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As a new fly fisherman, I started trying to teach myself from Youtube and good ole repetition. After a couple months of getting the basics under control I started feeling like I'd hit a wall.

Over the weekend my fiance suprised me with a fly fishing class focused on casting technique and how to catch redfish on the fly. I can say for certain that after a few hours with excellent instruction my timeline of progression has been accelerated. The benefits of the instruction were numerous, but most important to me is the knowledge of what to focus on in my practice. Now I can go out and spend 30-40 minutes of focused effort instead of flailing away for an hour or more trying to work on everything at once hoping I'm doing the right things.

For anyone interested, the class I took was out of Bay Street Outfitters in Beaufort, SC with Capt. John Hawthorne. I'd highly recommend it (or classes similar) for newer anglers looking to improve their fly fishing skills and/or knowledge of the local fisheries!
 

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I don't know If I am in a position to give advice on fly fishing. I suck at it still. I do not own a spinning rod and have not had one in years. I still take lessons when I can. I need all the help I can get. Taking lessons helps you shorten the curve of actually catching fish on the fly. Plus you get to meet other fly anglers and they may have some advice too. Grab a lesson, it's fun. That is my 4 th post in 11 years. I am getting there.
 

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I love sight fishing and some of my fishing buddies have really been pushing me to learn to Fly fish. I have a hand me down TFO 8 WT and received a basic tutorial.

Is fly fishing casting technique something you can pick up from other folks, watching videos, and practice....or is it recommended to get some basic instruction from a pro?

I used to teach firearm instruction and saw the consequences first hand of bad habits folks develop from casual instruction from a friend.

I live in the Tampa area so I'm sure I could find professional instruction, but would appreciate some perspective on whether it's necessary.
I used to look at a videos online then go out on my lawn and practice cast then go back in look at more videos then go back out and practice cast. After about 25,000 times I got comfortable. My cast probably looks like s-t but I can catch fish. (Sometimes) Think if your mates are into fly fishing at least one of them should be able to cast correctly. You can watch and work with him. Think the key is to make practice casting fun. I had a shepherd border collie mutt that would run outside whenever I grabbed my fly rod. She would lay on the grass with her back to me looking for squirrels so I’d step away and shoot casts (with yarn) and try and get the leader and tippet (very light tippet) to lay down between her ears. She didn’t seem to mind. Just an ear twitch occasionally. It forced me to lay down the line softly. For distance and accuracy practice if I’m on my boat and the fishing is slow I’ll throw a Dorito overboard and shoot casts at it as it drifts away. Not a bad way to practice double hauling. A half a dozen Fritos work well to for strips off the water and re-shooting with no false casts. I think someone in this thread said welcome to the addiction. Couldn’t agree more.
 

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I love sight fishing and some of my fishing buddies have really been pushing me to learn to Fly fish. I have a hand me down TFO 8 WT and received a basic tutorial.

Is fly fishing casting technique something you can pick up from other folks, watching videos, and practice....or is it recommended to get some basic instruction from a pro?

I used to teach firearm instruction and saw the consequences first hand of bad habits folks develop from casual instruction from a friend.

I live in the Tampa area so I'm sure I could find professional instruction, but would appreciate some perspective on whether it's necessary.
There are some really good videos out there but a lesson or two would speed up the learning process, I think. It’s an art but one in which good technique is important.
 

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Videos and books are fine tools but they are missing what I think is the most important factor. They can't give you feedback on whether you are doing it correctly or not. An instructor can teach you the same things the video does but they also can tell you exactly what you are doing well and what you aren't.

Example - I was taking a trip to Argentina. I have fly fished my entire life but had never used a two handed rod. So I got the recommended setup from the lodge I was going to and got a training video from RIO (Simon Gawesworth). And I spent a couple of hours learning the very basics. Mostly what the terminology used meant. Then I went and had a couple of lessons from an instructor who has a spey casting pond in his backyard. Huge advantages =
1. We didn't have to spend time during the lesson getting the communication straight. I had a basic understanding of the terminology so when he said something like I needed to move my anchor point further back I knew what he meant.
2. He could watch my casts and instantly tell me what I was doing mechanically wrong. Simple things that made the difference between an ok cast and a good one.

Would I have caught fish without having taken those couple of lessons? Probably.
Was I more effective in the fishing having taken those lessons? NO QUESTION!!
 

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Last year i got my first fly outfit and I have never tried to cast any fly setup yet. My wife got me lessons for xmas and I plan on starting from the very beginning. I didn't wnat to pick up any bad habits. Hopefully I made the right decision instead of losing 6 months.
 

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I still do both fly and spin in the CA surf. Never took lessons, but I should have. Still catch plenty of fish in the surf, and I agree that one fish on the fly is worth several on the coffee grinder. I remember a forum thread about why many anglers prefer fly fishing, and my favorite reply was the rush of adrenaline you get when a fish grabs a line you're holding in your hand. Especially when it's a 30" striper or silver coho in the salt, on a fly that you made yourself. BTW, if I was in Tampa I would check out the pompano fishery on your beaches, it looks like fun when the fish are in.
 

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There are two ways to learn things in life. 1) Thru your own trial and error 2) from listening to others (preferably pros)

Lessons from someone that knows what they are doing and how to teach it is always the best answer.

I attended a 2-day saltwater fly class at the Ocean Reef Club in Key Largo. It was $500 well spent and ended up being 1-on-1 instruction with the head of all Orvis fly instruction. I still suck because I didn't do a good job practicing afterwards but no regrets on the instruction.

Btw, also came with 20% of a new Orvis fly rod and I got to cast all of them and A-B compare to my own rod that I brought.
 

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Id advise it but I’m biased. A little help goes a long way. My dad and his two friends had so many people asking for “help” that they decided to become certified casting instructors and do formal lessons. At first they did it for free but now they charge $50 an hour which just covers their gas to get to lessons and buying some teaching rods. They teach anywhere from Nola to Tallahassee. It’s gulf coast fly fishing school. There are instructors all over the country though that can help. It’s more important to learn To feed fish which only comes with time on the water. Some of the best casters cant catch anything cause they don’t know how to feed fish. casting in a yard is one thing, casting on a moving boat at a moving fish in the wind and current and feeding a fish is another. Welcome to the addiction!
This is very true, I know great casters who can't feed fish and average casters who are some of the fishiest people I know. That said, you'll have more opportunity to feed fish if you can cast well. You can't feed a fish you can't reach.
 
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This is very true, I know great casters who can't feed fish and average casters who are some of the fishiest people I know. That said, you'll have more opportunity to feed fish if you can cast well. You can't feed a fish you can't reach.
While this is correct I also think it tends to be quite overblown in actually fishing. Certainly if you can cast 80ft that is better than 60 ft. But, and it depends a lot on the type of fishing you are doing, I think quickness and accuracy are way more important.

If you are fishing a lake for example from a boat or float tube then long casts are a big advantage especially if you can do so while using a long leader. You will just get bit more and by bigger fish. But in most saltwater applications how quick and accurately you can make a shot is more important. Fish shows itself at 40ft. You are going to have a short window in which to get the fly there before the fish moves off or sees the boat or.....Making that shot with minimal false casts and putting the fly in the honey hole is what is going to count. Not that you could cast twice as far as needed.
 

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There's no one right way to learn. And, fly fishing means a whole lot more than just fly casting. But, being able to cast a fly accurately at 50-60 feet in various wind conditions is a good beginning objective for a newbie. Once you can do that, consider yourself adequate (but NOT an expert). How quickly you can consistently accomplish that objective depends on many variables: lessons, books, videos, tips from friends, hours and hours of trial and error in lawn practice, going to fly fishing shows, etc. If you want to become adequate, you must practice ... it's a life-long commitment. I'm 75 (started fly fishing at 30) and still learning. While I've caught and released thousands of fish on a fly, I'm always looking to improve my casting distance, accuracy, hook-setting skills, understanding fish behavior, fly tying skills, understanding the dynamics of fly-line and rod dynamics, and on and on and on. That's what makes fly fishing such a great "hobby," there's no end to it. Not to mention that you'll meet many amazing people during the quest.
 

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While this is correct I also think it tends to be quite overblown in actually fishing. Certainly if you can cast 80ft that is better than 60 ft. But, and it depends a lot on the type of fishing you are doing, I think quickness and accuracy are way more important.

If you are fishing a lake for example from a boat or float tube then long casts are a big advantage especially if you can do so while using a long leader. You will just get bit more and by bigger fish. But in most saltwater applications how quick and accurately you can make a shot is more important. Fish shows itself at 40ft. You are going to have a short window in which to get the fly there before the fish moves off or sees the boat or.....Making that shot with minimal false casts and putting the fly in the honey hole is what is going to count. Not that you could cast twice as far as needed.
I always get a kick out of guys that say that they can hit a pie plate at 80’! Ya, I just landed a 50 lb. Red on 8lb. tippet!😎
 

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I’m in the Tampa area too. After getting a few “beginner” tips from Enver in the parking lot at Monsters and Minnows in Tampa, I tried it on my own for a while and also attended some clinics that are often put on by our local Fly Fishing Clubs. One of the best things I did was to get a lesson from Capt Rex Gudgel down in Englewood. He is a great guide, as well as a certified casting instructor. He will set up a day for you where you have a lesson casting at his house for 1 - 1.5 hours, then head over to the nearby marina and out on his boat for a few hours on the water. The immediate transition from lesson to the water was really helpful (I’m not too good at taking a lesson one week and remembering what happened a week later!).
 

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While this is correct I also think it tends to be quite overblown in actually fishing. Certainly if you can cast 80ft that is better than 60 ft. But, and it depends a lot on the type of fishing you are doing, I think quickness and accuracy are way more important.

If you are fishing a lake for example from a boat or float tube then long casts are a big advantage especially if you can do so while using a long leader. You will just get bit more and by bigger fish. But in most saltwater applications how quick and accurately you can make a shot is more important. Fish shows itself at 40ft. You are going to have a short window in which to get the fly there before the fish moves off or sees the boat or.....Making that shot with minimal false casts and putting the fly in the honey hole is what is going to count. Not that you could cast twice as far as needed.
Steve,

I had a situation this weekend where a fish was at the usual redfish distance of 30 feet, but the shot was into a stiff wind. The ability to cast long (develop line speed) would have helped the angler on the front of my boat reach the fish. Unfortunately it didn't happen. What I think is overblown is how much people dismiss being able to cast a good distance. It accommodates shorter cast in the wind, and developing the good form required for it will make you more accurate and usually results in quickness because you can load a rod. An angler improving his skill is never a bad thing.
 
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Steve,

I had a situation this weekend where a fish was at the usual redfish distance of 30 feet, but the shot was into a stiff wind. The ability to cast long (develop line speed) would have helped the angler on the front of my boat reach the fish. Unfortunately it didn't happen. What I think is overblown is how much people dismiss being able to cast a good distance. It accommodates shorter cast in the wind, and developing the good form required for it will make you more accurate and usually results in quickness because you can load a rod. An angler improving his skill is never a bad thing.
If you are in the Tampa Bay Area, I am impressed that you could get within 30 feet of a red here! I went out 2 weeks ago and despite every possible precaution, the fish spooked easily at 40-50 feet. I was able to throw to them, but even the slightest line slap would have them jetting away.

My expwerience getting closer to reds have been much better elsewhere in Florida.

Thus yet another reason (including dealing with wind) to get a few pro tips via lessons……….

Damned Tampa Bay reds!!!!!!!!!
 

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Steve,

I had a situation this weekend where a fish was at the usual redfish distance of 30 feet, but the shot was into a stiff wind. The ability to cast long (develop line speed) would have helped the angler on the front of my boat reach the fish. Unfortunately it didn't happen. What I think is overblown is how much people dismiss being able to cast a good distance. It accommodates shorter cast in the wind, and developing the good form required for it will make you more accurate and usually results in quickness because you can load a rod. An angler improving his skill is never a bad thing.
We'll just agree to disagree...actually not that much disagreement. Again that 30ft shot into the wind is tough. But being able to cast 80ft doesn't mean that you could do that 30ft shot into the wind with the time and accuracy needed. In reality for our redfish game a guy would be much better served to practice 30-40ft quick shots into the wind than learning how to cast 80ft. They are not the same thing.
 

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I love sight fishing and some of my fishing buddies have really been pushing me to learn to Fly fish. I have a hand me down TFO 8 WT and received a basic tutorial.

Is fly fishing casting technique something you can pick up from other folks, watching videos, and practice....or is it recommended to get some basic instruction from a pro?

I used to teach firearm instruction and saw the consequences first hand of bad habits folks develop from casual instruction from a friend.

I live in the Tampa area so I'm sure I could find professional instruction, but would appreciate some perspective on whether it's necessary.
Yes, not only do you flatten learning curve but you; 1) don’t form bad habits that take more time and $ to fix 2) waste money on gear that does not work for your particular cast 3) waste money when you go on trips and suck at casting 4) just don’t enjoy the experience as much. All this is my experience and I wish I would have paid for lessons a decade earlier.

Captain Mark Benson is at the Ritz Carlton in Orlando is amazing. In a few lessons he will have you off to a good start. His exercises for double hauling, getting tight loops and small things to practice weekly for muscle memory development were a game changer for me. He’s patient and very good at identifying stroke issues to correct.


Then there’s the practical side of doing it on the water, under pressure, with moving fish and the nuances of fighting and landing the fish that only doing it will develop. A good tip for this since you are in Tampa is to hit dock lights at night for snook. It’s a blast and will help you learn how fish react to a flys movement as your strip and how to strip set and land the fish. Also makes you more accurate with the tight quarters casting.
Good luck
 

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Let me clarify a bit my thoughts on fly casting practice and its where a lot of guys veer off path.

Preface it by starting with this: All practice is good. Some is better than others but in general practice is good.

So here goes. I think guys get too caught up in distance for the sake of distance. To me the best practice is to practice the fishing you are doing or preparing to go do. Simple example albeit extreme - You are getting ready to head to the mountains for trout. Practicing with your 12wt tarpon set up would be beyond stupid. And vice a versa.

But lets say you are practicing for a typical day in the marsh for big redfish. Then I would suggest that the practice you should be doing is with your 9 or 10 wt, a shorter than longer leader, and a big bulky baitish pattern. Then practice making those quick shots in the 30 ft range from 9 to 3 O'clock with no more than one backcast. Both forehand and backhand. Then some longer casts like 50-60 feet.

Point being to tailer your practice to the game in hand.
 

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If you are in the Tampa Bay Area, I am impressed that you could get within 30 feet of a red here! I went out 2 weeks ago and despite every possible precaution, the fish spooked easily at 40-50 feet. I was able to throw to them, but even the slightest line slap would have them jetting away.

My expwerience getting closer to reds have been much better elsewhere in Florida.

Thus yet another reason (including dealing with wind) to get a few pro tips via lessons……….

Damned Tampa Bay reds!!!!!!!!!
Our fish are usually a bit more approachable than that, but it doesn't mean they'll eat. Saturday I ran into a bunch of bull reds (over 20lbs) in shallow, unusually clear water. They weren't being boat shy and weren't spooking when a fly hit the water, but as soon as they saw the fly they would bolt. We went through different colors, patterns and sizes and it didn't make a difference. Back at the same place Monday they were eating much better.
 
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