Pro Tips: The Key to a Better Backcast from a Boat

Written by: Tim Linehan, Linehan Outfitting Co.

By keeping your rod tip close to the water, you start loading the rod as soon as you begin the back cast motion.
Photo courtesy Linehan Outfitting Co.

The other day, I was fishing with a guest and noticed that the gentleman was not properly loading his rod on his backcast. Sure, there was a light breeze. But that really wasn’t the problem.

“Wait a bit longer before you start your forward stroke,” I told him immediately.

He made a couple more casts that were marginally better, but it was clear to me that his timing was not his problem.

“Make another cast for me,” I said.

This time, I wanted to see exactly where he started his back cast. Sure enough, he was starting with the rod halfway through the stroke and not giving it enough of a chance to load properly.

We all make the same mistake. When fishing from a drift boat, it’s common to stand with the rod parallel to the water. I’m guessing it’s simply that we’re elevated above the water, and we mistakenly assume the rod is ready for a backcast. It isn’t.

It’s important to start a back cast with the rod pointed downward. If you start with the rod parallel to the water–which is actually halfway through the back cast stroke–you’re reducing the ability of the tool to do its job by 50%. Additionally, if you start the rod halfway through the backcast stroke, it often leads to drifting the rod past the optimum stopping point, and that can lead to breaking the wrist and all sorts of other problems.

“Harold, this time I want you to tap the water with the tip of the rod and start your back cast with the rod pointed down.”

Harold looked at me for a moment and started to say something.

“Trust your guide,” I said with a smile.

He looked down at the water, tapped it with the tip of his rod, started his next cast with the rod tip pointed downward, and snapped out the finest cast he’d made since we’d shoved off the ramp.

When you start with the rod tip near the surface of the water, you allow the rod to fully load and give it a chance to do the work it was designed to do in the first place.  And better backcasts will help you catch more fish.

Tim Linehan is the owner of Linehan Outfitting Co. (2020 Orvis-endorsed Outfitter of the Year) on the Kootenai River in Troy, Montana. He’s also a former Trout Bum of the Week.

One thought on “Pro Tips: The Key to a Better Backcast from a Boat”

  1. Good tip; especially for those of us who only get to fish from a drift boat once or twice in a lifetime

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