If you have circled around the internet lately you have probably seen that centerpin fishing is gaining quite a bit of attention from anglers in the Pacific Northwest all the way to the upper reaches of New York State. Centerpinning is not in any way something new and has been around for longer than your granpappy’s pappy’s first pole. The centerpin reel dates back to the early 1800’s and were more of an adaptation of early fly reels called “Nottingham Winches” made from rosewood used by the Scots. If you’re not familiar with what a centerpin reel is, imagine a fly reel that’s not as wide as the traditional style and about the same size of the largest Spey reels. The line that you use on a centerpin reel is your choice of monofilament or braid and does not assist with your cast as fly line does. I choose 40 pound Power Pro Braid and Seaguar Fluorocarbon ranging from 6 – 20 pounds depending on the time of year or species I’m targeting.
If you have a float, float weight and some split shots you are on your way to getting into fish if you can learn two important casts, the B.C. Swing or Wallis cast. The B.C. swing will allow you to cast a long distance, to reach areas of the river you cannot get close to in fear of spooking fish while in the boat or to access holding water from the bank. To begin the B.C. Swing you need a smooth sweeping motion with a good amount of force to throw your gear. Think of when you were a child and you would imitate being an airplane with your arms out to your side as wings, that same outstretched arm is how your arm will be placed when making this cast. Start with your arm low and thumb turned down flexing the rod on your back swing then release your thumb from the spool slightly but still with contact. As you are letting line out on the apex of your swing, follow through as you would with a golf swing to the point it stops perfectly pointing at the place you intended to hit with your gear. When your gear hits the water hold your rod high and follow your float as long as you can without the line touching the water. After your line contacts the water only mend when you have too much line out to manage a fast positive hook set.
The Wallis Cast is a bit more complicated than the B.C. Swing and will take a bit more angler skill and line control. The Wallis begins with your line starting on your back shoulder and ending on your front shoulder, forming a rainbow motion with your gear and rod. Your front shoulder will face where you want to place your gear and your back shoulder opposite. The difficult part of this cast is pulling your line off your reel to start the reel spinning so when your cast is at the apex it continues to come off the reel smoothly without line tension. Think of you when you are casting a spinning reel with the line coming off the spool without any tension and flies through the air smoothly until it gently contacts the water. This is how your line needs to come off the reel when Wallis Casting. The key component that will help your Wallis Cast perform correctly is having the reel spin fast enough during the start of the cast allowing line to come off the reel without pull. The cast begins on the back shoulder holding your rod high, letting your gear fall free towards the water while pulling line off the reel by pushing the line in the opposite direction as your swing. As with the B.C Swing follow through with your cast to allow a soft landing of your bait or lure that will not spook fish. The Wallis is a very important cast and will allow you to reach water when you do not have enough space for a large back cast to perform the B.C. Swing.
Choosing the gear to throw at your fish of choice is totally dependent on what you have confidence in getting a bite on. Roe, beads, small spoons and spawn sacs will be your best choices when centerpin fishing along with having a float that is neutrally buoyant. There a number of reels to choose from but in my opinion Kingpin Reels produced in England are #1. Kingpin Reels come in two models, the R2 and the Zeppelin and either choice is a stellar reel. When it comes to rods the G-Loomis GLX is my weapon of choice and without a doubt it was one of the key components that helped me land my largest catch, an Alaskan Chinook estimated to be between 43 and 45 pounds. I use an 11’3” 6-10lb GLX when targeting Hatchery Steelhead or Coho but when chasing Trophy Chinook or Wild Winter Steelhead the 13’ 8-12lb GLX is always in hand and the rod that brought in the beast.
After years of learning the correct techniques to catch fish on a centerpin rod and reel, this fall and winter LPJ’s Guide Service is offering trips on a few select rivers using the gear that was described in this article.
Fish on and don’t get SPOOLED!!!