Casting is the most overlooked aspect of fishing whether you cast 300ft or drop a sinker over the side of a boat into 300 feet of water its a cast and often forgotten about. Rods Rods used for spinning reels generally need to be softer. Rods with a fast taper tip are better suited for the Brighton (I'll describe later) than rods with a medium or medium slow taper these rods are better for off the ground casting. Look for rods with guides close to the size of the reels spool youre going to use5 or 6 guides are enough more than that it reduces distance. Rod length is personal preference however I recommend 11.5-12ft rods as all purpose rods. When choosing a rod the one thing it has to do is fit you after you've decided on price, length, and action the rod must fit you by that take the rod and place your right hand on the reel seat and place the butt of the rod under your arm. If the end of the rod doesn't at least reach your armpit it doesn't fit you on to the next rod. There are plenty of great rod makers out there Penn, Breakaway, All Star, Okuma, and Diawa just to name a few so there is a rod to fit you out there. Reels 90% of catfishing is with bait so the first thing to look for on a reel is a free spool feature if it doesn't have that you may not want to buy it. For years this meant using only Shimano reels but once reel companies figured a way around Shimano's patent the market was flooded today Penn, Diawa, Okuma, and Mitchell all make reels with a free spool feature today. The next thing to look for is an aluminum spool this is the second most important feature you will need in a reel you'll see why later. Some reels need modifying for example a design error in the Shimano Baitrunner 6500 made it difficult to get good distance because the internal trip was at 12 o'clock and when hit a good cast inertia would cause the rotor to turn to 12 o'clock and trip the bail. Solution cut the bail off to convert it to a manual pickup. Line This is and always will be a big debate some fishermen want no stretch others want abrasion resistance. The one thing I'll tell is ALWAYS buy quality. Dont skimp on the only connection between you and that trophy fish you've been chasing for years. Rarely will anything over 20lb test get good distance. Dont get fooled by line companies claims just because one company says their line is stronger doesn't mean anything except they switched labels and another company didn't. If you want to use say 15 lb test I suggest you look at the label and find the lines diameter 15lb for example is usually around .31-.33mm 20 lb is usually .36-. 39mm. the procedure I use to fill a reel is simple 1 I polish the spool with car wax with Teflon, 2 using a leather glove under heavy tension I pack on as much line as I can, 3 once the line is flush with spool I slowly add line until it almost touches the inside of the rotor. This is what I refer to as my "insurance" this is extra line that can mean a few extra feet on the tournament filed or a few extra yards on the beach. Next comes a shock leader this is nothing more than a piece of heavy line that you tie your running line to get extra distance. The 2 rules of thumb are #1 use 10 lbs for every oz castled for example if you're casting 5oz use 50 lb test. I use 40 and 80 all the time and #2 your shock leader should run from the butt of the rod up to the tip and then down to the reel and at least 5 wraps around the spool. That should give you a shock leader you can use all day. Casting Lets begin with an easy cast to master and it can be used on a crowded river or lake. Its the Brighton cast it has many names ie: unitech or high inertia. To describe where everything is in relation to this cast I'll use a clock face and we'll say the target is at 12 oclock. If you're left handed just reverse these steps. Stand with your left foot pointing at 12 o'clock and your right at 4 with the sinker hanging halfway down the length of the rod (12ft rod= 6ft drop) swing the sinker in towards your foot and place it on the ground at 6 o'clock now move the tip to 5 maintaining tension raise your left hand as high as you can bend your right arm. The rod and line should form a ">" with your left are about head high or higher (if that rod fits you) and your right bent. Now without stepping look high above your target and execute a punch/pull if done correctly you should have just dropped your bait 100 yds offshore no problem. The Off The Ground The next cast to master is the off the ground cast. This cast is the foundation of the pendulum cast and can give more distance if its done properly. The same stance as previously described for the feet is the starting point, though you can move both feet to face more to the right if it feels more comfortable. Twist round as before until the rod is in the position for the Brighton cast we described. This time, with the sinker on a 6ft drop for a 12ft rod, swing the lead gently out and to the rear of you, or out to the far right side of you for much more power through increasing the traveling arc of the lead. Now, keep the rod tip almost touching the ground and allow the line between rod tip and weight to come tight, but dont move the weight. Your arms should be pushed away from you and raised. The left hand should be just above head height and the right at about chin level. The rod tip stays almost touching the ground. The angle of the rod should be pointing roughly in a line away from your right shoulder. Begin as before by turning your head to look at the target area high in the sky. Use the waist to begin the sequence letting the arms naturally follow through and complete with the pull and punch of the arms. The longer your left arm is above your shoulder the longer the cast will be. This is a slow cast. Speed does not help beginners gain distance. A smooth controlled approach is the answer to learning and eventually increasing casting distance. The off the ground cast, if chosen, is helped by choosing a longer rod than the 11ft-12ft. or even a 13ft, adds to the width of the rods traveling arc and increases tip speed which gives more power to the lead. All through action rods are still acceptable, though, better still, is something with a stiffer butt and mid section. Dont try to learn with too light a lead weight. Choose a 5oz or 5.25 oz weight. You need this weight to feel the lead during the cast. Lighter weights make the cast feel faster and youll lose your timing. The Fishing Pendulum The fishing pendulum lets you cast from soft mud, rocks, or weedy river banks. Rod design is critical for the fishing pendulum casting. Almost any 11-13 ft surf rod with a flexible tip and firm butt will perform well. You can buy specialty rods that can cast over 200 yards. Pendulum casting is a smooth style. Despite its notoriety as a difficult cast to master, this pendulum is actually tame and forgiving if the basics are right. Above all it is the slowest of casting styles, with all the time in the world to generate effortless, easy power. It is only a short step away from the off- ground cast to pendulum provided you mastered the basics of the off- ground style are accurate and well practiced. The pendulum is not a cast that can be learned in one step. Its far easier to learn the swing and the power arc separately. Since the power arc is virtually identical to the off-ground style we have already looked at, all that is necessary is to chop off the static start of the off-ground style and replace it with a pendulum swing. Blending the new pendulum with the old power stroke would be a nightmare if you were to go straight in with one of the massive swings loved by tournament casters. Keep it simple, though, and the two stages will flow together. The secret, as with the ground style, is to keep the cast compact. That means no long sinker drops or manic swings. It is essential that the rod, sinker and leader all need to be in the correct positions when the inswing is completed and the main power stroke is ready to begin. If the swing is off plane at this point, or the sinker too low, the rod will not react properly when your body starts to unwind. The spot where the sinker peaks on its inswing determines the success or failure of the whole exercise. The trick is to discover exactly what is the right position for you - it is a very personal issue. Most casters search by trial and error, but there is an easier way. Set up as though for the ground cast. Instead of laying out the sinker, hold the rod almost vertical in front of you with the sinker on a leader drop of about 2.5m (8ft). This much drop is a good starting point for casting 150gm sinkers on most rods. Some experimentation might be necessary to establish the precise drop that works best for you. To begin with use the ground cast's rod layout angle of about 30 degrees. Imagine a line drawn on the beach at that angle, and then swing the sinker outward along it or just to the right. Do that by pushing down with your right hand. Keep the left hand still. Push firmly so that the swing takes the sinker just beyond head height. When the sinker reaches maximum height and hovers for a moment, push down with the left hand, leaving the right hand where it is. Lifting or pulling back with the right hand is a big mistake. The left hand pushes to reverse the swing, so that the sinker returns toward you. The path of the swing will not be the same as it was on the outswing. It will be more to the right, as you see it, so that the sinker swings upwards and out of sight well outside your right shoulder. If you look for it, the cast will fall apart. Instead, concentrate on feeling the sinker's inswing path. At the moment it reaches its maximum height, you will notice a distinctive sensation which is often described as "having the sinker disappear" as the pressure of the swing on the leader and rod tip falls to almost zero. That is the moment the next stage of the cast begins. Experience will show that you have all the time in the world to make the transition to the main part of the cast. The "disappearance" lasts much longer than you might imagine. The entire pendulum phase should feel lazy. If you cannot feel the sinker's reaction even though you are making the swing with the correct right hand, left hand action, run some tests with leader drop and swing angle. Try a longer drop, swing more slowly, and push the sinker higher and more to the right on the outswing. Feel the sinker reach the top of its inswing, let it hover for a moment then smoothly and relatively slowly start to unwind your body into the main power arc, which is almost the same as in the ground cast. The arms and rod do not move along quite the same path; they cannot, because they start higher in the pendulum than they do off-ground. Make no conscious effort to adjust or control the power arc. Just do what you did in the off-ground cast. All you need is the confidence to let it happen. Feel the sinker hover, unwind your body, look for the aerial target... and hit through with your arms. Don't attempt this cast in a crowded situation. It could be dangerous due to breakoff going down the river bank instead of out toward the water. In closing allow me to offer some casting advice first practice, practice, practice once you're tire practice some more. Practice technique don't worry about the big hit coming over night get the technique down then worry about the big hit. Good Luck Next Spring.