Middy sponsored angler, Dale Calvert, has been living in the UK for well over twenty years, but heâ€™s actually from California and so he often gets asked on the bank about whether he misses fishing in the States and how different it is. Dale explainsâ€¦
I was speaking to the marketing guys at Middy about this topic recently and it got me thinking about my varied experiences in fishing - the changes I had to make when I started fishing here in the UK and what I still do now or have adapted from what I learned in the US.
If I think about the main difference here compared to back in the States, itâ€™s the huge amount of tackle we lug around in the UK, especially on commercials. The average angler loads up a trolley with an enormous selection of gear. I have been no exception but I have to say that, the older I get, the more refined my tackle has become and I will only carry what I intend to use. Sure, I'll have a massive selection of pole floats and hooklengths if I'm pole fishing but more often than not these days I start my session on bomb or feeder and stay on it. I don't target F1's normally so chasing them around during the day with various top kits is off the list. If we had an angler with all the gear go from here to fish a river or a large reservoir in California, then the chances are they wouldn't even get close to the water. Don't get me wrong, carp fishing has become more popular over the recent years in the US but most fishing from the shore is done by flicking out a small lure or spinner with a short rod a few times into reeds or between rocks and then moving on to another spot. Artificial baits were more common place for me but when I had camped out fishing over the weekend then worms, bread, paste and even pieces of hot dog caught me a lot of carp and catfish. Believe it or not loose feeding is not allowed on most waterways in the USA. Prebaiting (chumming) such as spodding or even feeding by hand is illegal. Packed baits were allowed, but when I fished back in the States, PVA wasn't on the scene. I always opted to feed within the rules because I understood the need to put something down especially on large waters. I used to ledger a worm known as a night crawler and thread several chopped worm segments on the tag of line off a snell knot to create some extra attraction. This worked great on many occasions and I used this with great effect when fishing for tench with strawberry sweetcorn here in the UK in my early years.
Dale back in the States all those years ago.
My river fishing in the USA has made me the best feeder caster I could possibly be. Now even though I love fishing pole, especially short on hard pellet or corn, it isn't my favourite style of fishing. Rods are normally my go-to and I tend to read a peg with the main intention of reaching for a rod first.
As I mentioned, fishing short rods with spinners and lures are more the thing with anglers back in California. And casting is something that is very different. Many in the US either cast sideways or pitch and swing with great accuracy. A huge amount of my time would be spent walking in the morning before the sun got very hot along the river bank looking for where it meandered onto a deep bend. Kings River, the mighty San Joaquin River and the Fresno River were amongst some of the most amazing places to be by myself, casting around for a couple of hours then making my way up or down stream if I went fishless. Must say though, they weren't the safest places to be for sure but having some familiarity with the stretches meant I could really tuck myself away and fish some areas that had never seen a lure. This would basically mean being in areas that are difficult to access. I would park up somewhere at a "vista point" and walk along the road looking for a good place to climb down through the brush and trees to the river and then continue to walk along the river looking for a "fishy" looking area. A short 6ft spinning rod; a backpack of tackle consisting of hooks, spinners and lures; together with a foldaway landing net, made climbing and jumping from rock to rock easy. Casting would be very tricky to say the least. This was either because bushes and trees were to my side or overhanging plus rocks or even a cliffside behind me. I have never had to do anything quite like that over here! The hardest casting I've ever encountered is to avoid snags on the far bank on my local commercials. Under arm casting (pitch casting) is performed when over arm casts cannot physically be done like when fishing a dam wall or on a big lake. Pitch casting is performed by holding the lure or sinker in my left hand and then putting a good bend in the rod tip. I would then let go of the lure and fling out the tip underarm at the same time. I got so good at it that I would eventually cast like this even when I had the opportunity to cast overarm. I could flick a little 22g sand eel in between some rocks that were 2 foot apart 30m away.
Under-arm was really all Dale knew before moving to the UK
My over-arm casting is somewhat excellent too. This wasn't the case when I first started fishing in the UK though. My constant under arm casting in the States made me a victim and I was not going to settle for making a sham of it. I used to go round the back of the houses where I lived and constantly chuck a lead at a bin, which gradually became smaller objects like a tin bucket. In the end I was only happy with the cast when the lead landed "in" the bucket. This might sound a little obsessive, but it retrained me. I have to say, I see many anglers here who struggle with the few technical components that are needed for the most accurate cast they can do, given the tackle they are using - and I feel inclined to go and help them. Sure, they'll mostly catch on the day but with a little help they'll learn that accurately plopping in a feeder in the same spot will result in more takes.
If you see me on the bank come have a chat. I might even help you with your casting if you need it
~ Dale Calvert
Dale wasn't used to overarm casting, but he put in the hours to perfect his technique.