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blindcurvw 01-25-2008 09:27 AM

Underhand Cast?
Not sure if "Underhand" is the correct terminology; whatever the following cast is I find it very useful while fishing tight to shorelines w/ lots of overhanging brush, branches, degree, etc...

Technique: Back cast is a normal overhand back cast, maybe cheating a little bit to sidearm. Start a gentle forward cast with your casting arm fully extended and high. A normal forward cast would have your casting hand following an approximately parallel path to the waterline. During the underhand cast you want to dip your hand below the parallel plan as you move forward reaching the maximum "dip" as your hand passes your body. Then follow thru by raising hand/arm high, back to atleast the original height of your hand at the beginning of the forward cast.

The dip causes the loop to open up underneath the main fly line, and the fly on the end of the line will almost hit the water and then travel upwards for the last couple feet of carry. As you perfect the amount of "dip" and follow-thru you will learn to control how much of an undercut you flip the fly under.

Early in your learning you will definitely over do it and flip your fly up into the branches, but w/ practice you will find this technique is amazing at getting flies into tight quarters that don't let you use a full sidearm cast.

I do have an illustration of this technique that I drew up that I will gladly share.

teflon_jones 01-26-2008 01:31 PM

I do a similar technique but more from a sidearm position. The line more or less draws an S in the air. Very handy for not only casting underneath branches, but also for casting along the bank you're standing on when there's trees above you.

blindcurvw 01-28-2008 01:22 PM

Yeah... I started out using a 100% sidearm cast but soon learned that if the stream is too narrow, or, you are facing a narrow opening between two bushes (or the like) the side arm cast is likely to snag either side of the opening. By making the loop open up underneath the main fly line you can still get a fly in there....

Depending on vertical clearance you can land the fly gently in the opening, or, get it to bounce/skip on the surface a couple times as it skitters into the opening... Sometimes this extra commotion is necessary to draw the strike...

Never considered doing a side arm cast to get at that undercut beneath my feet, will have to try that this spring on my local water.

juro 01-29-2008 10:17 AM

Sounds like a neat novelty cast but with all due respect I have a hard time envisioning a fly that flips upward at the end of turnover as a solution to overhanging obstacles.

Historically, the term "underhand" generally refers to two-handed casts with compact quick-loading lines and a distinct inward pump of the lower hand to snap a sharp cast out, this term most often coined by Henrik Mortensen.

On that note for obstacles behind, nothing beats a Spey cast which is essentially a roll cast with a change of direction and maximum efficiency combined with proper mechanics to reach full casting distance.

However I could see how an inverted loop could be also coined "underhand".

Knowing that any variance in the path of the rod tip acceleration affects the loop shape I think I can guess what you're doing. Dipping and widening causes tailing loops, collisions or big loops.

It sounds to me like you are dipping thus opening the loop (because it's inverted), then laying it as you would snap a towel at your buddy as kids (sans the whip-crack) nearly extended into position managing just the last forward reach of the line and leader into said tight spot.

It seems that a skip would "kill" the final extension into said tight spot so it does not make sense to do both at the same time unless one is very lucky.

If that final extension after the layout of the big loop is accurate, I could see it finding it's way into small spots.

Distance would be nearly impossible based on dissipation of loop energy. Collisions and tailing likely, and ground clearance (depth of wading etc) would be limiting factors.

I'm not convinced that a Lefty Kreh loop would be less accurate, or a Simon Gawesworth Spey cast less space-consuming but neat to think about just the same.

blindcurvw 01-29-2008 11:35 AM


Fair points... This is definitely a novelty and "finesse" technique for sure and can have disastrous consequences if used in the wrong circumstances or executed poorly. When I first started using this technique I hooked a a nice 4lb largemouth bass on a deer hair popper that was wrapped around a few branches. Needless to say, that fish was not at the end of line by the time I sorted out the mess.

To avoid the "snapping the towel" effect, I typically lack a pronounced follow-thru but do keep forward motion with the rod. Seems to keep the fly from flipping upward at the very end of the cast. Also, I use this technique for short casts often just 10' in front of me and rarely >20' so the line speed is relatively slow which helps minimize errors.

Even if there is a little upward flip (<6" is ideal) I find its ok for the stillwater shorline obstacles I use this technique to penetrate. Most bushes/shrubs and other overhanging vegetation are more dense at the periphery of the plant; however, just beyond the tips of the branches many become less dense and create an almost cave like overhang. Put two of these obstacles side by side and you often will have a <1' wide, 6" high opening over the water at the edge, but then have a pocket of few square feet of water w/ a 1-2' ceiling. The narrower the opening the less effective the sidearm cast. If the undercut is wide I will use the side arm cast instead. Think of those places bass fisherman flip into using heavy lines and heavy lures to break thru the brush.

If the vertical clearance is 6" or less I will use the same cast and try and get the fly to touch the surface of the water just infront of the opening. The sudden deceleration kills the loop and shortens the cast a bit the fly will typically lead the leader into the brush avoiding any hang-ups of the leader on branches. Typically if the fly hits a leaf/branch it stops and drops to the edge of the brush w/out getting snagged.

Anyway, I agree not a high usage technique for most fly fishing situations. I probalby make this cast <50times per year and snag the brush no more than 10% of the time. I've had great success using it in very skinny waters with log jams, thick shorelines (alders, cranberries, even mangroves) and have dragged out some nice Pike, Pickeral, Bass, Snook, Redfish, etc... Although it can be used for any fly line weight or fly pattern I will concede that its horribly difficult to control small flies on light lines and much easier with stout leaders, big flies, and weed guards help reduce snags in case you miss your target or mis-time your cast.

juro 01-29-2008 12:58 PM

Based on your in-depth response I am convinced you have an effective solution to a tricky situation.

I am definitely going to try it thanks!

blindcurvw 01-29-2008 02:33 PM

I found some drawings I made of this cast but can't post due to file size (resolution is not great in smaller format). If anyone is having difficulty understanding written descriptions I can send drawings in private email. Let me know...

Apologize in advance for being an engineer w/out much artistic skill... :hihi:

michaelhebron 01-31-2008 07:18 AM

an under hand cast uses the leader as the anchor point to load the rod for the forward cast. i sound to me that you line is always in the air.

ronnie z 02-13-2009 08:10 PM


Originally Posted by blindcurvw
I found some drawings I made of this cast but can't post due to file size (resolution is not great in smaller format). If anyone is having difficulty understanding written descriptions I can send drawings in private email. Let me know...

Apologize in advance for being an engineer w/out much artistic skill... :hihi:

can you send me a drawing.

Silver Creek 03-01-2010 12:15 PM

It sounds like you are describing a cast known as the pendulum cast.

A bit of trivia: The pendulum cast is a major part of the Shadow Cast that Jason Borger performed in the River Runs Through It. It comprises the forward cast.

blindcurvw 03-04-2010 06:22 PM

Definitely similar... See Juro I'm not the only one. ;)

There is one difference, they describe using a sidearm cast. I do it keeping a more vertical back/forward cast and using downward arm motion instead of using wrist motion to initiate underneath loop. 2 planes of movement instead of of three gives better control.. Maybe that is only true for me. I cheat to the side sometimes and situation dependent both styles have there merits, for me side arm puts me in the bushes more.

Here are the drawings I did a while back and kept forgetting to post back on this thread.

juro 03-04-2010 08:41 PM

Because the term "underhand" is a well-established name for a two-handed cast, and "Pendulum cast" is a well-established cast for conventional casters and in fact a technique that is popular for tournament distance casting with level wind reels (try Googling it) - I'll use the term "inverted loop" for this type of cast personally for what that's worth.

Per the article - Paul mentions the upward flip at the end of the cast hitting the trees from below, which is not shown in your diagram. So each technique has it's own liability with respect to the obstacle.

Personal experiences aside, I would expect that since most casters have developed a feel for the path of the upper loop (thus the fly) from many thousands of casts, given a sampling of 100 capable casters putting a fly under a branch the standard casts made with a sideward tilt would result in less snags than the same 100 caster's attempts at an unfamiliar inverted loop.

I would also expect that both the experienced inverted loop caster and the tilted overhead loop would result in some hitting of branches, and as a fisherman first (vs. caster) I would reposition myself and drift the fly down into the spot before resorting to such a cast.

Any amount of whiplash at the end of a horizontally tilted 'normal' cast would miss the branches in the diagram shown.

However, if someone has invested the time into perfecting this with a modicum of control I could see how it would offer another weapon in the arsenal but more so when the branch or obstacle is between the caster and the target rather than above the target as shown, because the leader does not unravel in a perfectly straight plane at the end of the cast as drawn.

9wt 05-10-2010 07:34 PM

"Inverted loop cast"
There is another trick you can do with this cast if you make it in the side arm position. With a normal side arm cast it is easy to make the fly "hook" to the left (right hand caster) to place the fly around an obstacle or ahead of the leader. If you make a side arm inverted loop cast and underpower it you can make the fly hook to the right, which I find almost impossible to do in any other way. I can't say that I can do this consistently because I haven't practised enough but I wish I had learned the technique when I was younger, fishing tiny overgrown brooks in the UK.

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