Like tennis or golf, fly casting is a physical skill that is built incrementally over time. To become an accomplished fly caster requires two things: knowledgeable instruction and regular practice.
I’ve been teaching fly casting to anglers of all abilities for nearly 25 years. Among my most accomplished students is Sheila Hassan, who is the Director of the Wulff School of Fly Fishing and has authored two books on fly casting.
As my schedule allows, I’m available to work with a small number of students per season. I prefer to work with experienced fly anglers who are committed to developing their cast and are willing to put in the time and the work necessary. If you’re just getting into fly fishing, if you’ve had no formal instruction previously, or if you’re looking only for a single lesson, I may refer you to one of my advanced students, who will conduct the lesson and cover the same material as I would. For availability and rates, please inquire.
Please note that I have no affiliation with Fly Fishers International (FFI), and I cannot prepare you for their instructor certification exams. I teach fly casting only, with the goal of your becoming a more proficient fly angler.
Introductory fly casting lessons focus on fundamental concepts and techniques: fly-rod mechanics, rod-arm mechanics, the roll cast, the pick-up-and-lay-down cast, and line-hand functions. For beginning fly anglers, the objective will be to get you fishing with a fly rod—and catching fish—immediately. For experienced anglers who have had no previous formal instruction, the objective will be to ground you in the fundamental concepts, principles, and language of fly casting; to emphasize the strengths you’ve already developed; and to troubleshoot any difficulties you may be facing. The objective of introductory lessons is to get you on your way to building a solid basic fly casting stroke.
If you wish to use your own equipment, I suggest an 8 1/2- to 9-foot 5- or 6-weight rod outfitted with a weight-forward floating line.
I conduct introductory lessons on one of several ponds or lakes near my home on Massachusetts’s South Shore.
Beyond the Basics (Intermediate Casting)
As your casting stroke evolves over time with practice, there are a number of areas we could address in subsequent lessons. I would prefer to follow the curriculum laid out in Master the Cast: Fly Casting in Seven Lessons, but we could also cover such topics as oval casting or Spey casting with a single-handed rod (see below), or anything else you might like to learn. Your progress is limited only by your willingness to work.
Unless the lesson specifically requires water (e.g., Spey casting), I conduct intermediate lessons on one of several fields near my home on Massachusetts’s South Shore.
Advanced/Saltwater Fly Casting
Many of the students I’ve taught have been experienced saltwater anglers who have wanted to add distance and power to their cast. Here I recommend following a practice program in which you break the long cast into its smallest possible increments—beginning with the back cast—and master each increment before moving on to the next.
The objective of advanced instruction is to facilitate your becoming a longer and more powerful fly caster. Anyone who has taken lessons or seminars with me will tell you that I put major emphasis on the fundamentals, and advanced instruction is no different. You can expect an advanced lesson—that is, a lesson designed to help you increase your distance—to begin by focusing on the back cast, and all that it entails. Regardless of what other material we may cover in the lesson, it’s my intent that you leave the lesson and work exclusively on the back cast for several weeks before arranging further instruction.
For an advanced/saltwater lesson, I will require you to use an 8- to 10-weight fly rod strung with a weight-forward floating line—no intermediate, sink-tips, or sinking lines.
Advanced/saltwater lessons will be conducted at one of several fields near my home on Massachusetts’s South Shore.
Spey Casting Basics–Single- and Two-Handed Rods
A Spey casting lesson with a two-handed rod will begin by covering the basic roll cast and the live-line roll cast (switch cast). From there, we’ll progress to the circle C cast, which will allow a right-handed angler to fish when the river is flowing from his right to his left. Next, we’ll cover the double Spey, which will allow a right-handed angler to fish when water is flowing from left to right. These two basic Spey casts will allow you to start fishing wet flies and streamers from either bank using a two-handed fly rod.
Depending on your progression, we may cover two additional casts—the single Spey and the snake roll—or we can leave those to a future lesson, after you’ve had the opportunity to work on the basics.
A Spey casting lesson with a single-handed rod with cover virtually the same material.
For a lesson with a two-handed rod, I require that you provide your own equipment and that you outfit your rod with a full floating weight-forward Spey line or floating double taper line.
A Spey casting lesson with a single-handed rod requires no special equipment. Any single-handed rod outfitted with a floating weight-forward or floating double taper line will suffice.
Whether you’re interested in learning to Spey cast with a double- or single-handed rod, please keep in mind that a solid basic roll cast is prerequisite to learning how to Spey cast. The better your roll cast is when you meet with me, the more quickly the lesson will progress, and the better your Spey casting will be. Also, please note that a Spey casting lesson should not be the first instruction you take with a fly rod. I require you first take a lesson with a single-handed rod (with me or one of my advanced students) to ground you in the language and concepts of fly casting and to make sure your roll cast is solid before you attempt to learn how to Spey cast.
Spey casting lessons will be conducted on one of several ponds or lakes near my home on Massachusetts’s South Shore.
I am available, on a limited basis, to travel to your destination to conduct personal casting instruction or group seminars. For availability and rates, please inquire. Also, please take a look at my Events page to find a listing of upcoming seminars.
Video Analysis and Remote Coaching
Updated February 2018: Because of schedule constraints, I’m no longer taking on any new students for remote coaching/video analysis. However, I’m still available, on a very limited basis, to conduct private casting lessons and group seminars, as well as seminars on video fly casting analysis.
Because quality video is now accessible to the average person, and because there are now apps available that allow coaches to critically review video clips of athletic performance (e.g., Hudl Technique), I am able to offer video analysis and remote coaching to students of fly casting who may not be able to travel to my part of the world for personal instruction (or who are not able to arrange for me to visit them). To visit my page on video fly casting analysis, click here.
To read my recent blog post on using video analysis to improve your casting, click here.