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Improve your casting technique with some tips from lake owner Matt

We all get casts wrong from time to time but practice and good technique rule. Here, I will attempt to answer some typical casting questions I hear from our visitors to the lake. This first question comes from Bob, a 2nd time visitor to Beausoleil and a man with an endless curiosity for more carpy knowledge (a trait which I admire in anyone!)

angler casting from home swim at french carp lake tips

Bob’s casting question:

How far from the surface of the water should I start to feather the cast to get the hook link in front of the lead? I think I’m doing it too early because it’s spinning around like a windmill! Also, should I feather it to a standstill before entering the water, once it enters the water or not at all?

Tips to improve your casting technique:

Casting well is fundamental to consistent results and one of the most important arts to master. As always correct technique is vital, followed by practice and lots of it! I’ve tried to summarise my approach to casting below and answer the points that you’ve raised:

  • I only ever feather the cast to decelerate the lead if I have cast too hard (whether I’m fishing clipped up or not).
  • Different rigs move differently in the air. When I add some PVA mesh to the rig, I get the same helicopter effect myself. Normally I only put 2 x 20mm baits on the hair and nothing else. The rig doesn’t spin at all which I prefer.
  • When I cast, my target is for the lead to arrive 0.5m above the surface in the right place at the right distance. At this moment I will trap the line quickly against the spool with my index finger and hold the rod at a fixed angle. This will turn the rig over and land the lead correctly (when fishing braided rig it is essential that you do this or you will end up with a tangled mess). As the lead drops, I keep the line trapped and tight to the lead until the lead hits bottom. I can then tell by how hard the lead hits the bottom whether it has landed on soft or firm silt or gravel. If I’m fishing over large clean areas of gravel or silt I usually don’t bother to put the line in the clip. It’s important to cast roughly in the same area of course but during daylight hours, that’s easily judged.
  • When fishing to very precise gravel marks or silt patches, or close to marginal trees or at night, I start by casting a bare lead and stop the lead just short of where I want to fish by trapping the line. While holding the line tight to the lead, I open the bail arm and pay out an extra 1-2m depending on how short I think the cast was. I then put the line in the clip (twice round always!) and recast the bare lead while holding the rod at a fixed angle. If I’ve obviously cast too hard, I might feather the cast to slow the lead or stop it in an emergency! If not, I let it fly until it hits the clip. The target is to hit the clip 0.5m above the water which gives the rig the time to turn and drop. As the lead falls, I hold a tight line until I feel it land. If I’m happy with the direction, distance and the drop or donk that I get, I will then tie a rig on and recast. Even if it takes 6 chucks to get I right I’ve always found that it’s more important to recast until I’m happy (obviously I like to get it right in one or two!).


Other typical casting problems are:

  • Directional variation? You must keep the rod moving in a straight line throughout the arc of the cast or else the lead won’t go where you want it.
  • Strength variation? Especially when fishing accurately to distant marks, it’s very important to cast with just enough strength for the lead to arrive 0.5m above the water. Too hard and the lead will hit the clip 2m above the water, bounce back and fall on the bottom in a tangled heap. Too soft and the lead won’t hit the clip, punch through the surface short of your target and fall in a tangled heap.
  • Variation in cast trajectory? If the lead flies flat one cast and high the next the distance will vary greatly when fishing to the clip. I find I can control this by ensuring that the angle of the rod that I start the cast from is the same and that you keep the drop to the lead the same. If you take the rod all the way back flat to the floor, the cast will be high. If the rod angle is more vertical, it will be flatter. Obviously you to need to release the line at exactly the right moment (I have no idea how I do that!).
  • Not able to feel the lead down? If there is any slack in the line as the lead drops through the water you won’t feel the lead down (unless you’re fishing over very soft silt, or the water is too shallow). If you cast too hard the lead will bounce back and you’ll miss the donk. The only solution to this is to cast just hard enough. Even if you cast with just the right amount of force, if you let the angle of the rod drop as the lead falls, you will slacken the line and miss the donk. The trick is to cast just hard enough and then hold the rod at a fixed angle every single time. When fishing at 40-50 yards, I finish with an angle of about 45 degrees. I’ve found that I can control the drop better if I increase this when fishing further out and lower when casting to shorter marks. If you’re still having problems, then as soon as the lead hits the water gently increase the rod angle, this will maintain a tight line and enable to get the donk you want.

Advanced casting tip:

Sometimes I want to make a low and flat punch type cast when fishing below marginal cover. To do this I shorten the drop to the lead to 2ft and hold the rod at a high angle before I cast. I then punch the cast out with a very quick short action towards the mark and lower the rod flat (but slightly to one side) before the lead hits the clip. On impact the rod will be pulled straight and take some sting off the cast (I prefer to do this with small solid PVA bags as presentation is guaranteed). To further flatten out the cast, I do this from a one knee kneeling position. You can achieve an even flatter cast by flicking it out sideways but directional control is a real problem.

I hope this helps you bank a few more carp the next time you’re on the bank.

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