Few of us do any practice for fishing. "Us," in this case, includes this writer and nearly any other angler of acquaintance.
But not all.
There are a few fishermen who set up a target in a backyard and do some casting. Yes, this is good, and yes, it helps when the real fishing comes along. Being able to put a lure or a bait right where you want is a major asset in fishing.
Don’t you wish you could drive a nail as easily and efficiently as a professional carpenter can? Do you dream of being able to put a bullet or an arrow into the bulls-eye on every shot?
The principle applies to casting whether it is with bait casting gear, with spinner or open face rigs or with spin-cast, closed face, rods and reels.
The best caster I have know is a fellow named Stan Fagerstrom. He’s an old newspaper man in the state of Washington who acquired a sideline of casting instruction. He became proficient enough so companies in the business hired him often to put on demonstrations, using their products, of course.
Stan’s routine was easy casting, meaning doing it with little effort. He would put out a Styrofoam cup, back off 30 feet or so then plunk a plug into that cup time after time.
Several lessons come out of one of Stan’s shows.
One that applies to nearly any kind of fishing is that you seldom need to cast long distances. The professionals do it — sometimes. They can whip a spinner bait or plastic worm half a city block. But if they have a choice, they get much closer.
These professionals also cast rapidly and a whole lot during a day of competition. Some years back, an observer sat in the back of a bass boat during a Bassmasters Classic day and recorded the cast the pro in the front of the boat made. The total was around 4,200 casts in eight hours of fishing.
This is not the type fishing that you or I or other average anglers are going to do.
We are going to toss a lure reasonably close to a stickup, a fallen log or an underwater shelf or rock. We are going to let that crank bait or plastic worm sit or fall for a few seconds then start the retrieve.
For plastic worms, a fish often or usually strikes when the worm is falling. And plastic worms are not always exclusively for black bass. Very small ones with very small hooks can be excellent for bream fishing. Dip these very small plastic worms in some sort of meat juices, Viennas or sardines for instance, and the appeal to the bream goes up considerably. Canned scents have long been on the market.
Casting practice in the yard needs to duplicate the kinds of fishing you plan to do as much as possible. If you prefer to stand up in the boat, then practice casting from a standing position. If you like to sit and fish, then drag up a lawn chair or stool and do you practice casting that way.
Practice casting from different angles. Cast to the right, to the left and straight ahead. Remember that you may fish from beneath overhanging limbs, so practice sidearm and flat casting.
Practice distances should be 15 or 20 or 30 feet or so. Yeah, let one or two go way out there for the feel of it, but seldom will you be doing this on a lake or a river.
Another factor, sometimes overlooked, is that different weight lines will handle differently. A rig with 6-pound-test line performs much differently from one with 20-pound or even 10-pound line.
If you are not familiar with light line fishing, like with 6-pound or 4-pound, try it. There are times when light line is the key ingredient to some good catches.