Corrective shore casting
Casting is the most misunderstood part of beach fishing. Beginners are put off by talk of pendulum’s, layback styles, long and short drops. In a nut shell it’s just to complicated for a beginner to follow. They give up and develop a style of their own that fails to capitalize on a few simple rules that can dramatically improve your distance without hours of practice.
Lack of simple information is the real problem, and if more people learnt the simple basic casting styles first their progression to more powerful techniques would be less of a bumpy ride. That’s the aim of this article. To get the basics sorted out, and to eliminate any already built in mistakes.
The simplest and easiest cast of all is a coordinated pull and punch of both arms. This is commonly referred to as the “overhead thump”.
Stance is the first thing to understand. For right handed casters you left foot should be facing in the same direction you want the lead to travel and be just a little forward of the body for extra balance.
Place your right foot a few inches to the right and behind your left foot with the toes roughly level with the left foots heel. Your right foot will naturally be more comfortable facing at a right angle. This is good because it gives balance and something to kick with at the latter end of the cast.
Some use the hour positions on the clock as a guide. If you prefer this the toes on your left foot should point to 12 o,clock and right foot aiming somewhere between 1 and 2 o,clock.
Keep the feet in this position but twist your chest from waist level so that it faces at a full right angle from the sea. This bit of twist in the upper torso is where most of the power that goes in to the cast comes from. Your arms are the weakest part of your body and really only pass on power to the rod from the rest of your body.
Now take up this stance but with a rod in your hand. Push your left arm almost straight out in front of you and just to the left of your face. Now raise your left arm until it points high in to the sky at about 45 degrees. This will naturally pull your right arm straight and give the rod too flat a trajectory.
Leave your left arm exactly where it is but lower the right hand by bending the arm at the elbow. You need to dip the rod tip down towards the ground a little and the bending of the elbow achieves this. Remember, you will have a the length of a trace between the rod tip and ground so the drop of the tip is not great. Probably 2ft is the average. The lead weight should just hover a fraction above the ground prior to the cast beginning.
Having achieved this stance exactly, you now simply turn your head almost in to the target, but looking high in the sky. Now pull through letting the left hand do the work until the right hand comes level with the face. Now continue to pull what will now be downwards with the left hand, but also push upwards with the right hand. Aim for a smooth flow of movement. Don’t rush, the cast is slowish. If you try to be too quick the cast will tend to go either straight up in the air, or have a low trajectory from the start which loses distance.
Spend time practicing this. It’s very easy if you read my words with care. As you pull and punch with the arms you are combining the power from the muscles in the waist and back. As the lead is released the rod will face upwards at about 45 degrees, the left hand will have pulled high in to the chest, and the right arm will stretch out in front of you. You gain a few extra yards by following the descent of the lead with the rod tip. This keeps the line spilling from the reel in the most resistance free way.
Choose a soft actioned rod for this casting style. A supple tip will store power quicker and easier without you needing to put in massive power. A rod between 11.5ft and 12ft is correct. Go longer and the extra length when the rod tip is lowered sees the rod too flat which again gives a too high trajectory.
Expect a distance achievement with practice of about 70yds with baits. Don’t expect more because this style is not capable of massive distances. You’re not using the main muscles of the body to their full extent.
When this style has been fully mastered you can consider other simple ways to add more power.
Keep your feet in the same position as before. This time twist round at the waist a little more than previously so that your chest faces more towards the rear of the beach but still not fully so.
The rod needs to be held at about mid chest height and is pushed more to the rear by fully straightening the right arm and bending the left arm at the elbow. The drop between rod tip and weight will need to be about 3ft with the lead just above the ground.
If you’ve got the stance correct you feel your weight has been transferred to the right foot to a greater degree. Your right knee and leg will be straight, but the heel of your left foot will be raised off the ground. This transfer of body weight from right to left foot during the latter stages of the cast adds power.
The cast sequence sees you turn your head to look high above the intended target, pull through by turning the upper torso first and in doing so the arms naturally follow. You reach the identical arm position of the first cast we described and the follow through is the same.
This cast puts maybe 25 to 30yds on to previous distances once you’ve fully mastered it. Don’t try for more because it won’t come. The arc that the rod moves in is not long enough.
With experience and good timing this cast can be used to deliver even more power. You start with the rod pointing almost seawards then twist round with both upper body and arms to bring the rod backwards at a moderate speed. When the rod reaches a point where it is facing directly rearwards but is in direct line with the intended target, you stop. The lead weight, on about a 4ft drop, will rise from the vertical to a horizontal position, when you will feel it pull on the rod tip. As this pull is felt you execute the cast exactly as described before remembering to get the head round and aim high.
This proves very powerful and can push distances with baits well past the 100yd mark. You’re utilizing power stored in the back and leg muscles to a greater degree, but you’ve also started to bend the rod prior to casting for the first time. Other than pendulum this is the only cast you need consider using the swing of the lead to add power. it’s still very simple, but does need a fair degree of timing to hit the lead dead right as it pulls on the rod tip.
Too much has been made of the off ground style of casting. A basic technique is very easy to learn and don’t let yourself be put off by this.
The same stance as previously described for the feet is the starting point, though, you can move both feet to face more to the right if it feels more comfortable. Twist round as before until the rod is in the position for the second cast we described. This time, with the lead on a 6ft drop, we swing the lead gently away and to the rear of us, or out to the far right side of us for much more power through increasing the travelling arc of the lead. Now, keep the rod tip almost touching the ground and allow the line between rod tip and weight to come tight, but don’t move the weight.
Your arms should be pushed away from you and raised. The left hand should be just above head height and the right at about chin level. The rod tip stays almost touching the ground. The angle of the rod should be pointing roughly in a line away from your right shoulder. Begin as before by turning your head to look at the target area high in the sky. Use the waist to begin the sequence letting the arms naturally follow through and complete with the pull and punch of the arms.
This is a slow cast. Speed does not help beginners gain distance. The smooth controlled flow is the answer to learning and eventually distance. This off the ground cast, if chosen, is helped by choosing a longer rod than the 12ft. 13ft, maybe even 14ft if you’re well built adds to the width of the rods travelling arc and increases tip speed which gives more power to the lead. All through actioned rods are still acceptable, though, better still, is something with a stiffer butt and mid section.
Don’t try to learn with too light a lead weight. Choose a 5oz or 5.25 oz weight. You need this weight to feel the lead during the cast. Lighter weights make the cast feel faster and your timing is lost.
The first three casts we talked off keep the lead weight away from the ground and can be used whether you need to cast from clean sand, off shingle, or off a rock platform. The off ground cast is really only suitable when fishing from a clean sand stance. You can use a launch slide but these are a nuisance to carry, and you never quite get your body position right working to the whim of the launch slide instead of setting yourself up independently. However, when casting from a snag free base the off ground can put baits well over 130yds in the right hands. Infact, though it lacks the same versatility, in distance it is almost equal to the full blown pendulum.
Always use the longest drop between rod tip and lead you feel comfortable with. The longer the line between the two the more power is generated. This applies to all the styles we discussed.
Even when alone, ensure that you incorporate a very strong leader attached to your main reel line to take the strain of casting the heavy weight. For the styles described a new leader of 50lb line is strong enough. An experienced off ground caster would be better going up to a 60lb leader just to be safe.
The most important point that is worth repeating for new casters is that speed and raw aggression does not improve your distance. Aim for smoothness first, moving in to the cast slowly but purposefully, then pile on the power late when the rod has begun to work.