by Kirk Deeter


When there’s fast water between you and a target fish, don’t make a straight cast, because the current will grab your fly line and drag your fly. For a more natural presentation and a cleaner drift, you should make a reach cast—essentially mending your fly line in the air before it falls to the water. Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Measure out as much line as you think you need by false casting away from the target. It is difficult to shoot line and reach at the same time, so your distance should be extra precise.

Step 2: As you cast, the line will turn over on the forward stroke (A). As soon as all of the line unfurls in front of you, reach your casting arm in the direction the current is coming from (B).

Step 3: Make the reach with the rod tip still pointed at the 2 o’clock position (C). Not stopping the rod, or dropping the rod tip as you reach, defeats the purpose and fouls the presentation.

Step 4: In ideal conditions, you want your casting plane to be a couple of feet above the water’s surface, so everything unfurls, the line moves upstream, and the fly falls gently on target.

Illustration by Jason Lee