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My dad taught me to fan cast an area to find fish when I was little. Basically spacing your casts a couple feet apart starting parallel to the bank on one side working your way around until you cover all the water in front of you. Your casts resemble the shape of a fan. I've changed it a little over the years. Sometimes I start casting quite a bit back from the shore or pool if I'm wading. This keeps from spooking the fish. Also if I'm working a long a shore line I make a cast and move down the bank a couple feet and every once in a while I throw a long cast parallel down shore in the direction I'm headed. You can cover a lot of water quickly this way. I don't cast to the same place twice unless I've had a hit, caught a fish or there's something unique about that one spot.

How long should you spend on a spot? With out catching a fish or even after you've caught one. Should you wait for fish to move in or get active or find some other spot. How many different lures /retrieves should you try? Time management, this sounds like work. I guess it depends on a lot of different things how well you know the river. How much you feel like walking. How well your waders fit...

One thing I read in the spoonplugging book by Buck Perry is that he never took more than 5 casts with a spoonplug(metel crankbait) and 5 casts with a jump type lure (jig) to check an area. Reading this convinced me to move along a little bit faster and also that if the fish were there and active they'd bite.

Phil

 

 

 

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I too am a fan caster although depending on what bait I'm using it is a bit more challenging on a stream/river. Norm taught me a good rule last year when stream fishing from shore. Start that fan right at the base of the blade in case there are any fishing hanging out around the hub. I'll sometimes make a couple/few casts to the same spot especially if I have caught fish there before or depending on water conditions. I know on that second or third cast I'll be off 6 inches to a foot or start reeling sooner or later and those subtle differences could mean a fish. I was out the other night and spent a bit more time at one spot than I should have but I caught one fish and missed a few so I gave it some extra time. I finally moved on to another spot that in my opinion is pretty unique. I ended up staying there for the next hour for two reasons. One I kept getting hits every 5th -7th cast (fan casting over the same area) and two, I only had an hour of daylight left and not enough time to really get anywhere else w/out working harder than I wanted. I guess it all depends on the situation at hand. Hopefully you make the right decision that gets you some fish or teaches you a lesson.

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A lot would depend on the size of the water and methods used that are catching fish.

 

Saturday, I started out fan casting the way Phil described, but then noticed a buzzbait bite, so I also stopped snap changing lures. The water was somewhat low and clear and gave any fish that wanted my buzzbait a good clear shot. That kind of water is easier to read than what I have heard out of Phil and Norm on the Kank. Another good point about casting past where the fish ought to be. Haven't had any impact strikes yet, so I'm throwing well past the targets.

 

When I hit a spot I know has fish, I'm not past throwing 15-20 casts with a tube or fluke until someone bites. At other times, like Saturday's crazy Buzzbait bite. I'm only throwing that one bait because fish were more aggressive towards it. Make as few casts to the best spots, because smallies will make themselves known.

 

Reminds me, a buzzbait can be a great locator lure this time of year as water gets lower and fish are on post spawn feed. Even if they don't connect the hook, quickly snapping out to a fluke or tube and throwing in that area will get you bit. It also reveals a potential holding area for other bass.

 

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I've heard many people say that if a fish doesn't bite on what you feel is the pattern bait in a given spot in 5 minutes, it's time to move.

Personally, I can never buy into this and will stay until I find a pattern that works.

I always believe there are fish present because they are homebodies, and they were there before in almost identical circumstances.

Stupidity or stubbornness, I suppose.

 

I have to say- I'm always looking to refine my techniques for catching smallmouth, and greatly appreciate Phil's posts presenting thoughts and ideas I may not have thought of.

 

Keep them coming, it can only help this bug-bitten angler in a positive way.

 

First I need to get some of that craw juice shampoo, cuz smallies just don't much like me this year. Spent a few hours the past week fishing, with nothing more than some nondescript fish to show for the effort.

I need that first 20, if it kills me.

 

Great stuff Phil.

Don't stop now .....

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Phil ,

 

If it's a spot I know holds fish I like that philosphy we have discuseed in the past- Shallow fast, shallow slow, deep fast, deep slow and have learned to add check the middepth or upper part of the water column.

 

If I'm hitting new water I may move faster just so I can see more of it although as you know I'm still slower than you are. :lol:

 

On my home flow, I used to want to try to catch every fish in a given area so I would strain the water with multiple presentations designed to check every possibility. Of course that meant carrying enough tackle to cover all the bases. Lately I've been content to catch a few fish out of a spot on whatever presentation I feel like using and move on.

 

I've carrying less tackle now and could prolly get by with less than I carry. Hmmm, I wonder who to blame for such heretical thoughts?

 

 

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Mike, when you get a good topwater bite patterened it's best that you make a few casts and cover lots water, eventually you'll run into bigger fish. Seldom seems like I catch a pig on a spot after lots of casts. Often, it's the first good cast.

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I typically fan cast an area but I'll break the pattern if I see the tell-tale sign of a submerged boulder or something else that calls to my attention. I'm still working on accuracy, which is much easier with a baitcaster (my new favorite), so I'll make multiple casts to a piece of structure until I get it where I want it, sometimes that alone will make the fish vacate. Knowing that I don't have good accuracy, I'll cast my way into the sweet spot so as to not spook all the fish out of there. I try not to stay too long, but if it looks like someone's home, I'll tie on something different and change the presentation, then I'll move.

Carrying less tackle means less time digging around for what I thing might work. Today was a first...a few of this and a few of that and it was a done deal. I traveled light. I usually have two rods, but I lost my holster. So there was extra time spent tying and re-tying but not nearly as much wasted time as trying to decide what to tie on.

I have found that when I move too fast, I make too much noise. So now I take my time, take small steps, and travel lighter. Now if I could only stop cursing out loud at the backlashes and fouled casts... :angry:

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It's not all that difficult. I'm actually choosing my BC setups before my spinning gear just because I love to cast. I was intimidated at first but soon got the hang of it. Kind of like a golf swing...the whole muscle memory thing. Now that's a scary thought....me golfing. I have a hard enough time keeping a 20 yard cast out of the trees. :wacko:

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Truthfully, you can be very accurate with a spinning rod by learning to 'feather' the line with your off hand. After launch, immediately bring your hand up the reel's front as if to close the bail by hand, instead lightly catch the line loosely as you eye your lure to drop it where you want.

 

You can learn to get deadly accurate if you pitch side armed/underhanded and throw the lure on a high arc like a softball. Gives you time to judge how much resistance to apply catching the line. You don't want to stop it (Unless Emergency) let is slip freely through your hand. Almost like using a fly rod. Same basic concept as thumbing a BC.

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I love that sidearm pitch cast! I keep a low arc to get my casts under trees n' stuff.

I haven't mastered feathering my casts with the spinning gear...in fact, I don't really try. I should, though. That might make a world of difference and keep me fromg hanging ornaments in trees :D

 

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If you hang one in the tree open the bail and give it line. Let the lure drop down to where you can reach it. You can cut the lure off , reel the line back over the branch and retie. Them damn squirrels can buy their own Christmas ornaments.

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Good points. I only use spinning tackle. Every cast I throw is feathered every time only I use my index finger on the hand holding the rod. Every cast I throw is pretty much the underhand pitch unless I know there's nothing overhead and need extra distance , than I use an overhead cast with two hands like a surf caster. There's a bow and arrow cast where you pull the lure back and use the bend in the rod to shoot it forward, pretty handy in tight places. Be sure not to hook your hand. I also use cheap lures that I'm not afraid to loose. I try to make one in a million impossible casts and after 30 or 40 years of casting I'm starting to make them.

Phil

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Also with spinning rod, when you make your normal overhead cast keeping the rod tip up allows longer casts. Some people drop their rod tip down and it has the effect similair to feathering. You can slam on the breaks by sending your rod right or left. Even steering the cast a bit when it's windy.

 

Going under very low trees with lures that don't skip, require you make a hard snap cast with rod tip inches above the water with kind of a later than normal release point the lure will travel very low to the water. My hand instantly goes to grab line during the cast so I can drop it on spot and get cranking.

 

The long softball toss is sidearm or underhanded toss with a jig type lure. The arc allows time to slow the bait down and place it with your feather hand, quiets the entry. You don't have to be pinpoint with your toss, because the feather will land it where you want. Toss long on an arc and let your off hand drop it where you want it.

 

Keeping that hand ready to grab line will save your butt when one does get out of control and heads 40' into a tree. Sammy type lures are infamous for this.

 

Just do it everytime. Usually the off hand is a spectator after the cast, waiting for splashdown (for better or worse) :) Make it usefull.

 

Requires good hand eye coordination, but once you 'get it'.

 

 

Phil, when the water is at or near summer pool I am throwing expensive lures into the rough stuff. I can control it like pac man around obstacles. When water is high or fast the current makes it too uncomfortable and heavy tubes and the like are more effective anyway.

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My favorite way to pitch short involves very little to no rod movement. You grab the line off hand and pull some line off the reel, like flipping a BC. The tube hangs off the front the usual 1' of line or so. I aim the rod tip directly at what I want to flip to, drop it down and flick the wrist slightly up. Hand moves to catch the line and make the lure fall softely. Like and underhanded handoff or volleyball serve.

 

I was practicing flipping with my spinning rod and discoverd accuracy improved immensly when I kept the rod out of the equation.

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