WHETHER YOU’RE LOOKING TO IMPROVE your fishing acumen or you’re just starting out, getting the hang of casting is a must. We have six casting styles that will improve your fishing success and style.
Pitching, or shooting as it’s also called, is a short- to medium-distance casting method that offers superior accuracy in tight quarters. When he was learning to fish, my son Travis said this was his favorite cast, because it looked cool and worked just like his slingshot (until he hooked his thumb once).
Let out line until the lure rests about halfway down the rod toward the reel. With the bail or lock on your reel ready to run but your rod fingers preventing the line from unwinding, hold the lure between thumb and forefinger while bending (loading) the rod toward you. Aim carefully and let go of the lure and the line coming from the reel at the same time. The lure will spring away and land where you aimed. This works particularly well when you happen to be in an area with obstructions behind you that make a back cast difficult.
The High-Wind Cast
Arguably the world’s greatest fly caster ever, Lefty Kreh, taught me a trick for casting in high winds. It works for fly casting and is even easier with other gear. He said that in higher winds there is a buffer zone of a foot or two just above the water’s surface. He lay down on the deck of the boat and cast a fly rod sidearm and powered that line right out there. I have since tried the same trick with good success using spinning tackle, and I’m sure it would work with a baitcaster as well.
So called because it resembles the way a softball pitcher underhands the ball, this cast requires you to release a short amount of line from the rod tip — a foot or less. With the rod horizontal and the reel bail open or casting lock pushed, swing the rod tip so the lure creates a clockwise circle around the end (if you are right handed) and then let it go when the lure is at the bottom of the arc. It’s lightning fast and very effective if you miss a sight cast and need to cast again instantly. However, be advised that this cast works better with a spinning reel than with a bait caster, though with practice, the latter works fine, too.
If you need your lure to get up under a dock or overhanging foliage, the skip cast works beautifully where others will fail miserably (and likely cause you to lose your lure). It takes some practice, though. For skip casting to work best, use the lightest lure you can. Heavier lures tend to plow into the water rather than skip across it like a flat stone.
Let out a short amount of line — say a foot or so — and point the rod tip down toward the water to your forehand or backhand side. Gently cast the lure parallel to the water’s surface. Then watch as it skips several times across the water. You may need to stop it when it has traveled as far as you need it to, so you don’t hang the lure up on something past your target. Many people find the backhand method easier to accomplish on this cast than the forehand method.
Experiment with different lures, as some skip better than others.
Overhand for Sight Casting (and Distance)
The distance you can cast using this method correlates directly to the length of the rod you use and the weight of the lure. Logically, lengthier rods and heavier lures make for longer casts. Let some line out — about one-third of the rod length — and hold it from unspooling with your index finger. Tilt the rod back about 45 degrees behind you, so the line and lure hang behind your back. Move your rod hand in front of you so that when you sight along your forearm, it is pointing at your target. Whip the rod tip forward, and just as it passes vertical, release the line coming from the reel. Caution: Always look behind you prior to casting this way. You can very easily hook obstructions, other anglers or even yourself with this method.
When you want distance without injuring anyone behind you, practice altering this method slightly so you hold the rod out to the side or even with the rod tip pointing down slightly. You can still get distance and accuracy, but it protects you and others from errant hooking.
Use the flipping method when you’re fairly close to your target and want to gently lay your lure into place, particularly when you’re fishing weed beds and areas with other stuff that might snag your lure.
Pull line off your reel to approximately match the distance to your target. Hold the line in one hand while you swing your lure — which should be dangling from the rod tip like a pendulum — forward and backward in line with your target. You’ll get to a point where one swing will suffice. As the lure swings away from you, let go of the line in your non-rod hand. The lure will gently arc out toward your target and land with minimum disturbance.