Thursday, December 27, 2012

Casting Platforms: Pros And Cons

Bow mounted casting platforms have been around for a long time and I really like fishing on boats that have them.  They greatly increase your view when compared to standing on the deck and can add a good bit of distance to your cast, especially if you're fly fishing.  The original casting platforms were nothing more than a cooler bungeed to the bow, an idea that worked perfectly from start and really didn't need any improvement.  But this is fly fishing we're talking about so something just as simple but more expensive needed to be invented. 

Most platforms are simple devices that come as options from the manufacturer, like this basic aluminum model pictured on a Beavertail Vengeance that also sports a welded rod holder and teak SeaDek.  
As you can see in this photo it makes using a trolling motor very easy.

For rougher water you can incorporate a leaning post like the one shown here on Stu Apte's BT3.

Even microskiffs like my buddy's tricked out Gheenoe can make use of them, and the full cage is a must on a hull that's prone to being a little tippy. This particular casting platform works especially well with the remote Minn Kota trolling motor, making this boat the perfect one-man flats skiff for the calm, shallow waters around Matlacha. 
So as happy as I am with casting platforms and all the things they can do for you, why don't I have one on my own boat?
It's a simple answer.  As a guide fishing with paying customers I consider them a complete liability.  Most of my charters are very competent and experienced anglers but a few times a year I get booked by someone new with absolutely no "sea legs."  Just keeping them upright on my bow is enough of a chore and asking them to stand on an elevated platform is an invitation for disaster.  My Beavertail BT3 with its 82" beam is one of the most stable flats boats on the market but in the end it's still just a skiff, not a cruise ship.  It doesn't take much of a chop to make it pitch up and down even in shallow water. 
I've been guiding full time for close to twenty years now and in all that time I've only had one paying customer fall off of my boat, an insanely small number that still amazes me to this day.  I attribute that to the fact that I've never used a bow mounted casting platform. 
If you're fishing for fun, by all means try one.  If you're fishing for a living, think twice about them.