At times we all want to cast farther, cover a few extra yards of river with every cast. Maybe reach that submerge log out in the middle. There are many reasons why a fisherman might want to cast farther.
When fishing in big waters such as lakes long casts allow water to be covered that would otherwise be inaccessible from the shore.
When trout fishing, in particular, we often fish very lightweight lures. They can be difficult to cast far. At times casting a 1/32oz lure a few extra yards can make all the difference. Even gaining an extra yard in small stream fishing can be the difference between hooking or spooking fish.
One final advantage of a powerful long cast is that they punch into a strong wind easier. A 1/16oz Rapala is tough enough to cast with a tailwind, they are a nightmare to cast into a gale.
Casting farther is not everything.
Firstly, I want to make it clear that long casts are not everything. Most of the time, we do not need to cast far, but they are a useful tool to have in certain circumstances.
Fish often live and feed close to shore; in many lakes and rivers, the further from shore, the more boring and lifeless the bottom becomes.
I often watch other fishermen cast far over the fish. They line up the horizon, sometimes even start running, then powerfully heave their rod forward. Meanwhile, the fish are busy cruising the shoreline or drop-off. Their baits and spinners spend a lot of time in unproductive water.
Short, accurate targeting to likely-looking lays is often more productive than casting halfway to the moon. Long casts can result in a lot of empty water getting fished.
For every long cast I make, I will make a dozen short ones.
1) Use the correct weight tackle with the correct rod
A balanced rod casts better than a poorly balanced rod. To maximize distance all of your gear needs to work well together.
The rated casting weight of a rod is nearly always printed on the base of the rod. Just above the handle. The rod casting weight is typically given in line weight the rod is designed to cast, or the lure weight the rod is designed to cast.
Rods designed for ultralight fishing such as for trout typically have a rating of around 2-6lb or 4-8lb, with extremely light rods sometimes rated down to 1-4lb. Such rods could also be rated by their lure weight for example 1/32~1/4oz.
In the chart below I will provide a guide to compare the rated line breaking strain and the weight it is designed to cast. Keep in mind, that this is only a guide and it is possible to cast both lighter and heavier weights but usually at a cost of performance.
|Line Weight lbs
|Lure Weight (oz)
|Lure Weight (grams)
|1 ~ 4
|2 ~ 6
|4 ~ 10
|1/4 ~ 5/8
|3/4 – 2 oz.
I try to match the breaking strain of the line to the middle of the range. So If I were fishing a 4-10lb rod I will use 6lb line on it. You can fish lines at either extreme but the performance sweet spot is usually towards the middle.
It is possible to exceed the range somewhat, but I try not to do it, and if you cast too heavy a lure you run the risk of damaging the blank or components.
Rods with lure weight ratings makes things simple.
Rods that give a lure weight rating makes things easier.
This means the rod casts best with lures within that weight range. So a rod rated for 1/32~1/4oz lures will cast best, and farthest when casting within that range.
If you throw on a 1oz sinker, the rod will likely feel very overloaded and the backbone will simply lack the power to cast far. Going even more extreme, say to 6oz could cause easily cause the rod to snap if you try to fully load it.
To get the ultimate performance out of a rod it is paramount to stay within the rated cast range.
2) Thin lines cast further.
The thinner the diameter of the line, the further it casts. This is because a thin line creates less resistance as it leaves the spool and fly between the guides.
That is part of the reason why most trout fishermen fish 6lb or lighter line. It simply makes casting very lightweight lures easier. Another bonus, lightweight line is harder for the fish to see, resulting in more hook-ups.
Braid and superlines cast further than nylon.
Braid and superlines are extremely thin, this low diameter helps a lot when casting long distances.
Even with the lightest of casts, superlines simply flow off the reel. Changing from monofilament to a braided superline greatly increases casting distance
My braid of choice when trout fishing is 6lb Berkely Fireline, to that I tie a 9ft long leader length of monofilament.
This leader serves three main purposes.
- Tying knots in monofilament is a lot more forgiven than in superlines.
- Monofilament is very clear, making it almost invisible to fish.
- Thicker monofilament helps prevent finger line cuts during the cast.
3) Lures design greatly influences casting distance
To maximize casting distance, a lure might fly butt first. Wobbling or spinning increases wind resistance which slows the lure. Certain designs cast much better than others.
A streamline compact lure like a kastmaster or toby is going to cast further than a relatively bulky and buoyant lure such as a jerkbait. Some companies weld extra weight towards the base of their lures to make sure they fly end first.
This weight assists them to fly butt first and minimizes side-to-side wobbles. It might also dull the desirable wobble when being retrieved through the water. Which is something to keep in mind.
4) Reel selection and spool design can improve distance
Spools that are wider typically allow for longer casts than narrow spools.
Manufacturers often refer to them as long cast spools. Although, this terminology is more common with surf casting reels than freshwater spinning reels, but Shimano has started to introduce this technology into their freshwater lineup.
Long spools allows for more wraps, with fewer layers needing to unwrap during the cast. This helps reduce friction during the cast improving distance.
Full spools cast farther
Making sure the reel spool is full close to the rim can improve casting distance because there is less friction as the line leaves the spool.
5) Reel linelay matters
How the reel lays the line onto the spool also makes a big difference, reels that lay the line in a cross-cross pattern reduce the chance of line getting squeezed between layers of lines of various depths.
Shimano marketing term for this more advanced style of laying line is Aero Wrap II (Aero Wrap for older models). Daiwa terminology is the Cross Wrap.
This means a Shimano Stradic should casts slightly further than a comparably sized Shimano Sedona due to the better line lay. For our opinion on the best trout spinning reels check our guide.
6) Rod Length influence on cast distance
Basically, the longer a rod the longer the cast. During the cast, a longer rod achieves a higher velocity which means the lure has more energy behind it to travel further.
In most cases a 7’6” rod rod rated for 2-6lb line is the sweet spot for distance casting of light lures.
But there is an obvious limit to distance improvement via longer rod length.
The main limitation is caused by the terminal velocity of the lure as it falls through the air. No matter how much initial inertia you put behind a lure its maximum speed will not exceed its terminal velocity as it descends.
A 7’ rod generates enough power for most light lures to reach their maximum velocity. A 9ft or 20ft rod, if castable will not cast a 1/16oz lure any faster. Once a lure reaches terminal velocity, a longer rod, could probably cast a lure higher, but not further.
The rod also needs to be flexible enough to bend when casting. The lure needs to be heavy enough to fully load the rod to maximize casting potential.
There are plenty of 13ft rods out there, but the bases are so thick it will be impossible to cast a trout lure more than a few yards. To load these roads requires much heavier weights which are of no use for trout fishing.
7) Casting technique and cast distance
The best cast style to maximize distance when fishing with ultralight gear is the side cast. It casts further than any other casting technique I have tried. For more information read my article here where I compared the distance of various casts.
It is not all about the gear, casting technique also plays a big role. When fishing with ultralight tackle it is not all about power. Rather than brute force, to fully load a ultalight rod requires a smooth cast and sudden stop.
For very fast action rods, a flick of the wrist and sudden stop is usually enough to load the rod and achieve terminal velocity for the lure.
When releasing, do not let the lure fly high into the sky in a massive arc. The lure loses a lot of energy gaining altitude. try to release the lure so it flies almost horizontally over the water. The lure needs to fly further, not higher.
Fancy casts and lightweight spinning
If you ever watch surf casters or distant casting competitions. They have many fancy casts which are required to fully load the heavy rods they are using. Examples of these casts include the Parabolic and the ‘off the ground’ cast.
These powerful casts do not work well when lightweight fishing. I have tried, and they are more trouble than they are worth. I have always been able to cast further with a full power side cast than the more specialized techniques.
If you are using a long surf rod, then these casts do improve distance and might be worth learning.
The reason why these fancy casts do not work when fishing light tackle because it does not requiremuch power to fully load the blank of a trout or ultralight rod. They are overkill.
8) Streamline knots improve distance
To maximize distance, the joining knot between the superline and leader needs to be low profile enough to cast through the guide with minimal resistance.
When fishing with light breaking strain line a very popular knots to tie is the double uni. I personally do not use it, I prefer the Aussie quickie because it is even simpler to tie while being very streamline.
The Aussie quickie knot
I prefer a knot called the Aussie Quickie. This knot is a simplified version of the Bristol Knot aka No Name Knot. The difference is that the Aussie Quickie removes the need for the bimini twist.
I strength tested the Aussie Quickie with and without the Bimini twist and there was no siginifcant difference in breaking strain.
The Aussie Quickie is simple and fast to tie and results in a very low profile and strong knot which I have complete confidence in.
I use it whenever I need to tie a lightweight braid (under 12lb) to monofilament. I also sometimes use it when joining monofilament to monofilament, just requires fewer twists.
The FG Knot is the best knot when joining heavier lines
The FG knot is the ultimate low profile knot for connecting braid to monofilament.
But it is not well suited for ultralight lines. This is why I prefer the Aussie Quickie when trout fishing.
The FG knot is an amazing knot. Extremely streamlined and strong. But it’s tricky to tie and tighten when using a lightweight line.
9) Casting into a strong wind
I learned to fish In a very windy area. Casting into a gale force headwind was not uncommon. Here are a few tips to cast further into a strong wind and.
- Use heavier or streamlined tackle. Heavier lures have more momentum so are easier to punch into the wind
- Wind speed is not constant, wait until a calm between the gusts before making the cast.
- Fish the calm side of the river or lake so the wind is behind you.