Some thoughts on fly casting for the beginner...
In my 40 plus years fly fishing, I have learned a few things that I know to be absolutely true and one of those things is that learning to fly cast is the single most important thing a beginner must do. It is my very strong belief that not learning to fly cast is the biggest reason that many beginners give up before they have really started. If you cannot at least cast a fly rod 20-40 feet, none of the other information contained on these pages will be of any value to you.
Unlike all other kinds of fishing, fly casting cannot be learned in an afternoon or two and for many...including me, it is never truly mastered. Learning to cast can be done in several way. The first and best way is to get instruction either individually or in a group by someone who is a legitimate instructor...not just a neighbor or friend. Properly learning the basics of casting builds a strong foundation on which to build everything else. Most fly fishers either did not learn to cast from a good teacher or, if they did, they have developed bad habits over time. If you learn from someone with a bad habit(s) or poor technique, you will most certainly learn those bad habits or techniques. Although there are several dozen different "fly casts" for just about every fishing situation and condition imaginable, there is just one of these casts that is the foundation for learning the rest of them. The basic overhead cast is the foundation for all other casts...and practice is the key! The traditional overhead cast is, by far, the most important cast to learn properly. Once you become proficient with this cast, all others will be easier to learn as you add them to your arsenal of skills.
If you do not have access to a legitimate casting instructor, the others ways you can learn casting is from that neighbor or friend and by watching several of the hundreds of fly casting videos that are readily available on the internet. I would suggest that if you choose this method, you watch several videos on the overhead cast before even picking up a fly rod. By doing this, you will at least see and be aware of the proper techniques so that when you do start casting with a rod, regardless of who is helping you, you will be less likely to pick up any bad habits. At the end of this section on casting, I have included links to several instructional videos that I believe are very well done by skilled instructors.
If you just randomly watch fly fishing videos, you will see many where the fly caster/fisher is not doing what you will see in the proper instructional videos. Many of the things you see on these random videos are simply variations of a basic and proper cast in order to "adjust" to their specific fishing situation or other conditions like wind. You will hear and read quite a lot about keeping the fly rod between 10 o'clock on the forward cast and 2 o'clock on the back cast. You will see many fly fishing videos that do not conform to this "10 to 2" principle. Many videos you will see are done by accomplished fly fishers but they have "adjusted" their technique to fit the situation. Once you have truly learned the basics, you too will, over time, naturally learn to adjust your casting to deal with different and changing conditions you will encounter. So, really learn the basics first and practice, practice and practice some more so that when the time comes, you too will know enough to be able to these adjustments.