Bow and Arrow Cast

Bow and Arrow Cast using Tenkara rod
Bow and Arrow Cast using Tenkara rod

Tenkara's solution to those tricky casting scenarios where you're hemmed in by obstacles? That would be the "Bow and Arrow Cast".

A narrow creek with hanging branches above and trees on each side.

Enter the Bow and Arrow Cast

Angler using the bow and arrow cast to avoid a tree branch directly above and to the left, and also avoiding foliage to the right and behind the angler.

This specialized casting method works best with a shorter, stiffer rod, but it's versatile enough to work with any Tenkara rod. The Bow and Arrow cast comes into its own when you're faced with limited space, both vertically and horizontally, and can't perform a standard backcast. Here's how you do it (assuming you're right-handed):

  1. Positioning: Place yourself so that you can avoid trees, branches, and any other obstacles.
  2. Grip: Hold your line where it meets the tippet, using your left hand if you're holding the rod with your right hand. Do not hold the hook directly!
  3. Lift and Adjust: Lift the line slightly to minimize the hook's contact with the ground. If you need more clearance, change where you're holding the line. Hold it closer to the hook for more clearance. By keeping the hook off the ground, you not only avoid potential obstacles but also gain more control and distance in your cast.
  4. Safety First: Make sure you're not in the path of the fly to avoid getting hooked. A handy trick? Move your left foot behind the hook so it's safely in front of you. You should now be facing the rod tip (slightly) sideways.
  5. Aim and Tilt: Point the rod where you want the fly to land. Tilt it up, so the line arcs upward.
  6. Prepare for Launch: Gently pull the line back, but remember, there's no need to muscle it! Aim to pull just enough so that the tip of the rod reaches a 90-degree angle. This controlled motion sets you up for a precise and elegant cast, without overexerting yourself.
  7. Release and Watch: Let go of the line and enjoy the sight of your fly traveling through the air to land just in front of your rod's tip.
  8. Optional Flick: For a bit more distance, give the rod a slight flick as you release the line.

With practice, your fly will flutter gently to the water, landing softly. For an even more delicate touch, aim higher and adjust your cast so that only the fly and tippet touch down.

If done correctly, the fly would have fluttered slowly to the water. For a more delicate presentation, aim a little higher and adjust so that only the fly and the tipped would land into the water.

While you can do the Bow and Arrow cast with a typical 360cm Tenkara rod, it is very effective with shorter rods and with shorter line! Shorter, stiffer rod and line mean you’re exerting less effort in casting.

Tenkara Rod: 10ft and below

Line: Cut to 8-10ft

Tippet: Cut to 3-4ft. I just use 5x. However, I think it’s worth experimenting with thinner lines up to 8x.

Hope you find this mini guide useful! Have you ever found yourself in a tricky casting situation that the Bow and Arrow Cast could have solved? Share your stories, and let's chat about the different ways Tenkara helps us adapt to nature's challenges!

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