Casting - Italian Style

Here's a Guest Post from Michiel Hendrix, all about The Italian Style of Casting:

Photographs are of Massimo Magliocco, Technical Director of FFM UK, and are shown here courtesy of him and Philip Bailey”.

Under The Tip Cast

For so many of us dry fly fishing represents the pinnacle of the sport. Successful dry fly fishing in rivers requires a combination of 3 elements:- river craft, fly presentation, and the fly itself. The first skill includes knowing the likely places where fish may lie, and to read the major and local micro-currents in the water flow. Then one can better plan the presentation of the fly. However drag is the enemy of a perfect presentation of the dry fly. The better the fly’s presentation, and the longer the natural drift of the fly without drag, the higher one’s chance of success in tricking a trout. There are thus many challenging places in a river where drag can immediately effect the dry fly’s drift from the moment it lands, or where it is traditionally felt to be very challenging to present a fly to a particular spot. Examples include the slack water downstream from a boulder in a fast flowing river - where there are multiple currents in differing directions and speeds, or casting over a stream of fast flowing water to a rising fish that’s lying in a slower flowing stream on the far side, or getting a cast in under low hanging foliage at the far river bank. Yet all of these places might be good spots in which trout will lie. 

So when thinking about how best to fish for example the Parachute Adams (my favourite dry fly) it helps to be able to know how to successfully present the fly to some or all of these challenging areas on the river. The casts will need to be able to present the fly in a number of ways to minimise the effect of drag and thus lengthen the natural drift of the dry fly. 

Superimposed Cast

Some years ago I came across the Italian Casting School and their methods, and have learnt a lot to improve my dry fly fishing, its success, and my pleasure. The casting style is really quite different from the overhead casting traditionally used. The style uses high line speeds to present the fly onto the water before the line and leader touch the surface. In order to achieve this, a much longer casting stroke is used, with the rod commonly moving in a plane way off the vertical. This can be done with little physical effort by using rods with a stiff butt, a progressive action, an under-weighted fly line and crucially a long leader (16 foot). There are many benefits to the various casts, all of which use the core principles. Other benefits include the ability to combat wind, to lift the fly off the water with very little disturbance, superior line control with the non-casting hand, and making extensive use of casting over the non-casting shoulder. Picture for a moment in your mind’s eye casting your fly line low over the water, enabling the leader and fly to travel under the low hanging vegetation, the fly penetrating deep into the space under the overhanging branches to a waiting trout, and being able to do this with confidence of success; or to very accurately present your fly in a fast flowing riffle and getting a long drift before the current drags the line, leader and fly in differing directions at differing speeds;  or casting your dry fly into a pool of quieter water between 2 fast flowing currents to obtain a lengthy drift of the fly in varying directions in the pool, without any drag - and then hooking a wild brown trout – this in an area that you used to think was too difficult to fish. 

Under The Trees

Whilst these techniques were developed on the fast-flowing Italian rivers, they have been used with great success on numerous UK rivers over the past decade. There is a small but very enthusiastic group of UK fly fishers - FFM UK - that have adopted the Italian Casting Style and teach the techniques to British fly fishers at a number of venues throughout the trout fishing season. Our next course is to be held on the Welsh River Dee in the Corwen area on the 7th and 8th of September 2019. This will include teaching the basic principles and dynamics of a few of the casts, with demonstration and practice both on grass and on the river. In most circumstances we will be able to fine-tune the rod and line setup that you normally use to suit this casting style. 

Come and join us in that beautiful area in North Wales for fun and learn to enhance your casting abilities and success. For further information or to book a place on the course, please contact me at:

or visit the group’s website at:-


Mike Hendrix