After spending a few months looking at fishing hardware including line, rods and reels it is finally time to start using our equipment. This month we will look at casting with a threadline reel.
Anglers changing from bait to lure fishing will notice just how important casting distance and accuracy becomes. I fish my home river at Noosa every week and am amazed by how inefficiently many anglers cast. Only a slight change in technique will have anglers casting much more effectively with surprisingly little effort.
Darren is 38, manages a motel in Noosa and is always keen to jump in the boat for a fish. He mainly fishes with bait, but is very keen to experiment with lure fishing. Darren is a self-professed novice who has never caught a fish on a lure. I am definitely not a fan of reality TV, but Darren is going to be the fishing magazine equivalent. At the end of each month’s article, we will recap Darren’s progress so stay tuned – it’s bound to be entertaining!
I regularly see anglers making common failings when it comes to casting technique. On a recent trip with Darren, it was not surprising that his casting habits encompassed several of these problems.
I took the liberty of taking a series of photos to show some of the casting issues. We will now look at each photo and identify the problems.
Darren is right handed and uses his dominant hand to grip the very bottom of the rod grips. The left hand then supports the top rod grip while three fingers are draped over the top of the reel.
By positioning his hands this way Darren is making it harder to fire out a cast as his main casting hand is his weaker left hand. This reduces his casting distance dramatically. This positioning also means his rod follows an irregular arc when casting.
One of the biggest problems with holding the rod this way has to do with releasing the line during the cast. A good cast occurs when the line is released from the spool when all momentum is moving towards the desired target. Having three fingers clasped over the spool (as shown in the photo) makes it difficult to quickly and efficiently release line when making a cast.
Other common mistakes include clamping the line to the rod with four fingers or having loose line hanging between the spool and fingers. These all make for difficult casting practices!
Notice the rod and hand positions in this photo as Darren prepares to cast. The weak upper hand is going to be used to power the cast and his elbows are a long way from his body which makes it difficult to control the rod as it moves through the air. When arms and elbows are left far from the body it is typical to watch a rod wander all over the place. Again, having fingers draped tightly over the spool makes it very difficult for line to smoothly run off the spool when the angler wishes to release the cast.
In this photo, Darren is not preparing for a triple somersault entry off the 10m dive board but has just released the lure and is allowing it to fly off somewhere into the distance. I see casting techniques like this on most of the waterways I visit to fish.
This photo provides us with a few key considerations. If you look at the position of the rod in pictures 2 and 3 you’ll see how far the rod butt has moved away from the body. The farther that the rod butt moves around and away from the body during the cast, the more room there is for conducting the band. In this case, the only thing preventing unwanted rod movement is Darren’s hand placed at the very bottom of the rod. The hand at the butt of the rod would do little for both balance and control of the rod during the cast.
Now that we have looked at some of the things not to do, we will focus on good casting technique.
The first part of the good casting technique scenario is holding the rod in a balanced manner with your dominant hand. A comfortable and strong grip can be obtained on the rod by:
• Splitting your four long fingers in half;
• Running the reel base between your fingers so you have two fingers either side; and
• Making sure your thumb is pointing down the length of the reel.
This grip does several important things. It gives you a comfortable and strong grip in your dominant hand. The reel is the heaviest part of the rod and reel combination, and the location of this grip means your outfit is well balanced. The location of the hand in this grip also sets you up very well for the next part of the casting equation.
These pictures show one of the most effective ways to keep the line engaged on the spool until the line is cast. I had a sports coach years ago who told me that the key to perfect timing in any sport was to reduce the number of movements and body positions required. This simplifying process applies directly to casting and how to position your hands and fingers.
These three photos show the next steps in preparing to cast well.
(1) Spin the bail arm of the reel around towards your hand so the line is positioned close to the rod and forefinger.
(2) Hook the forefinger around the line and then lift the bail arm.
(3) Keep the line tight against the forefinger and spin the rod back around into a casting position
These three pictures show how an angler can reduce the number of problems associated with casting in three easy steps. Prior to making a cast, you want your hand to look exactly like Darren’s does in picture 7. There is no loose line sitting between the forefinger and the spool. His forefinger is relaxed and is not clamped tightly against the rod. Your hand should be positioned on the grip in a way that makes for a smooth, effective cast. By using only the forefinger to control the line coming from the spool, and having a tight line between the lure and the spool, an angler can maximise the amount of velocity being inserted in the cast.
Darren is now ready to make a cast and these photos show how you should position yourself. Darren has good hand position on the rod, the line is contained lightly by the forefinger and his elbows are positioned close to the body.
Darren has the rod in a vertical position over his shoulder which will make it easy to keep stable through the casting arc. You’ll notice that Darren has 50cm-1m of line hanging from the top eye; this balances the outfit when casting. Many anglers cast with the lure tight against the top eye which makes it difficult to get the pendulum effect and results in shorter casting distances. Darren is now ready to fire out a cast and has a much greater chance of it going where it should.
Using mainly the power in your wrists, fire out a cast as the rod moves straight through the direction of the where we want the cast to go. At the end of the cast, the rod butt has moved only around 2-3” during the process.
At the end of the cast, the rod tip and arm will all be pointing towards the target. The rod has moved straight through the casting arc.
This will all feel strange initially and some casts may go astray but with continued practice you will soon find casts landing where you want them to.
Some simple rules of physics suggest that:
A: The lure will follow the last direction of movement of the rod tip during the cast; and
B: Casting distance and accuracy will be enhanced when the rod follows one main direction of movement within a cast.
For example, a cast is to be made between point A and B. An effective cast will occur where the rod remains straight in line with points A and B. A poor cast will result where the rod moves side to side while advancing through the line between A and B. This cast typically looks a bit like a figure-of-eight while moving through the air. What this means is that while you are trying to cast a weight at point A you are reducing efficiency by also giving the rod movement in other directions.