Are lessons really necessary for beginners?


It depends on a number of factors imo...

Can you do a roll cast?
Do you want to cast well or just fish?
Do you have time to teach yourself?
Do you have time to practice a lot?
Do you have friends that can help you?

I think the biggest factors are time, and desire and focus if you want to teach yourself.

I think casting is pretty strait forward and easy with modern lines, if you just want to fish. And if you can figure out the modern lines.

There are many guys happily fishing along with good success who could benefit from some feedback for sure. Also, there are many really bad casters on a busy day on the river. I rarely see anybody who can cast very good at all.


Active Member
Depends on how you learn. Some people are able to watch videos and carry that knowledge to the river. Not me, I'm a tangible learner....I need someone on my shoulder.


Active Member
I never had a lesson for single hand casting and after 20 years thought I was doing okay. Then a buddy who is a casting instructor filmed my cast for me and I could see that I needed some help. He worked with me for a few days and it was very hard to break the bad habits I had developed over time. Just working with him for a couple of afternoons increased my distance and accuracy. Lesson learned when I started spey casting. I bought the videos and books and was about a month into it on my own when I finally got a few lessons. I had already started in with bad habits and the lessons corrected those. I guess I am like Panhandle, I need someone there to point out what I am doing wrong. I always suggest lessons so you don't start out with bad habits, because my own experience is that they are hard to break.
Depends on the individuals ability to grasp concepts, priciples, mechanics and then repeat them, is the determining factor on "Type" of lessons. I would say we all need "lessons", even now we are learning. I've never taken a Formal One on One lesson, but I've done plenty of "Correspondance" type study, like the internet, DVDs and books, as well as private feed back from PM or some stranger I've asked to help me on the river...

Though, I've never taken a formal lesson, I know I would benefit from one.



Well-Known Member
It depends . . .

I tried to teach myself to cast single hand as a teenager, and failed miserably. Got some lessons via the WFFC while in college, and it changed my life. For some dumb reason, I thought that since I was a pretty good single hand caster, I would take to Spey casting well enough. Hah! It wasn't until after a few lessons and more practice that my Spey casting became as effortless as single hand casting, altho it still has a way to go to become as stylish.



Active Member
Unlike single hand casting, there are so many variables in two hand casting, making it difficult for the novice to sort out everything in a logical order. Adding to the confusion, many THCI's concentrate on one particular style and rod/line setup. One of the best eyeopeners, for me, occurred during a discussion of the various styles, their place of origin, application to a particular problem, and could a particular style be beneficial to me, on any particular river, at any particular time?

And then there are the lines. Books have been written just on fly lines. Books have also been written on analyzing the cast. Do you have the ability to analyze a cast gone wrong, figure out why, and what you need to do to correct the cast? If not, then you could probably benefit from a lesson or two, now & then.
Because the fly fishing community in Virginia in the 1950's was sparce, I was a self-taught single hand caster. I eventually improved, but with difficulty: it took twenty years of failure before I learned to double haul. And single-hand casting is mostly about one cast: the overhead. With spey casting, we try to learn five or six casts, which are distinctive (until one gets to the latter, D-loop part). Spey casting almost demands competent coaching, both initial and remedial.

John Hicks

Owner and operator of Sea Run Pursuits
I am of the mind that everyone needs some on the water instruction. Whether it is by a competant friend or professional lessons, everyone can use it. It is the subtle nuances that can change your cast significantly with a double-handed rod.

I remember I was fishing the sandy a couple years ago, when a friend of mine who was fishing behind me said "Hey it looks like you could use a slight lift on the back of your D-loop formation" Bamb! huge difference, and something I would never have picked up myself. Another time I was fishing the Deschutes with a close friend who is a terrific two-handed caster. I noticed that he kept doing a Roll Cast to dredge his tip out of the water before starting his Snap-T. I casually showed him a Crecent lift and he was off and running. In the years he had been casting he had never learned that for one reason or another.

Two-Handed casting is a thousand little things that when put together properly, make for an effective way of putting a fly where you want it.
I don't regret one penny or one minute I spent on/in classes; for me it made a huge difference. I'm not a great caster now, but I'm a hell of a lot better than I would have been without them. A big shout out to Doug at Reds.
I went to a FFF recently and stopped by the Orvis booth. While there I signed up for a casting class. I have been FFishing for many years and can cast OK. Is it to the best of my ability? probly not. I learned by watching videos and asking a lot of questions on forums like this one and set out on my own. I hope this class will make me a better caster. I would look into free classes in your area and give it a try
I'd say yes if you want to become a competent TH rod practioner. I've gotten help from friends and professionals alike. My favorite professional looked at what I was doing and made a couple suggestions and my casting got better. He didn't try to make me into him but instead adjusted me to make me better. Now that's a great teacher, in my opinion. Of course one has to practice.
You can learn more in a day with a good casting instructor then you can learn in a month of fishing and casting alone. It is pretty simple, a casting instructor can not only break down you casting stroke, point out bad habits but also identify why and when you are doing something wrong. If the casting instructor is doing on the water teaching then you also have the ability to learn how to fish with a spey rod and at lengths you seldom reached with a single hander. I have had ten years of fishing they spey rod and every year I learn more with and without direction. Lots of which are lessons I relearn from back when I struggled. When I go back to the basics and ask what others see I am doing wrong, especially those friends that do teach, I am able to bring it all back together again. This always happens when I go from a Skagit sustained anchor casting stroke then move to a touch and go scandi then long bellies in the summer and fall.

The first day I ever spent on the river with a spey rod was with Steve Buckner, a THCI casting instructor and guide. Needless to say I was casting ok by the end of the day and even swung my first steelhead. Steve taught me the basic mechanics of spey casting and from there I was able to learn faster then I ever could on my own. He also helped apply it to swinging flies and trying to land fish with a spey rod. At the same time I have worked with or listened to many casting instructors that I thought were more casting geeks then actual fishermen. They may be able to teach casting or have a certification of some sort, but they are not always the person that can put it together in a way that allows for learning how to both cast but also how to fish with this equipment that a beginner just purchased. On the other side of that not all guides can teach proper casting and stick with what is easy to get their clients fishing using modern lines. Also in regards to modern lines, they will allow the beginner to fish faster, not cast better. If they did then the beginner would be able to adjust right away to any line and rod combo given to them, including mid-bellies and long lines.

Either way you go with or without an instructor, a dedicated person can figure this out. The real key is understanding that there is always more to learn. I find it funny seeing videos of spey fishing and the guys all do the same cast over and over again, regardless of wind direction, water speed, depth, how deep they are wading, etc. Is it because they were not taught fundamentals of what cast to use, or because they rely on the only cast they can do when they were self taught? Watching someone throw their D-Loop into the wind and eat flies is not funny the first time, but when you see them constantly do it, then you got to laugh because something is missing.

Upton O

Blind hog fisherman
Lessons for beginners? Naw, let them learn all of the bad techniques on their own so they can spend hours and money 20 years from now trying to unlearn them. And do NOT let them learn from a certified, talented instructor. Why should it be easy for them?
I would say no they aren't necessary, I'm self taught and I'm a competent caster. But for a beginner I would say they are highly recomended, in fact most everyone would benefit from a lesson or two. For a beginner they will cut the learning curve by years.