Techniques Tenkara Video

How’s Your Casting? Do You Practice?

It’s been said that practice makes perfect. Merriam-Webster defines practices “to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient, to train by repeated exercises.” If you’ve tried to perfect a certain skill or task you’ve probably heard of Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Rule. Made popular by Gladwell’s book, Outliers: The Story of Success, the principle states that in order to become world class in any field, you need 10,000 hours of deliberate practice.

In terms of practicing tenkara casting, some have suggested using a water filled cup as a target. That works great, but rarely do I get to practice when there is no breeze. If I’m at home, I practice in the yard. If I’m away from home, I’ll find a park or other open area in which to practice. My goal is to practice casting at least twice a week for 20-30 minutes each session. If I can get away with it, I practice six days a week, even if it’s for 5-10 minutes.

I can occasionally hit a cup, but I’m not that good so instead of a cup I use a pie tin.

I invert the aluminum pie tin, instead of filling it with water. Every time I hit it, it gives me a wonderfully positive reinforcing “ping”. The raised portion of the tin is 7 inches in diameter. A cup is a very noble target, but 7 inches is good enough for me and far more realistic. Rocky Balboa had his punching bag. I have my pie tin.

Here’s my target:

How's Your Casting? Do You Practice? - Tom Davis - Tenkara Angler - Pie Tin

I use a dummy fly, which is a killer bug tied in fluorescent orange, and with the hook cut off.  When I practice, I concentrate on making sure that the fly, not the tippet, hits the target first. I also concentrate on keeping the tippet, and certainly the line, from touching the ground. I’m not just trying to hit the target, but improve my cast from hand to fly and everything in between.

How's Your Casting? Do You Practice? - Tom Davis - Tenkara Angler - Line & Fly

Here’s a short video of me practicing. It illustrates why I like the pie tin. I’ll practice with many different types of rods, but only one rod per session. I generally practice using a five meter (16 feet) #3 or #3.5 fluorocarbon level line and one meter (3.3 feet) of tippet.

When I practice, I try my best to optimize my stance, use proper tenkara form and concentrate on achieving a fly first presentation. Do I achieve this every time? No, but I focus on practicing perfect casting, so that when I’m on the water my muscle memory takes over and I don’t have to think about my casting. I find this practice routine very relaxing and helpful in clearing my mind. When I’m on the water I’m fishing. I don’t want to have to think about the details of my casting at that time.

How's Your Casting? Do You Practice? - Tom Davis - Tenkara Angler - Perfect Practice

So again, here’s my question: How’s your casting? Do you practice? If you don’t, or if you use your fishing time as practice time, I invite you to take your tenkara casting to the next level by setting aside some dedicated casting practice time. You may use a  cup, a tuna can, or maybe a wooden trout game. However you practice, I hope you find it as rewarding and relaxing as I do!

Still not sure how to cast a tenkara rod properly? Click HERE for an outstanding tutorial by Discover Tenkara that if diligently practiced, will elevate your tenkara casting to new levels.

Share Your Experience: Do you set aside time to practice casting? If so, have you seen your casting improve? If you don’t have dedicated practice, are you interested in starting?

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  1. Thank you Tom!

    I am curious, why do you choose the rod/line/tippet you reference?



    P.S. I may need to start with an upside down children’s wading pool! 😉

    1. The line I reference was chosen after trial and error. I could’ve gone with a longer and lighter line, but then I’d just get frustrated. A shorter heavier line takes the challenge out of it for me. 16′ #3 line works best, but I’ll use a 16′ #3.5 if the rod has a higher RFI.

  2. Holy cow!! 5 to 6 days a week…add 4 sprints around your practice area and you would have the “Jerry Rice Tenkara Workout” routine…ha ha…seriously Tom, this is great article and topic that I had never seen addressed… good stuff…can’t say I have done or thought about doing it…practiced my Western and spey casting in the past, but not Tenkara–it is simple and easy for me with my history of eye hand coordination ala all my sports since I was 5 years old…but I am sure if you upped your practicing, you definitely be ready to join the “TMC” Club–Tenkara Master Caster Club… enjoy! great stuff as always!
    Brad Kehoe

  3. Something we all need to do.Tom said he uses different rods however he uses a 16 ft level line and a 3ft tippet,does he use this combo with all his rods when practicing?did not asaw

    1. If the rod I’m using is longer than 340 cm, then I’ll use the 16′ line. If the rod is shorter, I usually use a 10-12′ line. Thanks for asking. I should have been clearer.

      1. Thanks,enjoy your reviews even if they do cost me,I have Gita haves

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