The form of casting lures is becoming ever more popular and some would say it’s starting to overtake the once go-to method of trolling.
Don’t get me wrong, trolling is an extremely successful technique that allows you to cover large amounts of water in the shortest timeframe. Plus, the major benefit is your lure continues to stay in the strike zone the entire time, unlike casting.
Casting hasn’t come to the forefront because it out fishes trolling, as each technique has its place depending on the situation. I believe casting is a more active technique and brings out more of the angler inside of us. It’s like an art form of constantly being switched on to where we are casting, feeling the lure as it passes through the underwater battlefield, ensuring it’s in the strike zone and the correct depth. Our awareness as an angler is heightened and I believe that’s what drives us to cast lures, especially when it comes to chasing Murray Cod… and also, casting works!
In this article I’m going to talk about the three main techniques or approaches, that I use when chasing impoundment cod. Its not as straightforward as just casting, letting it sink and winding the lure back in. You can make it that simple, but the rewards won’t consistently follow.
Plus, I’m going to share a few other critical tips or key lessons to help on your future trips. Ensuring that you approach, analyse and use the correct technique is vital and will result in more success on your trips.
Style 1: Diagonal Casting to Bank
This first style is the most common and most popular, and for good reason… its simple, easy and it works. Chances are if you’ve cast for cod before you’ve probably used this technique. In saying that there are some key rules to do it properly and many a time I’ve taken mates fishing and they break the number one rule!
I’ll cover the rule in a minute, first I want to explain the technique. Position the boat out off the bank in your desired depth (which changes depending on the conditions, season, time of day and bank structure), for this example let’s say we are working a steep rocky bank in eight metres of water.
Then all you are doing is slowly moving along the bank with your electric motor (electric motors are vital, without one all these techniques are almost impossible to execute correctly) and casting at a diagonal angle forward towards the bank. Most of the time you’ll want to land within a metre or two of the bank, especially if it’s a steeper bank.
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From there you work it back to the boat and continue the process. Now for the important rule. When using this technique, you MUST cast at the diagonal angle forward in the direction you are travelling.
Why, you might ask?
Well I’ll explain by telling you what happens when you DON’T obey this rule. If you are to cast straight into the bank or back behind the boat (the opposite direction to which your travelling) you don’t have complete control over the lure. The reason for this is the boat is moving the opposite way, it is dragging your lure away from the structure and therefore it doesn’t sink properly. You cannot work the lure effectively nor naturally.
If you cast your lure forward (and it only has to be slightly), you can allow it to sink, without pressure and retrieve it with full control back to the boat.
The next thing you might be wondering, is how far forward do I have to cast? This is where boat speed is critical. I prefer to work extremely slow and that way I have a long time to cast and retrieve, and I can work it right back to the boat properly and before the boat ‘overtakes’ my lure and starts dragging it. The slower you work (drive the boat along the bank) the less of an angle you have to cast (you can cast perpendicular in at the bank, with a slight angle). If you’re working quickly, then you have to cast with more of an angle forward, but still at that diagonal angle.
When do we use this style?
You can use this style any time you want and when working any type of structure; rocky banks, standing timber, flat banks, gullys or creek beds, it will work on them all. As I mentioned it’s the most popular style and it’s the style that I use most of the time.
It’s the best way to cover lots of water and every depth, because your casting in shallow and working your lure out deep. That way if you’re not sure what depth the fish are sitting in, it’s the go-to technique.
When you first visit a new lake that you’ve never fished before or even a new section of the lake, it would be the technique I would use. I also use this technique about 95% of the time when working steep rocky banks in places like Burrinjuck Dam. I just work nice and slow, and cast slightly diagonally forward.
Style 2: Parallel Casting
The second casting style is underused and rated when it comes to targeting Murray Cod. It is used a lot when chasing Golden Perch that school up and sit in specific depths, but it can work just as well on cod.
I’m guessing this technique doesn’t need much explaining… you hold your boat out from the bank and cast parallel or straight ahead. With this technique the working forwards rule still applies although its almost impossible to get it wrong, unless you start drifting backwards away from the lure. As your moving in the direction your casting you’ll always maintain full control over your lure.
When do we use this style?
You won’t use this technique as much as the first, but there are times when it works incredibly well. The main reason as to why we would cast parallel is when we know what depth the fish are sitting in or you happen to know about a good ridge or line of structure that is sitting exactly in that depth along the bank. Usually it’s the first.
You may have worked out that the hungry fish are sitting in 6m and your working a set of rocky points. Instead of wasting your time and casting in against the bank and only working the lure through that 6m mark occasionally, you may as well keep it there as long as possible by casting parallel.
One thing to note with this technique is it will take longer for the lure to sink, especially if your fishing deeper than 6-7m of water. This means you will lose a bit of your cast and time. You need to be patient and allow your lure to get to the bottom.
Majority of the time I use this technique in places like Blowering Dam when fishing the flatter banks chasing giant cod, especially in the heart of winter. On these large flat banks, you can find yourself a long way from the edge but it doesn’t mean you aren’t in the prime location. We know that the fish sit in the 3-5m mark, so we try to hold the boat in 4-5m and cast straight ahead of the boat. As we are fishing shallow it doesn’t take too long for the lures to sink and then we slow roll them back to the boat with a few pauses here and there. This is a prime night and early morning technique chasing big winter cod.
Style 3: Direct Casting towards a Feature Point (Point of Interest)
The last of the three is casting at some sort of feature or point of interest that needs more attention then just a quick drive by. We use this technique when we come across a really steep or gnarly rocky point or a large set of submerged logs that we found on the sounder. Anything that basically screams cod and needs the time and casts before moving on to the next spot. It isn’t a technique that we set out to use, its more of a change from Style 1 when we find these key areas.
Best of all, it’s the simplest technique. You just hold the boat stationary, out from the structure and make your casts. Because you aren’t moving there aren’t any rules about where you cast because no matter what you do you will allows have full control over your lure.
When do we use this style?
I use this technique when fishing big large boulders, points or rocky ledges that stand out from all the surrounding structure. Those key spots that catch your eye, that you know must hold cod. Burrinjuck Dam is a place I use this technique a lot, when working the super steep rocky banks.
One thing to note when casting at those steep banks, is that the technique is a little different to normal. These fish will be sitting tight in against the ledge and the best way to fish them is to cast your lure in as close as possible to the bank and allow it to sink. When it hits the bottom, give it one crank of the handle and allow it to sink again. This way your lure is staying as close to the bank as possible and falling through the key strike zones. If you give the lure a big lift and a few winds, you’ll rip it too far from the bank. Remember this is just on those extremely steep, almost vertical cliff like banks, which are very common in Burrinjuck Dam.
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Extra Tips to help with your Casting Sessions
Fast or Slow? What speed is best?
By speed I’m talking the speed that the boat travels. I know I already touched on this earlier, but I want to go into a little more depth. Just so you know, when I mean fast, I don’t mean too fast for chasing cod. You’re still working along the bank slowly, casting your lure in against the bank and winding it back. It’s just about how many casts you put in along that stretch.
Here is an example to make it a little clearer:
Slow: each cast is 1-3m apart
Fast: each cast is 5-8m a apart
So what speed is best?
Both work and it all depends on a few things. The main consideration is, ‘do you know if there are fish here?’
The reason to cover a bank quickly is if you’re not sure where the fish are, or which bank is the best. I use this when fishing a place or bank for the first time as I don’t want to spend too much time working it over. If you know the fish are there, then definitely work slowly!
I much prefer to take my time and work a bank thoroughly, that’s just how I fish. I want to make sure I give the fish time to see my lure. I fish with good friends that work slightly quicker. Figure out what you find works best for you but follow that simple rule above to get you started.
Casting’s Best Friend – Sounder
A high-quality sounder will be your best friend for all style of fishing, but casting in particular. First of all, its helps you navigate and, it gives you the depth and temperature which are the first things you need when working along a bank.
If you have a high quality downscan and sidescan you’ll be able to see the contours and the structure type below… and most importantly the bait!
I find a lot of anglers get caught up on trying to find cod and then cast to them. Yes, this does work, but a lot of the cod and especially the ones that are ready to feed are sitting extremely tight to structure ready to ambush. They aren’t sitting out in the open and a lot of the time you won’t actually see them on your sounder.
What you will find though is the bait. The Carp, Redfin and Yellobelly schools which will sit up just off the structure. Finding the bait is key and its always better to fish areas which have plenty of activity.
This piece has only just scratched the surface of lure casting for Murray Cod. In saying that, it does cover the fundamentals about casting styles and your approach, which is many times forgotten. All three casting styles work in the correct situation. Start out with Style 1 until you find the fish, if you work out they are sitting in a particular depth, change up to Style 2. Then when you come across the biggest log jam you’ve ever seen, pull up and start using Style 3!