Why All Fly Anglers Should Be Watching Their Back Cast

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Louis Cahill Photography

Capt. Joel Dickey understands the importance of watching the backcast. Photo Louis Cahill

By Kent Klewein

No fly angler should ever feel ashamed to watch his/her back cast when fly fishing.

In fact, if you make a habit of consistently watching your back cast, you’ll become a much better fly caster overtime and catch a good deal more fish when you’re on the water. Just because Brad Pitt in the movie, A River Runs Through It, didn’t watch his back cast in most of the fly fishing scenes throughout the film, doesn’t mean fly anglers should follow his lead. The best fly casters in the world watch their back cast when presentations call for it. They might not do it all of the time, but they sure as heck don’t think twice about doing so, when a specific presentation calls for it.

The reason I’m taking the time to talk about this today is because most of my clients struggle with the idea of watching their back cast. From my point of view, they shy away from doing so, because they feel like they’re raising up a red flag that signals, “Hey everyone, I’m a rookie.” But that notion is completely untrue. In reality, if a more advanced fly caster walks up on you and you’re casting poorly because you’re not watching your back cast, he or she is probably going to be thinking, “That poor angler, all he/she needs to do is make an effort to watch his/her backcast and most of those casting flaws would disappear.” If you’ve hit a plateau with your fly casting skills, more times than not, the best thing you can do to take your skills to the next level is start paying more attention to watching your back cast. Put it to the test next time you’re on the water especially if you’re a newcomer or intermediate fly angler. And don’t think it only applies to trout fishing in freshwater, it can be just as important, sometimes even more important, when fly fishing in the salt.

4 Reasons Why Watching Your Back cast Can Improve Your Fly CAsting and Fishing

1. You’ll stay out of the overhanging trees and other stream bank foliage.

2. Your Timing will be much better, and better timing means less knots, more distance, and increased accuracy.

3. When making backcast presentations you’ll be able to aim more effectively because you’ll know where your fly is at all times during your false casting.

4. You’ll be able to diagnose casting flaws much easier because you’ll be able to compare your forward cast and your back cast to each other. 

Keep it Reel,

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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5 thoughts on “Why All Fly Anglers Should Be Watching Their Back Cast

  1. I totally agree. Every time I’m not satisfied with my casts I look back and check whats wrong. I have a solution for not feeling like a rookie: Don’t fish where there are other people around 🙂

    Plus looking at other peoples casting is like checking out other guys in the shower. If you’re anxious to see how their are “holding up” then you might be a little insecure about your own “rod”, right?

  2. I read this post another time an dhave adopted this aproach. It has helped me a tone. I was struggling with laying the rod down on the back cast and this technique helped fix that.

  3. I watch and I preach to watch. Spot on casting tip. Anglers can’t fix what they can’t see. Even the best casters can’t predict how wind may drift or slow their cast without looking. The only time not to look is when delivering to a moving target.

  4. Ditto all the above, I would like to add a 5th reason, watching your backcast is a necessity when casting in tight quarters. Rather than blindly casting to a ‘memorized’ spot, you can place the fly in the hole in the trees/shrub etc behind you, and then focus on what to do with that fly to get the presentation needed on the front end. I gotta admit, I am weak at this. A 6th would be that a new rod will behave differently and knowing what the backcast is doing is vital to knowing how to play the new rod. I just started using a bamboo rod and realized my tailing loop was due to poor backcast technique. I was only able to identify how to correct it by actually watching what it was doing. You folks have the best articles.

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