How far past your marker should you cast? The DEFINITIVE guide

How far past your marker should you cast? The DEFINITIVE guide

How far should you cast past your marker float to land your rig bang on the money? It’s a question that has troubled anglers for years.

Luckily, Rob Hughes is here with the appliance of science…

For more great tips from top anglers head to this year’s The Big One Show


Does bounceback and line stretch matter? Rob explains ALL below

Does bounceback and line stretch matter? Rob explains ALL below

When it comes to my diving exploits there are three questions that I get asked more than any other. Did you see anything, was it cold and how far behind the marker float do I need to clip up to get my rig and bait bang on the spot?

The first two are down to nature, but the last one, an out and out tactical one, is down to you.

It’s something that we have discussed around the pub table, on the bank and in the tackle shop for years. There are lots of different opinions and lots of different answers.

There’s also a lot of rubbish spouted by ‘experts’ who are usually those with either a louder voice than anyone else or a bigger opinion of themselves.

They chat with confidence about ‘an extra foot per three foot’, and such things as ‘spring back’ and ‘stretch’, but do they really know the answer?

The fact of the matter is that nobody actually ‘knew’ what the right answer was. Everyone had an opinion, of course, including me, and I’ve probably got more experience than anyone on this subject…. but even I didn’t know for sure!

There are so many variables and opinions that we could all go on for ever. Up until now a conclusive test had not been done, so with the help of Lee ‘Mozza’ Morris and Harry Charrington from Fox we decided to solve the conundrum once and for all.

The experiment

In a nutshell, we wanted to find out once and for all what the difference between clipping up at the same distance as the marker float and adding a foot or two made to where the lead landed.

Should it be a foot per 4ft, or is that just a wild guess? Obviously, accuracy in this respect is vital as a bait presented in the right spot will be a winner whereas a bait in the wrong one may as well not be cast out at all.

We had to start somewhere so we thought let’s got for a ‘middle of the road’ fishing situation. We headed down to Wraysbury and found a spot that was 10ft deep and 53yds out from the bank - a middle-of-the-road chuck and a middle-of-the-road depth, therefore a great starting point.

The 1.2m-by-1.2m target at Wraysbury

The 1.2m-by-1.2m target at Wraysbury

There was very little wind on the day so conditions were perfect.

I used poles wrapped in red and white tape to set up a target area on the lakebed measuring 1.2m by 1.2m.

We popped a marker float up, and it was then down to my wingman Mozza to do the casting while I recorded where his rigs landed and how accurate they were.

The method

The target looked quite big in on the deck, but in reality it was still quite small.

Trying to hit a 1.2m-square target that you can’t see is quite a feat!

The marker float was placed to the side on the centre point to act as a sighter, and we clipped up three identical rod/line/lead set-ups.

  • Rod 1 was clipped up at the same distance as the marker float lead in the centre of the target

  • Rod 2 was clipped up 3ft longer

  • Rod 3 was set 3ft shorter

In addition to the mono test, we also wanted to test how braided/flourocarbon mainlines would perform, so we repeated the test with Illusion Trans Khaki flouro.

Each rod was duly cast out and the position checked against the target. It would only be left in place if Mozza felt it had hit the clip pretty well and he would be happy to leave it in place if he were fishing.

His accuracy and consistency looked pretty good and the rods all went out to the right spot. He was happy.

The science

There is clearly a bit of a difference between where we see the float on the surface and the spot on the bottom of the lake directly underneath it.

This means we have to cast past the float by a given distance for it to ‘swing back’ to the right spot.

Now, calculating this is not a difficult thing to do, but it does get a bit technical so bear with me here... I hope I don’t frazzle your brains.

We need to look at Pythagoras’ Theorem to explain the difference in distance between where the lead hits the surface and where it lands on the deck. You may well remember this from school.

Basically, if we have the length of two sides of a triangle, we can easily work out the length of the third. Now, before everyone switches off, if we make two right-angled triangles we can find out our exact answer.

Triangle 1 is the casting distance and the height from the surface of the water to the rod tip

Triangle 2 is the casting distance and the height from the bottom of the lake to the tip of the rod. Take the one form the other and bingo!

Scientifically proven and assisted facts. In the example given here, using feet, the surface point is 145.77ft out from the rod tip, whereas the spot on the bottom is 147.14ft. The difference is 1.37ft.

In a perfect situation, when fishing 53yds out in 10ft of water, if you cast your lead out 1.37ft further than the marker float rod, you’d be about spot on.

However, that’s only part of the equation… and this is where it gets really tricky.

The variables

The maths is clear: 1.37ft is the undisputed mechanical difference. We now have to look at the variables that make a difference, and this is where us humans come into play and mess it all up!

You see, we are immensely inconsistent, and while it’s a bit rich to call it human error, human inconsistency means we are rarely bang on – hence why I always giggle when I hear anglers say things like ‘I’ve got all three rods on a bin lid at 100yds’.

In order of priority, I feel the important variables to consider are:

  • The strength of the cast

  • Where you hit the line clip

  • How you hit the line clip

  • Wind strength and direction

  • Lead size

  • Line diameter

Rob says feeling the lead down is vital!

Rob says feeling the lead down is vital!

All of these things are controlled by us (except wind), so casting a little harder or softer, hitting the clip slightly higher or lower, or even using different kit on different rods will have an effect.

The key is that the more variables there are, the more variation there will be, and that makes things tricky.

The key findings

There were a number of interesting findings that, once analysed, make perfect sense.

The problem we had before was that we thought we knew what happened, but we never had anything to prove it.

Stretch v Bounceback

Interestingly, the first thing we discovered was that bounce back was more important than stretch.

It’s sort of widely accepted that mono line will stretch and that this will affect your accuracy, but what we actually found was that although stretch occurred, it stretched back and more or less negated itself.

With mono the stretch element was quite insignificant, but with fluoro it was a different matter completely.

It didn’t stretch, and the rods clipped at the exact same distance as the mono fell consistently shorter due to the bounceback factor.

Where you hit the clip

Where you hit the line clip is vital.

Too high and it bounces back miles, too low and you fall short. Ideally you need to hit the clip as the power has dropped out of the cast and just before it hits the water.

Watch the splash. If it makes a big splash it is probably bouncing back towards you too much.  

A consistent casting action is key

A consistent casting action is key

Consistency is key

Without any shadow of doubt the key is to take out as many variables as you possibly can, and this means being consistent…. in the kit you use, the way you cast, and the power you apply.

The last of these three factors was particularly important.

We saw in the tests that a harder cast caused more bounce back that could make a rod clipped a lot further end up a lot shorter.

Even a tiny variance can make a big difference, and I saw 3ft-6ft variation on the bottom of the lake.

The conclusion

Leaving the maths and the science aside for a moment, one thing was clear above all others from the tests.

The main factor that will affect your casting accuracy is a manual one, not a mechanical one.

By that I mean it is something that you do, as opposed to something that happens because of the kit you are using.

The key one is the strength of the cast and also when you hit the clip.

Rob likes to have his line markers set close to the clip

Rob likes to have his line markers set close to the clip

Once you’ve cast out, there is a very simple way to know if you are ‘on the money’, and that is to clip up at your distance (plus 1ft-2ft depending on the line you are using) and then when you put your rod down on the rest, check how much line you are tightening up.

If there’s a big bow or a load of slack, you’ve bounced back too far. If it’s up to two turns, you should be more or less spot on.

So, to summarise, remember the following and you won’t go far wrong. Try to be as accurate as possible by using marker sticks to wrap your lines, and clip up your rods at the same distance as the float, plus 1ft (2ft with flouro lines): make sure you know ‘what you do’, and do it consistently: be very careful of bounce-back; and finally, if you have to tighten up a lot, you’ve done it wrong, so redo it!

There you have it, my answer, based on hard facts and science, to one of the most discussed – and contentious – topics in carp angling.

10 Tips to getting it right

  1. Find your spot with a marker rod and work out the depth with a float

  2. Draw your float down to the lead, and clip up

  3. Reel in and then, using wrapping sticks, find out exactly how far out you were fishing

  4. Remember the distance and the spot (ideally use the SwimMapper app to record it)

  5. Clip up your fishing rod to the same distance plus 1ft for mono, 2ft for braid/flouro

  6. Stand in exactly the same place every time you cast

  7. Hit the clip just before the lead hits the water

  8. Holding the rod up, feel the lead down, make sure it ‘donks’

  9. Put your rod down on the rest and tighten up the bow. If you have to do more than a couple of turns you’ve bounced back too far or not hit the clip properly

  10. Catch carp…. or reel in and do it again!

The video of Rob's exploits can be found here.