Use a Measuring Tape to Find Out How Far You Can Cast

Just about everyone wonders at some point how far they can cast, whether it be with spinning, baitcasting, or fly tackle. So why not actually measure a few of your casts and find out? I know this sounds really obvious. What I don't understand is why so many never take the trouble.

Once in a while, I lay out a 100-foot tape measure in the yard. Or I put down a marker at 100 feet and lay the tape for 100 feet beyond that. I've worked out as far as 400 feet, but that was with surfcasting gear that I was specifically tuning for distance.

Anyway, I'll start flycasting, for example, from the end of the tape. I consistently learn my most comfortable casting distance with trout gear is 25 to 45 feet. I sort of knew this from before, of course, just from fishing. But it's interesting to know exactly.

I also find, to my chagrin, that at distances of 70 to 80 feet my casting starts falling apart. I've got to work on that some more. If that makes me feel badly enough, I'll drag out a big steelhead fly rod with a high-density, shooting-taper line. For this I need the second 100-foot measure, not that I'm throwing all 200 feet, but I can hit 120 or 130 pretty consistently with that gear. (And no, it doesn't help much when the fish are lying 30 feet away.)

Spinning and baitcasting casts are measured in the same way. I so often hear about how someone's rod/reel/lure combination casts "really far." And just how far is that, I usually ask. It's nice to actually measure.

There's more to this, of course. Suppose you've measured some casts with a favorite rod/reel/lure. Would a different (usually thinner) line give you more distance? How much more? (The change might be worth it, or it might not.) Or changing your casting stroke slightly? Or using a little more overhang between the rod tip and lure when casting? A measuring tape will answer all those questions definitively. Instead of wondering, now you know.

You don't necessarily need a long tape measure. If you're a hunter with a rangefinder, use that to set distance markers. Or just pace off various distances in the yard and mark them with scraps of wood. I just think that measuring once in a while, however, you do it, is a useful education. You can still lie to your buddies about "real far," but now deep in your heart you'll actually know.