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Fishing Articles from Phil Rolfe
Witch Bay Camp, Lake of the Woods

Cast Like A Pro
By Phil Rolfe

I was at a sport show last winter and while taking a break, I wandered by the casting pond. With no intentions to stop, I heard the crowd announce, "thirty seven," then "thirty eight", and so on. My curiosity got the best of me; I stopped to see what was going on.

Sitting in a chair, was a member of the older set, casting to a ring floating in the pond. Common sense and observation revealed that this gentleman had put thirty-eight casts in a row into the ring. This was extraordinary; I had never seen anyone cast with this kind of precision.

As a pro fisherman, I considered myself pretty good with a spinning rod and adequate with a bait caster. Well, I knew that this fine gent was way out of my league. As the demonstration ended and the crowd dispersed, I saw my opportunity to investigate further.

"You must practice a lot, huh, " I uttered.

"No, as a matter of fact, I don't," he shot back, matter of factly.

"Come on now, nobody can do that without practice," I challenged.

"It's all in the elbow, dummy! Once you learn that, you can put your bait anywhere. Won't get any back lashes, either."

The old boy had my interest. As I said, I was adequate with a bait caster. Now, I faced the fact that it was barely adequate, at best. I was semi accurate, and every once in awhile I came up with a dandy backlash. Being athletic in nature, I was convinced that I had not found the right set up; it wasn't my fault. It had to be my equipment; the wrong reel, the wrong rod, maybe even the line.

Now, I was not so sure. A distinct possibility existed that it was really me, not the equipment. The old gent's statement that it was "all in the elbow, dummy" wouldn't go away.

So I questioned him further. And he willingly went on, "It's really simple, just tuck your elbow into your rib cage and keep it there. Then cast, everything will take care of itself," he said with authority.

"Just try it, you'll see what I mean."

So I took his rod a bit apprehensively, especially with eight or ten people watching me. Here I am wearing my sponsor shirts, ready to most likely make a complete fool of myself. "Keep your elbow tight," he demanded.

I set my elbow tight against my rib cage and swung the rod straight back over my shoulder and let it fly. Felt strange as all get out. Amazingly, the bait floated out there and landed within about three foot of the ring to the long side. The motion felt funny, restrictive, but there was a sense of control about it all. I noticed that my wrist was the dominant force; my arm now played a passive role.

Stick the elbow to the ribs and throw; as the bait neared the target it was obvious that there was too much steam on the cast. Slight pressure of my thumb to the spool, feathered the projectile, allowing the plug to settle about four inches short of the ring.

"Not bad," the old gent muttered. "This time rotate your wrist to the left. Have your thumb on side of the handle, not on top; and use it to feather the bait. That's all there is to it. One more thing, match your rig to your bait."

The next day, I came to the show an hour before opening and borrowed a rod and reel from Rich Belanger of St. Croix Rods and hurried over to the casting pond. Elbow tight and let her fly. First cast landed on the edge of the ring. It was coming a little hot, but a thumb to the spool feathered the bait nicely. After about four or five casts, I landed one in the ring. Two casts later and another hit the mark. Then two in a row; I knew the old man was right.

Since then, baitcasting has become a much bigger part of my arsenal. My backlashes have all but disappeared. Furthermore my accuracy has greatly improved. I owe the old gent a lot; the man knows his stuff.

To get maximum results, it is necessary to use proper technique; next and equally important is to match the bait to the rod, reel and line.

For example let's assume that you are going to fish number eight and nine Shad Raps. The number eight weighs 3/8 oz; the number nine weighs 9/16 oz. I use ten pound test spooled on a Shimano Calcutta 200 which is a perfect reel for crankbaiting bass or walleyes.

To find the proper rod, in this case St. Croix, we would check the catalogue and look for a rod that will handle a bait weight of 3/8 oz. to 9/16 oz. Consequently we check the lure weight portion and consider only those rods that will handle these weights, with some latitude on each end.

Furthermore, we also need to accommodate the line weight witch in this case will be ten pound Trilene XL. I like to stay in a narrow band around the line I am using. As in this case, a rod which will handle 8-14 test will suffice nicely for the 10 lb. test that I'll be going with.

Next, the length of the rod comes into play. My feeling is that it takes more experience to handle a longer rod, but the longer rod will produce more length and finesse. The essence of this is that your rod should accommodate your level of expertise. In other words, a shorter rod probably will better serve an angler of lesser experience.

With all this information in front of us let's pick out a rod. In browsing the St.Croix catalogue I notice that the Premeir series is priced from a suggested retail of $70 to $105; perfect. The PC66ML will handle the lure weight and the line test, it is also 6'6" which will work nicely; producing long casts yet offering the finesse that I am looking for.

The final piece to the puzzle is adjusting the reel for the particular bait to be thrown. My procedure for this is to attach the bait I will be using and reel up six inches from the tip. Free spool the line by pushing the thumb bar. The bait should drop gradually to the ground at a steady slow place. When it reaches the ground it should stop with the nose facing straight up, not laying down. Adjust the tension device to duplicate this situation and you are ready to go.

Give these methods a try for better baitcasting. Good luck.

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