It is indeed possible to sometimes go trout flyfishing without doing any fly-casting*. The casting act is the most difficult and intimidating part for beginners. So sometimes, when starting out a beginner, I skip the casting part entirely. That way, they can get a fish on the line more easily and quickly, which does wonders for novice enthusiasms.
All that’s needed is a trout river/stream/brook with some current. Rig up with a 9-foot leader tapered to 4X, say, and tie on a small, weighted nymph–a size 14 Hare’s Ear is usually a good choice just about anywhere.
I have the person stand in the current above a likely trout lie. A riffle above a deeper pool is the usual scenario. Drop the leader and fly in the water, then shake out 15 to 20 feet of additional line just by wiggling the rod. Put the line coming off the reel tightly under the index finger of your rod hand, and you’re all set.
By moving the rod slowly back and forth horizontally, the nymph is made to swing back and forth in the current. No casting is needed. After a while a trout will whack the fly. I can almost guarantee this. just as I can almost guarantee the shrieks of fright and delight on the new angler’s part.
What this brings is flyfishing success in the least complicated way possible. It allows people to discover they can “do” flyfishing. It works for people who are naturally athletic. And it works for klutzes, too. Fly-casting lessons will come later, after a few fish have provided motivation and reinforcement.
I think one of the great problems in flyfishing is that we old guys tend to over-instruct. Our enthusiasm leads us to tell novices more than they need or want to know. This also happens to be more than they can possibly absorb in an initial session. And lacking experience, they have no way to choose when swarmed with a plethora of advice.
So take it easy on them. Flyfishing without fly-casting is one good way to do it.
*Note that I am not referring to Tenkara fishing, which is somewhat similar and can be done in much the same way. Beginners, though, are much more likely to have standard fly gear, so that’s what I’m describing.