from slowing it down. I can hide poor technique at 20 or even 30ft, but when you’re making a 60ft cast to a tight spot, those bad habits will getcha every time.

    • Justin,

      Your a great fly fisherman and caster and I appreciate you taking the time to provide your opinion on this post. Thanks for the continued support and I’ll give you a shout when the fishing gets red hot. Hope your wife’s pregnancy is going smoothly and the baby is healthy.


      • Thanks a bunch Kent. I’ve always enjoyed talking/fishing/hanging out with you. One of your best qualities is how much you enjoy teaching others. Everytime I’ve spoken or fished with you I’ve learned something new. Hope to get back on the water with you again soon. If NCF is on, maybe a day stripping streamers is in order… The pregnancy has gone great so far. We hope to find out if it’s a boy or a girl in the next couple of weeks. Can’t wait…but I know there’s a little boy in there! Talk to ya soon!

  2. Amen! I am one of those “intermediate fly casters” and have been trying to force my casts lately. The other day I worked on slowing down and letting the rod do its job. Amazingly my sloppy presentations cleared right up. My father has a grace to his casting that I am always amazed at. Often times when on the water with him I will simply sit back and watch. As in all aspects of life I need to remember to simply slow down.

    • Adam,

      I wrote the post for anglers in your skill level, that are just on the brink of taking their fly casting game to the next level. I hope some of those tips help you out on the water and I thank you for taking the time to comment. I know it’s not the most exciting blog topic, but I put in a lot of effort trying to make it valuable for anglers like yourself.

      Have a good one.


  3. Agree with what was written.

    A fiberglass rod is not only a great fishing tool but also a great learning tool. It forces you to work with the rod as it is more easily overpowered than a stiffer graphite rod. It seems to provide much more feedback as the rod loads under its own weight rather than depending on a variable amount of force being applied by the line/flies. Adding an inexpensive glass rod to my quiver has made me a better caster in all situations not to mention that the dang thing is a ton of fun to fish.

    • Dean,

      It’s funny you bring up the fiberglass rod, because Louis and I were on the stream just yesterday fly fishing and he brought his Scott F2 7’0″ 3 weight. It had been quite a while since I had cast a rod that slow and soft, but it was fun as crap. I completely agree, that rods like that can help you get back to the fundamentals and improve your casting.

      We both landed some nice trout. Louis got a beautiful male brown about 18″ and 20″ hen rainbow to boot on the fiberglass. It was an exciting battle. Good thing I was there to help him net the fish. Thanks for the comment.


  4. I totally agree with Dean. I started on graphite like everybody else but only really learned to cast when I bought a bamboo rod and saw how poorly it worked for me. Rod was from a great maker so I knew the rod wasn’t the problem, the “nut behind the handle” was. I really started learning about timing, proper application of power, etc. and became a much better caster (still have alot to improve on though).
    Slowing down and learning the precise time to apply power allows you to use less overall effort but get better results. Just find some old footage of Lee Wulff casting 60 feet without any rod at all to prove that the rod isn’t the magic ingredient.
    Keep up the great blogs,

    • Jed,

      What length and weight bamboo fly rod did you get? I bet you would also like the fiberglass rods by some of the manufacturers these days. Good to hear from you. Thanks for the comment.


  5. Kent,
    I have an 8′ 5 at from Bill Oyster that I really like. Nice medium action that loads really nicely. Learned alot from that little rod.

    • Jed,

      If you ever want another, I’ve got a 7′ 6″ 4wt that I’ll sell you dirt cheap. I never use it because I’m afraid I’m going to damage it with my clumsy but. I took it up to Bill’s shop not long ago and he polished everything up for me.


  6. Kent,

    Great article, and something I regretfully have to remind myself of sometimes. Especially those days when I’m really excited to get on the water, you know, a new spot, big fish, prime conditions, etc. Whenever I start thinking, “man, my casting sucks today”, that light bulb goes off and I just have to rememeber to “slow down dummy”…works every time.

    Thanks as always

    • James,

      It’s always good to hear from you. I’m very happy you took the time to read the post and agree with the tip about slowing down. It is so easy to let that adrenaline and excitement get the best of us isn’t it.


  7. For the crossover fly angler and golf nut, watch Fred Couples hit balls on Youtube. He crushes the ball with the slowest most syrup-y cast, I mean swing.

    Casting is a game of rhythm and timing. Give a person trained in dance a fly rod and watch how quickly they “get it”.

    The best thing that ever happened to Lee Wulff was marrying Joan Salvato. I am not surprised that she is a trained dancer, a champion caster, and a helluva fine teacher, and one has to believe and an amazing influence on Lee.

  8. Pingback: Fly casting can often be improved by slowing down and casting easier - Bish on Fish in New Zealand Blog

  9. Kent Love, Love, Love your post on fly casting!!! It’s SPOT ON!!! As an FFF Certified Casting Instructor I can tell you that this one post will put more fly fishers on fish than any other post!!! When thinking about the amount of line out of your rod tip – we teach “short line – short stroke, long line -long stroke”. Often times we fail to adjust the length of our stroke to match the length of line out of the rod tip. Now if only we could learn to slow down our heart rate when we see that HOG rise on the other side of the river – we’d be just about perfect!! I’m still a “work in progress” on that one!! LOL Great Job Kent!!!

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