Are you afraid to give it full wellie on the cast for fear of slip-ups? Here are some gadgets that help you to go the distance
Under the spotlight is a clever gadget to hold the line tight and ready for casting when using a fixed-spool reel.
It’s the Breakaway Cannon, perhaps not as well known as it ought to be considering the extra grip, control and compression it gives the caster. A spin-off from this device is available for multipliers.
Most gadgets and gizmos developed for sea angling are the products of fevered imaginations or wishful thinking, and have no real practical use. But for many years Breakaway Tackle has bucked that trend, consistently coming up with items that work as intended and are simple solutions to angling problems.
Mind your fingers!
The principle of casting with a fixed-spool reel involves the line coming off the face of the spool completely unhindered by the drag you’d get if the spool revolved.
The system has been around for ages in freshwater fishing, but it’s only in recent years that sea reels have been designed for long-range casting, specifically from the beach.
In all fixed-spool reels a bale-arm rotates around the spool to lay the line on it. To cast the bait out, the angler simply traps the line with his index finger, flips the bale-arm over and casts overhead, releasing the line at the right moment. Most of us have no problem with this, as it is the norm in bait casting or lure fishing in fresh water.
At sea, though, heavier lines, bigger rods and reels, weightier leads and not always ideal conditions put more pressure on the index finger. The line is far more difficult to trap and hold, and trying to do so can damage the finger, even draw blood, and especially when power casting to propel the lead further.
Most casters resort to a simple fingerstall to defend their precious digits, indeed these are standard among fixed-spool users, especially those using braid line. It’s a case of ‘more grip then let it rip’.
But some fixed-spool users who spend hours and many pounds on casting lessons ignore the fact that practising in a field is way different from fishing on a wet windy beach, where finger slippage or loss of grip is a very real possibility.
The Breakaway Cannon is a mechanical line release that can be used in conjunction with a fixed-spool reel to release the line smoothly and easily, gaining maximum compression of the rod without risk of damage to the finger. Its costs around a tenner and does just what it says on the box.
The cheaper Breakaway Thumbutton does a similar job, but fits on top of the rod and holds down the line as you would on a multiplier reel.
The Cannon should be fitted above and slightly behind the spool rim, but take care, because there are a wide variety of reel fittings to contend with. A good tip is to attach the Cannon to the rod butt with insulating tape until you are completely happy with its position, and only then whip it on permanently.
The line is simply looped around the Cannon, which releases it on the cast. It sounds simple and it is!
The Breakaway Cannon is also finding favour with lure anglers, especially overseas, as a way to power cast the chunkier lures in heavy seas.
What about multipliers?
With a multiplier, the ability to hold down the line until the casting power stroke is equally essential to achieving smoothness and distance. The spool turns, so the lead weight pulls on the line against whatever is restraining the spool. It’s not easy to control the process, especially if the line is wet and slimy from bait juice or water. If the thumb slips and gets whacked by a shockleader knot the result can be painful, to say the least.
Enter the thumbie. This is simply a thumb or finger cut from a rubber glove. It offers grip and protection, and is perhaps the simplest answer to the slippage problem. Various brands of glove offer different thicknesses, and some even feature a studded grip pattern to help prevent the line slipping. Good old Marigolds are a long-time favourite.
An alternative is a permanently fixed rubber casting strap – a short length of rubber that is taped to the rod butt and flaps over the multiplier spool. This gives the thumb lots of extra grip and can be used for casting low or high-positioned reels. Most anglers use a section of cycle inner tube about an inch across, taped to the rod butt below the reel seat.
Casting aids like these bring lots of advantages in the winter on a wet, cold beach. They are not an instant path to mega distances, but can add to your confidence and improve your technique – so give them a go.
CASTING SLIP TIPS
Always check that the front drag is tightened down before casting. Front drag fixed-spools are preferred for beachcasting, as rear drag reels cannot lock down the spool tightly enough for power casting.
Most casting problems involving the finger slipping off the spool or a premature spool release are the result of haste. Always make sure your casting thumb/finger is dry, that the line is running freely through the rod rings, and your footing is secure before you attempt to cast.
Stuck on the beach in the rain, your thumb slips off the spool and you don’t have a thumbie? A wrap of PVC tape may help, or, as a last resort dip your thumb in the sand – a coating of grit will get you out of trouble.
Fixed-spool reels are infuriating when the spool spills loops of leader line. Solve this problem with your fingerstall – wrap its elastic wrist grip around the spool to hold the line. What’s more, that way you’ll never lose this useful gadget!