Featured | Trout Tips

Tension is the key to every cast

As a longtime fly angler, the basics of casting are now almost completely intuitive. But I remember those early days of fly casting, and can recall how fraught with worry I was when I started fishing with anglers who possessed more experience.

Back then, I was less concerned with the opportunity to learn from better anglers (something I never take for granted today) than I was with the idea of looking like a complete idiot on the water. But a friend of mine gave me the best advice I’ve ever received when it comes to casting (and protecting my spotty rep, too).

“Every good cast begins with tension,” by fishing buddy explained. “If you don’t have tension, you really can’t cast much at all.”

Indeed, fly casting is an art grounded in physics. Line tension is the key to every successful cast. Tension loads the rod and tension creates everything from distance to accuracy to how delicate or deliberate your fly presentation turns out to be.

Loading the rod with tension provided by the water might seem like an advanced lesson in fly casting, but it’s perhaps the most important tip a new angler can possess. Watch above as Chris Walker from RIO Products demonstrates one of the most elementary acts as a fly angler — loading the rod using tension from the water. The result? A tight backcast and more tension provided by the fly line as the rod loads and a perfect forward cast back into the river.

Next time you take an angler new to fly fishing to the water, make this your first lesson. They’ll thank you for the rest of their angling lives.