CASTING A CONVENTIONAL REEL WITH NO CAST CONTROLS: Some people are afraid to try using a conventional casting reel with no cast controls because they fear that they will end up with bad line tangles. However, anyone can learn to cast a conventional reel with a little practice. Conventional reels are typically very rugged, simply made and have a lot of line capacity, so anglers targeting large, strong fish often use them. To cast a conventional reel, push the casting button or lever drag, place your thumb against the line on the spool, swing the rod from behind you to about a 45-degree angle in front, let go with your thumb for a split second, immediately touch the thumb gently against the spool to keep the line from overrunning and tangling, and apply more pressure as the lure touches the water. The extensive use of the thumb has led many instructors to describe experienced conventional reel anglers as having an "educated thumb." Anglers who take the time to practice and educate their thumbs will broaden their skills and may find that they enjoy the strength, simplicity and line capacity of a conventional reel.
CASTING A FLY ROD: Beginning fly anglers should learn the roll cast, the pick-up-and-put-down, and the shooting cast. For all 3 casts, it is helpful to think of oneself as standing in the middle of a clock, facing the 9, with the 3 behind, the 12 overhead and the 6 underfoot. The roll cast uses about 20 feet of line and is very good for casting in tight spaces, especially with trees or bushes behind. The angler slowly brings the rod slightly to the side and up to the 1 o'clock position, then quickly pushes the rod forward to the 9 o'clock position. The result is that the line rolls past the angler's side and forward out onto the water. The pick-up-and-put-down uses about 20 to 30 feet of line. With the line spread out in front, the angler brings the rod quickly up to the 1 o'clock position. The springing action of the rod flings the line out behind the angler. The angler pauses just long enough for the line to straighten out behind in mid-air, then quickly brings the rod forward to the 10 o'clock position. The springing action of the rod flings the line out in front of the angler. The angler then lowers the rod to the 9 o'clock position as the line settles onto the water. The shooting cast is essentially a pick-up-and-put-down cast, but the angler has extra line pulled off the reel, part of which is held in the non-casting hand until the rod reaches the 10 o'clock position, at which point it is allowed to shoot forward as the line springs forward and unfolds in the front cast. For more distance, some anglers like to move their shoulder toward the rear in the back-cast and move the shoulder to the front in the front-cast, while still following the 1 o'clock to 10 o'clock pattern. A tug on the line during the back cast and again at the beginning of the front cast (called a double-haul) can put a little more spring in the rod to fling the line a little harder and gain more distance. It is wise to practice casting on a treeless lawn without having a fly tied to the line. It is also wise to both practice and fish with protective sunglasses.