Longer casting distance means more fish
Casting distance has always mattered to me. But it wasn’t terribly important as long as I could reach the fish with my bait or lure. But it became critically important once I began fishing from a kayak. Most anglers realize a difference between casting while standing on the bow of a boat and casting while sitting only a couple of inches above the water’s surface.
In my quest for increased casting distance, I have found a few things worthy of discussion and consideration. The first is rod length. With a properly matched outfit, a longer rod will cast greater distances This principle explains why surf fishermen use longer rods.
Matching the outfit to the task is very important. Rods perform best within certain weight ranges and work best when the line and lure are within that range. They also perform best when the reel is neither too large nor too small. A balanced outfit is important.
The rod’s action contributes to casting distance. A slow or standard-action rod bends throughout its total length. But a fast-action rod does most of its bending in the tip section. Using surf fishermen as the example again, a rod is with a slower action is better suited to casting heavy things.
Fast-tip rods increase casting distance
Conversely, fast-action or fast-tip rods are better suited to increased casting distances with lighter lures. A fast-tip rod helps maximize line speed. This can increase casting distance, especially with lighter lures or flies. This type of action is well suited to fishermen using shorter and quicker casting strokes, which is common with kayakers. Once a fish is hooked, the fast-tip rod also has more mid-rod and butt strength. And this equates to more power for fighting larger fish. Fast-tip fly rods have become popular with saltwater fly fishermen, and anglers using conventional and spinning gear are following suit.
Line diameter and composition also combine to be a factor in casting distance. Generally, the smaller the line diameter, the easier it moves through the air. And this increases the distance it will move with the same effort. Stretch can also help increase casting distance as long as it is not too great. A little stretch can add a little bit of a rubber-band effect. And this increases the initial acceleration of a lure being cast and can help increase casting distance.
Considering these factors, and assuming the proper size reel is used, a long, slow-taper rod would cast a heavier lure farther. And a long, fast-taper rod would cast a lighter lure farther. The final tuning could be done with line or a combination of lines.
High sticking is a factor to consider
That sounds easy, but not everything is simple. “High sticking” is the term used to describe when a rod is raised above about 60 degrees from horizontal. When an angler holds a rod at this angle while fighting a fish, it puts extra strain on the rod. As the rod angle is increased to more vertical, and the angle of the line leaving the rod tip becomes closer to parallel to the rod, the strain increases dramatically. And it can be enough to break the tip.
Unfortunately, a kayak fisherman must high-stick his rod to lead fish close enough to land. Initially, many kayak fishermen used slow-action rods to ease the strain. But as they joined the quest for increased casting distance, they began reexamining fast taper rods.
In my quest for increased casting distance while fishing from a kayak, I have been using fast fip spinning rods in 6-foot-6, 7-foot and 7-foot-6 models with either a split or 1-piece cork grip. Some fishermen say the split grip is more sensitive. But the 1-piece grip fits my hand better. I also use a lighter rod to take advantage of the stiffer mid-section. With standard-taper rods, I use those rated for eight to 16 pounds. But with fast-tip rods, I prefer the lighter action of 6- to 14-pound rods.
Proper line/leader combo can eliminate broken rod tips
I found enough additional casting distance when trying the fast tip rods to keep using them. But I couldn’t accept the fact I would occasionally break a tip. So I began experimenting with lines and leaders. I developed a leader system that allows me to use the positive aspects of the fast-tip rod, while mitigating some of the strain created when high-sticking the rod to land a fish.
My line-and-leader combination uses braided line and a monofilament leader. Yep, you read that correctly; mono. I will not argue that fluorocarbon is the most-invisible leader material. But dull-green mono is right behind. And dull-gray mono is a close third in being less visible. Mono stretches, while fluorocarbon doesn’t. I use dull-green or gray mono that is one weight stronger than the braid — for example, 10-pound braid and 12-pound mono.
It’s similar to the shock leader a surf fisherman uses. It is long enough to reach from the lure, through all the guides and wrap around the spool of the reel twice. This allows the flex and stretch of the mono to absorb all of the stress of casting. It also uses the stretch to create that rubber-band effect that boosts the initial acceleration of the lure. This equates to faster lure speeds and longer casts. As fly fishermen realized, this can be done with a shorter casting action. And that action helps when fishing around docks or other structure or under tree limbs in a creek or stream.
Surgeon’s Knot is good for joining braided line to mono
The stretch of the mono also works to cushion and protect the strain on the rod when high-sticking a fish to get it those last few inches to a net or gaff. It isn’t flawless, but it helps a lot. And it’s been a long time since I broke a rod.
Braided line is smaller in diameter and goes through the air easier, especially in cross-situations. This same trait allows the braided line to cut through the water more easily and creates less deflection from currents while working a lure. The six to eight feet of mono is not enough to seriously negate the sensitivity of braided line. With the combination of the high-modulus graphite rod and braided line, you can still almost feel the fish deciding to bite. Be assured that if it touches the lure, you know!
Several knots will work to join the mono and braid. I prefer the Surgeon’s Knot, but add one more pass through the loop before snugging the knot. This gives an extra cushion to the knot and adds strength, while preventing slip and not increasing the diameter of the knot. It holds very well. I can’t remember a knot failure.
While this rod-and-leader combination was designed to add distance and increase durability while kayak fishing, I have found it does the same things while fishing from a boat. I believe you’ll find that also.
NOTE: Don’t use this leader system when fishing in flooded marsh grass or under docks. The long leader is more likely to be cut than a shorter one.
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