Fishing from the beach is a glorious way to spend a morning or afternoon. It is hard to beat the scenery, the feel of the sand between your toes or the bucket-full of fish you can catch if you use the right lures, baits, and techniques.
But to have any level of success fishing from the surf, you need to be able to cast your rig out far enough to reach the fish. Fortunately, most anglers can learn to cast further and more accurately from the beach by simply embracing a few tips.
4 Steps for Improvement
Match Your Lure, Line, Rod, and Reel Correctly
When properly matched, your surf rod, reel, line, and lure will operate like a well-oiled machine:
- The rod will correctly load (flex) during the cast
- The reel will be able to hold an appropriate amount of suitably thick line
- The lure will fly fast enough to strip line from your reel quickly
These will enable you to cast farther with less effort and experience fewer technical problems, such as backlash, while doing so.
Matching reels and rods requires a bit of knowledge. So if you need help doing so, take a trip to your local tackle shop and solicit their assistance – most will be happy to help you find a good reel for your rod or vice versa.
Line and lure weight is much easier to determine as most manufacturers stamp their recommendations on the blank.
For example, your rod may be suitable for 10- to 20-pound-test line, and lures weighing between ½ and 3 ounces. While these recommendations aren’t rules that cannot be broken, they are relevant guidelines which you’ll be wise to follow.
It also bears mentioning that – as long as your line, lure, rod and reel are correctly matched – longer rods usually allow you to cast farther than shorter rods.
However, this increased distance and range comes at the expense of accuracy so you have to weigh these competing needs.
Use Lures with Aerodynamic Shapes
Every second your lure or bait is flying through the air, the air is slowing it down.
However, some lure shapes will cut through the air more efficiently, allowing them to retain more of their speed. This will enable the lure to fly farther on the cast, thereby increasing your casting distance.
Accordingly, it makes sense to select the most aerodynamic lures possible when trying to cast from the shore. Obviously, you have to fish with the lures and baits the fish want so this isn’t always possible.
But you should take advantage of aerodynamic lures and rigs whenever possible. If you are using artificial lures, you’ll likely find that crankbaits, plugs, and spoons are among the best-flying lures, while spinnerbaits and soft-plastic lures do not fly as far.
Live or cut-bait rigs present additional challenges. Not only are the baits themselves relatively bulky, but you also need to use a sinker to keep the bait in place and give the rig enough heft to cast.
So you want to be sure to select the most streamlined sinkers possible and use the narrowest baits you can to achieve the greatest casting distance.
Teardrop-shaped sinkers are typically among the best for long-distance casts, although bullet-style weights can also be useful.
Perfect Your Basic Casting Technique
You may be surprised to see how much farther you can increase your reach by honing your casting technique.
Two of the most important things that you should focus on include maximizing the degree to which the lure loads the rod and letting the rod provide the muscle.
The bulk of the energy created during an excellent cast comes from the rod flexing and then straightening, not your gigantic biceps.
Learning to maximize the degree of flex present in the rod takes a good deal of practice. But once you get the feel of it, you’ll find it easy to accomplish on cast after cast.
The second important aspect you want to focus on is timing your forward swing with the straightening of the rod.
In an ideal cast, you’d bring the rod from the far point behind you to the stopping point at the front of the cast at the same time the rod is straightening – this imparts the most possible speed and force on the lure.
Learn to Execute the Pendulum Cast
The pendulum cast is a technique that effectively allows you to increase the apparent length of your rod.
Instead of starting the cast with only a foot or two of line extending from the tip of your rod, you want to increase the amount of line hanging from the tip of your rod significantly.
Often, surf anglers will allow using half a rod length’s worth of line, and some anglers even use twice this much.
There are a variety of ways to execute the pendulum cast. Most anglers eventually end up crafting their technique that works best for their own needs. The cast begins by raising the lure up off the ground in a gentle arc.
Once the lure extends as far back (away from the water) as possible, the angler begins bringing the rod tip forward in a typical casting motion.
This type of casting technique imparts incredible speed on the lure which causes it to fly from the shore much farther than a conventionally cast lure.
How Far Do You Need to Cast?
Now that you have learned the four tips for casting greater distances, you may be wondering how far you’ll be able to cast. You obviously need to be able to reach the fish which lurk in the slack water just beyond the area in which the waves break.
If you set up your gear correctly, use the right types of lures and perfect your casting skills. You should be able to launch your bait about 80 to 90 yards with a conventional cast.
This is sufficient for reaching beyond the breaking waves in many spots, although you may have to move up or down the beach to find places where the break zone is within range.
On the other hand, you can reach much farther by using a pendulum cast. Once you’ve practiced the technique for a while and have become comfortable with it, you may be able to rocket your lure 200 yards from shore or more.
Not only will this enable you to reach most break zones, but you can also reach farther into the relatively calm water where even larger predators and gamefish hang out.
Share Your Thoughts
Just remember that like any other skill, you’ll get better casting from the bank with practice. So get out to the beach and start hurling your lure out to the horizon!
Do you have any other tips or tricks that help you cast more efficiently from the surf? We’d love to hear about them. They may help some of your fellow beach anglers improve their casting ability too.
Let us know how you achieve maximum distance and accuracy in the comments below.