Let’s Look Back: Good Casting’s Still the Key – Part 2

There's a casting weight inside this plastic skirt.  Once I learned how to putt this weight right where I wanted it to go, demonstrating that skill took me to a lot of different sports around the world.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

There’s a casting weight inside this plastic skirt. Once I learned how to put this weight right where I wanted it to go, demonstrating that skill took me to a lot of different sports shows around the world. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I was really excited to have a chance to go to the big outdoor show in Los Angeles.  If you read my previous column this was back in 1952.  I had been asked to demonstrate the new Ambassadeur 5000 casting reels that were just being brought into the country.

Now I thought I was pretty good with a bait casting outfit when I headed for Los Angeles.  I found out in a hurry I wasn’t nearly as good as I thought.

My current columns on casting are designed with one purpose – to help you become a better caster.

You know, it’s a funny thing.  In this country we accept practice as a part of almost every kind of participant recreation.  If you’ll ponder that statement for a moment you’ll realize it’s true.  We practice so hard for football, baseball or basketball.  We practice bowling before league play starts.

We both know what those crazy golfers will be doing this weekend.   They will be out there with one bucket full of practice balls after another.  They’ll be trying to learn to keep their heads down, their left arms straight and to improve their score through practice.

Chances are you’ll wind up practicing if you’re wife decides you’ve tromped on her toes long enough and you need dancing lessons.  And so it goes.  But who practices casting?  Not very darn many!

Actually, improving casting accuracy through practice is one of the few things any of us can do to improve on the number of fish we put in the boat.  If we go fishing tomorrow morning, we can’t do one blessed thing about air temperature, wind direction, wind velocity, water temperature or most anything else.

For that matter, you don’t even know what kind of mood your fishing partner will be in.  You’ve got no control over any of those things.  One thing you do control is your ability to put a lure on target time after time and you can do that through practice.  And again – that’s what this series on casting is all about.

The reader has a right to know why I’m making noises like a casting expert.  I gave giving casting exhibitions to one extent or another around the world for more than half a century.  I made a substantial portion of my income through casting exhibitions and lectures on the subject.

This picture shows one of the spots where my casting skills took me.  This picture is from one of the three successive years my casting was featured at the big outdoor show in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

This picture shows one of the spots where my casting skills took me. This picture is from one of the three successive years my casting was featured at the big outdoor show in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

They say one of the best ways to learn about something is to try to teach it.  I agree.  Much of what you’ll read here is the result of having talked, taught and demonstrated different casting techniques from Tulsa to Tokyo, San Francisco to Sao Paulo and countless other spots around a sizeable chunk of the world.

If you read my July column here you know about the first major outdoor show in which I participated.  It was when I had opportunity to demonstrate those brand new Ambassadeur 5000 reels at the old Pan Pacific Auditorium in Los Angeles.

Again – I had thought I was pretty handy with a rod and reel when I went to that show.  I didn’t take long for me to realize I really wasn’t.  The big casting pool I worked at for 11 days was shared by the world’s professional casting champ.  A top amateur champ did his thing at the other end of the pool.

Like I’ve said, I wasn’t nearly as good as I thought going in.  But after 11 days of almost constant casting, watching and learning from a couple of the top casters in the world I came away a whole lot better than I had been coming out.

Much of what you find here is built into what I do in the way of exhibition casting.  Certainly there’s a good bit of showmanship involved in trick and accuracy casting before an outdoor show audience.

But don’t kid yourself that it’s all show.  The better you can handle a rod, the more fish you’ll catch.  There’s just no question about it.  You’ve simply got to be able to do the one before you can expect to accomplish the other.

Here's something else that casting accuracy has done for me.  It has put lots of bass in my boat.  This picture was taken a long, long time ago when I was still keeping some of the bass I'd caught.  For many years now nearly all I've caught have gone back in the water.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Here’s something else that casting accuracy has done for me. It has put lots of bass in my boat. This picture was taken a long, long time ago when I was still keeping some of the bass I’d caught. For many years now nearly all I’ve caught have gone back in the water. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I’ve been quoted as having said that most males come into the world thinking they know all about three things.  One of them is sex, another is driving cars and a third is fishing.  The unfortunate truth is we come on the scene not knowing beans about any one of the three.

Now most of us are willing to practice the first two activities I listed.  But whoever heard of practice for fishing?  I have, my friend, and I hope you’re serious enough about your own fishing that you will also give it a try.

This column series will help.  Study it carefully.  You’ll find it deals with the basics of handling everything from the level wind, free spool casting reel to the closed-face spinning reel.  A lot of manuals are written in such a fashion it takes a Harvard professor to understand what the heck the writer is talking about.  Not this one.  Follow its advice and you’ll be zinging a lure out there as you’ve never done before.

What that eventually will mean is more fish.  That’s got to mean more fun and isn’t that what this wonderful business of sports fishing is all about?

Let’s Look Back: Good Casting is Still the Key – Part 1

For several years they used to hang a big balloon on ribbons in front of the auditorium where the Bassmasters Classic was being held.  Nobody got to go in until I cast and busted the balloon.  Here's what happened at the exact time I nailed it.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

For several years they used to hang a big balloon on ribbons in front of the auditorium where the Bassmasters Classic was being held. Nobody got to go in until I cast and busted the balloon. Here’s what happened at the exact time I nailed it. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

It’s easy to recall the first time I talked to Terry Battisti about the possibility of me doing a column for his then new Bass Fishing Archives.

Our visit was in the early days of this website not too long after Terry had founded the BFA (Bass Fishing Archives) and got things going.  I was amazed at a guy his age could have the tremendous amount of bass fishing history he packs around in his head. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back: Fly Rod Bass – Part 4

My own bugging for bass often produced fish about the size of the one you see here.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

My own bugging for bass often produced fish about the size of the one you see here. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

The weeks of spring and early summer offer by far the best opportunity for anglers going after bass with a fly rod.  The best times are going to vary, of course, depending on the part of the country you’re talking about.

In the Pacific Northwest, where I did almost all of my fly rodding for bass, largemouth spent lots of time in the shallows from April on through July.  And it’s in the shallows where bass bugging is at its best.

As I advised in my previous column, always look for bass around cover.  You’re wasting time fishing open water.  Cover can be darn near anything from a single piling to bridge abutments to pockets in the lily pads or reeds. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back: Fly Rod Bass – Part 3

I tied my own bass bugs in a variety of sizes and colors.  The bugs I'm holding here were usually among my most effective.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I tied my own bass bugs in a variety of sizes and colors. The bugs I’m holding here were usually among my most effective. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Finding an experienced guide when you’re on water you’ve never fished before is likely to save you both time and money.  This applies as well to the angler just getting started in fly rod bass fishing.

In last month’s column I talked about some of the gear I liked best for my own fly rod bass fishing.  Also, I should have mentioned just how darned important it is to have the right balance between your rod and line.  Get an experienced friend to help you in this regard or look for one of those hard-to-find sporting goods stores that has people with experience in fly rodding for bass.  You’ll never regret it. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back: Fly Rod Bass – Part 2

I had my hands plumb full for awhile when this one busted my bug.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I had my hands plumb full for awhile when this one busted my bug. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Developing the skills to take largemouth bass off the surface with a fly rod will be worth every minute you devote to it.  Why?  Because, and as I pointed out in my previous column, if you’ve not been having much fun in your fishing, things are about to change.

To continue our discussion on bugging for bass, let’s look at the equipment you’ll need before talking about technique.  Most of fly rodding was done years ago so some of my names for the gear involved might be a bit out of date.  Be that as it may, I sure as heck know what worked for me. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back: Fly Rod Bass – Part 1

Does this look like a fly rod bass angler having fun? It darn well should!  My wife shot this picture of me when I was still a young man.  l learned prior to wearing a beard what I could and couldn't expect while fly rod fishing for bass.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Does this look like a fly rod bass angler having fun? It darn well should! My wife shot this picture of me when I was still a young man. l learned prior to wearing a beard what I could and couldn’t expect while fly rod fishing for bass. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

The Bass Fishing Archives website is devoted to detailing the history of bass fishing.  This history would never be complete without also detailing the

tactics and techniques associated with putting our favorite fish in the boat – right?

I’d have to hang a question mark or two to completely agree with that statement.  Perhaps you share that sentiment.  When, for example, was the last time you’ve read much here about fly rod fishing for bass? [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back: I was among the first to get “hooked” – Part 2

I had a chance to test these great hooks before they were ever brought into the USA. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I had a chance to test these great hooks before they were ever brought into the USA. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

The guy on the other end of the phone line asked a question I’ve been hearing off and on now for a long time.

“Stan,” the guy asked, “Exactly when did you start writing about fishing?  I know you’ve been doing it for a long time now.  I’ll bet you’ve seen lots of changes in the fishing gear that’s available now compared to what it was when you first started.” [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back: I was among the first to get “hooked” – Part 1

For years now Gamakatsu has had some of the world's top bass fishing professionals helping with its hook design and refinement. Aaron Martens, a past winner of the Bassmasters Classic, is one of them. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

For years now, Gamakatsu has had some of the world’s top bass fishing professionals helping with its hook design and refinement. Aaron Martens, a past Bassmaster Angler of the Year winner, is one of them. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I’m one of the luckiest old backlash picker-outers west of the Mississippi River – maybe east of the big river too.

If you’ve read my “Let’s Look Back” columns in the past you’re aware I’ve touched on this before in doing these columns.  Having been writing about fishing since shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire is one of the reasons I talk about being as fortunate as I have been.

Another, and it’s one of the reasons I welcomed the chance to do these columns when given opportunity to do them. Writing a column with the heading “Let’s Look Back” you see, gives me a chance to look back over my shoulder and write about some of the wondrous experiences I’ve had a chance to be in on. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back: And Then Came Something New – Part 3

I used this Zebco closed face spinning reel for hundreds of my casting exhibitions around the world for many years.  Whatever reel you select for teaching a youngster, make certain it's sufficiently small enough to fit into their hands.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I used this Zebco closed face spinning reel for hundreds of my casting exhibitions around the world for many years. Whatever reel you select for teaching a youngster, make certain it’s sufficiently small enough to fit into their hands. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

In my past two columns I’ve detailed a procedure that makes it easy for a youngster to learn how to use a closed face spinning reel.  I’d like to share a few additional thoughts in this third and final column dealing with the same subject.

One of the best ways to turn a child away from fishing for all time is to provide them with mismatched equipment. If you teach them the casting technique I’ve shared with you for the closed face spinning reel, by all means get them a lightweight rod to go with it.

Teach them how to use what you give them before you ever get near the water.  I have good reason for making that request.  I lived right on the shore of a popular bass and panfish lake for about 35 years.  It wasn’t unusual to hear some father yelling (at times even cursing) at the kids he had in his boat. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back: And Then Came Something New – Part Two

Here's the key to getting accuracy with the closed face spinning reel. Depress the thumb control button and hold it in. Trap the line against the hole in the center of the spool. Note that the line is over the left forefinger. When you're ready to cast, release pressure with both fingers at the same instant. Let the line flow over your forefinger as it heads to your target. All you need do to control the flight of the lure or practice casting weight is simply raise that left forefinger. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Here’s the key to getting accuracy with the closed face spinning reel. Depress the thumb control button and hold it in. Trap the line against the hole in the center of the spool. Note that the line is over the left forefinger. When you’re ready to cast, release pressure with both fingers at the same instant. Let the line flow over your forefinger as it heads to your target. All you need do to control the flight of the lure or practice casting weight is simply raise that left forefinger. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Darn few things are going to be more important to the average angler that the ability to achieve accuracy in presenting their lures to the fish they are after.

And if that’s true, and experienced anglers know that it is, it especially applies to a youngster just getting into the field of sportfishing for the first time.  That’s why I said some of the things I did about the closed face spinning reel in my previous column.

I was among the very first to experiment with these new reels when Zebco first brought them to market away back in the middle of the last century.  That early experience led me to always use them in the thousands of casting exhibitions I was eventually to do for decades over a sizeable chunk of the world. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back: And Then Came Something New – Part 1

Here's the little Zebco Pro Staff 2010 close face spinning reel I showed thousands of folks how to use over many different parts of the world for many, many years.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Here’s the little Zebco Pro Staff 2010 close face spinning reel I showed thousands of folks how to use over many different parts of the world for many, many years. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I was there when it first hit the market.

And now “Let’s Look Back” and take a closer look at just what the heck I’m talking about.  One of the primary reasons I started doing these columns for my good friend Terry Battisti is the opportunity it provides to share how some of today’s most popular items of fishing tackle first made an appearance on the tackle shelves.

Having hung around the fishing scene as long as I have has provided ample opportunity for that sharing I’ve mentioned.  I began doing a fishing column for a daily newspaper in Washington State away back in 1946.  There’s an awful lot of gear folks now use to put bass in the boat that didn’t exist when I did my first outdoor columns. [Read more…]

Let’s Look Back: There Is More Than One Way – Part 2

Nothing beats the open faced spinning reel for a host of bass fishing problems.  It’s still tops for lightweight work.  And now there are super strong but small diameter braided lines that work just fine on an open face reel.  This lets you handle things even if the cover is a bit heavy.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Nothing beats the open faced spinning reel for a host of bass fishing problems. It’s still tops for lightweight work. And now there are super strong but small diameter braided lines that work just fine on an open face reel. This lets you handle things even if the cover is a bit heavy. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

The open face spinning reel is a wonderful fishing tool.  As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t anything else available that will let you handle really light lines and lures as efficiently.

In my previous column I detailed how the great majority of users of the open face get the job done.  They do it by draping the line across their right forefinger; then they straighten that finger at the instant they want their lure to fly off to its intended target. [Read more…]