How-to Advice and Fishing Tips for Anglers

Pilchard Distance Casting for Rock Anglers and Surfcasters

By Jack Whittler

My aim is to encourage do-it-yourselfers to make up their own – they can be made of all manner of tubular materials built to suit an individual’s requirements, can cast any bait materials to distances in excess of the old method, by wrapping the trace around the bait. Any length of trace may be used. It is also suited to the running trace and by its ability to rise and plane quickly. All effort is removed from the retrieve and the sinker planes over intervening obstructions. Pilchards can be retrieved and recast several times as the bait remains undamaged through casting or being dragged through the water by a heavy sinker. Here is how to make the device for pilchard distance casting.

Jack Whittler’s Pilchard Caster in action.

While the streamlined lead sinker can add distance, the bait becomes damaged because of the quick descent through the water. The heavy sinker is designed to anchor a rig in one place and this can be seen as undesirable in many cases. By putting some tension on the tube sinker it can plane a bait through the whole zone and a drifting bait can be much more attractive to fish. The sinker is completely efficient in heavy surf. There is a knack to its use – with the sinker on the bottom it is anchored by either walking backwards with the rod tip held low or in most cases simply wind up all slackline and swing the rod back until the load is felt.

Pilchard Distance Casting Rig

Usually, it requires quite a heave to break it from the sand. I was concerned that it would fail at places like the 90 Mile Beach with its extremes of conditions especially the side currents. I find that the sinker is more efficient than the heavyweight if the rod is held and the sinker worked by the stop-go method through the fishing zone. Rigs with long traces hang up on the backcast to often, strip bait or abort the cast.

Heavy sinkers require a good deal of work and cannot avoid putting stresses on rod and reel. Porcupine (breakaway) sinkers, in particular, may be impossible to retrieve when buried in sand or weed.

By the addition of a lead insert a sinker may be constructed of a variety of tubing – I find brass, copper or exhaust pipe most suitable for long cast situations but an alloy, plastic or Alkathene is best for fishing around foul ground because of its ability to rise more quickly, and is cheaper – the old weed eater handle is long gone.

My pilchard caster is built of an inch and one eight internal copper pipe. This size is ideal for the average pilchard. The pipe is cut to about six inches and formed with basic tools.

The two sets of lugs accommodate the rubber rings and can hold a whole baitfish or two halves. In most cases a half pilchard is desirable. I fix a piece of lead in the keel section using pop rivets. With my rod, I cast one of these about 120 yards. They weigh in at six ounces all up. The sinker designed for cut baits is built from one-inch copper – easy to work. I splay the rear end for easier loading and ejection. Because of its better aerodynamics, it casts almost as far as a formed lead again weighing about six ounces. If a simple mould is made baits may be pre hooked with traces and frozen and packed away in a chilli bin.

Floats are a practical and desirable method of fishing but have been avoided because of the clumsy swinging bait and trace which is often not long enough for the water being fished. The rubber band method of retaining the bait with the trace wound around the bait solves the problem completely. Only a reasonable idea of the water depth is required. A float can be fished around rocks, foul ground or beach and is much more effective in most cases.

Pilchard Distance Casting Cut Baits

My test model is made of alloy tubing, a block of cork rebated and epoxy glued to the alloy, which is, as with the pilchard caster with the lugs for the rubber bands situated for full pilchards. Half pilchards could be used if desired but with marauding fish like yellowtail kingfish or kahawai in mind, a full bait is probably best. The one essential with these sinkers is that they must hit the water nose first to eject the bait but by balancing and experiment and a high lob cast they all work well.

The method can also be used to cast multiple cut baits.

With angle grinder and sanding disk, a float is easily shaped to give it some aerodynamic form. My prototype casts up to seventy yards and I do not doubt if manufactured from ideal materials and fine-tuned a hundred yards could be attainable.

It is best to keep the skirts on the pilchard sinker to about the mid-line of the tubing. This ensures the skirts are below the sand surface and leaves no corners for the current to work on.

Because of the support given to the bait by the tubing no amount of grunt can damage the bait so all things considered I believe the system is a worthwhile alternative to the old antique method of casting. I believe this system deserves mass production and possibly this will occur.

No amount of grunt can damage the pilchard bait.


This post was last modified on 15/03/2024 1:41 am

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