Five tips for increasing your casting distance
Casting distance is at a premium in the contemporary fishing universe. Power fishermen know the value of a long cast: it means their lures will be in front of more fish, more often, for more hours of the day. Finesse anglers, chasing wary fish in clear water with small baits, likewise need to propel their lures far away from the boat, not necessarily with the goal of covering more water with each cast, but to enhance the separation between themselves and the spooky fish they target. Indeed, whether we fish in fresh or saltwater, chasing bass or bonefish, we all embrace the concept, and the necessity, of the long cast – but how can we do it, given the incredible library of lures, rods, and reels we use during the fishing season?
Here are five tips to increase your casting distance, and thankfully, none of them involves an upper body strength and conditioning program. Rather, long casts are rooted in your equipment – rod, reel, line, and lure – and the interplay among these tools that will ultimately enhance your casting distance.
1. Long rods support long casts
Increasing casting distance starts by selecting longer rods. For example, two of my favorite rods in my walleye collection have the same medium-light power and extra-fast action, but one rod is 6’8” and the other rod is 7’6” – a full 10 inches longer. If I rig both rods with the same line and lure, I will always be able to cast that lure farther with the 7’6” rod than its shorter cousin. Yes, rods that are in the six-foot range play important roles in my fishing repertoire, but every time that I’m looking to launch a lure far away from the boat, I’m picking a rod that is seven feet long, or longer.
2. Let the rod load up
The rod’s ability to transfer energy to the lure during the forward motion of the cast is critical to extending your casting distance. The rod needs to load effectively as you swing it over your shoulder, and then, all of the potential energy that is stored within the loaded rod’s blank must to be transferred cleanly to the lure in the form of kinetic energy – the energy of motion. The capacity of the rod to flex is described by its action: extra-fast, fast, moderate-fast, moderate, or slow. An extra-fast action rod has its flex point very near the tip, while that point of rod flex moves down the blank, toward the handle, as its action slows. A moderate-fast or moderate action rod will really load up on the backcast, and then transfer all of that stored energy to the lure as you swing the rod forward and propel the bait into the atmosphere.
3. Spy on your spool
One of the factors that prevents your lure from soaring into the sunset is resistance, chiefly the resistance of the line from peeling smoothly off the reel’s spool. On a baitcasting reel, it’s important to adjust the spool tension – generally the big knob you’ll find on the same side of the reel as the drag. If the spool tension is too tight, then your reel won’t release the optimum amount of line during the cast, costing you distance. On the other hand, if the tension is too loose, then tremendous backlashes are in your future. You’ll have to readjust the spool tension every time you change lures.
A spinning reel is designed to release line during the cast without the spool turning, so you won’t find a spool tension knob to adjust. Instead, if you want to optimize your spinning reel for casting distance, then choose one with a large diameter spool rather than a compact one. A large diameter spool will generally dispense line in larger, more limp loops than will a smaller spool, and that limp line will flow more cleanly through the rod guides. The lesson here is this: don’t bring a 1000-series crappie reel with a small spool, to a big bass bonanza that is better served with 2500- or 3000-series spinning reels.
4. Braided main line is the key
Since we’re on the topic of line: a braided main line will always outcast monofilament or fluorocarbon of the same test rating. The reason is simple to understand: braided line has a smaller diameter than mono or fluoro, and as a result, passes through the guides more readily, and offers less air resistance as the bait travels to its target.
Pay attention to your braided line’s construction to get the most distance out of your casts. An eight-strand braid, like Seaguar Smackdown, will feature a thinner diameter, a rounder profile, and a smoother finish than four-strand braids. Indeed, the ultra-tight weave of Smackdown gives it an exceptionally thin diameter, as 20 lb test Smackdown has the same diameter as 6 lb test mono. As a result, Smackdown is the line of choice for propelling lures into the stratosphere.
5. Maintain balance between rod and lure
At the business end of your line is the lure, and for it to reach its maximum distance from the boat on every cast, the weight of your lure must balance with the rod’s power – the weight or force necessary to cause the rod to flex. Remember, we need the rod to flex during the backcast so that its stored energy can be transferred to the lure. With too light of a lure, the rod won’t flex enough or at all, and your casting distance will suffer. At the other end of the spectrum, when the rod is overloaded with too heavy of a lure, the blank won’t be able to smoothly transfer all of its energy to the bait, and will instead vibrate or wobble unproductively during the follow-through – or even fail. Pay attention to the lure weight ratings on the rod’s blank, as they will help you to maintain the optimum balance between the rod and the lure.