the Shadow Cast

have you ever wondered how this happened ?

taken from the oh-so-famous ‘A River Runs Through It‘  movie poster, here’s a very good example of three-dimensional casting.

devised by Jason Borger as a visual rendition of Norman Maclean’s description “…cast hard and low upstream, skimming the water with the fly but never letting it touch. Then he would pivot, reverse his line in a great oval above his head, and drive his line low and hard downstream, again, skimming the water with his fly ”  therefore creating the illusion of a bug hatch to a more than gullible fish !
(i personally believe this cast and it’s incessant ‘Shadowing‘ of the poor unexpecting fishes put them in hypnoïdal-halucinogetic fit and the only reason they ever got hooked was their mouths where slack-jawed, drooling with bliss and the fly managed to snag them on it’s merry ‘low and hard driving’ way, but then again, it’s just a personal theory).

thing is, in the movie itself, us casting geeks are left with a yuk aftertaste because we can’t even properly see the whole cast and as far as i’m concerned, sitting through an hour and a half of romanticised schmultz (yeah,romanticised schmutz. sorry) to see, enjoy and try to analyze this cast in just a few brief, very edited micro-flashes just doesn’t do it.
now, thanks to this groovy  gif  we get to see the mechanical motion sequence over and over (me jaw’s slackin’ from staring at it !…. 😎 )  finally putting Norm’s poetic description to good use !
the word sequence is off or at least confusing, the ‘Galway’ part starts after the initial over-head cast, it’s the reversal of the grip- Pendulum/Climbing Hook nos. 3&4 that goes throughout the whole back-cast, but the motions are correct. ( i think)


sure, the Shadow Cast is more of an exercise in style and aesthetics than one of hard-core use on the water and that’s just fine because fly casting should be pretty and sexy. after all, Jason in his seminal book ‘Nature of Fly Casting’ describes it as: ” It is not how many fish you catch, it is how good you look doing it. Well, maybe for the movies. ”

as i reread this i have to be honest. the more i think about it the more i believe the whole Shadow Cast thing is a retouched or special effects hyped-up hoax that never existed anywhere outside of the book or the movie’s editing room. ever wondered why no one else does this cast at shows or among like-minded casting geeks or even display it on youtube ? i do, but then i like make-believe and this make-believe sure beats the heck out of this…

7 thoughts on “the Shadow Cast

  1. My guess is that Maclean’s ‘shadow cast’ was a hypothetical extension of George LaBranch’s method of ‘creating a hatch’ through the repeated presentation of a dry fly over a fish. I think in both cases the authors were either dreaming, or the trout in their waters were still so innocent that they fell all over themselves to eat your flies. Frankly, I don’t ever remember trout being THAT innocent.

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