The Italian Style of Casting

Do you want to cast a dry fly to just the place you want, whether that be under trees, across difficult currents and achieve perfect presentation?

 Why wouldn’t you want to be able to scale down your line size, but still achieve the same distance, thus improving your presentation? 

Know that you can get your fly to those difficult lies where the big fish are?

The answer is OF COURSE YOU WOULD – Why Wouldn’t You?

Presentation is the biggest buzzword in Fly Fishing this decade. Whether this is Leader to Hand, French Nymphing or Tenkara.

The Italian style of casting, has been in existence for nearly two decades, uses relatively short rods, normally between 7'6" and 8', light lines, 5 metre specially tapered leaders and high line velocity . What does this bring to your fly fishing?

  • Delicate presentation allowing you to cover the big fish successfully
  • Light lines combat the wind
  • Casts that allow you to alleviate / minimise drag

FFM are not a profit making organisation. We are just a bunch of dedicated enthusiasts who enjoy this way of fishing and importantly enjoy catching fish on the dry fly.

 We run our tuition through a series of weekend / day courses throughout the year which focus on practicing casting technique and skills mixed in with fun and of course fishing. We find that putting the practice in on rivers is a great way for you to learn and develop your casting skills. The cost of a day / two day weekend course is minimal at only £50 /£100  (this excludes fishing permits, any overnight accommodation and food / drink). We try to ensure that you have an enjoyable  day / weekend of both instruction and fishing.

Below is FFM instructor Dave Southall’s excellent article from the November’s 2014 edition of the Ezine “Eat, sleep, Fish. It fully explains our philosophy.

Italian Style Casting   by Dave Southall

I am a great believer that good presentation is nine tenths of the game in fly-fishing. I am therefore always looking for better ways of achieving as near as is possible the perfect presentation. Tenkara has resolved many of my presentation problems, as has French Nymphing / Leader to Hand. There is, however, a third technique that has revolutionized my approach to the problem of presentation in challenging situations; that is the Italian Style of casting as taught and developed by Massimo Magliocco, one of the world’s outstanding casters.

I tend to be lazy: I rarely tie any flies that take more than five minutes to construct: I virtually never practice casting: I’m not keen on driving long distances to my fishing: so why have I bothered to learn a totally different style of casting that has involved many hours of practice and that will involve many more hours in the future? The answer of course is presentation. The Italian Style allows me to present dry flies and small nymphs in situations where Tenkara and other styles are ineffective. So why is this style so effective?

Many of the casts facilitate a fly-first landing. This has several advantages over the more conventional cast where the line usually lands first, followed by the leader and finally the fly. Trout use their pressure receptors on their lateral lines to detect vibrations from food or predators; so will focus their attention on the first thing to land on the water which should be the fly. Furthermore, once they have focused on the fly they are less likely to be spooked by the landing of the leader and then the line. In addition, drag can only set in once line and leader have settled onto the water, so a fly-first presentation delays drag.

 Many of the casts introduce controlled amounts of slack in the leader, further delaying drag. This is particularly true of the Slowed Down Angular Cast (now re-named the Dump Cast) and the Overturned Cast. The style was developed for fishing fast, mountain streams with complex flows and pocket water.

It was also developed to facilitate casting deep under low overhanging trees and the Totally Under the Tip Cast and Low Parallel Cast answer this problem better than any other casts that I’ve seen.

 It generates very high line speed and very tight loops that not only help when casting into a wind, but permit the use of  long leaders (5 meters plus) and light lines (3 weights and less) thus helping to reduce the risk of spooking fish. I often fish with a fast action 2 weight rod, 1 weight line and 6 metre leader. I have also found this style to be great when I need to achieve extra distance when casting the mono leaders used in French Nymphing and Leader to Hand.

 So how is this style different from conventional casting?

 The casting stroke involves a much-extended stroke that incorporates a drift on both the back and forward strokes. This helps to dampen any rod tip oscillations that might occur after the ‘thrust’ or ‘tap’ phase of the cast. There is no distinct stop and the forward stroke commences immediately after the rearward drift is completed which helps to maintain a high line speed evident in the Italian Style.

Although this style can be used with most rods the optimum set up is a 7’ 6” fast but progressive actioned 4/5 weight rod teamed up with a double taper 3 weight line and a custom built tapered leader plus tippet at least 5 meters long. The latter helps to dissipate all the energy of the cast so that the fly lands delicately despite the fact that the cast is targeted at the water and not a meter above the water as in conventional casting.

This is not a lazy man’s/woman’s casting style. It is a dynamic, high energy, style. Furthermore it involves quite a bit of hard work to learn all the casts. I found that it took me five days of intensive training to break my old muscle memory and get the basic casts up to a passable standard. Having said that, it is well worth the effort if you fish dry flies or very small nymphs, and want outstanding presentation in challenging flows.

On a trip to the upper Tees, Manu Gonetto and I compared Tenkara with the Italian style (I fished Tenkara) and we caught fish for fish (over 100 each). The two styles were equally effective in the complex pocket water, however Manu had to work much harder than I did. Tenkara is great at close range, when it isn’t too windy and when there aren’t overhanging trees, but the Italian Style wins, when Tenkara won’t work.

FFMUK run frequent courses at very little cost ,we are not a profit making organisation. In addition we do demonstrations at various fly fishing shows. Have a look at our Upcoming Events page to find out more.

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