This week we feature a nifty piece on bait casting by tournament caster and noted lure maker Al Foss. Before he unleashed the "Little Egypt Wiggler" and other famous baits on the world, he was a world class caster. This came from the August 1916 Field & Stream magazine.
Practical Hints on Bait Casting
By Al. Foss
We are assuming that you have some knowledge of bait casting, and where our suggestions are contrary to accepted notions, we will try and explain why we believe our methods best.
We would advise the underhand cast, or what is termed by some as the "side swipe," as it will insure a larger creel, for the following reasons:
1st—Your bait hits the water with a taut line, and therefore some fish will hook themselves.
2nd-Your retrieve can be started at once, having no slack line to take up.
3rd—You can cast under brush, fallen trees, and overhanging banks, where the fish are usually found.
4th—It is less tiresome than the overhead cast.
5th—It is possible to cast lighter lures, which are more killing than the heavier ones.
6th—The lure does not go so high in the air, and therefore lands on the water more lightly.
7th—A longer rod can be used, making the handling of the hooked fish more practical.
8th—The wear and tear on the line is less than with the overhead cast.
9th—You can get closer to your fish without detection, as the movement of the casting arm is kept at a lower level.
There are of course lines when the overhead cast is absolutely necessary, and both styles should be mastered.
In fishing more than one in a boat, and in casting among weeds and lily-pads into small spots of open water, the overhead cast is advised, as greater accuracy can he obtained.
Unless the water is very clear, casts of from twenty-five to thirty-five feet will bring the best results.
By all means cast sitting down in a boat, as standing up is not only tiresome and dangerous, but it requires a much longer cast to get your lure near to the fish before they see you. You will therefore get practically no strikes near the boat, while in sitting down, fish will often strike it after your cast is completed and you arc in the act of lifting the lure out of the water.
Just before the lure hits the water, stop your reel and allow the lure to straighten out the line, then while changing the rod from the right to the left hand, start your retrieve by a backward movement of the rod, but not too far back, as enough of this backward movement must be held in reserve to "pump" the hook into your quarry, should you get a strike.
The reason why so many good casters fail to "bring home the bacon" is their failure to set the hook at the proper moment, as the fish will seldom hit a lure with enough force to drive the point of the hook beyond the barb. Your success therefore depends mostly on your keenness to detect a strike, and your speed in setting the hook before he decides that your lure is something that he does not want.
After you hook your fish, and before he realizes that he is in trouble and commences to fight, he should be turned about and slightly drawn through the water, so that you can estimate his weight, and handle him accordingly.
A bass of over one pound in weight should be landed by catching it by the hand in the lower jaw, the thumb inside. They will never get away no matter how large, if once you get hold of them.
After they are landed and you wish to keep them alive, a rope stringer is the most practical. Pass the point up through the lips, from below. Carry screw eyes in your tackle box to attach to boat, and trail in water, and if wading, tie to buttonhole and trail behind, carrying when not in the water. Never string them through the gills, as their gills are to them what our lungs are to us.
About tackle, volumes could be written, but if you want something more than ordinary fishing, you MUST USE LIGHT TACKLE.
We would advise a line of not over twelve pounds test, any color but white, which would be about a No. 5. If you can handle a lighter line you will do much better.
It is advisable to buy your line in one hundred yard lengths, and then cut it into three parts of one hundred feet each, which will give you as much line as necessary, and will reduce the cost to you just one-third. This line can be wound upon a cork core, and should never be allowed to dry on the spool, to keep it from rotting, and after the end you are using shows weakness which should be tested each day, you can turn it end for end. As the lines are now marketed, each spool contains fifty yards, which is not necessary. especially for bass, as no bass will take more than fifteen or twenty feet of line, if you make him fight for it.
Use no snaps to attach your line to lures, nor is it advisable to double your line and make a large slip-knot, as practiced by many, as these all tend to keep the fish from striking your lure, as they can better see that what you have to offer is not wanted.
A split bamboo rod of about five-ounce weight is recommended, which should be as good as your finances will permit, but if you cannot afford a good bamboo rod, get one of steel.
Would advise a rod from five to five and one-half feet long, one piece preferred, but two piece construction is nearly as efficient.
There are a great many reels on the market, which should be free running, quadruple multiplying, and should be oiled once or twice a day with a light oil.
Clothing plays a larger part in fishing than most persons imagine, and to avoid being seen, it is advisable to wear sombre colors, especially the hat or cap.
Our advice is to reel fast--the faster the better, for bass must be credited with having at least a little brains, and the lure must be put to them in such a manner that they strike it impulsively without taking a lot of time to think it over.
-- Dr. Todd