Learning to fly fish

learn to fly fish for trout in Ireland

My advice to anyone wanting to learn to fly fish in Ireland is to first get some fly fishing lessons from an qualified instructor. Fly fishing instructors are located throughout Ireland and have been trained to teach newcomers to the sport as well as those who want to improve their fly casting skills.

When you get fly fishing lessons, your instructor will offer advice on how to choose and buy your fly fishing rod, reel and fly line, what terminal tackle and flies to use and how to assemble everything correctly. You’ll be able to cut though the months, even years, of trial and error and measurably increase your chances of success on the water

It’s true, when learning to fly fish you could seek out the assistance of a knowledgeable friend or relative. This will probably get you the basics and set you on your way. However if you want to develop correct, accurate casting techniques and learn the range of different casts and when to use them, a casting instructor will have the experience and patience to guide you through the hard yards and deliver you to fly casting Nirvana.

Learning to cast a fly rod correctly will set you up to catch more fish because you’ll learn how to overcome the many challenging conditions that conspire to make catching fish difficult – wind direction and speed, bankside obstructions, variable currents.  For each fishing situation, there is a suitable cast that, if performed correctly, can increase your chances of catching that fish.

There are some key principles to learn and never forget. If you have been well taught, over time, these principles will become embedded in your mind and your casting will become instinctive.  You’ll automatically know when to deploy a particular cast in any given situation. The experienced fly caster has an armoury of different casts that they can use to overcome almost any problem.

In general, you’ll need a wider range of casts when fishing rivers. Unlike lakes, rivers are often full of variety and constantly changing around every bend. Currents – fast and slow, rocks – hidden and visible, glides, riffles, deep pools, overhanging foliage, even a herd of cattle following you. There can be a lot to deal with, especially if you’re standing thigh-deep in a pacy current.   

Along with the basic overhead cast, you’ll want to roll cast and perhaps even use some Spey casting techniques. The various line mending casts will be invaluable as will the ability to use line hauling to achieve distance or deal with wind – single haul and double haul.  A good fly fishing instructor will teach you how to choose and perform the correct casts to meet any given situation.

Your fly casting instructor can show you how to achieve those nice tight loops in your fly cast to enable optimum presentation of the fly. Over time, anyone can develop bad habits and poor technique can creep into our casting. The good fly casting teacher can identify and diagnose these faults and help you iron them out.

To supplement your fly fishing lessons,  there are also plenty of books and YouTube videos to help you learn and perfect your casting skills. As we all know, there’s a lot of useless content on YouTube and plenty of bluffers and self-styled gurus. However, there is a lot of quality content as well.  I always enjoy watching classic material from the established masters such as Joan Wullf or Lefty Kreh. Casting tips and lessons from Simon Gawesworth are also good.

Fly casting books are useful as a reference and can be great to help troubleshoot problems. Here are a couple that I have used and can recommend:

Flycasting Skills for Beginner and Expert by John Symmonds & Philip Maher

Master the Cast | Fly Casting in Seven Lessons by George V Roberts Jnr.

Whatever your ambitions in flyfishing, you’ll always benefit from fly casting tuition delivered by a qualified instructor. For a list of qualified instructors in your area, consider contacting APGAI Ireland (Association of Professional Game Angling Instructors) or your local fishing club.  

Inland Fisheries Ireland also have directory of Instructors and general fishing guides throughout Ireland

To contact me for fly fishing and casting lessons or for help with finding an instructor in your area – CONTACT 

APGAI Ireland

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