The Bow and Arrow Cast

So you've learned your basic cast. 10 o'clock, 2 o'clock. You've fly fished enough to learn that the success of your roll cast depends on the alignment of the moons, what you had for breakfast and how many trout are rising in front of you.

You might have figured out how to throw a cross-body cast and maybe even a sidearm cast. But have you ever even heard of a bow-and-arrow cast? It's an easy one to add to your repertoire and will help you catch more fish.

If you fish enough rivers and streams, you'll eventually run into holding water where a conventional cast cannot place your fly anywhere close to the fish. In the Southeast, you might find yourself angling under a canopy of laurel and rhododendron.

In the West, you might be tight against willows or cottonwoods on the bank. For those hard-to-reach places, into pocket water, under limbs and spots where you have no backcast room, go to the bow-and-arrow cast to drop your fly on top of fish.

This is a cast you must first practice without a fly on your line. Take out two to four feet of fly line. Grab the tag end of the tippet between your forefinger and thumb. Leave no slack on the reel. With your rod hand, hold the fly line tight against the rod.

Point the rod tip toward the spot where you want the fly to land, extending your rod arm, holding the end of the tippet tight. Pull the tag end tighter until the rod tip bows. You should look somewhat like you are shooting an arrow.

With the rod tip held at a slight angle, and importantly—without moving the rod when you let go—release the tag end of the tippet. The end should drop softly wherever you were aiming.

Tie on a fly. Repeat the steps but insert this instruction: Grab the fly at the shank (the bend of the hook) between your forefinger and thumb. Be careful, folks. There's not much more painful or embarrassing an experience than impaling a thumb or finger just by trying to cast.

Again, if you have a decent amount of tension and the rod is bent back and you don't move the rod thrusting it forward—wherever you point it, that's where it's going to land.

You can also curve the bend of the rod to your left or right so you can get the fly under obstacles. You'll put your fly into tighter spots where no other anglers have fished, you'll catch more fish, and it's a cool-looking cast to boot.

Article © Mark D. Willliams, 2000

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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