If you've ever been to a fly fishing show and watched folks compete in a distance casting competition, it really is a thing of beauty. While some of the casting styles can appear very exaggerated or even a bit unorthodox compared to what you may be used to, these talented guys and gals still incorporate the basics. From using a strong double haul to nailing the timing of each casting stroke, these folks can cast a line with robotic precision, consistency, and distance. It sure pays to practice the core techniques, but that's not to say there aren't a few little tricks that can be used to add on some precious extra feet.
An easy way to achieve some additional distance is by changing the angle of the cast. Envision casting on a horizontal plane. When you shoot the line on your final front stroke it travels a decent distance, but since it was released basically horizontal to the ground, the line will hit the ground pretty quickly once the loop lays out.
Now, think about a cast where on your final stroke you aim and shoot the line at more of an upwards angle. After the line is released, it is traveling not just out, but both out and up. This gives the line some elevation and allows it to travel a longer distance before it falls back down to earth. It's just like a quarterback throwing a football; a short pass can be thrown on a flat horizontal path, whereas if he's chucking a long bomb downfield the ball needs to lofted more to reach the further target.
The best way to gain some height is to first let the line settle a bit lower on the back stroke before starting the front stroke. By letting the line drop a bit in the back, you'll be able to finish the front stroke a little higher while still maintaining a nice straight path with the line. If the line on your back stroke is up high and straight back when starting the front stroke, when you try to finish higher in the front you'll be deviating from a totally straight line path. Also, incorporating drift on the back stroke helps a lot when letting the line drop and for transitioning into the front stroke, too.
Whether in a friendly competition or just trying to reach that distant fish, being able to cast further is a useful skill. Not only is it useful, but it's both a confidence booster and a total blast, too! When you shoot the line at even a slightly higher angle, you'll see your fly touch down with an instant gain in distance....and what fly angler wouldn't like that?