The Beginner’s Guide to Fly Fishing in Colorado: Part 3, How to Cast

Learning how to cast starts with your grip. Use your dominant hand to grab the rod and curl your fingers around the cork handle so your thumb is on top. Rest the bottom of the rod on your forearm to keep it stable. Your wrist should be locked. Use your other hand to let 10 or 15 feet of line off the reel so it’s dangling around your feet. Toss the line into your selected body of water, and use the following tips to get started:

1) Casting and Catching

Grab the rod with your dominant hand–think of it as giving the rod a nice, firm handshake. Curl your fingers around the cork handle and make certain your thumb is on top. Use your forearm as a resting spot for the butt of the rod, and keep your wrist locked.

Pull 10 to 15 feet of fly line off your reel and toss it onto the stream or river. Flick your wrist just as the fly line is leaving the surface so you send the line above and over your shoulder. Stop the tip of your rod quickly before it goes past the “2 o’clock position” so the line completely unfurls behind you. Remember, if you’re aiming for the 2 o’clock position, your head should be at the 12 o’clock position and your feet at the 6 o’clock position.

Once your line is fully extended and flying through the air, flick your wrist and forearm forward and quickly stop at the 10 o’clock position. Bring your rod tip down so it points out in front of you. This allows the fly to settle on the water.

2) Setting Your Hook

Once your fly is sitting pretty in the water, it’s time to wait for assorted fish to bite. Pinch the fly line so it’s against your cork grip as soon as you feel a fish biting. If you fail to pinch the line, it will slip through your guides.

Keep the fly line pinched and the rod tip high once a fish is biting, and reel the extra line with your other hand. Use the reel to help you with the fish. Keep repeating these instructions until you have a boatload full of fish, unless catch and release is your thing, of course!

3) Essential Flies

There’s no fly fishing in Colorado without the following 15 flies. Each have their own benefits, with preference generally coming down to what’s comfortable, what fish you’re attempting to catch, and where you’re fishing.

  • Pheasant Tail
  • Copper John
  • San Juan Worm
  • Gold-Ribbed Hare’s Ear
  • JuJu Emerger
  • RS2 Emerger
  • Prince
  • Parachute Adams
  • Gold Bead Biot Stone Fly
  • Stimulator
  • Parawulff
  • Dave’s Hopper
  • Rubber Leg Stimulator
  • Thunder Thighs Hopper
  • Woolly Bugger

There you have it: the basics of casting! Put these tips into practice and enjoy becoming one heck of an angler! Stay tuned for the final part of our Fly Fishing for Beginners Guide, publishing next week.


This post is part of a series on Fly Fishing for Beginners. Catch up on the other posts here:

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