3 Different Fly Fishing Techniques

By Sam Feeder , last updated January 5, 2012

Different fly fishing techniques are key to being able to effectively fly fish in a number of different locations and settings. Opposed to other types of fishing, fly fishing is a very active form of this sport, requiring you to cast over and over again and move up and down a river to try to find better spots to fish. Because you are constantly moving, different ways of casting will be necessary to avoid losing your fly and also landing your fly in choice still spots on the river, where the fish will most likely feed. Check out 3 different fly fishing techniques below and start practicing them before your big fishing trip, so you can be as well rounded as possible when casting. It's usually best to practice these fly fishing techniques in a big open lawn before you head out to the water.

Overhead Cast

This is the most common fly fishing technique is the overhead cast where the line is whipped back over your head over and over again and laid out on the water in a specific place. There are two portions to this cast technique: the back cast and then the forward cast. You will first want to pull your line out into the water so that it drifts out in front of you a short distance. Then lift the pole and subsequently the line up out of the water so that the fly and line go directly behind you. Before the fly touches the ground or the water behind you, bring the pole forward, initiating your forward cast. This momentum of this will pull more line off the reel, so you will need to have some unspooled from the reel so the line can get longer and you can land it exactly where you want it, like a fly floating out of the air onto the surface.

Roll Cast

When you have obstructions behind you and can't get the full overhead cast motion going, you will have to use the roll cast to successfully land your fly where the fish are biting. The way to do the roll cast entails lifting the rod to about one o'clock, or just past your ear. This will slide the line back without completely taking it off the water. Then you will need to do a firm forward cast and the line will leap off the surface of the water, jumping to where you want it to land. Whipping this back and forth over and over again will allow you to stretch this line out significantly as well, so you can still land your fly a good distance away.


Nymphing is basically like fishing with a lure underwater, except with a fly. This is also known as wet fly fishing, as the fly will be submerged and just drift in the water, below the surface, like a waterlogged bug that has fallen into the stream. This looks most convincing to fish when fishing on a fast moving body of water, where there is very little still surface. Simply attach the nymph fly to a rod and reel that you might use for bass fishing. Cast out upstream and allow the fly to drift down stream, falling underwater. Set the line to a certain length, so the fly can only drift so far past you. Then reel it in if you don't get a strike and cast it upstream all over again.

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