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The Art of NOT False Casting

The Art of NOT False Casting
by TJ Ferreira

False casting has a certain romantic magic about it when it is done out on a river. Enough romance with false casting that it can be considered that money shot in a film or money shot while demonstrating how to cast a fly rod.

At this year’s International Sportsman Expo (ISE for short), Tenkara USA had a booth right near the main casting pool.  It was a great spot where we could easily escort folks fascinated with tenkara over to the pool, lean over the curtain, and start casting away at the targets in the pool, even as other people zipped their lines right past our ears. We didn’t need much space.

Having this prime real-estate at a Fly Fishing Expo is a great thing but it also meant we had watch others casting, for the good or bad, all day long.  Some folks cast wonderfully. Some not so much. But there was one common thing that I saw all day long that started making my arm ache – and I was not even the caster at the time.

What made me tired was how much false casting folks thought they had to do to get an accurate cast to the first hoola-hoop in the pool, some 25 feet away.  I stared in amazement that some folks seemed to false cast for a minute or two before they laid the fly on target.  I quickly thought to myself, “man if I had to do that all day, I would be pooped”.

During the show I kept an eye at the casting pond when people went up to the casting platform.  At first you would see a caster walk up to the platform, strip out a whole bunch of line making the reel make that fun sqreeeeel it makes when you zip out line (I am sure the trout love that sound) – screeel—-screeeeel——screeeeeeeeel – and with a ton of line at their feet, they would start the long false-casting sequence to present a fly at the 1st target. Along with this cast a good chunk of their heavy flyline plopped on the water and made a decent ruckus and splash-down.

The false-casting festival would be interrupted only for Daniel’s daily casting demos. During his demos the story went a little differently.  In contrast, Daniel walked to the platform, quietly slipped the level line off a little blue ring we call a Line Holder, extended the rod (usually a part of the demo where eyes would open wide in amazement at the telescopic rod). He would then lift the rod up to the noon position and with a quick flick of his wrist and his arm stopping at the 10AM position, out flew a skinny and comparatively light line. The fly seemed to be a projectile, flying towards those same hoola-hoops with a purpose. The hookless kebari landed right in the middle of the hoola-hoop. No big splash. Just an accurate presentation of a small non weighted fly and a little tippet made its gentle announcement.

There was no wasted motion, no back-and-forth with the line in the air making the fly become dizzy. No smoke signal of “hey mr and mrs trout, look at me flickering this line above your head making snaps crackles of pops of the line alerting to you I am about to show up at your doorstep with an offer you can’t refuse.”

I have often heard that a fly fishermans 1st cast to a spot is the most important. If you fail at that, there is less chance you will have a fun tug and wiggle at the end of your fly line. In many mountain streams at around 20’ to 45’ away lies your little wiggly slippery friend and it makes much sense not to scare him off if you want to kiss his snout.

During the show I asked myself, “what would I prefer: a pesky noisy door-to-door salesman come knocking on my door? Or a silent email from a social media salesman gently chiming my email system with a YOU GOT MAIL about what they are selling me for the day.”  I say I prefer a quiet email, please!

I bet the trout think the same way and much prefer a silent offering. Something that would not give the trout time to think about what has just plopped in front of them. A nice juicy bug they can enjoy in the comfort of their own home.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy a periodic false cast, but most of the time there is a purpose for it.  The two times I false cast is to dry off my fly a little, or if my casting that day is not great, a few false casts seems to get my timing back so I can enjoy more precise casting to those little pockets we enjoy.

In fact, if you watch Dr. Ishigaki, he sometimes dries off his flies with an above head circular motion of the kebari rather than casting over a trouts head back and forth possibly sending them scurrying away.  I may need to practice doing that and will be one less reason to false cast, even though I admit it can be fun.  Of course circular motions of a kebari above your own noggin can be just as invigorating!

So please, false cast every so often. It is not a bad thing. But make it useful and don’t dilly dally all day on it.  For one your arm will get tired. And, unless it serves a purpose, keep your arm strength for landing that trophy fish you will catch when you make just one silent cast to it some 25ft away.