Fishing on the fly

(Whistler, BC; Aug. 15, 2016: Heli fishing to the headwaters of the Pitt River with Clint Goyette of Valley Fishing Guides. Photo: Joern Rohde/


Jeff Goodes and Owen Lloyd

Could a person learn to cast a fly rod using a digital delivered instruction?

Yes, you can develop a basic understanding of the mechanics of the skill to properly execute the motions, but developing the nuances required to successfully cast in a wide variety of places that the fish are prone to hide in, might only be achievable with one on one instruction.

The internet offers up ample information with insight to all levels of casting from styles to techniques, but that wealth of information is as much an asset as a problem. There are excellent videos and blogs to guide a novice fly fisher, but the act of fly fishing is a highly coordinated physical ballet of man and rod. It’s easy to watch and learn the techniques on an intellectual level, but much harder to put that knowledge into practice.

Fly fishing and by extension flay rod casting has a passionate following of enthusiasts bringing with them their own nuances of the skill. To that end there is a common thread to what constitutes a proper casting technique but within that framework there seems to be many different interpretations and some personalised modifications to movements.

A novice can dive deep into theoretical information covering techniques and equipment; watch instructional videos and read online content, at which point the learner would have enough knowledge to try a novice cast. They could use an app to find a nearby river or stream for fly fishing, get a fishing licence and learn about fishing seasons. Then, poised by the side of a rushing stream, they could attempt a perfect cast. If they ran into trouble, they could rush back to the computer and review the many steps of a proper fly cast in slow motion, and look for problem-solving tips. At this point however, without one-to-one input, there is the danger of not being able to master the proper form.

To that end, virtual one-to-one feedback could be provided through the implementation of video markup software such as  Coaches Eye. This video recording application is available as a mobile app and allows for a user to record their own activities, submit the video to a coach via email. A certified coach could be located from the  Federation of Flyfishers web site, and then the coach would be able to markup the provided video drawing attention to errors of technique and motion. In this way, a learner would gain valuable insight from direct analysis of their physical movements.

However, when all this is said and done, would successful learning be achieved to an appropriate level enabling a “proper cast”?

That could only be answered by time spent on the water honing the skills learned.

Sounds like some relaxing homework is in order.



Chris Myers. (2016). How to fly fish. Retrieved from

Government of Ontario (n.d.) Fishing Licence. Retrieved from

Federation of Flyfishers: Governing body with a database of certified instructor and a full library of video and instructionals.

Youtube: tutorial videos. online user forum.

3 thoughts on “Fishing on the fly

  1. This post has me thinking! I have never gone fishing before, but I imagined it to very much be a learn-through-doing experience. However, seeing the variety of learning tools, including the videos, the step-by-step process and the coaching that can be received digitally – definitely has me reflecting on that assumption. These different modalities of interacting with the skill, takes into account a kind of analysis and learning that may not otherwise occur if one simply casts out a rod.

  2. Hello Jeff, thank you for your blog on fly fishing. I tremendously enjoyed learning about the topic. I lived in Minneapolis, MN for many years, went to University there. Heck I spent a year and half in Fargo, ND as well. No place gets more Midwesterner than that place😉. Minnesota is called State of 10,000 lakes, so if you are not drinking on the water than you are fishing and that’s how I learnt to fish when I was going to school there. My brother and sister-in-law are ardent fishing people and hence my penchant for fishing began after spending summers with them. Having said that, fly fishing is a different animal. That was the first time I learnt the terms dry fly fishing and learn to nymph fish. I practiced different nymphing techniques to fish sub-surface flies.

    I really enjoyed the different apps, videos, blogs you shared with us and your take on the subject of “could successful learning be achieved to an appropriate level enabling a “proper cast”? In this particular instance I have to say it’s the Learning by doing approach and agree with your sentiment “That could only be answered by time spent on the water honing the skills learned”. The name of the game is Practice, Practice, Practice.

  3. Hey Jeff and Owen,

    I love the play-by-play of the learner attempting to navigate the abundance of resources and/or type of resources for that matter via online. Having never ‘Fly Fished’ before, I found the post very informative at the dame time. I particularly liked the addition of virtual coaching, as I have been involved with such things before and used those types of programs to teach as well. Depending on the skill being obtained, it can be a great asset to both educator and learner alike. I am curious if you found a lot of conflicting information in how to fly fish? or was most mainstream. Thanks again for the great and informative post, Cheers Mark

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