As with everything, practice makes perfect, but by breaking your cast up into various components and ensuring that one takes the maximum benefit out of every part of it, you will be able to get really good casts consistently.
The important parts of the body that are involved here are the arms, the shoulders and back, the legs and your head. Bear in mind this is aimed at right-handed anglers and the opposite will apply for left-handed anglers.
The left arm action is best imagined as a back-hand tennis shot. The right arm action is like throwing a javelin.
Shoulders and Back
Here we have extremely strong muscles that can be used very effectively in delivering a really strong cast. The action is again very similar to that of throwing a javelin, with your left arm extended and your body twisted to the right. Your left arm will be almost at chest-height crossing the front of the chest.
The leg muscles, when used correctly, will add to the power of the cast. During the casting action, the left leg is forward and closest to the sea with your right leg behind at a comfortable distance of between 1.5 and 2 shoulder widths. You should be able to rock comfortably to and fro, shifting the balance from one foot to the other. The knees are going to be bending in this action, but it is the back leg that should be bending as far as is comfortable to be able to propel the body forward during the cast. The back leg, is the one that really adds the power to the cast. This is delivered as the body starts going into the forward motion by using the back leg to push off hard, almost jumping forward.
This is the part of the body that co-ordinates all of the above actions, getting them to all synchronise into a smooth and powerful cast. It also triggers the line release at precisely the right moment to achieve the correct angle or trajectory of cast, depending on conditions (head wind low, tail wind high). The most important thing to remember about the head is the fact that it has the ability to facilitate practice or rehearsal, even when you cannot physically be practicing your casting. Just by using your imagination and rehearsing each of these steps in your mind, will make a big difference to your performance.
Three important exercises to do with your fishing rod
- The off-the-ground cast (O.T.G.)
You must practice this with the objective of improving each and every time you do it. Using a 1.5m to 2m drop, put your sinker down on the ground and then move away from it as far as is possible without falling over or moving the sinker. You should end up in a casting pose that includes everything that we have discussed above. From your left hand through to your sinker, there should be a dead straight line made up by your rod and line. From this position, launch your cast. The objective here is to achieve a smooth, but rapid acceleration of the sinker.
- The push-back
In this exercise the rod must be held at around hip level with the arms almost straight and the body pose must include all the points in exercise 1, but especially 2 and 3. The body must rock back and forth, but on the back-stroke, or push-back, the sinker must be pushed back as far as possible as in the O.T.G. cast, but the point at which the sinker stops must be about half to one-metre above the ground. This is the point at which all the forward motions of a cast would normally begin. Practice this and become very comfortable with this rocking and loading type of action without actually casting.
As you get better and more comfortable with this, start to feel for the point at which you will start your cast. What we are looking for here is that point in the push-back where your rod, line and sinker are all in a straight line, but the sinker has not yet stopped going backwards. This is the best point to start your forward casting action. If you are a touch too late, your sinker will have stopped and started to fall to the ground. This will skew your cast. It is also very important that the sinker is still pulling away from you as this helps to create additional load on the rod and improve your cast. It is a very sweet spot and you must keep practicing and feeling for it. Very important to get this right.
- The cast
Once you feel you have mastered the above you can start practicing your casting. The more your practice, the better you will get. Another very important thing to try to grasp is that a cast is not like an explosion. It is like throwing a javelin or shot-put and for those that have done it before, pull-starting an old outboard motor, lawnmower or diesel generator. The secret is a rapid rate of acceleration rather than an immediate explosion. Happy practice and CID (cast in deep).
You need to practice or train by doing the following exercises:
- You can use hand-weights to practice with the arms and strengthen them.
- Practice twisting your body and shoulders without moving your feet.
- Practice the rocking exercise so that you can loosen up and become very familiar and comfortable with this.
- This exercise is the same as the above except one introduces the pushing off the right leg.
- Perfect the O.T.G. cast.
- Practice the Push-Back – find the sweet spot.
- Practice your casting.