Long-Distance Surf Casting Techniques

Surf Fisherman
PhotographyPerspectives / Getty Images

Editor's Note: Randy Kadish is an experienced surf angler from the state of New York. Here he gives away some of his secrets for long-distance casting.

For years, tournament fly-casters have been refining their techniques and as a result are now casting farther than before. Their techniques can help surf-casters refine their long-distance casting and reach that faraway fish.

Fundamentals of the Cast

To begin, you need to review some universal casting principles:

  • The lure will move in the direction the rod tip moved just before it was stopped.
  • To effectively load the rod, you must begin the cast slowly, then accelerate and reach maximum speed just before you stop the rod. If you begin the cast too quickly, the lure will also move too fast and, therefore, not fully pull on the rod.
  • To use all the power stored in a loaded rod, you must abruptly stop the rod without lowering the tip from the target line.
  • All things being equal, the more you lengthen your casting stroke, the more you will load the rod.

With these principles in mind, let's now turn to the techniques of long-distance surf-casting.

The Grip

Any slack in the line makes it impossible to fully load the rod. Long-distance fly-casters, therefore, make sure they begin the cast with their rod and line hands close together so slack can't come between them.

When casting a spinning rod, it's not unusual for an angler to add slack by not holding the line with enough tension. Even worse, just before abruptly stopping the rod, the angler's index finger often prematurely releases the line and the lure sails high and off to the right.

To avoid this, place two fingers in front of the reel stem and two behind. Pick up the line with your right index finger, then move your hand back so that only your index finger is in front of the stem. Next, pull the lineup and back, then gently press your fingertip against the stem, but not the line. This allows you to feel the weight of the lure to cast it accurately.

When casting heavy lures, try wearing a golf glove so the line doesn't cut your finger.

The Slingshot Stance

For this stance, begin with your non-dominant foot is forward. So assuming you're right-handed, your left foot points straight at the target with the right foot behind pointing about 30 degrees to the right of the target. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. If you don't have the proper stance, you won't be able to fully rotate your hips during the cast.

Bend your knees slightly. Then, with the lure hanging down about 2 feet from the rod tip, keep your elbow in place and slightly rotate your hips and shoulders, moving the rod tip straight back. Cock your wrist and stop the rod at about 3:30 to the horizon. Your rod hand is about ear-level and not past your rear shoulder. Your forearm points to about one o'clock.

Holding the rod in this position makes it easier cast without lowering the rod tip from the target line and to move your right arm in sync with your body rotation.

Finally, shift your weight to your back foot. You're now ready to cast.

The Cast

Leading with your elbow, begin slowly, making sure you move your right arm in sync with your weight shift and body rotation. There are two reasons for this:

  • If your arm moves faster than your body, you become an arm-caster and lose power.
  • If your arm gets in front of your body, you will prematurely lower the rod tip and, therefore, unload the rod.

By pushing up with your right hand and pulling down with your left, you accelerate the rod and move the butt perpendicular to the target line When your right arm is about three-quarters extended, you reach maximum speed by breaking both wrists halfway. Abruptly, stop the rod at about 11 o'clock and release the line. All of your weight should be on the ball and toes of your front foot, and your front leg should be straight.

That Extra Distance

So, as a surf-caster, when you need even more distance, you can again borrow techniques from fly-casters and lengthen your casting stroke similar to the way spey-casters lengthen theirs.

The stance is a bit different. Hold the rod across your body with your right arm about three-quarters extended and the right hand about shoulder level. The rod tip points forward, about 45 degrees to the right of the target line and about 30 degrees above the horizon. Your weight should be on your front foot. Begin the cast keeping your right elbow pointing down, shifting your weight back and moving the rod tip up and back in a oval circle until you're back in the slingshot stance. Without stopping, make the slingshot cast.

Setting the Hook

Since your lure is now really out there, you'll need a longer, more powerful hook set. Therefore, as you retrieve the lure, hold the rod across your body. To fight fatigue, try balancing the rod in your right hand. The rod butt should be under your left armpit. Your weight should be on your left foot with your right foot. When you feel a strike, point the rod toward the lure, quickly take up slack, then rip the rod tip up and back as far as you can.

Was this page helpful?