Is your rod suitable?
Is your engine ready for better casting?
THE majority of casting questions I receive concern rods. What should I buy to cast further? Are long rods better than short rods? What do you think of the rod that (name of famous caster) used to do 300 yards last month? Should I get a rod off the shelf, or have it custom built?
Almost always the questions focus on casting further. I often wonder whether some people consider the fishing at all. For a better view of what we’re trying to achieve, it’s wise to go right back to the guts of the whole issue. Great casting, whether to catch fish or win tournaments, is about skill and physical effort, not about who can afford to spend the most money on carbon fibre and revved-up reels.
All this stuff about powerful rods, for example, is pure tripe dished up by reviewers and rod-makers. Rods don’t have any power of their own. They can store energy but they have no means of producing it. To throw a baited rig a decent distance, we have to provide the necessary horsepower. We are the engine.
The power we produce and the way it flows determines the type of rod we can use, the style that suits us, and, to some extent, how much lead weight we can hang on the end.
Rods can be stiff and long, though; the tragedy of modern beach fishing is that far too many of them are. I might be getting on a bit, but my casting engine is still a long way above average. Yet half the rods in the typical dealer’s racks are beyond my physical ability to wring out anything like a decent performance.
If rods were cars, I’d be trying to use my engine to propel a Formula One racer. Having a naturally quite powerful but fairly slow power flow, I am much better suited to the rod equivalent of a 4x4 pick-up: about 13ft long, medium-fast action and gutsy enough to fish at around 150 yards.
When an angler knows the capacity of his casting engine and how the power curve develops when he floors the throttle, then he can sort through a pile of rods and easily pick out a shortlist of suitable candidates. He usually knows what suits him, and, even if he is unsure, one or two test casts will reveal the truth. Above all, he is immune to marketing hype and internet forum opinions.
As I have said countless times over the years, good casting is about basics, and solid basics make a great engine. Learn to cast using a bread-and-butter rod that you can bend into its proper working curve. In the early days, it doesn’t matter if the rod is a little on the soft side.
Find the style or styles that suit your physique and the fishing you do, and practice. Then take your tuned engine into the tackle shop and find a rod to match.