BOW AND ARROW CAST - A DEADLY CAST THAT IS NOT USED ENOUGH

This native cutthroat trout was taken by a bow and arrow cast while sight fishing in Northern Utah

This native cutthroat trout was taken by a bow and arrow cast while sight fishing in Northern Utah

The Bow and Arrow cast is a technique that few use.  You see this cast in photos because it looks so sexy.  However, the sex appeal is there because it is a highly effective technique.  Sadly most moderate to beginner anglers don’t use it often enough. Why is that?  Does the cast have too much style? Casting like that is too hard? Who knows why but I’ll tell you that you can do it and you can do it better tomorrow than you can today with a little practice.

First of all, why don’t you ever see anyone practicing this cast?  Oddly when you want to use the cast it is often on one of the best pieces of water in the run or river and all of a sudden the ah-ha moment occurs, “I’ll try a bow and arrow cast!”  Great idea with often poor execution. You’re likely a day late and a dollar short on that deal.

Take out your rod and cast around the house. Here is a great Super GLASS fly rod by Nirvana that is excellent for fishing small creeks. It is one of my favorites to take out and practice with.

Take out your rod and cast around the house. Here is a great Super GLASS fly rod by Nirvana that is excellent for fishing small creeks. It is one of my favorites to take out and practice with.

Instead, take some time to practice before you spook that hog out of its fortress of solitude!  Best of all you can practice at home! Bow and arrow casts are short and precise so no need to drive to the park or river.  Walk around the house and cast at anything you can think of. “Hey, can I get it under that shrub?” “I wonder if I can get it under the gas meter?” “What about in under the bumper?”  Use your imagination and go for it. One of my favorites is closing the garage door so it is only 6-10 inches open, then while standing in one place aiming under the door from left to right picking different target zones.





Tips for your practice session

  1. Imagine you are casting to a saucer-sized spot

    1. This is a close proximity cast so get good with accuracy

  2. Get your body low  

    1. Often you are shooting your cast into tight spaces and being low is key. Stoop down and or get on your knees.

  3. Flex it the right way

    1. Turn your rod so you are flexing it in alignment with the reel and eyelets. Now stop let the rod settle and release!

Tips for on the river

  1. Look before you go

    1. Don’t put that cast out there until you know where you want to go with the fish. Look for calmer water, keep the fish out of roots or sticks or any kind of other structure.  Sometimes you can’t avoid it but at least know where and what you want to do. Just be prepared for all hell to break loose.

  2. Be ready

    1. Your drift is likely going to be short and often the take is immediate. Remember all that practice of casting to a saucer-sized spot? Well, that was in anticipation of a tight spot with a short drift so be ready to react.  Have that trigger finger on the line.

  3. Learn how to set

    1. You are in tight casting zones such as underbrush or in the sticks so a lift set won’t cut it.  Instead, be prepared to strip set or what I like to call, “jerk set.” A jerk set is where you have your trigger finger on the line and you literally jerk the rod straight back past your hip for the set.  Think of it as pulling a rope in a tug of war.

If you haven’t tried them, the Mackay Specials are a staple for me when fishing tight underbrush with a bow and arrow cast. They are tied with horse hair so call all your rodeo friends.

If you haven’t tried them, the Mackay Specials are a staple for me when fishing tight underbrush with a bow and arrow cast. They are tied with horse hair so call all your rodeo friends.

Tons of information exists online and in books on how to perform the cast.  Go do some homework and practice around the house. Fifteen minutes of practice will make a world of a difference.  Don’t over complicate it because it truly isn’t that hard. You’ll be a better angler next time you step on the water. The bow and arrow can be one of the more deadly casts so make sure you have it in your repertoire of moves.

George’s book has a fantastic written tutorial on the details of bow and arrow casting.



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