3 Reasons Not To False Cast

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Photo by Louis Cahill

By Louis Cahill

Most fly anglers do too much false casting.

False casting is almost a nervous habit for many fly fishers. It’s also a bad habit. Excessive false casting is not only unnecessary, it will cost you fish. Although I’m thinking specifically about saltwater fly fishing, the same ideas hold true in freshwater. It’s a bad idea to false cast any more than absolutely necessary. 

In saltwater fly fishing, false casting serves one purpose, to work out enough line to reach a fish. To be successful, you should practice doing this in as few false casts as possible. The golden rule is, never more than three. By shooting line in both the forward and back cast, it’s completely possible you work out eighty or ninety feet of line in three false casts. Any more is asking for trouble.

Here’s why.

False casting wastes time.

There is a slim window of opportunity for making your best presentation to any fish. Timing is key. Waste too much time false casting and you’ll miss your shot.

False casting spooks fish.

All species of fish are easily spooked by things flying over them. Even fish like tarpon, who are far too big to worry about birds, are not keen on anything that flies through the air. excessive false casting increases the odds of a fish seeing your line or it’s shadow.

False casting amplifies casting problems.

If you have flaws in your fly casting, and who among us doesn’t?, each extra false cast increases the chance of your presentation falling apart and your fly landing somewhere you didn’t intend. Like the back of your neck, or your guide.

The less you false cast, the more fish you’ll catch. Practice shooting line effectively and, once you start the cast, always put the fly in front of the fish as quickly as possible. When it comes to false casting, less is truly more.

Louis Cahill
Gink & Gasoline
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5 thoughts on “3 Reasons Not To False Cast

  1. Louis, this is the best article you have written.

    One thing I would have added would have been “do not lose contact with the line with your hauling hand so you have total control of the fly until the first strip”. It’s mandatory in the salt.

  2. Perfect. Probably 95% of fly fishermen false cast too much.. Sometimes WAY too much. Watch the guys on Cape Cod with two-handed overhead rods trying to false cast five times to get a 40′ cast. It’s hilarious in a way. Musky fishermen, too. There the penalty will be physical, like elbow, shoulder and neck issues. NIce piece of writing.

  3. Pingback: Tippets: Bear Minded in the Backcountry, Make Fewer False Casts – LB Hunting

  4. The issue I see with too many FCs is that the offending caster, sometimes me, gets way more than the head of the line outside of the rod tip. Now, rod weights are what they are because they properly load with a certain amount or weight of line to load them. On a supper short cast is hard to load a rod because there is not enough mass outside the rod to properly load it and too much line can over load the rod. Another issue with too much line outside the rod is timing. More line outside the rod takes a long time to go from in front of you to behind you and vice versa. leaving much more room for error.

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