Fly fishing isn't as hard as some people make it out to be. It is more complicated than conventional fishing, but that doesn't mean it has to be complicated. To absolve confusion, make sure you learn the basics of casting, presentation, and fly choice.
The best cast for beginners is the roll cast. It's simple, effective, and challenging to get tangled. The roll cast requires an angler to keep their line in the water and bring the rod back behind them. The caster then flicks the rod forward. The tension between the water and the fly line loads the rod and gives the cast its momentum. When nymphing for trout, roll casting is the only cast needed. The standard overhead cast is something all fly anglers need to learn eventually. It has more room for failure than a roll cast; however, it provides more power, accuracy, and precision than a roll cast. Hold the fly line with your non-casting hand. Now imagine that the rod is the arm of a clock, and you're looking at yourself casting from a side angle. The backward casting stroke points the rod to 10 o'clock, and the forward casting stroke should point the rod to 2 o'clock. As you practice this, make sure you can feel the rod load under the weight on the line. It is easy for beginners to cast too quickly, which forfeits loading the rod and degrades your cast. There are many online tutorials for casting, and if you're looking for lessons, Fly and Field offers exceptional casting instruction.
Presentation is used to describe the way that a fly is shown to the fish. When fishing for trout, we are typically looking for a delicate presentation with minimal unnatural movement. For example, fish in streams know the speed of the current and will often refuse nymphs that are moving too fast or slow. Achieving a perfect dead-drift is very important when nymphing for trout. Excess slack in the fly line can cause the current to drag your flies through the water too fast. To remedy this, fly anglers will mend their fly line. Mending is a term used to describe the simple act of lifting the rod and moving the line. In streams, you will typically want to mend your line upstream; this prevents drag from occurring. A good mend doesn't move your indicator at all but moves the fly line in a way that promotes a dead drift. We also want our surface flies to dead-drift in the current. While fishing with dry flies, it's not easy to mend without moving your fly; however, it becomes possible with enough practice and finesse. Casting directly upstream can be an excellent way to eliminate the need for mending while fishing with dry flies. The presentation you use can depend significantly on the flies you're using, but most dry flies and nymphs should be dead-drifted.
Fly choice can be the most intimidating part of learning fly fishing. When people picture fly fishing, they think of dry flies. This is a nice image; however, 90% of trout feeding occurs below the surface. If you don't see fish actively rising, your best bet is to tie on nymphs. Choosing nymphs can be difficult, and it often depends on the specific driver that you're fishing. We have excellent fishing reports and blog posts to help you get familiar with our local rivers and lakes. Surface flies are easier to choose. You can typically find a fly floating on the water or hiding in the bushes to inform your fly choice.
In my opinion, the most important step for learning fly fishing is building confidence. Once you are confident in your casting, presentations, and fly choices, the fish won't stand a chance.