Beachcasting rods are no longer heavy poles with no sensitivity and poor casting ability. It takes a high-tech item to be light, able to cast over 200m (220yd) and still ensure that it’s fun to play and land fish.
This angler is using three rods to fish an estuary – two are set up for fixed-spool reels and the other for a multiplier.
Casting a heavy weight involves putting a real bend into the rod. Beachcasters have to be very powerful to cope with this.
If you do a lot of night fishing, make sure your rod is a light colour to show up bites; alternatively, attach a chemical light stick.
Rods need to be held so they show bites clearly. Rod rests to do this come in many forms, from tubes like these, to tripods.
Fishing in the surf is one of the most exciting forms of sea fishing. You can often fish light, using a 1-3oz (28-85g) weight with lightweight rod to match.
Beachcasting rods need to be specifically ringed for use with either a multiplier or a , fixed-spool reel. The rod on the left has been set up for use with a fixed-spool reel. It has four intermediate rings which are very large to allow for the line coming off the spool in coils. This reduces the friction that cuts down your distance.
The rod on the right has been set up for a multiplier, with seven small intermediate rings. A larger number of rings reduces the angle of the line at each ring when the rod is bent.
When balancing casting weight to rod, many anglers don’t take their bait into account – and a hookload of lug is not the same as a whole squid or a mackerel. Overloading a rod during the cast will break it. You can also overload a rod pulling out of a snag, and a large number of rods are broken this way every year. To avoid that sickening crunch, point the rod along the line when you pull, or wrap the line around some wood to take the strain off the reel.
Walk into a tackle shop and you are likely to be confronted with a wide variety of beachcasting rods. Selection can be tricky unless you think about your fishing and which rod it calls for.
A beachcasting rod is designed to throw a weighted rig out to where the fish are feeding, indicate when a fish has taken the bait, and then to cushion the thumps as the fish tries to get free. However, the conditions under which this is done determine the type of rod you need.
Fishing estuaries or surf beaches for bass does not require a rod with the same power as one needed to blast out 6oz (170g) of lead, plus bait, over 140m (153yd) – or pull big cod out through kelp and rocks.
Most people have a price range to work to, but you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get good performance. In most cases, the more expensive rods are made of top qual- ity materials and offer greater distance casting potential – but only if you have a good enough technique to use it properly.
If you’re only going to use the rod occasionally, you won’t have time to practise the techniques that help you cast huge distances. A rod capable of up to 110m (120yd) is perfectly adequate and shouldn’t cost the earth.
The cheapest rods are made entirely of glass-fibre, or with just a hint of carbon fibre. A rod like this has an allthrough action which means even a smallish fish puts a decent bend in it. They are heavy, however, and the action reduces casting potential. If all you need is a budget price rod, this type is ideal, but watch out for cheap reel seats and rod rings.
Most rods in the middle to high price range contain a large proportion of carbon fibre in the blank. Some rods use kevlar to strengthen the stiff but brittle carbon fibre. They are usually stiffer than the cheaper rods and have a faster action. This gives a rod with a rigid butt section for distance casting, a fairly flexible middle section for playing fish, and a light tip giving excellent bite detection.
The more expensive rods generally have the most rigid butt sections – increasing casting potential. Any bending between the hands during the cast absorbs power rather than transmitting it into the blank. However, some bending does make the cast feel smoother, so a compromise is necessary. Either Duralumin or carbon fibre is used to stiffen the butt; carbon is clearly considerably lighter.
Don’t confuse action with power – it is possible to have powerful rods with either an allthrough or a fast action. Most beach-casters have a casting weight range printed just above the handle. This is a good indication of the power of any particular blank. Consider the type of fishing you intend to do before buying a rod. If you fish various beaches and shorelines, you’ll probably need at least two rods for maximum enjoyment. One of them is for heavy fishing at long range, the other for lighter fishing, often closer in to shore. Length is important as the longer the rod, the farther the casting potential. Long rods also make it easier to hold line off the water in heavy tides. Since an enormous rod would be impossible to handle, most anglers find 12ft (3.7m) a good compromise. For really long casting, 13ft (4m) or more, used with an off the-ground technique, or backcasting, can be best. A pendulum cast can also be helped by a long rod, but many anglers cast great distances with this style and a shorter rod. In the end, the choice depends mainly on personal preference.
Reels can be placed anywhere on a rod butt, though conventionally they are usually placed fairly well up the handle to maximise leverage. It is a mistake, however, to set the reel too far up the butt, as this leads to exaggerated and inefficient casting styles, not extra distance or comfort. The correct position is between 70-80cm (28-32in) up from the butt end. Find the right place for you by placing the butt cap under your armpit and stretching your arm along the handle. The reel feels natural if you place it just above where the thumb rests.
Some anglers prefer to fit the reel close to the bottom of the handle, especially with a longer rod of around 13ft (4m). The upper hand on the handle is still the stronger one, but the reel is gripped with the weaker one, which some people find more comfortable. The weight of the reel is in the best position for overall balance, and moving the rod through its casting arc is easier. For some casting methods, such as backcasting, a low reel position is vital, though it can be used with any style.
However, this positioning makes reeling in much more difficult (it often requires a butt extension to be added), particularly with heavy weights or in weed. The reel is also more vulnerable to damage, being closer to the ground when the rod is propped up waiting for a bite.
Rods that have heen set up by the manufacturer tend to have reel seats fixed in the conventional position. These are just about in the right place for most people but for fine tuning you can fit your rod with coasters. These are simple screw lock fittings and they are used by many match anglers.
Whether buying a factory set-up rod or doing it yourself, pay attention to the rings. They need to be lined for minimum friction and maximum resistance to wear. The number and size of the rings on a rod depends on the reel with which it is supposed to be used. Line is pulled from a multiplier spool during the cast in a fairly straight line. It pulls a cushion of air with it so that it hovers’ inside each ring. This does not create much friction, so a set of seven or eight fairly small rings is best. With a fixed-spool reel, line is pulled off the spool in coils during the cast. These coils are present at the first ring (and to a lesser extent all the way up the rod), which causes considerable friction as the line rubs against the inside of the rings. This means it is best to use four or five larger rings. Using these ring arrangements and line of around 0.35mm diameter, the casting performances of both set-ups are very similar.
There are many different rods from which to choose, but most handle a wide range of conditions. Only the most specific location – such as surf beach fishing for bass – requires a specialized rod. A rod that can cast 3-6oz (85-170g) and with which you feel comfortable will serve you very well in most circumstances.