Long-Distance Surf Flycasting Techniques
by Randy Kadish
e've all been there. Standing in the beautiful, vast surf, casting our long rods for hours
without a single hit.
So we wonder, maybe this just isn't our day.
We cast again, but our concentration has ebbed, so instead of watching the
line and maintaining contact with the lure, we lose ourselves in the music of
crashing waves--until the music is pierced by the sharp, shriek-like howls of
Down the beach a flock circles and dives: a sure sign bait fish and
probably stripers our moving towards us.
Something goes off in us.
An adrenaline rush?
A predatory instinct?
We don't exactly what, or how to describe it, but its changed us.
Electricity seems to be surging through us.
Eagerly, we watch and wait.
The seagulls move close.
But darn! They're out of our casting reach.
Disappointed, we wonder, what will we tell our wives--that the stripers
just weren't running, again?
Maybe. But the sad thing is, it doesn't have to be that way.
The seagulls, you see, aren't beyond out reach.
They're beyond our skills.
Exactly what do I mean?
For years tournament fly casters have been refining their techniques, and
as a result are now casting farther than before.
Can their techniques can help us surfcasters reach that faraway fish?
Yes, I believe.
But on a crowded beach, will we have to risk hooking someone with our
To help me explain, let's begin by looking at some universal casting
FUNDAMENTALS OF THE CAST
1. The lure will move in the direction the rod
rip moved just before it was stopped.
2. To effectively load the rod we must
begin the cast slowly, then accelerate and reach maximum speed just before we
stop the rod. (If we begin the cast too fast the lure will also move too fast
and, therefore, not fully pull on the rod.)
3. To use all the power stored in
a loaded rod, we must abruptly stop the rod without lowering the tip from the
4. All things being equal, the more we lengthen our casting
the more we will load the rod.
With these principals in mind let's now turn to the techniques of
long-distance surf casting.
Any slack in the line will make it impossible to fully load the
rod. Therefore, long- distance fly casters make sure they begin the cast with
their rod and line hands close together so slack can't come between them.
When casting a spinning rod we often add slack by not holding the line
enough tension. Even worse, just before we come to an abrupt stop our index
fingers prematurely releases the line and the lure sails high and off to the
right (assuming we're right-handed.) To avoid this, I place two fingers in
front of the reel stem and two behind I pickup the line with my right index
finger, then I move my hand back so that only my index finger is in front of
the stem. Next, I pull the line up and back and gently press my fingertip
against the stem, but not the line. (I need to feel the weight of the lure to
cast it accurately.)
When casting heavy lures, I recommend wearing a golf glove until you get
your timing down.
THE SLINGSHOT STANCE
My left foot is forward and points straight ahead or
slightly to the right of the target. My right foot points outward about
forty-five degrees. My feet are shoulder-width apart. My knees are slightly
bent. With the lure hanging down about two feet from the rod tip, I move the
rod tip straight back, cock my wrist back and turn my shoulders and hips back.
I stop the rod at about three-thirty to the horizon. My rod hand is about
ear-level and not past my rear shoulder. My forearm points to about one
(Holding the rod in this position will make it easier for us to stop the
rod without lowering the tip from the target line and to move our right arm
in-sync with our body rotation. More about that later.)
Finally, I shift my weight to my back foot.
Leading with my right elbow, I begin slowly, making sure I move my
right arm in-sync with my weight shift and body rotation. I do this for two
1. If my arm moves faster than my body I will, in effect, become an
arm-caster and lose power. Ever wonder why a major-league pitcher looks as if
he's throwing so effortlessly?
2. If my arm gets in front of my body I will
prematurely lower the rod tip and therefore unload the rod.
Back to my cast.
Pushing up with my right hand, and pulling down with my left, I
the rod and move the butt perpendicular to the target line When my right arm
is about three-quarters extended, I reach maximum speed by breaking both
wrists halfway. Abruptly, I stop the rod at about eleven o'clock and release
the line. All my weight is on the ball and toes of my front foot. My front
leg is straight.
THAT EXTRA DISTANCE
So, we practiced these techniques and we're casting
farther than ever, but wouldn't you know it: we're back on the beach and the
fish are ten feet beyond our reach.
What's a surfcaster to do?
We'll again borrow techniques from fly casters, and lengthen our casting
stroke similar to the way spey (rhymes with say) casters lengthen theirs.
To do this I start out with a different stance. I hold the rod across my
body, my right arm is about three-quarters extended, my right hand about
shoulder level. The rod tip points forward, about thirty degrees to the right
of the target line and about thirty degrees above the horizon. My weight is on
my front foot. I begin the cast keeping my right elbow pointing down, shifting
my weight back, and moving the rod tip up and back in a oval circle until I'm
back in my slingshot stance. Without stopping, I make my slingshot cast.
SETTING THE HOOK
Since you're lure is now really out there, you'll need a
longer, more powerful hook set. Therefore, as I retrieve the lure I hold the
rod across my body--the rod balances in my right hand. The rod handle is under
my left armpit. My weight is on my left foot. My right foot is back. When I
feel a strike I point the rod towards the lure, quickly take up slack, then rip
the rod tip up and back as far as I can.
So now if you don't catch a fish what will you tell your wife?
Luckily, we anglers are blessed with a treasure of excuses.
Copyright © 2003 - 2013 Randall Kadish, All Rights Reserved
Copyright © 2007 - 2013 Randall Kadish, All Rights Reserved
Fishing Beneath a Marble Sky
Going Back Again
The Fly Caster Who Tried to Make Peace with the World
Fight Wind: Learn The Double Haul
Reach That Faraway Target
About the author
Randy Kadish is an outdoor writer and avid angler who has spent countless hours experimenting with long-distance fly casting techniques. For this novel he extensively researched the history of flyfishing, particularly on the famed Beaverkill River during the golden era of the early 1900s. "Flycaster" is his first novel, but his short stories and articles have been appeared in many publications, including Flyfisher, Flyfishing & Tying Journal, Fishing And Hunting News, StriperSurf.com and Sweden's Rackelhanen fly fishing magazine. Much of Randy’s writing is about the techniques of spin and fly casting, and about the spirituality/recovery of fly fishing.
Randy’s novel, The Fly Caster Who Tried to Make Peace with the World, is available on Amazon.