Though touring bass professionals claim baitcasters offer greater sensitivity and increased cranking power, it’s no secret many Floridian’s prefer fixed-spool spinning reels when probing saltwater environs. However, it must be understood that numerous factors contribute to the appropriate delivery of a well-aimed cast.
Whether giving sufficient lead to a school of daisy-chaining tarpon, lobbing a live shrimp at leery bonefish or expertly skipping a lure under low-hanging mangroves where redfish and snook beat the daytime heat, the most successful inshore anglers can put baits and lures exactly where they want no matter the conditions. They are true snipers of the shallows and experts in every sense of the word. If you’re not already proficient with spinning outfit in hand, don’t fret. The following tips establish a framework for enhancing casting accuracy and distance to prevent errant flings and blown opportunities.
1. Choose Wisely
Improper tackle selection puts anglers at an immediate disadvantage. Before anything else, it’s important you are outfitted with a well-balanced rod and reel outfit. From here, match the main running line and recommended line and lure class noted on the rod and reel. Body mechanics are pressing, but rod selection largely determines casting ability. Long rods with fast tips lead to enhanced casting distance through increased rod tip speed. However, since casting accuracy decreases as rod length increases, shorter rods allow anglers to make more delicate casts to cover.
2. Line of Sight
Yet another miscue that can occur before hitting the brine is improper spooling. Due to the design of spinning reels, anglers need to be conscious of line memory when loading fresh monofilament. Since bail rotors turn clockwise, to properly fill a reel it’s imperative the line unwinds from the filler spool in a counterclockwise direction. It’s also important to ensure reels are spooled to max capacity. Full spools provide the path of least resistance and enhance casting distance by allowing larger loops of line to come of the reel, which translates to fewer revolutions to achieve the same distance.
3. Come to Grips
When attempting to cast a spinning outfit of any size, 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 assist in balancing and applying force towards the bottom of the rod, which translates up the rod to rotate the tip providing distance and accuracy with the greatest efficiency.
4. Following the Leader
You may be unassuming, but leader construction can have a huge impact on your cast. There’s a real dynamic to producing the most efficient cast and if a knot has to pass through multiple guides at full speed you can guarantee your main line will exit the spool inconsistently. When the knot comes in contact with a guide, even if it passes through seemingly unaltered, the leader will slow while the line coming off the spool will still be moving at full speed. This is how winds knots are formed. Before firing off a cast you’ll want to pull out enough line so your bait or lure hangs a minimum of 18 inches from the tip of the rod. If the technique calls for a longer leader, then you must be proficient in creating streamlined connections like the FG or blood knot, or sacrifice your cast. While increasing the distance from hook to rod tip keeps knots out of the guides, it also enables more efficient loading of the rod by creating a larger fulcrum.
5. Flight Plan
Feathering the line coming off the spool is essential in precisely adjusting the trajectory and exact landing site of your bait or lure. If you are right-handed, you will be most comfortable with the bail positioned so when opened that it cocks to the right. With this configuration, the bail will funnel line directly to your index finger and you’ll have no problem easily extending your fingertip to quickly shorten or stop a cast, or conversely let the line flow smoothly off the spool for ultimate distance. Practicing casting well beyond your target and using finger-spool control will improve your accuracy immensely.
6. Slack Kills
When fishing topwater poppers and walkers, the occasional pause and following retrieve often stacks line on the reel loose and in an inconsistent manner. The next cast you make will pull off the loose line all together and may form a wind knot as it passes through the guides. Another act that can create slack line is relying on the automatic bail system. Experienced anglers have learned to close the bail arm manually after every cast to eliminate slack before turning the reel handle.
7. Power to Spare
You’ll soon learn that it’s not the power of your stroke that determines distance. Instead of an overpowering motion using your arms and shoulders to increase the velocity of your cast, load the rod to its maximum potential through a smooth backswing and let the action of the blank transfer energy to the lure. The point of release directly relates to the trajectory and distance achieved. Letting go of the line just past vertical with a quick snapping manner is best. Release too early and the lure will fly too high. Release too late and the lure will land prematurely.
8. Discreet Delivery
A straight overhand cast is the most accurate, simply because it is on plane with the target. With this casting stroke anglers must only deal with determining distance. However, when windy conditions prevail, off plane movement of the rod, like a sidearm cast, enables anglers to punch their lures through the wind more effectively. Additionally, when faced with calm conditions atop shallow water, a side arm cast can facilitate a softer landing as your offering hits the surface with significantly less energy than a lofty overhand cast.
9. Waiting Game
Be patient, slow down and observe everything that’s taking place around you before firing off a cast. Every situation is different, but when sight fishing it’s generally never a great idea to present to fish that are swimming away from you. Keeping this in mind, inaccurate casts aren’t always fatal to success and it’s better to cast too short rather than too far, since the foraging fish might swim right up to your lure.
10. Practice Perfection
Consistency is crucial, so cast the same way every time until you have mastered the motion. Visualize exactly where you want the bait or lure to land or you’ll never increase accuracy. Last but not least, don’t let windy conditions keep you off the water. Think of it as practice, because the greater accuracy you have casting in less than perfect conditions, the better off you’ll be when conditions are just right.