How to catch Bass – Accurate and strategic casting
Following a couple of recent guided Bass fishing sessions, something really important was highlighted. What is a clients ability, or capability, to accurately and strategically cast a variety of lures into a desired area – maybe only a metre or so in diameter?
Both of the clients I took out last week were experienced fisherman in their own right. They both knew how to handle a lure rod (the first client initially used his own 11 ft Pike rod until he realised the virtues of a modern lure fishing rod) and with a little guidance, were able to place the lure, be it a surface, sub-surface, weedless SP or paddletail into exactly the right spot on nearly every single cast. I think I was very fortunate in relation to this, as it meant we could concentrate on the fishing straight from the off, rather than practising their casting techniques before venturing out onto the rocks.
However, the reason I always ask potential clients about their previous experience, is so that I can cater the session towards their needs. If someone with a lot less experience of casting lures requires my guidance on this, then I see it as something equally as important as demonstrating to them how a surface lure should be worked, how the slightest twitch on the rod tip affects a jerkbait/shad soft plastic or how to spot potential Bass marks at low tide from the cliff tops – it’s all about learning at the end of the day.
My client Andrew, casting a lightweight weedless lure into the teething wind and waves
Notice I don’t mention anything about casting ‘a long distance’ Most Bass marks won’t require a long cast, however many will require an accurate cast in order to place the lure or bait into areas where you think Bass may be present.
Firstly, I appreciate that casting (especially with lightweight gear into a head wind) doesn’t always come naturally therefore, below are a few pointers:
- Use a drop (the measurement of line from the tip ring to the lure) of between 4 – 6ft. If you use a leader, make sure the knot is beyond/outside of the tip ring.
- If the lure has a ball bearing (s) inside it, before casting, lightly swing the lure out and drop the rod tip down (keeping the line taut) so that the bearing rolls to the bottom of the lure – you might hear it ‘click’ This ensures the weight (s) are in the right place (arse end of the lure generally) to aid the ‘flight’ of the lure.
- It sounds obvious, but use the ‘bend’ in the rod to propel the lure – if you have to slow the cast down to achieve this, then aim to do so.
- For short casts, hold the line against the reel/rod with your index finger very lightly, allowing for a smooth release.
- For a longer cast, tighten the hold with your index finger and think of it as a trigger being released – it does take practice but by almost very, very momentarily ‘holding’ the bend in the rod will allow for a more accomplished cast.
- In a strong head or side wind, try to keep the trajectory of the cast as low as possible, by almost ‘punching’ it out there – again, hold the line tightly with the index finger before the moment of release.
Wind and a rough sea often requires accurate casting
Practice makes perfect…. (or more likelihood of catching!)
If you’re casting and then looking to ‘work’ a very shallow diving lure, such as a Tacklehouse Feedshallow over a known reef, weed-bed or gully, then the ability to ‘nail’ a cast first time could be critical to your success.
As I’ve said before, often the first cast is the most important one – especially if the Bass are holding or positioning in a particular area/zone. Similarly, if you need to whack a lure out (into head or side wind) either parallel to a long rock formation up in between two rocks forming a narrow gully, the ability to consistently be able to ‘hit the mark’ will undoubtedly increase your chances of connecting with a Bass.
As has been said many times already, when it comes to bait fishing from the rocks or from a beach, if you’re able to cast the bait onto the patch of sand/gravel from the rocks, or into that gully/depression you noticed at low tide from a beach then you are halfway to catching a Bass.
If you’re not entirely confident or comfortable with your casting style or you don’t feel able to position lures or bait into an area the size of a square metre, at a range of between 10 – 50 yards, then I would suggest practicing with an old lure (without hooks attached) on a secluded sandy beach – casting at a boulder/area marked in the sand. Yes, you’ll look daft, but at least your casting prowess will be enhanced!
Could you consistently cast any type of lure into this rockpool at high tide?
The ‘strategic’ component of casting a lure is essentially being able to utilise the elements to your advantage, such as the following:
- The natural wave direction.
- The natural tide/current movement.
- The wind direction (less important than the above).
There are very few occasions that I can think of when I have caught a Bass by working (retrieving) a lure against the direction of the waves or tide… It has occurred with surface lures in tables of surf with the lure worked parallel to the breakers and then left to momentarily drift naturally with the waves (and I’m just taking up the slack). But I’m struggling to remember any moments with a soft plastic or sub-surface minnow.
When casting a lure from the shoreline, if there is any significant wave or tidal movement present, then think carefully about how any items being washed around or smaller fish swimming will present themselves – I doubt they’ll be moving against the flow, unless they’re being harassed by predators.
The only other occasion where you might be casting parallel to the waves (but with the tidal flow if there is any) is when you’re casting a hard sub-surface minnow or paddletail lure from a beach, and you’re trying to position and work the lure along the ‘gutter’ so to speak – something that is quite effective and is again, a way to strategically place the lure.
Estuaries and headlands are great examples of where you should always cast the lure ‘uptide’ (into the direction of the flow/current) and work the lure back towards you. The exception to this could be when you’re using a soft plastic and you let it continue to drift away from you, giving out a little slack line, with very, very slight twitches… However, as soon as you start to wind in, it will invariably be moving against the flow as it were.
At the end of the day, when lure casting/fishing, we are trying to imitate either a swimming, wounded or disoriented creature – To catch Bass, the lure must look natural…
Ultimately, you really want to be positioning, in as natural a form as possible, the lure or bait where the Bass expect to find what they’re looking for – be it a crab, prawn, worm, sandeel, bait fish (baby mullet/smelt), small wrasse, small pollack or goby…..
A plump 4lb Autumn Bass caught with an accurately placed, strategically worked lure
Thanks for reading.