You’ve been stalking a foraging pod of oversized redfish for the better part of the morning. The school has been just out of casting distance but the curious reds are starting to meander a bit closer as they tip and tail their way towards your skiff. You find it difficult to wait any longer and as your patience runs out, you cast what seems to be a perfect laser right off the bow. Your trusty gold spoon lands 15-feet short of the lead fish and the entire school spooks for the deeper edge of the flat. One errant cast just off the mark wasted your entire morning’s efforts. Does this scenario sound familiar?
As many of you may know fishing is a sport that requires extreme dedication, patience, knowledge and most importantly a great deal of finesse, especially when it comes to proper casting technique. It doesn’t matter where you ply your craft or whether you prefer a spinning or conventional outfit, without the proper technique and tactics you will be a lackluster caster forever.
It doesn’t matter what type of rod and reel combo you plan on using, the basic physics behind casting starts with loading the rod.
Spool Like A Pro
Long before you make your first cast comes the important task of spooling your reel with fresh line. If you complete this process incorrectly, it will greatly hinder your casting and catching abilities. When spooling any reel the line should go on the reel the same way it came off the spool. With a spinning reel, this means you want to lay the spool upright with the label facing up. Apply tension to the line and fill the reel to about a quarter of an inch from the lip of the spool. When filling a conventional reel, lay the spool horizontally and let the line unwind off the top of the spool. Fill the reel to about a half of an inch from the lip of the spool.
It doesn’t matter what type of rod and reel combo you plan on using, the basic physics behind casting starts with loading the rod. This occurs when the rod bends during your backcast. Some anglers feel that by increasing the length of their rod they will increase their casting distance. This is simply not the case, because it is much more difficult to load a long rod than one of standard length. In order to be able to consistently cast the distances you want – or need – you must practice. With practice comes perfection.
Spinning reels are hands down the easiest reels to cast, and the design of modern spinning reels makes them virtually backlash free. It doesn’t take a whole lot of practice to master a spinning reel, and once you gain comfort you can incorporate a technique called feathering. Feathering is a technique where you use your index finger to adjust the rate of velocity of which the line is coming off the reel spool. Extend your index finger slightly above the spool and as line shoots off, you can use your finger to quickly shorten or stop a cast, or conversely to let the line flow smoothly off the spool for ultimate distance. If you make a bad cast you can use your index finger to stop your offering dead in its tracks.
The position of the bail is important and also deserves consideration. If you are right handed, you will be most comfortable with the bail positioned so when opened, it cocks to the right. This way the bail will funnel the line directly to your index finger. The opposite obviously applies if you are left handed.
Many anglers have nightmares over casting conventional reels, but there’s really nothing to be afraid of if you practice the proper techniques. The main reason many anglers suffer trip-ending backlashes is because the spool of a conventional reel is constantly spinning. In order to compensate for this you need to apply pressure with your thumb to slow down or stop the spool. Many conventional baitcaster reels are outfitted with an adjustable tension knob, a device that aids in slowing down and stopping the spool after a cast. In order to properly adjust your tension knob, tie on a jig or lure and let it fall to the floor. If the spool keeps spinning after your offering hits the floor, tighten the tension knob. Continue to adjust accordingly until the spool stops or noticeably slows down as your offering hits the floor.
As with any casting discipline, even something as simple as feathering the line or thumbing the spool takes practice. Remember that the time to practice is in your backyard, not when a school of redfish is bearing down on you.
Regular use of a quality line conditioner before and after fishing will protect your line and give you longer, more accurate casts. Line conditioners also reduce friction, memory, backlashes, tangles and twists.
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