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Tips and tricks for casting

It does not matter if you are an expert fisher or a novice; there are two main considerations you have to take into account. Distance and accuracy will make or break any cast you do as a fisher. If you cannot cast with distance and accuracy, you will not catch many fish. As a general rule, spinning gear is for distance while bait casting gear is for distance.

Becoming a proficient caster is not as hard as you think. It is all in letting the rod and the spring of the rod do the work for you. Instead of throwing the lure, let the rods natural spring flick your lure into the water. Throwing the lure will make you lose accuracy and distance.

The power, action, length and guide size of your rod will determine how well it performs. If your rod is too powerful for your lighter lure you will not get enough back cast to properly flick your lure into the water. If the opposite happens, then you will not have enough power to propel the lure into the water.

If you are using a lighter lure, use a slow-action rod, this way the entire lure will give you power on the cast. If you want more leverage for a longer cast, use a longer rod. Having a guide that is too small will restrict the line flow and cause friction, making it harder to cast for distance. Another friction creator is having the guides places too far apart. This will make the line slap against the rod.

Rods are not the only thing that can affect your casting ability. Your line weight and type can drastically hinder or help your casting skills. For shorter casts use a stiffer, heavier line. Only use a line with enough weight to fill the spool and never overfill your spool.

Most modern reels will allow you to make accurate, long casts, but there are some specifications. Long spool spinning reels will cast further then short spool spinning reels. Long spool spinning reels will keep the line level during the cast. Casting for long distance with a short spool spinning reel will cause your line to slap the rod, creating friction and shorten your distance.

There are three basic casting techniques: casting for spinning gear, cast for bait casting gear and fly casting. Each one has a slightly different method depending on the gear you are using and the fish you are going after. For the novice fisher or the curious expert, here are instructions on how to cast for each type.

Spinning gear: 1) While gripping the rod, hold the line with your index finger. This will prevent the line from flowing off the spool with the bail open. 2) Briskly bring back the rood smoothly stopping at the 10 o’clock position. The weight of your lure should cause a slight bend in your rod. 3) Smoothly, using your wrists, stroke the rod forward. Midway through the stroke, release the line from your index finger. 4) To stop the line on target, feather the line with your index finger.

Bait casting gear: 1) Press the release but thumb the spool so that your line will not spin off prematurely. 2) Using both hands, swing the rod back smoothly overhead, stopping at the 10 o’clock position. Use a straight overhand motion for the best accuracy. 3) Use a smooth forward stroke to bring the rod forward, removing your thumb from the spool at mid-stroke.

Fly cast: 1) Let out the amount of line you want to use. Make sure you are standing comfortably facing your target. Align your entire rod arm so that the tip of the rod is pointing at the target and lower the tip of your rod. Remove the slack from your line. 2) Raise your rod slowly and accurately until the entire length of line is out of the water. 3) Force a bend in the rod by applying a short backward speed stroke. This will propel the ling into the back cast. 4) Stop the rod letting a loop form in your line overhead. 5) Pause back casting so that your line forms a ‘J’. Once this happens, start forward casting. 6) Make a quick short stroke and stop the rod, aiming your cast at your target. Let the line settle into the water and lower your rod into fishing position.

No matter what your skill level, fishing always becomes a better and more fun experience when you can cast properly. Casting with accuracy and distance can allow you to catch more fish, especially if you use a lure that provides action at any speed, will not turn over and looks like a baitfish.

Releasing fish

In the past, most fishers kept everything they caught; now times have changed. Because of the pressure on most bodies of water, catch and release fishing has become more popular. It can be used to manage fish in fisheries and as a voluntary method among conservative fishers to keep the fish population high. The practice of catch and release is only effective if the fish is handled properly during release.

A general rule is to land fish as fast as possible; fighting with them for too long will exhaust it and cause a build up of harmful lactic acids in its blood. The fish might seem to be fine when it swims away but it could die later from this build-up. Choose a fishing line with a pound-test rating that allows you to put a lot of pressure on the fish without breaking the line.

Do not handle the fish by hand for long periods of time. The best practice is to use the water-release method, discussed here and removing the hook from the fish while it is still in the water. If you have to hold a fish to unhook it or to take a picture wet your hands first. This will prevent the protective layer of slime coating the fish to come off.

Limit the time the fish spends out of the water. If the hook becomes too difficult to remove and you have to hold the fish out of the water, dunk it back into the water periodically. Do not rip out a hook if it is lodged too deep or if it is in the fish’s throat of stomach. Instead, cut the line. Fish have strong enough digestive acids to dissolve a metal hook after a short period of time.

Make sure a fish is ready to be released before releasing it. Cradle the fish gently under the belly in the water and make sure it can swim freely. If a fish cannot right itself or they do not have strong gill movement, be patient and give them time to recover.

Other tips and tricks:

Grab bass and other non-toothy fish by the lower jaw. If you are going to jaw-hold a fish make sure you are not at an angel because it can severely injure the fish. Use a fine mesh cradle instead of a net when you need to land larger fish. A cradle will prevent movement but will keep a fish from injuring itself or getting hooks tangled in the mesh. Try to remove hooks when a fish is still in the water. To make water-release easier use a hook with a barb pinched down. Hold bigger fish horizontally with one hand in front of its tail and the other beneath its belly. If you lift a larger fish by the gills to measure or weigh it, you could cause rips and tears to the gill arch. Gently rock a fish back and forth to revive it. When it can swim from your hands and stay upright, let it go. When you release a fish, keep its head facing a moderate current of the river or stream. A strong indicator that a fish is ready to be released is strong gill movement.

Releasing fish is good practice to keep lakes rivers and other bodies of water full. If you insist on keeping your catch, make sure you stay within fishing laws for your area and that you do not keep pregnant fish. Keeping the fish population high will allow future generations to enjoy the sport and will ensure you can enjoy fishing for as long as you can hold a rod.

Playing and landing fish

After setting the hook and having a fish on the line, a great deal of skill may be required to land larger fish. If you have the right equipment for the situation, the most important rule to follow is to use the rod, as well as the reel’s drag, to tire out the fish. If you combine these factors with patience you will more than likely land that trophy fish.

Playing fish:

Remember to always keep steady pressure on the fish whenever possible, reeling in line only when the fish allows. If a fish is trying to swim a way, never reel it in. When your line starts coming towards the surface, it is often a good clue that the fish is going to jump. If this happens, lower your rod tip towards the water and keep a downward pressure on the line. If you allow the fish to jump, you could end up throwing your hook and losing the fish.

After some time, the fish will eventually tire itself out. Once it does that, slowly work it toward you. Pump the rod upward and drop the tip slowly to collect line. Never allow any slack in the line and always keep a slight bend in the line. Once the fish is six feet from the rod tip, stop reeling it in. With the fish at the side of the boat, or close to the shore, make sure you are ready for a sudden run by loosening your drag. Plunge the rod down into the water if the fish tries to run under the boat. Also try to get to the other side of the boat by going around the front or rear. Keep tension on your line at all times or else you will lose the fish.

Landing fish:

Most fishers lose their prize fish once they get close to the boat or shore. This is often caused when you are or your landing partner is not prepared to land the fish. Here are the most common methods to land a fish, but remember; every situation and every fish is different.

Hand-landing is the best approach, especially if you plan on releasing the fish. Most species of fish can be landed by firmly gripping the fish by the lower jaw; this is especially effective with bass. Other species, you will have to grab the fish from the top with your thumb on one side and your fingers on the other, near the back of the gill plate. No matter how you grip a fish, make sure your hand is wet first this way you will not remove the fish’s protective slime layer.

Some situations call for netting the fish. Netting is useful if you are not comfortable hand-landing the fish, you do not plan on releasing it, or if the fish is larger. You can also use a net to catch fish with sharp teeth like muskies or northern pike. Fish will often have to go through additional stress when you net them because sometimes the hooks can get caught in the net and it can take an angler a while to untangle the fish from the net.

A salt-water technique used for landing large fish that have to be subdued is gaffing. Larger fresh water species like catfish or salmon can be brought in by gaffing but with the increased participation of catch-and-release fishing, gaffing is now limited.

A very popular method is water-releasing. This method involves releasing the fish while it is still in the water, possibly sacrificing any lure or bait you have on the hook. Once the fish gets close enough to the boat you can use pliers or a hook cutter to aid in a quick release. If you are catching larger fish it is a good idea to have the reel set on free spool, this way if the fish tries to make a sudden run away from the boat, you will not lose your entire rod. If the fish does try to run and you have your reel set on free spool, you can simply grab your line and pull it back in.

You have to be careful when water-releasing gamefish especially if you are using bait with multiple hooks. Fish will move about when you are trying to release them and the wrong movement could cause a hook to get embedded in your hand. If you cannot get a hook free from a fish’s mouth without harming it, cut it with hook cutters and always make sure you have a pair of hook cutters handy.

Landing a fish on shore is slightly different than landing a fish in a boat. Keep the rod bent at all times so that your line has no slack and the hook will stay in the fish’s mouth. Get as close as you can to the water or get in the water. Reach for the line and steer the fish towards you. If you plan on releasing the fish, keep it in the water to unhook it so it will not be stressed and swim away on harmed. Make sure you have a pair of pliers or hook cutters, just in case you cannot get the hook out.