Many casts you make while nymphing are very short so short your fly line may never make it past your rod tip. Other times, especially while traditional or indicator nymphing, longer casts are needed to reach the fish, but you have to keep your line in check so it doesn’t cause your flies to drag. It’s a lot to juggle. But casting and line management are all part of the fun and challenge of fly fishing.

There are, however, casting tricks and techniques that will set your nymphs up for the perfect drift. Once you get these casting skills under your belt, you’ll have the tools and confidence to catch trout with nymphs in any river.

brown on nymph

Let’s kick things off with a highly useful cast brought to light by the famous nymph angler, Joe Humphreys…

Using the correct fly line for nymphing is essential. I’ve really come to love using the AIRFLO Kelly Gallop Nymphing Line (link to check it out on Amazon)

The Tuck Cast

The Tuck Cast is used to help solve one of the biggest challenges in nymph fishing getting your flies to sink to the bottom as fast as possible.

How to perform the Tuck Cast:

  1. Start by making a normal cast pick up the line, backcast, then forward cast.
  2. At the end of the forward cast, abruptly stop the rod tip and give it a quick lift. This will cause your leader and flies to turn over completely and with your flies landing in the water before the line.

When performing the lift at the end of the cast, don’t be too aggressive. Too much oomph in your lift and your flies will likely bounce back toward you. You want just enough power to flip the flies over and have them drop straight into the water.

The Tuck Cast can and should be used whenever you’re fishing nymphs. It works great when fishing a traditional nymph rig and is particularly effective when fishing nymphs on an intermediate or full sinking line. You can also do the Tuck Cast with a two-fly indicator rig, but you’ll have to get a feel for just the right amount of lift or else your flies, weight, and indicator may end up a jumbled mess.

The Roll Cast

The Roll Cast should be considered a mandatory fly cast no matter what style of flies you’re fishing. Eliminating the need for a complete false cast, the roll cast makes it possible to cast in tight spots and is simply an efficient way to make repeated casts to an area.

How to perform the Roll Cast:

  1. With your fly line in the water in front of you pointing the direction you’d like to cast, raise your rod tip up and back about 45 degrees from your body in a smooth sweeping motion.
  2. The line will lift off the water and as you bring your rod tip behind you, a “D” loop will form between the line and the rod.
  3. In a smooth accelerating movement, bring your rod forward to make the cast, stopping abruptly at the end.
  4. During the stroke, the rod will load from the tension of the line on the water, and as you sweep the rod forward, the line will peel off the surface and launch toward your target.

You’ll find the Roll Cast invaluable in a number of different fly fishing scenarios, but it’s especially helpful when fishing multi-fly indicator rigs with lots of weight. Without the need for a back cast, your leader spends minimal time in the air, reducing the risk of a tangle.

Having the right setup can make all the difference nymph fly fishing. I’ve written an article. The Best Nymph Fishing Rod, Reel and Line.

The Downstream Water Load

Similar to the Roll Cast, using a downstream water load is a great way to send your flies back upstream for another drift without making a back cast.

How to perform the downstream water load:

  1. After drifting your flies through a run, let your flies drift all the way past you so they hang in the current. You should feel tension on your line as the line and flies drag in the current.
  2. In one smooth motion, lift your rod tip up and flip your flies back upstream.
  3. You should feel your rod load from the tension of the line on the water, providing the power to complete the cast.
  4. This simple casting procedure is very efficient and perfectly suited for Euro nymphing techniques in which many short casts are made repeatedly.
  5. With the downstream water load, your flies spend less time in the air and more time in the water where they’ll catch fish.

The Reach Cast

In previous articles on nymph fishing, we talked a lot about how to achieve a drag-free drift to make your artificial nymphs seem as real as possible. What we didn’t cover, however, was one of the most helpful casts you can do to set your nymphs up for a great drift before they ever touch the water. Slack must be introduced into the line and leader as soon as possible so the flies don’t drag, and the best way to do that is with a Reach Cast.

How to perform a Reach Cast:

  1. Start with a basic cast pick up the line, backcast, then forward cast.
  2. As your line flies forward on the forward cast, move your fly rod out to the right, extending your arm to increase your reach.
  3. As you extend your rod to the side, allow line to slip out of your line hand and shoot through the guides. This lets the line roll out nice and smooth and helps improve accuracy.

If all goes well, your fly will land on the water with a bunch of slack in your line upstream of your fly. That slack will ensure that your line doesn’t pull on your fly from the very beginning of your drift.

Mending Line

Mending line is the simple act of throwing slack into your fly line while your fly drifts downstream. And if you’re fishing a nymphing style that depends on a drag-free drift traditional and indicator nymphing plan on making lots and lots of line mends.

But don’t worry, mending line is easy. During a drift, if you see your flies or strike indicator dragging moving slower or faster than the current or causing wakes here’s what you do:

Raise your rod tip to lift your line off the water, then in one smooth stroke, move the rod tip upstream to reposition the fly line on the water. This extra slack will take pressure off your flies for a more natural drift. Of course, you can also mend your line downstream if you need your flies to speed up.

A Cast for Every Occasion

That’s about it! Keeping your flies drifting naturally is one of the most important keys to nymph fishing, and learning these five casting techniques will help you do just that. Get your flies deep with a tuck cast, cast in tight quarters with a roll cast, and save time with the downstream water load. Then all you have to do is mend your line whenever those flies start dragging. But of course, all that’s much easier said than done!

Related Articles for Casting While Fly Fishing

Learn about casting big heavy nymph setups in this article. Casting Heavy Mult-Fly Nymph Rigs.

A really easy casting setup is the Chuck and Duck. Read about this setup in this article. Setting up a Chuck and Duck Rig for Fly Fishing

You need to recognize when to use different weight. Learn more in this article. When to Use Split Shot Fly Fishing.