Key steps in casting
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Top advice from John Holden.
I wish I could tell you that learning to cast is always painless but, for most of us, good casting demands time and effort. It is not really about tackle, and the great irony is that the better you become, the less it matters.
Most fishermen prefer decent equipment, and it is great to treat yourself to something exotic, but do bear in mind that a trained caster can achieve highly respectable distances with bargain basement kit too.
My 50-year-old Penn Surfcaster easily throws baits far enough, despite its wobbly plastic spool and plain bush bearings lubricated with a drop of engine oil. At Sea Angler demo days in the 1980s, our party trick was to cast more than 100 yards using a 6ft tripod leg with a ring taped on top.
Good technique means no need to follow the herd, swapping from one expensive rod and reel to another in the fruitless search for more yards and fewer backlashes. You are not trapped by other people’s opinions either. You choose the best set-up for the beaches and species you are after, knowing that distance will never be a struggle.
This freedom comes at a price; you must serve an apprenticeship in order to master your craft. Kick off by focusing on the vital issues that underpin great results, and be absolutely clear about what you are aiming to achieve. I shall spell these out in forthcoming issues.
Do not be swayed by massive tournament casts. That is not the game you are in. Despite the tripe spouted on social media about casting baits 200 metres or more, in real life perhaps one in 10 anglers can fish at a genuine 100m without resorting to ultra-thin lines.
General standards are little better now than they were 30 years ago when a consistent 150m without bait made you a member of casting’s elite. It still does.
Avoiding a certain amount of hard work means settling for second best. This isn’t necessarily as bad as it sounds, because with a little thought you can enjoy yourself and still catch plenty of fish. There are worthy shortcuts, such as using a very long rod and light lines that together help make the best of your efforts.
Before anyone ducks out, though, be very clear about one thing. I have met thousands of casters who thought they were useless, were short of time, or had stopped trying because they thought casting was either too difficult or even God’s gift to the chosen few. Most failed because nobody had ever shown them what to do – the critical word here being ‘shown’, because within an hour of seeing exactly what to do, most people get the message, with many who struggled for decades transforming their casting, sometimes doubling their distances.
Only face-to-face instruction has this power. No other way of learning comes even close. Yet, oddly enough, booking that first lesson is simply a step too far for many of us.
More on coaching next time.
You can’t beat face-to-face instruction