The below website makes this assertion
Unless You’re Good at Casting - It is Useless to Tie Flies
[it’s a long read, but kind of entertaining and thought provoking]
I’ve often read on Japanese tenkara fishing websites the priority or hierarchy of skill development for tenkara fishing roughly follows this order:
(1)learn to cast,(2) learn to cast precisely to a point, (3) learn what point to cast to (where the fish are), (4) learn to make the correct presentation of the fly to the fish (natural drift or some type of manipulation, aka sasoi, 誘い. After that learn more about what kebari to select, about fish behavior of different species, learn river currents, etc. Learning to cast does appear to be at the top of the list as being of first importance. And many will point out, a great looking kebari will not catch any fish if you splash the water surface with your line during your cast, thereby spooking the fish.
The below linked article is comparing skillful western fly fishing casting vs tying beautiful imitation flies, tied to entice the fish to take the fly because the fly looks like the real prey.
Which, I think, is a different concept from tenkara kebari. Kebari are flies tied to provide an impression of natural fish prey. Just enough in shape, color, size or movement to trigger the fish to take the fly. More like impressionist art than realistic art.
For tenkara fishing which is more important casting skill, or the appearance of the kebari? Or maybe for tenkara fishing we should think of casting skill & presentation skill of the kebari as one combined skill. And how the kebari is tied (shape, color, size) an isolated separate skill for fish catching success .
These flies where tied by the very young son of a friend of the author of the article.
I am in the camp that believes, or at least somewhat believes, that fish are attracted to rumpled looking kebari.
The young fly tier said this about his flies. “These flies will catch all the fish in the world !”
I don’t make my rumpled looking kebari quite this rumpled. But maybe the boy is right, if they are cast and presented skillfully to the right spot.
I don’t think it is useless to tie flies, even if my casting & presentation skills are less than expert level.
Maybe making tying kebari the priority over casting/presentation skill is the wrong priority as far as catching more fish. However, I do find tying kebari, a fun separate activity from fish catching. Tying kebari is fun on it’s own. Just to use a little of my own creativity to tie something new, based on study of existing patterns or based on what I think fish behavior is and what they will respond to. If they catch fish, great. If not, I still had fun tying them and spending a few hours on the water fishing with them. Even if I didn’t catch many or any fish.