Joe Humphreys’ 5 Tips to Perfect Your Bow and Arrow Cast

bow and arrow cast

In honor of being just a day away from the global release of “Live the Stream: The Story of Joe Humphreys” Flylords sat down with Joe to learn what advice he had to give on mastering his signature move: The Bow and Arrow cast.

This cast is one of the most useful, as well as unique looking casts that can be performed with a fly rod. By eliminating the need for a backcast, Joe Humphreys’ bow and arrow cast utilizes line tension and finesse in order to accurately launch your fly, while remaining unseen and untangled. Now from the master himself, here are Joe Humphreys’ 5 tips to perfect your bow and arrow cast.

1. Take Your Time, and Pinpoint Your Target

Just like any other cast, the steps you take before you even cast are just as important as the ones taken once the fly is in the water. So, before you make your cast make sure to look around. Assess the way the water is moving, what the fish are doing, possible places to get hung up on. Then, once you have a feel for your surroundings, focus in on where you’re going to place your fly. Imagine that patch of water with a bullseye painted on it, and envision your fly landing there.

scouting the water

2. Determine Your Distance and Loop Your Line

One of the more technical aspects of setting up your bow and arrow cast is determining the distance of your cast. Once you have a general idea of how much line you’ll need to get the fly to your target zone, start folding it into small figure-eight loops. By stacking these loops on top of each other in your fingers, you are keeping strong tension on the line, while also keeping a minimal profile and lowering your risk of tangles.

loop your line
Image courtesy of Live the Stream

3. Keep Your Hand ABOVE Your Fly

This is one of the most commonly made mistakes when it comes to making a bow and arrow cast. When you have made your loops, keep your fingers on them, NOT THE FLY. Many anglers believe that they need to hold the fly itself, in order to get maximum distance, but this is actually a good way to spook a fish. Here’s why:

when you hold the fly itself, then release it, you have already eliminated your “Loop” (one of the most important aspects to any fly cast). By doing so, once the fly is released, all the built-up energy will be on the fly, and once it lands, it will smash into the water not only scaring away fish, but ruining your cast’s accuracy.

By holding the fly line on its loops, the line will hold the potential energy. Therefore, once you make your release, the line will maintain a loop and gently unfold atop the water to deliver a soft and natural presentation.

hand above the fly

4. Wrap Your Fingers for Extra Control

With your pointer and thumb holding the line above the fly, wrap your middle and ring fingers over the loops so that there are now 4 points of contact on the line. The point of this is so that you have maximum control and increased tension to your line. By using one of your fingers to press down on the line, you can greatly increase the built-up strain without having to draw your line back any further.  It’s also so that you have more control over the behavior of your figure-eight loops. By adding an additional 2 points of contact, you make sure the loops are under maximum control, and that there is minimal chance for them to intertwine, tangle, or wrap.

tight line
image courtesy of Live the Stream

5. Take a Deep Breath, and Release

Often times, this cast is used in a situation where you will only get one shot to make the perfect presentation. So, before casting, take a deep breath, go over the steps one more time in your head, pull your line tight, and then when you feel confident; let that line fly.

To properly release, simply make sure your clear of your fly’s flight path, and release your 4 points of contact (thumb, pointer, middle finger, and ring finger) all at once. Depending on how much line you’ve allotted yourself, the tension of the draw will unravel your loops in mid-air and carry your fly to the water. Once you’ve made contact, make any mends or adjustments necessary, and get ready to set the hook.

fly release
Image courtesy of Live the Stream

Like with anything else, mastering such a cast takes practice and a lot of it. So whether you’re on a local stream, or just in your back yard, break out your rod and give this cast a few tries so that when game time comes; you’re ready.

Whether your like Joe fishing between troves of mountain laurels in the heartland of Pennsylvania, or you’re in the remote wilderness far from any roads, the bow and arrow cast will prove to be a beautiful, as well as effective casts when it comes to fishing small pools and tight creeks.


Make sure to see Joe’s additional tips, as well as the story of the man who started it all in his award-winning movie, “Live the Stream: The Story fo Joe Humphreys”which will be available worldwide on November 5th, 2019. To pre-order or purchase, click HERE.

Don’t miss the inspiring life story of Pennsylvania’s fly fishing legend, Joe Humphreys: a man who was born to fly fish, lives to teach, and strives to pass on a respect for our local waters. A visually stunning film, anyone with a pulse can appreciate Joe’s contagious spirit and, at 86-years-young, trout streams are his fountains of youth.  This is an emotion-packed adventure and Joe will catch your heart in this powerful tale of tenacity, life, and love. Follow Live the Stream on Instagram and Facebook.

Cover image courtesy of Live the Stream 

Article written by Flylords team member Wills Donaldson

Live the Stream: the Story of Humphreys, Wins Best Movie at the 2019 Drake Flyfishing Video Awards

Faces of Fly Fishing: Joe Humphreys

Podcast of the Week: Wet Fly Swing – Joe Humphreys Interview


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.