Ever wanted to out-cast your friends and contemporaries? Damian Clarke shows you just how to do that...
Distance casting is a part of carp angling that tends to be overlooked, mainly due to most people finding it a difficult discipline to master.
But how can you possibly get the best out of your swim if you’re only fishing at 70-80 yards like everybody else? Being able to cast long distances and with accuracy will add another string to your bow, similar to a tennis professional who spends time perfecting a big serve.
Also, there is nothing more frustrating than seeing carp topping and crashing at 100-yards-plus and not being able to cast to them. You don’t need to fish at distance all the time, but if you have the knowledge and skills, at least you can fish longrange when the situation warrants.
Rods and reels for long range work
Having the right gear to be able to cast long range is the first step. If you’re in the market for a new carp-fishing set-up, go for stiffer rods, around 3lb test-curve, and big reels rather than softer rods and small spooled reels. It’s better to have gear that will go the distance if needed. A stiff rod will definitely cast long; soft rods will struggle.
“I use Daiwa rods,” says Damian. “I find their rod blanks very responsive, with low levels of torque. The lower the torque rating of a rod, the truer and straighter the cast. Free Spirit and Greys also make some excellent models. Shop around until you find a set that you’re comfortable with. It’s better to be master of one rod than apprentice of many.”
A big-pit reel is a must for anyone looking to regularly fish at distance. The spools on these reels are much wider and longer than a standard reel. Big-pit reels also carry plenty of line and this larger surface area allows the mainline to come off smoother and with less friction. The friction caused by the line rubbing against the lip of the spool is one of the main causes of reduced casting distance. In order to reduce friction to a minimum, you must fill your reel spools right up to the lip.
“Not filling the spool correctly is one of the biggest mistakes I see anglers make,” says Damian. “If you fill the reel properly, you’ll add distance to your casts instantly, regardless of what rods and reels you are using.”
Braid or mono?
There are advantages and disadvantages to using both braid and mono as a mainline.
The main plus points of braid over mono are instant bite indication; braid has virtually no stretch. When fishing with mono at extreme ranges, a carp could easily move the lead sixinches or more without giving any indication at the rod end. With braid, a six-inch movement of the rig will give a six-inch movement at the rod end. Braid is also much thinner than mono which helps gain a few extra yards on the cast.
Inexperienced users of braided mainlines tend to have problems with wind knots, resulting in ‘crack-offs’. Wind knots can easily be avoided by following a few simple rules. Firstly, make a couple of short casts to wet the line. Also splash water onto the spool before you wind in. Secondly, keep a constant pressure when winding in braid. If you wind and pump the rod, you’ll cause slack spots on the spool and it’s these slack spots that cause wind knots.
What lead to use
Lead shapes cause a great deal of confusion among novice carp anglers. Each lead has a different shape for a reason and each one has its own use, just like different float patterns. For distance fishing, Damian’s first choice is a Korda Distance Casting swivel lead (pictured left).
“The thing I like about these leads is that they have a weightforward profile,” says Damian.
Having the bulk of the weight forward makes the lead and rig more stable in flight. The old Zip/ Tournament Casting leads are not as stable in flight and can wobble, cutting down on casting distance. The forward weighting of the Distance Casting lead gives it a bulletlike profile providing better forward momentum.
In-line leads are also to be avoided when looking to cast great distances. They may look more aerodynamic than swivel leads, but with an in-line lead the hook link has a tendency to spin round the lead like a propeller. Again, reducing the overall casting distance.
There are a couple of safety considerations to take into account when looking to blast out a lead 100-yards plus.
Firstly, always use a shock leader, which is a length of heavy mono or braid attached to the end of the mainline.
At 20lb-plus breaking strain, shock leaders help to take the brunt of big casts and help avoid the lead from cracking off. To tie a shock leader, Damian uses a double fourturn grinner knot.
Another safety tip is the use of a casting glove or fingerstall. If your fingers are damp, particularly after spoding, the water can soften the skin on your fingers and hands, leaving you prone to deep cuts.
These can be especially nasty if you’re using braid. Also, if this happens at the start of your session, that session can be ruined. “I’ve sliced up a few fingerstalls in the past, just casting, so God knows what it would have done to my finger!” says Damian.
There are two main rig setups for long-distance fishing: helicopter set-ups and safety clip set-ups. Helicopter rigs (see diagram, right) have the lead tied on to the end of the mainline/leader. The hook link swivel is semi-fixed in to place by using beads positioned either side of the swivel. This set-up allows the hook link to spin around the mainline, similar to a helicopter’s propeller. The advantage of this rig is that it’s virtually tangle-free and with the lead leading the cast, it will effortlessly fly long distances.
The disadvantage of the helicopter rig is down to the semi-fixed nature of the beads that hold the hook link in place; it’s better as a single hook bait rig. The use of PVA bags or stringers with a helicopter rig can force the top bead up the leader, taking the hook link with it.
Safety clip set-ups are not quite as aerodynamic as helicopter rigs, but they are more versatile. Safety clip setups can be used with PVA bags, stringers and sticks, or with single hook baits, giving more presentation options.
5 distance casting tips
1) Use a rod that will cast to the distances that you want to fish.
2) Fill your spool right to the brim.
3) Braid, being thinner than mono, will help you cast a few extra yards straight away.
4) A weightforward lead casts further than any other shape.
5) Think safety! Always use a shockleader and finger protection when distance casting. To attach a shockleader you can use a variety of different knots, although the beachcaster knot (see diagram, below) is a strong, simple one that works.