Shallow water anglers hunting game fish throughout coastal and inshore arenas worldwide often rely on spinning outfits to get the job done. Advantageous in their ability to make long casts without worrying about a backlash, when casting into or across a stiff breeze, and when casting lightweight offerings, spinning outfits are widely popular among both novice and professional anglers hunting fish both big and small.
Whether it’s to give sufficient lead to a school of bonefish or expertly skip a bait under low hanging mangroves where juvenile tarpon thrive, you need to be able to adjust to any scenario while also being completely familiar and comfortable with a wide variety of tackle. The most experienced inshore anglers can pick up a rod they’ve never touched before and fire off a bullet without thinking twice or even glancing at the reel. That being said, the truth is that even the most seasoned salts still make an errant cast every once in a while. If you attempt to place your lure dangerously close to structure or vegetation on a regular basis, it’s inevitable you’ll miss your mark at some point.
If you attempt to place your lure dangerously close to structure or vegetation on a regular basis, it's inevitable you'll miss your mark at some point.
Trivial as it may sound, casting distance and accuracy are aspects that can be greatly improved upon with practice. Additionally, selecting the proper rod, reel, line and terminal tackle for each particular scenario can noticeably improve casting performance without making any changes to your actual casting mechanics.
Remind yourself that it’s best to balance your main running line to the recommended line and lure class on the rod and reel. It’s also important that line is spooled to the reel’s capacity to facilitate line exiting the spool with the least amount of resistance. Furthermore, rod selection will also determine castability, with long rods and fast action tips leading to greater casting distance and accuracy through increased rod tip speed. Really, the top third of the rod controls the entire cast. That’s the portion of the rod that acts as a pendulum, absorbing the load and releasing it as pure energy, which propels the lure through the air like a projectile. Inferior tackle and rigging is one of the greatest inhibitors of casting performance, so don’t put yourself at a disadvantage before you even hit the water.
While overhand casting is great for achieving maximum distance, a 45-degree sidearm cast will often times provide the greatest accuracy, just be sure to keep the rod tip pointed directly at your target and follow through like a well-executed golf swing. Additionally, when fishing under low hanging bridges, casting near a T-top or in a maze of mangroves, overhead casts simply aren’t an option.
For light tackle spinning outfits you’ll want to place the rod in your dominant hand with the stem of the reel positioned between your index and middle finger. Your thumb should be centered on the top of the rod. Your opposite hand will be applying force towards the bottom of the rod.
Before firing off a cast you’ll want to pull out enough line so your bait or lure hangs about 18 inches from the tip of the rod. From here, make sure the roller on the reel bail is directly beneath your index finger. Grab the line with your index finger and open the bail while keeping the line tight. With your feet spread shoulder width apart and the rod at a 45 degree angle to your side, make a quick and sharp casting motion while keeping your elbows tight to your core. You want to avoid an overpowering motion using your arms and shoulders to increase the velocity of your cast. Instead, use the action of the rod to transfer energy to the lure. The release is critically important and you want to let go at a point just past vertical—release too early and the lure will fly too high. Release too late and the lure will land prematurely. Be sure to finish the cast with an abrupt stop to transfer the most energy down the line.
While proper rigging and technique will improve your casting distance and accuracy, you’ll also have to compensate for the wind’s direction and velocity when determining the perfect time to release the line. There’s no way around it besides practice, and the faster you develop and improve your casting skills by understanding the factors that influence distance and accuracy the sooner you’ll become a more accomplished angler. Fortunately, practicing means you need to go fishing!
With ultra-thin diameter, super lines lend themselves to more distant and accurate casting. However, anglers using this magical material must be aware of wind knots and the slack line that causes them—particularly when using light action spinning tackle. At times, line forms a loop on the spool, either through popping or pause retrieves, closing the bail by turning the handle instead of manually, and also when a knot catches in the guide and alters the velocity of line peeling off the spool.