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Bait Caster Bird’s Nest! Bait Caster Bird’s Nest

My line is all askew

Now what do I do?

Some choice words as I spew

This darn thing’s brand new

I’ve only taken it out for one time or two

Has any of this ever happened to you?

Bait Caster Bird’s Nest

Makes me not want to use you

Bait Caster Bird’s Nest

Could someone please show me what I’m to do?

Bait Caster Bird’s Nest

I swear one more time and you and I are through


Does this sound familiar?  Don’t panic!!  You are not alone!!

Now, I know that there are some things that you have to do when using a bait caster.  The guys where I bought it were actually quite thorough in describing how to set it up for weight of the lure and how to avoid bird’s nests – but… for some reason, I still struggle with my bait caster .   For tips on how to adjust your bait caster for each lure you use, talk to someone down at your local fishing store.  Seriously, I have never been to a fishing store where there wasn’t at least one helpful person willing to take time to show me how to work the gear properly.  This is what makes angling shops so awesome compared to big box stores.  If you don’t find that your particular local outlet is very helpful, then go somewhere else!  You will find other people who have worked through the exact same struggles as you and there is nothing to be embarrassed about!

Being Consistent

I have learned that if I snap my wrist when I cast, I will get a completely different cast then if I cast nice and smooth.  Therefore, if my “test” cast is nice and smooth and I am happy with the tension settings, then I need to continue casting in that manner.  It stands to reason that if you make a cast with more of a snap of the wrist, you are changing the dynamic of the cast and therefore the mass of the object being cast as mass equals force times acceleration. If you have your brake set for one mass but change the force on the object, you actually have a greater mass at the time of the cast. This could result in a bird’s nest ( you can actually watch the reel and see the bird’s nest about to happen).  You could crank the tension/brake  up a bit which would take away from the bird’s nest potential but this appears to greatly affect the distance you are able to cast.  Especially if you are tossing light baits.  As a matter of preference, I think for light lures and baits, you really can’t beat a good spinning reel.  A good spinning reel matched with a good rod can cast the heck out of light tackle.

I think that from what I am finding with my bait casters, a little bit of a spin in the rod to start the cast appears to really smooth out the cast and add consistency as well.  It’s kind of fun to do too.  You just quickly twirl your wrist clockwise and smoothly cast out, all in one motion.

There are probably experts out there cringing right about now at my description and by all means feel free to offer suggestions  – but keep in mind that not all of us have had bait caster’s in our hands for years and years.  I had to save up for a couple of years to get the rod and reel and 9 times out of 10 when I go fishing, I still have a tendency to grab the spinning gear.  However, I know that there are techniques in which a bait cast outfit shines, so I really want to learn them.  The only problem is the trial and error learning period.

A Great Technique for Bird’s Nest Removal

The other day, a helpful fellow-John watched me make my first cast of the day with the bait caster.  It was a little intimidating  when he asked me if I’d had the bait caster a long time.  Especially since his young son Adrian was there too, and obviously new more about bait casters than myself as he proudly displayed his beautiful collection, but the two of them seemed very nice and  I answered as truthfully as my ego would allow – “um, yeah, for a year or so, but I don’t get out with it much.”  He asked if I would mind if he showed me a thing or two and I said “by all means- be my guest”.  Pretty soon he was showing me a new way to get out bird’s nests. ( yeah you guessed it, I got one on my very first cast – thus the conversation with John- sheesh – how embarrassing in front of the kid)  I won’t try and describe the method, instead, I have posted the YouTube video link that I think best illustrates the technique.   I highly recommend watching the video and keeping it in mind for the next time you are out with your bait caster.  Try and remember this article and that there are others out there that share your frustration.  I hope this helps take away the urge to heave the thing into the deep blue where it will never bother another soul again.

The first video shows the technique as shown to me at the river the other day.  The second video shows a different technique but also effective.  Remember to continue to go down through the spool of line to continue looking for culprits as if you do not smooth the line out, you will continue to find that you get a nest at the exact same place in your cast each time.


Unfortunately, the above statement is true for me on many levels not just with fishing.  I am addicted to more.  More of many things.  Some of those things are not exactly healthy for me .  As an addict, there really is no rhyme or reason to why I obsess about things.  Fortunately for me , I am aware of my addictions and I have a program I follow to help we with them.  By the grace of God, I have been clean from my more destructive addictions for a number of years now, but if I were being completely honest, I would have to admit that when it comes to fishing, I’m still in active addiction.  Now, I don’t find myself missing work or heading off to fish on a day when I have other things that I ought to be doing, I don’t disappear for days on end without letting anyone know where I am and then showing up as if nothing is wrong.  I am not out breaking any laws and I’m certainly not out poaching fish , but if I were being exactly honest, I’d have to admit to some behaviors that are darn similar to those of an addict in active addiction.

Drug addiction is all about the obsessing of drugs.  You spend 70-80% of your time thinking about getting, using, and figuring out  the ways and means to get more of your drug of choice.  Well let’s break that down a bit with regards to fishing.  First, there is the magazines and websites and all the time spent pouring over the gear and tackle articles.  I must have read some of those articles a hundred times each and still I go back to them, especially the ones about techniques.  I can’t get enough about learning how the pros rig up and fish their favourite techniques. Then there are the websites.  Before I go out, I’ll spend time the day or two before watching YouTube video after YouTube video trying to pick up on some tip that is going to make my day on the water that much better.  Let’s not forget the webpages for all the fishing stores with all of their wonderful gear, all just sitting there for a guy like me to dream about owning and having for myself.  Then after spending all that time figuring and learning, there is the trip to the tackle store in order to refine the search.  Luckily, when I go to my local tackle store, it is full of guys just like me – it’s kind of the same as addicts seeking addicts and surrounding themselves with other people just like them.  Then I usually buy something – anything I can afford at the time.  Sometimes a new lure, or sometimes just some new hooks, but every now and then, I get myself a new treat.  Now, there is a rhyme and a reason to most of my purchases.  Usually, I am only buying gear that I know I will use, but every now and then, I will do an impulse buy.  After spending time at the tackle store sharing and swapping stories and learning about what others are doing with their addictions, I go home with my new purchases and my new knowledge and I begin the readying of my equipment.  I will tie knot after knot, making sure that I am well practiced for when I am on the water.  I want my gear ready for the moment of the first cast and I want options set up and ready to go.  I check the rods and reels, lubricating, cleaning, and just spending time with it to make sure that I am ready to operate it when the time comes.  I organize the tackle I will be using, I make sure that everything I need is coming with me and I set up my game plan, my plan B, and my back-up plan just in case nothing is going the way it’s supposed to.  If I am planning on using roe for trout fishing, I’ll be tying bags the night before.  Tying roe bags can be a bit of a lengthy process so I usually leave it until the last because I know that I can always tie more down at the water.  By now, I will be so excited and worked up about going fishing the next morning, that I can hardly sleep from the anticipation.

So do you see the parallels?  By the time I actually get out to fish, it is almost secondary to everything else that has gone into the experience.  I get off on all of the ritual that goes into the preparation for the using, I mean fishing.  I also notice that the gear and the prepping is like using.  Often drug use means using an apparatus and fishing certainly has a lot of apparatus. Now, I wish that everyone that is out abusing their body with drug use wasn’t because addiction is an awful scourge on society and the toll it takes on your personal and spiritual life is one that not many people will ever recover from.  I wish that addicts could find a much more healthy focus and I believe that there really is nothing wrong with finding a hobby that takes the place of your using.  I don’t know too many people that have overdosed on fishing and honestly getting out and getting some sun and exercise is a positive  thing.  If you are an addict in active addiction, please find the strength and courage to seek help.  There are many clean addicts in programs all across this country that would readily share their experiences with you so that you can get and stay clean.  And, if you are an addict and you’ve just gotten clean, please keep it up!  Find something you love and do that instead


It has been a few years since I became the “Un-Deprived” angler; adopted by WFN and awarded a beautiful Stratos boat for my video submission to the D.A.D. contest. (Deprived Angler Disorder).   Since the day my boys, myself, and my friend Jordie made the road trip to the marina to pick it up, I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about how fortunate I am to have won when so many others just like me entered and did not.  The boat is awesome and every time I’m on it I appreciate how fantastic it is.  Along with that feeling, something else  nags at me though and that is the thought that there are so many others who really deserve  it just as much as me.  That is why I’m giving it back – just kidding – sorry suckers it’s mine!!  Seriously though, I really do  think about what I can do to keep the spirit of that contest going because honestly, winning the boat was such a small part of the whole experience.  It is my hope that through this blog and the website that I will be able to share what I mean by that and my philosophy on not just fishing, but life.  There is a song lyric by the Grateful Dead that says it best as there is always a song lyric that says it best….”I may be going to Hell in a bucket baby, but at least I’m enjoying the ride.”  Well folks, I’ve been to Hell in  a bucket, and I’ve come back and I’ll tell you this….it isn’t about the destination but it is about the journey, so if you find yourself with a one way ticket,  I offer you this advice- grab a big dose of sunshine and a fishing rod and head to your local fishing spot, kick back, take off your shoes, sit down and relax.  If you’re lucky, you may even have a good friend or even better, a family member with you and chances are if you spend a bit of effort at it, you’ll catch a fish!  And if you do, I guarantee you this….that you’re having a better day than the fish is!!!  That may not be very Buddhist, but that’s okay too.  You may wish to think about putting that fish back, you may think about putting that fish on the dinner table – doesn’t much matter – but what does matter is this – you spent the time with friends, relaxing and concentrating on something that is way bigger than you.  And just for an afternoon, your problems disappear.  Imagine the freedom….and now realize that you too can have that freedom.  This page my friend is for you.  I hope we can help bring you to that space and  I hope that after you learn a thing or two here, that you take  a moment and remember the spirit that brought this page to light in the first place.  Yes, the spirit that brought us together is one of sharing and so after you have taken from this page, please consider what it means to share back and to share forward.  Tight lines friends and see you at the water!


Stefan Cartmale

I was thinking about a time last year at a friend’s cottage in Buckhorn.  It was the musky opening weekend but the musky fishing was slow at best.  I had pretty much thrown in the towel on musky and turned to targeting walleye.  I managed to score a couple of nice walleyes but the highlight of the weekend became the blue gill fishing I happened to chance into.   I hadn’t thought too much about it since, other than I became the hero around the campfire that night armed with a good plate full of battered blue gill fillets.  Recently, I was reminiscing about the fishing that day and I wanted to share the story with you and some of the observations I made and the lessons to be taken.

I had spent  a few hard days on the water targeting musky.  I had no experience with musky fishing at all, and  very little experience with bait casting outfits and the particular headache they present known as the “bird’s nest”, which is endemic of that particular type of fishing equipment.  I have since learned about how to “tune” a bait caster to the weight of the lure.  Now that I have a little more experience casting with them, I do not have as many problems with bird’s nests.  Back then though, this was not the case.   To top things off,  I had made a couple of donations to Poseidon in the form of a couple of my friends prized buck tail lures.  Too, due to the discourteous behavior of a fellow boater, I had scraped a chunk of the gel coat off my boat and broke the transducer off my side imaging sonar.  Their idea of enjoying a day on the water resulted in a huge wake that cranked me into the top of a submerged granite boulder.  Rock beat fiberglass pretty much  just as rock beats scissors.  Too say the least, I needed to catch something and I didn’t care if it was a musky or a mudpuppy.  Something needed to give and it was going to be the fish.


Since the transducer was done for and therefore my sonar unit rendered useless, I decided to switch things up and I headed to an area below a small set of falls and rapids.  I caught a nice walleye in a pool about 12 feet deep but the action was very slow.  As the water was crystal clear, I noticed a bunch of panfish swimming by some docks near by.   The water clarity allowed me to pretty much see every fish.  I quickly changed gears again and put together a small float outfit and began tossing a Berkley bubblegum floating trout worm at the school.  I could pretty much see every detail of the fish going for the lure.  It was too big for them – they have very small little mouths, so I had to change to a smaller hook and just a little piece off the worm.  It worked!  I stopped missing the hits and started landing fish.  At first, they were good sized fish, but by the end of the school, I was pulling much smaller ones out of the hole.   There was a sweet spot that I had to get to as well.  I learned that I had to drift to the fish, as a cast that landed to close to them would float on by untouched.  They only wanted the offering if the bait was floating to them and it needed to be at a certain depth and it needed to be a certain presentation, drifting in well ahead of the float.  There was a very small window of opportunity to catch these fish.  The “spot-on-the-spot” so to speak and that meant about a   6 to 8 foot length where the fish would actually hit the lure.  Don’t cast into them – cast ahead  of the current – and drift into the spot – if you go more than 6-8 feet you’ve gone too far.  Now that is something else eh?  To have a perfect window into the underwater world of panfish and to be able to observe their behaviour on such an in depth level.

When I had cleared the pool to the point where the only fish left were too small to consider keeping, I moved along to the next dock and repeated the process.  Again, pretty much the exact same scenario played out with the largest fish being first and the smallest fish being last.

When I think back to that day and I think about the whole experience, I really was blessed to be able to glean so much valuable information from this one fishing foray.  I now know a lot more about schools of fish then I did before.  I know that the aggressive, fast fish are the first to fall prey to a lure but that there can be plenty of opportunity to catch more fish if you keep at it.  I learned that I need to always have perfect presentation to the fish and that the presentation also has to reach the spot where the fish want to feed.  They really didn’t want to work to hard for their meals, preferring to position themselves in the current in such a way that  food comes to them.  I learned that with a few minor adjustments, there really can be a pattern that you dial into and can repeat for success.  I learned that good things eventually come to those that persevere.  I learned that sometimes, to get a prize worth keeping, you have to be willing to adjust to the program and accept things on the level that they are handed to you.  I learned that you need to adapt your style of fishing and I learned that some times, it is worth accepting that you aren’t going to get your way.

That weekend was a really memorable time.  It stands out as one of my favourite fishing trips even though I didn’t catch a musky.  Actually, out of the 10 anglers, some of them seasoned veterans that attended the opener, only 3 musky were caught over a 4 day period.  But in the end, who cares.  We all had a great time trying.  I can’t wait until this years opener!  I would like to catch a musky and I’m going to give it all I’ve got, but if all I’ve got isn’t good enough, then by golly, I’m not going to let that stop me from having a good fishing trip and maybe just maybe, I’ll take some time to find an unsuspecting school of panfish, lock into a presentation that will catch them, and fill a plate of fillets for the evening snack.


I’m a bit of a gear-head, (yes – the gears are always spinning – like a squirrel on a tread mill).  Actually, although that is true, what I mean by “gear-head” is that I like fishing gear.  New gear is awesome!  Often though, when I am talking about the new gear I bought or more often than not, just read about or heard about, I will get the comment, “back in my day…we only had one pole and we used it for all our fishing and we caught everything and you should’ve seen the fish we caught, and blah, blah, blah.  It’s true that to catch a fish, you don’t need the latest and greatest.  I remember catching fish with my grandfather.  We used bamboo poles with line attached.  I also remember the first pole I bought with my own money; a department store special.  It was the only pole I owned and I used it for every kind of fishing that my uncle and I would do.  Sure, it worked, but that was then and this is now and if you haven’t noticed, a lot has changed in the last 30-40 years.

Once upon a time, a family had a telephone.  You could speak to one person at a time and if someone else was trying to call you, they got a busy signal.  Today, a typical household will have a cell phone for each member and they have text and instant messaging capability.  Instead of talking to one person, you can send out a message to all of your friends at once and get multiple instant response messages.  You can send out tweets to the world, informing of what you are doing at any given moment, you can set your status on multiple social media platforms.  The list goes on.  Sure – it’s still communication but it is on a way different level.

The same applies to our fishing gear.  We have the best technology for the species  of fish we are targeting; anything from super-lines to high modulus graphite rods to electronics that give a complete picture of the underwater world.

You can always choose to romanticize the lore of yesteryear.  There is nothing wrong with the technology of that era.  There is more than one way to extract plutonium  but while  using a giant centrifuge will apparently  get the job done, it is not necessarily the most efficient way to go about it.  The same is true with our communication devices, and the same is true with our fishing tools.


A Case in point –


A couple of years ago, I was fishing with my brother-in-law and my father-in-law out of Port Burwell for perch.  It was one of those magic days and I have pictures of a couple of happy campers, cleaning what was a boat load of fish and the resulting fish fry that resulted.  We all fished from the pretty much the same spot as my boat is not large and we all used relatively inexpensive fishing rods and reels – nothing too fancy – but decent gear.  I however, had stopped at my local source for all things fishing, Angling Outfitters and had discussed earlier with the owner about where I was heading out and what I was fishing for.  He told me to go out to 40 feet of water and use braided line. (say what??)  His reasoning was sound – that in 40 feet of water, fishing just off bottom with mono, that there is too much stretch in the line ( something like 10-12% stretch) so 4-5 feet of stretch  in the line when going to lift a fish – chances are that you won’t be able to hook set properly and that the fish will get off.  Well, turns out that I put the braided spool on that day and let me tell you this: First, that I could feel everything happening with my bait at 40 feet.  I could feel the take, I could feel when the fish spat the bait (the rod was pretty sensitive too – IM 6 graphite with a really fast tip), and I could feel when the fish retook the bait.  When I set the hook, it was instant as there was no stretch in the line – for every 6 inches of motion at my hand, there was 6 inches of resulting motion at the hook.  The overall result was this  ( sorry Wade, I’m not trying to brag), but for every fish they put in the boat, I would put at least one, sometimes two! That’s not an exaggeration either.  We used the same baits out of the same water but my gear allowed me to catch more fish.  Oh, and that’s not to mention the  electronics that allowed me to instantly find 40 feet of water in the first place.


To put a fine point on it-


Technology has changed the way we fish.  The environment we live in has changed, the species themselves are different, and the water we fish has drastically changed too.  With all of those changes, we can choose to keep things simple, and there is nothing wrong with that, but we can also choose to bring our A+  game and to take advantage of all of the options available.  The next time someone tells me their fish tales and talks down to the technology that I choose to take advantage of, my answer  and attitude will be simple  – “Well, we all do what we can to have a good time fishing”.   After all is said and done, isn’t that what it’s supposed to be about anyway?  Having a good time fishing and enjoying yourself?  I just happen to enjoy myself more, when I have landed more fish and if that means taking advantage of some incredible technology to boot, well than hey, sign me up!

Father-in-law with author – “a boat load of perch”


Some days, all you do is try and try and try again, yet when it comes to catching a fish, you  just can’t do it.  But, fishing isn’t called catching for a reason and often, I don’t care.  Sure it’s awesome to catch a fish.  Even better are those magic days where you just can’t do anything wrong and you catch fish after fish.  But those days are magical and the only reason we can really appreciate them for what they are is because as fishermen, we know that it’s not always going to be like that.  Like everything in life, we can only appreciate the good because we know the bad and because of the bad, we gain an understanding of our world that put’s us in touch with our higher self.  This world is a test and those of us that pass are those that know, you have to put in hour after hour of tough work some days and the results you are looking for may not be the ones you get.  If you find yourself at the side of a river or out on the water and you can’t get what you want ( a fish), take some time and step back from yourself, look around, take a deep breath and appreciate what you see.  Maybe it is a close friend or family member in the boat with you.  Appreciate them because they are there with you.  This is life and just as we live, we die.  To really appreciate life, you have to appreciate that it will not always be here and that means that friend or family member too.  So really appreciate them because you never know when you won’t have the opportunity again.  Look around.  See the sites?  They were made for you and your enjoyment.  Take time to appreciate where you are and  what you are doing.  Maybe it’s not as fun to not catch fish, but maybe there is something else going on and you need to appreciate it.

I love to catch fish, don’t get me wrong, but I don’t go fishing  just because of catching fish.  There is a lot more to it and it is hard to explain.  When it’s a freezing cold day in Canada and I am standing at the side of a river trying to catch my targeted species, the rod guides are icing over, my hands are frozen because wearing gloves would interfere with the feeling the line, I don’t get discouraged.  I keep fishing.  Many people would think I’m crazy, and sure, there may be a part of that, but I know that I am testing myself.  I am practicing and appreciating just how tough it can be to catch fish.  It is a day like this that I can juxtapose against a magic day and it is a day like this that makes me really appreciate how wonderful it can be on a day when the livewell is full and the smiles come easy.  It is a day like this that makes me know who I am and it is a day like this that  lets me know that somehow, no matter what, I have the fortitude to endure anything.  Any day fishing is a wonderful day and better than a day when I can’t be on the water, so next time you are out fishing and not catching, don’t be discouraged but remember this-you are exactly where you are supposed to be and now take some time to enjoy it.  Tight lines my friends and I’ll see you on the water!

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