Posted 06:01, 22 October 2014
- Please bear in mind here that my technical knowledge of what is going on with carbon fibre during and just after the actual cast is at best limited, but via photographing lots and lots of casting with various digital SLRs over the years that are shooting at around eight to ten frames per second, you don’t half get to see a lot - and I was wondering if you had any idea what happened to your fishing rod at the end of a powerful cast?
- I would imagine that most of you assume you load up a fishing rod nice and sweetly, the bait, fly or lure then flies out there, and your rod “recovers” from that power curve to sit there nice and straight as you look out to see the bait or lure landing on the water - with absolutely no posing at all when it’s a particularly good cast!! Well it’s that recovery rate that I really notice via my photography, as in what happens to the fishing rod right after it unfolds from the cast and must eventually return to straight.
- Photographing casting in all kinds of fishing depends of course on what you are actually trying to show, together with how the location, light, angler, rod etc. might combine to assist you if that makes sense. It can be different trying to shoot a precise casting sequence that lays out the technical bits and pieces of an actual cast against trying say to make something look really creative. Something like the photo above does it for me and my creative side - great light (and no, there are no horrible orange filters involved), an angler who can cast very well putting a rod under load (the rather lovely Major Craft Skyroad Wind Custom 8’3’’ 7-21g, review here), loads of light which helps me with a very fast shutter speed to “stop” that rod in the perfect position (and even at ten frames a second you don’t always get a really good rod position), plus some water splashing up. The perfect casting shot? Obviously not, but I am rather proud of it.
- But what then happens to a fishing rod when it unwinds through a cast to help propel that bait, fly or lure out there? Check out the casting sequence above and you’ll notice how the (longer, slower) lure rod compresses, unwinds, and then goes a bit weird looking as it “recovers”, or returns to straight. This always happens, but various factors seem to determine how much that rod keeps going down and then sometimes back upright after the power curve. Faster rods, slower rods, the angle of release, weights of lures, baits and flies, where in the cast the angler is really hitting the rod etc.
- One thing you need to know about the above casting sequence is that I have not edited any frames out, as in what you are seeing is exactly what I photographed (bear in mind that this sequence happened in less than one second). For a one off casting photograph, I err towards either a compressed rod or else a straight rod at the end of the cast - photographing fly fishing can be so good because you have that line which can be so visible, and this often gives far more to a photograph. But then the recovery on a fly rod takes even longer because of that heavier line - the dip after the compression is often more pronounced, as it indeed it is with older style, floppier spinning rods that can really look quite alarming right after the compression bit. I don’t personally like the look of shots that show the strange bends in the rod as it recovers, and for the most part I will edit these out of a casting sequence as they aren’t serving much purpose other than to show how a fishing rod recovers back to straight - which is why I kept that particular sequence intact.
- If you knew nothing about how a rod has to recover at the end of cast, you might look at the two photos above and think it was perfectly normal so to speak - but what you wouldn’t know is that I edited out three frames between the bent rod and the straight rod at the end of the cast, because I didn’t (artistically) like the look of the rod recovering. Casting can look very different depending on what angle you photograph it from, and the angle here makes it look kinda horrible as the rod tip slams down after the cast and then makes it back to straight. Fishing rods have to do this, but it doesn’t mean that me as the photographer has to like it.
- But for all that I love lure fishing, from a pure photography point of view you’re never going to beat a good fly angler casting a full line in awesome light. Sure, bad fly casting can look just as bad as any other kind of casting, but that poetry in motion when a good fly angler goes through the motions is just something else if you ask me. I love it. My own fly casting leaves a lot to be desired, but I have spent enough time working around very good fly anglers to know what good and bad fly casting is - and still you’ll find that even the best casters can suffer from a good old dose of fish fever!!
Posted 08:57, 20 October 2014
- I managed to nip out for a couple of hours on Friday afternoon - ok, so the very small neap tide was hardly what I’d have preferred, but the conditions were fantastic. A proper bounce on the sea, great colour, an overcast sky, very little weed in the water, and it just smelt of bass. Now it was hardly an epic session, but I did manage to catch a well conditioned bass that might have touched 6lbs - I caught it on that long-casting Duel Lipless Minnow 120, indeed I had to have something very shallow on to keep me above some rocks that are usually covered up more with a larger tide.
- Saturday was a no-go for various reasons, but my mates Mark and Andy were up for a go over the HW yesterday - we decided on the same mark mainly because we fancied it to have enough clarity after Saturday’s strong S/SW winds, and of course there was a good chance of seeing some fish around. The tide was hardly epic, but it was a little larger than Friday, and although there was now a slightly milky tinge to the water, it was by no means too mucked up for lure fishing - confidence was pretty high…………
- But not a bloody sniff. You’ve got three anglers which at least means a load of different methods are being tried all over the mark - and there’s a fair bit of ground to cover there - yet we raised not even a hint of a bass. Conditions were lively but for most of the time we were there the sun was shining high and bright. We were on the same state of tide as I had been fishing only a couple of days previously, I preferred the slightly larger tide, the sea if anything was even bouncier, and still there was little if any weed about. But no fish.
- Frustrating yes, but at the same time another reminder that we are never going to come close to knowing it all, and yet again I reiterate my staying well away from “experts”. You’re looking forward to going fishing again even before you’ve finished fishing the last session, and it seems that the weather and conditions are in your favour - but we all know that in fishing you simply never get two days the same. Similar but with a few differences is how I could best describe the two days, yet because we are anglers and we can’t help but be eternal optimists, we hope that those slight differences might mean a whack load more fish - instead of the the opposite which is exactly what we got!!
- Now is the time though, or at least that is what I feel - with that winter we had and with how up and down it’s been this year, I can’t help but feel a sense of optimism about this period down here up until at least Xmas and possibly beyond if we don’t get either a serious cold snap or else the sudden brutality of last winter. Get it right and I reckon there’s a chance of some good bass fishing down here in Cornwall, but of course we are subject to a number of external factors which we the anglers must taken on board, compute through our brains, and then come up with solutions that we hope will put us onto a few fish. I can accept blanks because I am perfectly comfortable with where I am at both on the learning curve and also with respects to outwitting nature, but just sometimes you can’t help but scratch your head and wonder why on earth at least something didn’t jump on at least one of our lures…………..
Posted 06:46, 17 October 2014
- Catching fish is obviously pretty awesome as it is, but what’s your favourite way to catch the fish you target? Ledgering, sight fishing with fly, bait or lure, freelining, surface fishing with lures and flies, trolling, cranking hard lures, bumping soft plastics, twitching plastics, float fishing, surf casting, etc. - think about it and there are any number of ways to catch any number of different species. But what floats your boat the most? Well I’ll tell you straight off what doesn’t do it for me at all me, and that’s trolling. I have been around it, I have done it, and I will try my best to never have to do it again. Horses for courses and all that, but it ain’t for me.
- No, for me the ultimate way to catch fish is sight fishing - actually seeing the fish and then casting to them and hooking up is in my opinion about as good as fishing can get. Big or small, I don’t really care, but I have been lucky enough to have done a fair bit of sight fishing, and via my work I have been around a stack of it - and the thrill never diminishes. Trout, salmon, mullet, bonefish, GTs, bumpies, permit, golden dorado, whatever it may be, it’s awesome stuff. With fish bass fishing though I think that our chances at pure sight fishing for them are at best limited, so how awesome does this stuff the Labrax Squad guys did over in France sound? Check here. Now that is some serious fishing if you ask me, and it has to make one wonder what might be possible with a much lighter and quieter approach……………..
- If we are talking about bass fishing here and we essentially take sight fishing out of the equation for the purpose of this blog post, for me it now has to surface fishing. How awesome is it to run surface lures across the top of the water and see the swirls/carnage as a bass smashes into your lure? Any time I can get remotely visual with my fishing is for me when it steps up that little bit more into the realms of heart palpitations. Seeing fish to cast to or seeing fish come up and smash stuff off the top - does it get much better? Mark’s caught plenty of bass over the years, but he won’t mind me saying that he was a quivering wreck of joy at nailing that roughly 9lb fish off the top the other week in Ireland.
- Same spot but a different day and about five yards out a decent sized bass swirls and turns over the top of my Salt Skimmer but fails to hook up. I quickly cast out again and a bass comes up and just smashes my lure, but this time it hooks up. Was it the same bass? Most likely not, but you know what it’s like - heart-stoppingly exciting. Mesmerising. Addictive. Sure, I enjoy the scrap albeit I do my utmost to land any fish I hook as quickly as I am able to, but with surface fishing it’s about that smash into the lure which just freaks the living daylights out of me - and of course I love how bass fishing can sometimes give us those opportunities. As for GTs hitting surface lures? It ain’t right, believe me - it’s bloody freaky.
- But I get completely the fact that you yourself might get the most buzz from catching fish in other ways. Seeing a rod tip bounce in the dead of night is a rush is it not? A float sliding gently away is always going to be incredible. Watching your braid snake away across an oily calm surface as a permit picks up a crab over a wreck is pretty freaky stuff. And how about drifting a balloon back towards a road bridge in the Florida Keys in the pitch black, only to see the light stick inside the balloon suddenly disappear because a 100lb plus tarpon’s nailed the bait? Twitching soft plastics, drifting them current or bumping them along the bottom is getting to me more and more these days, but then I will also never cease to love it when an unseen fish hits a sub-surface lure. Is not variety the spice of life?
- At the end of the day it matters not what you love the most, because fishing is just so varied that if we want to we can fish for so many different species in so many different ways. For the life of me I could not do the same stuff all the time, but I guess that lure fishing has given me the chance to be so involved with my fishing and how I go about it - and the day that I don’t get a rush when a fish hits is the day to walk away. Fishing is for life. Life is fishing?