How to Boatcast - by Bob Cox

Bob's Original Boat Casting.

The most common and useful style of boatcasting is when a wired lead is cast across and either uptide or downtide from the boat, and anchored where it hits the seabed (see Figure 4). The skills required to do this are not difficult to master, providing a few basic rules are followed and assuming that the terminal rigs and line diameters mentioned in this book are used.

    Using either a fixed spool or a multiplier reel, cast a few yards further uptide of where you want your bait to stay. Make sure, of course,  that you are not casting over the next angler's tackle and observe the safety procedures. Stop the line leaving the reel as the lead hits the sea, then, under gentle pressure, allow the tide and the sinking lead to pull line from the reel until the lead is felt to hit the bottom. At this point, reduce the thumb pressure on the line and allow the tide to carry the line downtide until it is leaving the rod tip at an angle of approximately 900 from where the lead entered the water (see Figure 6). Pay out a few yards of slack line and gently place the rod in the rest. Try to avoid any jerky actions which may cause the lead to pull out prematurely. It is a good idea to keep the reel out of gear, but with reasonable thumb pressure, until the rod has been placed in the rest, then knock it in gear. It is then left to the tide to take up the slack in the line and gently pull the rod tip over. Only experience will ten you what weight of lead is necessary to hold bottom for any given tide strength. But if your lead is too light or, in the case of breakaways the wires are tensioned too lightly, then the lead will fail to take a firm hold and the rod tip will nod as the lead trundles off downtide. Either increase the weight of the lead or re-tension the breakaway wires until the lead will hold bottom. If you are fishing towards the stern of the boat and casting down and across the tide, it can be difficult to judge whether or not your lead is in fact holding or has been swept downtide. One way to satisfy yourself that the lead is where it should be is to look down the line of the tide. If your line is leaving the rod tip in anything but a dead straight line downtide, then it is definitely holding bottom.


Figure 6 Casting
In order to cast safely from a crowded boat a high trajectory is required for the lead as shown in the back view. Having cast and let the lead hit the water, the spool should be momentarily stopped, then released under gentle thumb pressure until the lead hits bottom. Line should then be allowed to run from the spool until it is swept downtide at an angle of 90 Degrees from the line of the cast (top view).

Many anglers who are new to boatcasting have some difficulty in deciding whether or not they have had a bite and what to do when they do get a bite. With a rod under tension the pull of the tide should put a satisfying bend in the soft tip section. Bites show themselves in two ways. In a light to modest tide when a running ledger is being used, the rod tip will nod exactly as you would expect it to. At this point, pick up the rod, taking care not to prematurely trip the lead. This is best achieved by

how to boatcast top view

dipping the tip and pointing the rod at the line. Hold the rod until the bite is kit again, keeping the tip low and pointing in the same direction as the line and wind. Wind as fast as you possibly can. Wind until you have taken in the bow in your line and then keep winding. Wind until you feel the lead pull free and keep winding. Wind until you feel the weight of the fish then, and only then, lift the rod and strike. The tip and the mid-section should then buck over into a satisfying curve as the full weight of the fish is felt.
With a fixed lead the bite will be somewhat different. You are relying on the pull of the fish to trip the lead thus releasing the tension on the line so the bite will be a slack line bite, that is to say, the rod tip that had obviously been held over by the pressure of the tide will spring up, usually to nod down again as the lead catches and trips its way downtide. Immediately pick the rod up, dip the tip and wind in exactly the same manner as previously described.

The third most common bite is usually confined to those fishing in the forward positions on the boat. They will be casting uptide. that is to say, their leads will be anchoring at a point abreast of the boat or uptide of the boat, and as their leads trip free the line will simply go slack. The lead will trip, the line will slacken and the rod tip will straighten. Often the line can be seen to fall back downtide as the fish and the terminal gear are swept back down towards the boat. Don't hang about. Pick up the rod and just wind, and keep winding until you feel the weight of the fish. There is only really one other bite and it is probably the most exciting of all. Without any preliminaries, the rod just keels over and keeps going. Grab the rod and lift, and the fish is immediately on. Always make sure that your clutch is set so that it will give line and a reasonable pressure so that if you do have the good fortune to experience this type of bite, your rod will at least stay on board. You'd be surprised at the number of rods that are lost through big fish and incorrectly set clutches. I remember a cry for help over the VHF radio a few years ago when another charter boat fishing up and across tide from me asked if I could try to cast a weight and try and snag a fine conoflex boatcasting rod which was miraculously surfing downtide at an impressive rate of knots being towed by a good sized tope. Unfortunately it submerged before it reached my boat and I am sure that by the time the anglers concerned arrived home, the tope had grown towell in excess of the British record!

    The most important aspect of hooking fish when boatcasting is, as you will probably have gathered by now, to wind in that slack line caused by the bow of line between the rod tip and the lead. I can't emphasise enough just how important high-speed winding is, and it is for this reason that the reels recommended have been chosen. In virtually every other section of our sport the immediate reaction to a bite is to strike. But in boatcasting it is fatal with so much slack line out. Even the fastest and hardest strikes are absorbed and fail to set the hook. By winding you are ensuring that the tension between the rod tip and the hook is maintained until the weight of the fish itself invariably pulls the hook home. The final strike is in most cases a precautionary, if not pleasant, action.