April 21, 2016
By Cory Schmidt
Longball hitters in both major league baseball and professional golf might be surprised to learn that with a little technique, you can cast a ball (or lure) much further with a rod, reel and line than you can hit it with a big heavy club.
All-time casting great Steve Rajeff proved it, once out-driving PGA pro Fred Couples and out-hitting major league baseball players . . . with his fishing rod. Rajeff propelled a golf ball 337 yards with a cast, while Couples' big drive fell four yards short. In a pregame baseball display, Rajeff once propelled a baseball well over the wall, flying beyond 500 feet.
While Rajeff employs a whirling dervish of rod and body twists, the rest of us rely on a simpler plan to pull off a cast that hits the horizon. Long 9 to 12 foot rods built with extended butts and slow to moderate action blanks load up like a catapult, also requiring at least a medium power to propel lures back the other direction (toward the water) with sufficient speed and inertia.
When distance matters most — such as for surfcasting and other shore-bound approaches — a large capacity spinning reel or a casting reel lacking a levelwind amplify casts by reducing friction and drag. Matched with a low diameter line that weighs relatively little (mono and thin braid are best), a sufficiently heavy lure can be launched almost out of sight.
Of course, lure weight isn't the only consideration. Wind resistance is perhaps just as important. A spinnerbait that weighs 3-ounces probably won't fly as far as a streamlined minnow plug that weighs half as much. And for the utmost in distance (sans pinpoint accuracy), seasoned casters know that dropping the lure several feet below the rod tip help the propulsion process by creating, in essence, a better catapult.
In the end, distance means little if you completely lose sensitivity, presentation precision and the ability to set hooks and fight fish from afar. Most anglers aren't out to win casting competitions. We just want to catch fish. So we use fine diameter, low stretch superline, which extends distance while amplifying sensitivity and long-range hooksets. Sharp hooks don't hurt, either. Meanwhile, the right rod and reel puts a lure in remote, untouched locales where hungry fish hopefully lie in wait. The lures that follow will make sure your next epic cast counts.
Mepps LongCast — Cover more water. Catch more fish. It's a simple mantra subscribed to by the luresmiths at Mepps. The company's LongCast spinner employs a heavy bullet-shaped body that takes some of the effort out of long distance casting. The standard #4 size weighs a hefty 5/8-ounce, sinking the lure quickly and keeping it deep throughout the retrieve. (A #5 size weighs 7/8-ounce.) The LongCast's streamlined shape makes it ideal for heavy current as well as deeper water. Festooned with a classic Mepps blade, this simple spinner weighs twice as much as similar sized lures. mepps.com
Cotton Cordell Red Fin — A truly legendary lure for casting from the shore or into the surf for stripers, the Red Fin remains a staple bait for walleyes, bass and pike, as well. The beauty of this minnow bait is that it swims shallower than similar plugs, running cleanly over submerged vegetation and shallow structure. The Red Fin also shines as a surface bait, slowly twitched or waked for big bass or stripers. Endowed with internal weights, this Cotton Cordell favorite comes in three sizes, from a 4-inch, 3/8-ouncer to a 7-inch, 1-ouncer. lurenet.com
Rapala CountDown — One of the original shorecasting minnows, the Rapala CountDown is a heavily weighted balsa bait that sinks at a consistent rate of one foot per second. For targeting a specific depth or to run precisely just above cover, the CountDown remains a fantastic, if often overlooked, choice. The lure is also available in a wide range of sizes, including a 1-incher for trout and panfish to a Magnum series for saltwater, making it a versatile choice for many species. rapala.com
Tasmanian Devil Lures — A 1979 Australian original, the Tasmanian Devil has become a tremendous casting lure, with a cult-like following throughout North America. An ingenious spoon hybrid, the Devil sports a super heavy, hollow, cylindrical lead body augmented by curved plastic "wings." The wings add flash and a rolling, wobbling action that's surprisingly appealing to salmon, pike and trout, as well as numerous saltwater species. The lure can be tuned by bending it into different angles. Rigged with a through-wire shaft, the "Tassie" perhaps works best when rigged by simply running your mainline through the lure to a swivel, split ring and small treble hook. This allows the Tassie to slide up and away when fish are hooked. Works equally well for casting, trolling or vertical jigging. wigstonslures.com
Bill Lewis Rat-L-Trap — One of the earliest lipless cranks, anglers have come to love two things about the good old Rat-L-Trap: casts like a torpedo and catches everything that swims. Debuted by Bill Lewis is the 1960s, the 'Trap first found acclaim at a bass tournament on Toledo Bend Reservoir, Texas in the late 1960s. Today's Rat-L-Trap is made in a massive number of color, size and shape combinations, including the always-productive ¼ and ½ ouncers. Harboring a pile of loud, heavy BBs, the Rat-L-Trap casts a mile, flashing, shimmering and clattering all across shallow flats. Bill Lewis' original lipless lure remains one of the world's top sellers today. rat-l-trap.com
Strike King Rocket Shad — While most spinnerbaits are counterproductive for long casting, the aerodynamic Rocket Shad begs to differ. Constructed with a compact yet heavy head, short skirt and a single Colorado blade, Strike King's popular little spinner is built for distance and speed. Touted as the perfect lure for targeting schooling bass, the Rocket also works well for jigging, and runs true in fast current rivers. Available in three sizes, from ¼- to ½ ounce. strikeking.com
Z-Man Ned Rig — Simple, unassuming and shockingly effective, this little finesse lure casts surprising distances. Thanks to its plain, aerodynamic shape, the Ned Rig is easy to cast on 4- to 8-pound braid and a medium-light spinning combo. Constructed with a Z-Man Finesse TRD and Finesse ShroomZ jighead, this dainty contrivance was brought to the mainstream by In-Fisherman Field Editor, Ned Kehde. The TRD (aka The Real Deal) is formulated with a customized, soft ElaZtech plastic and imbued with extra salt content. The bait is super tough, capable of catching dozens of bass or other fish without tearing apart. Finesse ShroomZ jigheads are specially designed for pairing with a TRD bait, holding it securely in place without adding glue. While not a classic long cast lure, the Ned Rig is nonetheless capable of long launches with the right tackle and technique. zmanfishing.com
Heddon Lures Zara Spook — One of the most delightful and productive lures for canvassing an entire small bass pond, the Heddon Zara Spook flies fairly to the four winds. Now made in close to a half dozen sizes and variations, the Original Spook invented the walk-the-dog retrieve nearly 75 years ago. It's become one of the most imitated — and effective — actions in fishing. The 4-1/2 inch Zara Spook weighs ¾-ounce. The lure's tubular, wind-resistant body is easy to propel to the heavens, even for punching out casts straight into a stiff wind. So long as seas aren't too rough, the Spook can cleanly traverse the watery terrain, moving in a mesmerizing back and forth walk-the-dog dance that never looses its appeal. lurenet.com
Acme Kastmaster — Another selection from the surf casting community, the original Acme Kastmaster (circa 1952) began as the EDA Splune. Acme Tackle Company founder Art Lavallee, an expert in polishing and electroplating jewelry, modified the spoon, which was initially designed for the striper market. After field-testing, Lavallee made the lure longer and gave it a jewelry like finish. In the years since, the Kastmaster has become a celebrated casting spoon, both for its distinctive stature and its fish-producing reputation. Machined from solid brass, today's Kastmaster is corrosion proof, even when used in saltwater. Its aerodynamic design yields crazy long casts, while the lure's balance produces wild action without line twist. A wide variety of sizes and color patterns cater to pan-size trout, plus salmon, pike and trophy striped bass. acmetackle.com
Bomber Long Shot — A slender minnow bait patterned after the original Bomber Long A, the Long Shot features an advanced casting system, plus heavy-duty hardware and hooks. The lure's internal weighting allows a rattle to roll to the tail end of the bait on the cast, which then rolls back into position when it hits the water. The Long Shot's shape is also designed to cut through air, even directly into a strong wind. Its swimming action mimics a damaged baitfish — subtle and seductive. Patterned in region-specific baitfish colors, the Bomber Long Shot includes three sizes — 5-inch / ¾-ounce, 6-inch / 13/16-ounce and 7-inch / 1-3/4-inch. lurenet.com