Martyn White | Sunday, 19 July 2020

With the lockdown lifting in Tokyo and most of my work moving back to the office I'm continually asking myself how I did anything around work before the pandemic. I'm barely tying but now managing to get out fishing on my days off, so that's good as I'm becoming quite adept at finding holes in my waders!

That's not the only thing I'm adjusting to, I've accepted there will be no flats trip to Okinawa or international destination so I'll be focusing my attention offshore for the summer. Which might be a good thing in a way, I love bluewater fishing but with the increase in typhoons I've barely managed to get out for mahi or tuna the last 2 or 3 years. I'm keen to get back to it, but have become unfamiliar with the 12+ weights, which has meant a bit of practising down the the lake to get my arm back in. It always takes me a bit to get used to it but I do enjoy the heavy gear.

The casting, despite being the most obvious, isn't the only thing that needs practice. I also like to spend a bit of time getting my retrieves where I want them.  Probably the main thing is speed, especially for mahi mahi as an extra turn of speed will often turn a chaser into an eater.If the winds are low and drift speeds allow it's not a problem to do this, but offshore fishing in the Sagami Gulf usually involves a bit of a breeze and I've found that if I don't practise my rolypoly retrieve  I sometimes can't move the fly quickly enough. A sweep of the rod sometimes works but bending the straight line makes for poorer hooking.  

For the tuna species around here the speed it seems is perhaps less important than smoothness of the retrieve, something I also need to tune back in before fishing both for rolypoly and figure 8 retrieves, you might be surprised just how fast and smooth you can get a figure 8 retrieve up to with enough practise.  Fortunately it's easy  to combine this with casting down the park or the lake, but  I do like to be deliberate rather than just rattling the line back for the next cast. 

The other option is to do it at home, specially for figure 8 style,  I'll often set up the bottom half of a rod and repeatedly retrieve a full line back and forth gradually increasing the length of the vertical stroke between the twist of the hand at various speeds.  If it becomes jerky in any way I'll drop back on the speed or stroke length and focus on getting the motion to flow smoothly again before slowly speeding up.  

I imagine that probably fewer people practise their retrieves than their casting, but it's probably not surprising as a lot of applications don't really warrant it.  I picked up the habit  as a teenager fishing loch style competitions where the rules require the rod to be held in the hand on the retrieve, but I don't think you need the constraint of rules to get some benefit from working on retrieves, just a drifting boat  or a fish that swims faster than you can retrieve.