Well I heeded the advice of several on here and removed the 30# Samurai. I had some 50# J-Braid laying around, so I spooled the reel up half way just for kicks and giggles. This morning I headed out to a nearby canal to test this theory. I played with both the spool control and brakes, with heavy thumb and without, and still could not see any difference. The longest cast was about 42 yards, with 38-39 being the average.
Right now the spool tension is set a few clicks (2-3) looser than the recommended starting point, and I have 3 of the 8 brakes on. I did try going up all the way with the brakes, as well as taking them all off. The only noticeable difference was shorter casts when using maximum brakes. Right now, I think this rules out the problem being thin line, no?
The other option I see is to change the lure. Maybe 1.5 oz mullet is catching too much wind and creating too much drag? This afternoon I'll get back out there and try a standard 1.5 oz. bucktail jig.
A last option would be to learn to cast. lol. But really, maybe I need to remove all brakes and just practice training my thumb...
That's basically what I did. I use just 2 of 6 brakes, and have my spool tension backed all the way off, so I can pitch easily.
Instead of having to increase the spool tension whenever I wanted to cast, I learned to thumb my spool all the time, and it has really allowed me to be able to fish in the wind much more easily, and without very many backlashes.
I think I found the culprit. It seems that the 1.5 oz. Live Target Mullet is the suspect. If you've been following this thread then you know I was only able to cast this lure about 38-39 yards, and when I really put some zing into the cast, I'd get an overrun about half way.
Well I swapped out my 30# braid for 50# braid and opted to just fill the spool up half way. Then I swapped out the Mullet for a regular 1.75 oz. bucktail jig. First cast 45 yards! After taking off one brake and loosing the spool control knob 2 clicks, pow, 48-49 yards. This is a 10 yard jump over the LT mullet. It seems like a noobie mistake, but that lure apparently creates quite a bit of drag and slows down significantly once it reaches its apex. Right now I have 2 of 8 brakes on, and the spool is set several clicks lighter than the recommended setting.
To further test this finding, I will re-spool with 40# braid and tie on a simple 3 oz. bank sinker. Let's see what it'll do then.