Learning to cast accurately is a skill that takes time, but there are a few short-cuts that you can make and a few pit-falls to avoid.

Even with the best will in the world, you cannot cast to exactly the same distance every go just by judging how far the bait has travelled. In fact differences in judgement between days can be quite staggering. Yet casting the same distance with every cast can be easily achieved by using the line clip on the reel spool. Here's how to do it.

Cast out the required distance, place the line in the clip and then wind in. By slightly over-casting the line will hit the stop and give you a consistent distance every time. You still need to judge the cast as you want the bait to land gently, otherwise it will spring back several metres as the line hits the clip. Good quality reels now generally have line friendly line clips, but if you are worried put a small bait band in the clip to act as a shock absorber. Remember that if you tie on a new rig, you will need to alter the distance slightly to keep hitting the same spot. A lot of the time I will leave the line in the clip when actually fishing. This is obviously a little bit dangerous, as a big fish might drag a rod in if you are not paying attention. If you are likely to wander off, or go to sleep then a stop knot made from pole elastic can be tied at the right distance to act as a marker when the line is removed from the clip. Personally, I don't like using markers as they are difficult to remove if you change swims.

So now you can cast the same distance every time with ease, but this isn't the end of the story. I tend to try to make this even more accurate by choosing a comfortable position from which to cast. Every time I need to recast I return to this same spot. Even when using several rods I tend to cast from the same spot, so that everything is kept as accurate as possible.

Direction is also quite easy to judge by lining up against a marker on the far bank. This is often much easier in daylight than at night, when a particularly green bush might disappear in the gloom, but try to look for something that creates a silhouette. Alternatively, why not create your own marker by putting a starlight tied to a bankstick on the opposite bank? Perfect for hitting even the smallest gap in far bank tree canopies with a great deal of accuracy. If you do use lights make sure they are discrete and not interfering with other anglers.

So now you can hit the same mark every time, yet this does not necessarily guarantee that you hit the right spot every time. Most of the time I will use a marker float to locate and then mark the spots I want to fish.

Most anglers will cast directly at the marker float letting the rig sink on a tight line. Alternatively, you might be casting at an island or snag that is visible above the surface, yet again the rig will be sinking on a tight line. The tight line can cause a problem as the rig sinks and falls in an arc landing several feet short of the marker float. This is accentuated in deep water where the rig can actually end up no-where near the intended spot. There are several ways to get around this.

If you know the depth of the water then it is a simple matter to add the depth to the distance so that the rig initially lands beyond the mark, but ends up in the intended spot. That is fine if you are fishing in open water, but when fishing to snags and the far bank you obviously can't add this extra distance by letting the rig swing into position. Still add the depth to the distance, but as the rig approaches the intended spot, bring the rod around so that it is parallel with the bank. As the line goes tight and the rig hits the water bring the rod around to face the water so that some slack line is produced. This allows the rig to drop almost vertically through the water.

Fishing accurately is a huge confidence booster. With a bit of practice it is not a difficult skill to pick up, but can make a huge amount of difference to your fishing. Get into good habits now and you will have a skill that really can catch you more fish.