Insider From Shore: The Farther The Better
July 25, 2012
Sometimes, the best spot to cast to is as far out as you can launch your bait. Many rod manufacturers offer longer rods that make it easier for shore anglers to cast a considerable distance.
For walleyes, a medium- to medium-light-power, 6- to 7 1/2-foot spinning rod and smooth, longcast spinning reel equipped with 6- to 8-pound Trilene XT line, will suffice for most situations. If additional distance is required, however, using a 7- to 9-foot specialty rod, like a steelhead rod, may make you even more efficient, particularly when fishing in current. Long rods not only make it easier to cast farther, but allow you to point the rod tip up in the air to keep excess line off the water's surface, achieving a straighter drift with, say, a float rig. Conversely, the more line there is in the water, the more the current forms a bow in your line and makes your lure or drifting bait swing in an arc downstream from your position. While fighting a fish in current, meanwhile, laying the long rod tip over sideways places more line in the moving water, adding friction while turning the fish's head sideways to the flow and enabling you to tire the fish quicker and easier.
Correct line selection allows for longer casting, too. Superlines are thin, strong, and limp enough to fire lures long distances. Yet bulkier line is sometimes needed to achieve a proper sink rate, as when using a jig and soft plastic body. For throwing cranks, 14- to 20-pound superline, and a 4-foot monofilament leader tied to the braid with a uni-knot, is a popular option. The only drawback to using superline is that it may let your lure dive too deep or fall too fast, particularly in shallow-water situations.
The next best choice is 8- to 10-pound monofilament. Limp lines throw farther than stiffer ones, while the increased thickness and water resistance of 10-pound-test mono makes a jig-plastic combo sink slower than with skinny superline, thereby staying in the strike zone longer with shallow swimming retrieves. The stretch properties of monofilament also serve as a shock absorber when fighting lively walleyes right below your waders. Superlines don't stretch, so you must carefully set your drag and gingerly fight the fish.
Spinning reels with larger-diameter spools allow for even farther casting. Larger spools create larger coils and less friction as the line spills off the spool. A tapered spool (larger at the back, often called a longcast spool) also allows line to fly off the spool more freely and helps prevent line from tangling.
A variety of lures and techniques work well from shore, but being able to add a few yards to your toss can sometimes make all the difference. A longer rod equipped with the right reel and spooled with the right line is worth the investment.
Casting jigs -- A 6 1/2- to 7 1/2-foot graphite rod with medium to medium-light power and action works ideally for casting light jigs (1/16- to 1/4-ounce) tipped with livebait or soft plastics. For casting heavier jigs or jigging spoons (1/4- to 3/8-ounce), a 7- to 8-foot graphite rod with a fast action and medium- to medium-heavy power rating not only allows you to launch baits a remarkable distance, but the extra power allows anglers to easily work heavier baits.
Casting crankbaits -- A 7- to 8-foot rod is ideal for casting crankbaits long distances. Most walleye cranking calls for 6- to 12-pound-test, with heavier lines perhaps required around rocks and wood and for handling larger baits. Situations calling for 10-pound or heavier line can be handled with a 7 1/2- to 8-foot, medium-heavy power rod. The same rod also works for bottom-bouncer duty when you're fishing from a boat.
Slipbobber rod -- Slipbobber rods should be longer than 7 feet, possibly up to 10 feet long, in order to cast farther in calm conditions, and to control line and drift in breezy conditions. The added rod length coupled with a modest tip action also helps set the hook, both picking up slack and eliminating the near-90-degree line angle formed by your bait dangling below the float. Reel until you begin to feel the fish, sweepset the long rod, and the fish is on.