Which Casting Technique Casts the Furthest with Light Spinning Tackle?

It is difficult to cast ultralight tackle far, and the lighter the tackle the more difficult it becomes. So every few feet of extra distance might mean the difference between landing your lure where the fish are feeding or falling short.

I decided over the weekend, to try and get a more definitive answer to the question of what is the best cast for distance when fishing ultralight tackle.

The two basic casting techniques

Overhead Cast

This is a basic vertical cast and is one of the first casts most anglers learn. It is one of my bread and butter casts and one I use frequently, it is very accurate and is a great option to use when casting around other people.

Simply start with the rod directly over your shoulder, with about a foot of line hanging free. Then in a smooth steady movement cast the rod forwards and release the line at about the 10 o’clock position.

If you release too early, the lure will cast high, causing it to lose a lot of momentum as it gains altitude, if released too late the lure will shoot towards the ground. To achieve the maximum distance the aim is to cast slightly above horizontal.

Side Cast

The side cast is another essential cast to learn, rather than holding the rod over the shoulder, with the side cast hold the rod horizontally just above hip height. The further behind the cast starts, the more power it will generate.

It is possible to cast short little flips in confined places, but in an open area, it is possible to cast a full rotation, even including some body rotation to add additional power.

One of the biggest advantages of the side cast is because it is casted from a horizontal position the lure is already positioned at the correct angle to maximize horizontal flight. It is very unlikely to cast high or low.

Advanced casting techniques

In this section, I will discuss a couple of more advanced casting techniques that are not typically used with ultralight tackle, but I decided to give them a try anyway just to see if they make a difference. Both of these techniques are variations of the overhead cast.

In general, I do not recommend using the OTGC or other advance surfcasting techniques (pendulum cast) with ultralight tackle. They are excessive.

Off The Ground Cast

This is a surf casting technique designed to generate maximum power and extremely long casts.

Start with the lure laying on the ground and a bit to the side behind the far shoulder. Cast with an extremely long arc. When done correctly, and with the right rod and reel it can generate an enormous amount of power and extremely long casts.

The off the ground cast (OTGC) is not a useful cast for trout fishing. Firstly, it requires a smooth surface (Such as a sandy beach). Secondarily, ultralight rods do not require a significant amount of power to fully load them to achieve maximum distance, the OFTG is overkill.

Pause Cast

I do not know what to call this cast, but I learned it from this salt strong video. This cast in many ways resembles a fly fishing cast, where you start by lifting the rod and pausing at about the 1 o’clock position and allowing the lure to fully load the rod before casting forward and releasing.

This technique does generate a lot of instantaneous power and can result in more distance. In my testing, it is not suitable for ultralight line because the sudden onset of power is too much for 4lb test to handle and break-offs are common.

During my 10 test casts on the weekend, I had two lures breakoff. These were the only break off all day. I did find one of the lures, it broke about a quarter of an inch above the knot.

The lure I used for casting, and showing where the line snapped during the cast.

Method

I used a fairly standard 7ft spinning rod with a 2000 size reel spooled with 4lb (0.165mm) monofilament line. My lure of choice was an off-brand 1/4oz inline spinner, I used a 1/4oz lure to achieve slightly longer casts and to help minimize any interference from the wind.

I used an off-brand lure, simply because I did not want to risk losing or damaging a quality one.

I started casting using the overhead cast and cycled through the styles one after the other. Every time I achieve a new distance record for a style I will walk down and mark the location.

I made sure to complete 10 casts with every style. Although I had to complete 12 casts with the Pause Cast technique due to breakages.

The results. Which cast casts the furthest?

The sticks indicate the landing spots of the furthest casts from each cast techique.

Enough explanations and descriptions. I will now present the results.


MetersYards
Overhead Cast3336
Side Cast3943
Off The Ground Cast35.538.8
Pause Cast35.238.5

The side cast was the clear winner for distance and was the second most accurate of all of the casts. I will note, that only one of my 10 casts made it beyond 40 yards and there was a real cluster between 39 and 40 yards. All but one of my 10 casts exceeded the 36-yard maximum of the overhead cast. This result also confirms my previous experiences. The side cast is better for distance.

The overhead cast was the most consistent for distance, but with my setup, I struggle to get beyond 36 yards. Even after completing the 10 tests cast, I trialed a lot of variations. From using longer lines, or releasing the line at different angles but could not inch out any significant improvements.

The OTGC did outdistance the standard overhead cast and it did so with quite a bit of consistency. But there was a significant drop in accuracy, and to be honest I always find the OTGC to be a bit scary with so much excess line swinging around behind my back. I just wanted to know if such a cast could work with trout tackle.

The pause cast also consistently outcast the standard overhead cast and I could easily feel it fully loading my rod, but. It was simply too much sudden power for my 4lb monofilament line to handle and it kept on snapping. With practice, it is a good option when fishing with heavier line and targeting fish that are not line shy. After snapping the line, I eventually found the lure a good 60yards down the beach.

Conclusion

The best cast for distance was the side cast, it consistently outperformed the overhead cast traveling around 15% further.

Under normal fishing conditions, the few extra yards of distance is probably not that significant.

Accuracy was fairly consistent between both the side and overhead casts with a slight advantage to the overhead cast.

For more advice on extending your cast check my guide here where I explain 9 ways to increase your casting distance.

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