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by Gareth Watkins
In modern carp fishing the ability to cast further is a definite advantage in the anglers armoury. The fact is, that despite what their estimated casting range is, most anglers will struggle to better 100 yards by any great margin.
Not all waters allow boats or bait boats, so being able to cast is a real plus, and can make the difference between catching and not catching. I remember all too well blanking on a lake in France because the fish were at 150 yards and I couldn’t reach them. The Dutch guy in the next peg was casting there easily. Needless to say he bagged up… much to my frustration.
We can’t all afford to go out and buy top of the range gear, which is what you ‘ll need to compete with the top casters.. that and loads of tuition and a modicum of talent. For us mere mortals a few hints and tips can get us up to the 140-150 yards range. I’ve done it measured, so as an average caster I can tell you it works. These tips were picked up from Mark Hutchinson and Mehdi Daho, but if you really want to get into the big league. I suggest you take lessons with someone like Mark.
Ok so here are 10 tips that will help you cast further with your regular carp gear.
1. Use a Large Spool Big Pit ‘Type’ Reel: These don’t have to cost a fortune, the Shimano AERLEX costs as little as fifty quid. Okuma make excellent value big spool reels too.
The top flight reels like the Ultegra’s from Shimano and Tournaments from Daiwa will set you back a few bob, but are excellent tools. The advantage of the wide spool on a big pit is that the diameter doesn’t drop as quickly as you cast, thus less friction builds up on the spool lip, increasing your distance.
2. Fill Spool to the Rim: Make sure you fill your spool right up to the rim. Modern fixed spool reels used in carp fishing have pretty good line lay, compared to the awful things like Mitchell 300’s and Cardinals. To make the most of the casting capacity of your reel fill it right flush to the lip. Don’t overfill as you’ll get bird’s nests, but go as full as you can. Bear in mind that the line will bed down a bit.
3. Fill Your Spool with 10lb Monofilament Line: It stands to reason the finer the line you use the further you’ll cast. You can’t go mad in carp fishing as the fish are big and fight hard. In most open water 10lb mono is more than adequate. I use Daiwa Sensor 10lb for my long range stuff, but many of the quality monos on the market will do. Some anglers drop line strength even more…it’s a trade off really between abrasion resistance and casting needs. A finer diameter line will naturally need far less chaffing to break it than heavy, thicker nylon. A few drops of Kryston Greased Lightening will also make the nylon flow off the reel better.
4. Use a Braided Leader: To get maximum distance with 10lb main line you’ll need a shock leader. Here I’d recommend a 50lb braid for a leader material. Braid has no stretch so all your power is put into the blank and not into the stretch of a nylon leader. It will add distance to your casts.
5. Use A Helicopter Rig: The best casting rig is the ‘Helicopter’ rig. Set up right is is also the only rig that will leave the fish free of the line in the case of a crack off. Now these rigs DO have to be done right. The wrong set up and you have a death rig, as the fish trail line and the lead. There are several companies making either ready to use rigs or selling the various end rig items you need to make a safe set-up. Please pay careful attention to this! The poor set up of the helicopter rigs has seen it banned on my waters, which is stupid, as done correctly it should be the safest rig out there.
It lets the lead fly first and the bait follows, giving you a more aerodynamic set up and therefore more distance. Combine this with a short nylon stiff or combi-hooklink and it will go far…Zip Lead
6. Use a Zip Lead: A lead of the Zip type will cast further than any lead out there. Aerodynamic, these leads really come into their own when used with a bait. In most circumstances you may net see a huge difference between dumpy pear leads and zips, that is until you attach your boilie. The zip gives your rig far more stability and lets you get several yards extra distance on your cast. These leads fly straight and true and will be more accurate too.
7. Use a Small Bait: Inertia is one of the main problems you come across when looking to gain those precious extra yards. It stands to reason a large 22mm boilie not only adds weight to the rig, but also adds wind resistance and makes the set up less stable in the air and less aerodynamic. If you drop your bait size down to 14mm or smaller, it won’t prevent a carp from finding and eating your offering, but it will certainly help cancel out some of the negative effects of the large bait.
8. Use a Fingerstall: This is primarily a safety issue. Braided leaders are like cheese wire, and will cut your finger down to the bone easily if you don’t wear a fingerstall. These need to be leather Reuben Heatons offers a very good one. To my mind the fear of hurting myself and certainly the pain of slicing my finger would prevent me from really leaning into a cast without one. The use of a fingerstall, the safety issue aside, gives me all the confidence to go for the big one and not worry about injury. As I said above, you need strong fine braided shock leader with no stretch to transfer the energy of the lead compressing the blank on the cast. To use braid you MUST protect your casting finger.
9. Make Sure Your Rod Handle is the Right Length: Now here is a point I bet most people don’t think about when they buy a rod to cast long range with. The length of the handle. So you can transfer the maximum of your bodyweight into the cast, you need to be able to tuck the handle under your armpit as you follow through. If the handle is too long, you’ll need to push it to one side at the end of the cast. You’ll almost certainly be losing yourself a few metres like this. You don’t need full custom built rods, but you should get a rod builder or a good tackle shop to tailor your rod for your arm length.
10. Cast Off the Deck: You can gain precious yards by laying your lead on the floor and casting off the deck. You’ll transfer all the force of the cast almost immediately as you lift the weight, compressing the blank and unleashing the full power of the rod. A couple of points to bear in mind, you might want to uprate your leader strength to 100lb or so, as the casts of this type are brutal to say the least. You also might want to lay the lead and the rig on an unhooking mat of some such thing to avoid catching the rig on the ground or vegetation as you cast. I’d probably protect the hook point with PVA also to avoid it pricking the material.
This is not an exhaustive list, but just a few tips and guide lines I’ve picked up to help you put extra yards on a cast. Don’t be afraid of breaking a rod, although its always a possibility, modern carbon fibre is a hugely strong material and in normal fishing the risks are not too great. A fishing rod is a tool so use it to its full…