Small Stream Trout fishing in Michigan

Archive for the tag “Shakespeare 1810 reel”

The Underhand Flip Cast

I did a short stretch of Duke Creek with Harmonica Mike on opening day and managed to get some video of him casting. I took a few short videos, including one of him catching a brown, but wanted to post this one since it has a pretty good angle on his casting technique. It’s all in the wrist. A slight up and down movement timed with the release of the line sends the lure on a straight trajectory into the normally small window of opportunity – a tiny pocket next to the bank or under an overhanging branch that provides shelter for the trout.

Mike, like Feral and I, learned this technique from our grandfather, Jake Lucas, back in the sixties. Jake did trick casting demonstrations at trade shows and was a sponsored “expert” by the Shakespeare Company. There is a tendency for people trying this cast to jerk the rod forward while casting rather than just use the wrist and rod tip action to propel the lure. As kids, just starting out, Jake would cinch our arms to our sides with a belt so we had to use our wrists! He wanted it done right!

Shakespeare Wonderod

Back when Shakespeare was on the cutting edge of fishing equipment and my grandfather was doing trick casting demonstrations for them at trade shows, they would send Jake free equipment to try out. He stored his arsenal of fishing rods on a rod rack on a wall of his bedroom. Grandma didn’t complain that I know of but those were different times and I can’t imagine what my wife would say. As a little boy the fishing rods were a great source of interest to me and sneaking into his bedroom to look at them was a regular occurrence.

Jake had a favorite set-up – his “go to” rod and reel for most trout fishing and after he passed away it fell into my hands. I store the rod and reel in an old case and have not been tempted to use it even though as a kid I would have done anything to get my hands on it. The brown Wonderod stood out on his rod rack  and had a certain mystique mainly because over the years we associated that rod with Grandpa and many creels full of trout. It was like Minnesota Fat’s pool cue – there must be magic in it.

Back then fiberglass was the new thing – does that date this story? The rod was designed to go with the company’s closed face spinning reels, notably the 1810 and the 1756. The rod has a sliding reel seat over a lengthy cork handle and when the reel is attached it is attached at the butt of the handle. This allows the user to pinch the fishing line against the cork handle before releasing the bail. After the bail is released the cast is made and line released using the index finger – allowing great control over when to release the line and thereby helping casting accuracy. The line is stopped by using the same index finger to pinch the line against the handle – so the caster can stop the lure mid-air over the target. Jake achieved deadly accuracy (trout Point of View) using this set-up along with his underhand flip cast.

If you are a fisherman and ever wondered why 1810 and 1756 reels are mounted so close to the rod, that is the reason – so the line is easy to pinch against the rod handle. Modern spinning reels are mounted a good distance from the rod making manual control over the line almost impossible. I keep waiting for a tackle manufacturer to figure this out but I won’t hold my breath.

I am considering using Jake’s brown Wonderod and 1756 reel this spring as I know there is still some magic there and it will make my brothers jealous.  Note to myself: lock pole in trunk when not in use.

Closed-face Spinning Reels

Back in the 1950’s and 60’s my grandfather, Jake Lucas, worked with the Shakespeare Company on closed faced spinning reel design, including the 1810 and other models. He was a bit of a legend – doing trick casting demonstrations at trade shows and on TV, with appearances on Michigan Outdoors hosted by Mort Neff. He would pop balloons out of the air and various other fun casting tricks.  He was quite a character, and a family man. He taught his kids and grandchildren how to do his underhand flip cast – and how to use it on a trout stream.  He pioneered a new way to catch trout using pinpoint casting while wading upstream, while the bulk of fisherman were fishing downstream tossing worms or trying their luck fly fishing.

He was extremely successful at trout fishing because he could place a tiny spinner underneath an overhanging branch across a stream in the most difficult places to reach. And set the lure down gently so as not to spook the trout. He did this with the help of the reels he designed with Shakespeare – closed face spinning reels, like the original model 1810, not to be confused with current reels using the 1810 designation. The original Shakespeare reels are collector’s items and purists are always on the lookout at garage sales and the internet.

Here is what makes the reels unique:

In order to cast the reel, the user backs up the handle a half a turn to release the bail. None of this is visible since the reel spool has a cover (hence close faced).  The reel body is placed very close to the handle of the rod, typically cork, so the user traps the line against the cork with an index finger before releasing the bail. This has several advantages – it is easy to release the line at the right millisecond when making the cast, and it is easy to stop the line with the index finger when the lure reaches the destination. You don’t cast the lure and let it plop in the water – that scares trout. You stop it mid air and inches above the water so it drops in without a splash. The reel was designed around this concept, though few anglers, even 1810 enthusiasts, understand the principals behind the design, or best use of the reels.

Jake was a pioneer in the sport of trout fishing and I occasionally run into people he knew and taught. He was generous with his time and instruction. They need only see me cast and to know where I learned. It’s always good for a conversation.

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