So, you spent the last month searching online for the perfect first-time fishing kit and finally committed to that beautiful carbon fiber rod. You’ve been to your local Tackle Store and invested in the shopkeepers’ ideal setup and bait. You’re standing on the side of a beautiful river bank, seashore or lake. The scenery is just spectacular its everything you’ve ever dreamed of for your first fishing trip.
You raise the rod above your head to make that first cast out into the water only to find that you’re tackle lands 3ft in front of you, with a massive tangle of line around you reel. We’ve all been there! Casting out seems a lot simpler when you’re watching an expert but doing it yourself for the first time can be tricky. It’s worth spending some time getting the technique right before you head to the river bank. Maybe you can practice in your local park or even your back garden if it’s large enough.
Learning to cast is one of the essential skills in angling and could be the difference between catching and blanking. Sometimes a gentle flick into the margins is all that is required, while other times casting at long ranges over 100 yards is the only way to get in front of the right fish without spooking them. The same goes for beach casting where you need to throw your tackle a considerable distance to get to the best fishing spot.
If you’re spinning or lure fishing from a boat or the bank, then you’ll find yourself frequently casting throughout the day and bait positioning is paramount to get it in front of those hungry predators. So how do you cast correctly? Well, there are a few techniques, depending on the type of fishing you are doing.
Primarily, a fishing rod is one of two types, either a spinning rod or a casting rod, both of which look similar but have very different properties, uses, and setups. Most importantly though they both have different reels that require different hand actions to cast the rod. Let’s take a look in more detail how to cast a fishing rod.
The spinning setup tends to be a little easier to master if you are a beginner, as the general position of the reel is easier to handle and perhaps a little more intuitive. It’s easy when you know how so follow the steps outlined below.
Take the rod in your dominant hand. The reel will be hanging underneath the rod blank. Grip the rod so that your hand clasps around the stem of the reel between your middle and ring finger so that you have two fingers either side of the stem. The thumb arches over the top of the rod onto the handle grip in front so that you have a comfortable firm grip.
Ensure you have the correct amount of line from the tip of the rod to the tackle or rig that you will be fishing with. It’s recommended around 6 to 10 inches from the tip of the rod to the rig. You can do this by reeling in or backwinding to get the correct length.
With your forefinger, reach down to the line that is running from the bail arm of the reel to the first line ring and pull the line with your finger, so it is touching the rod forming a stop.
Open the bale alarm of the spinning reel which allows the line to move off the spool freely. Don’t panic! Because you have your finger on the line pressed against the rod, the line will not continue to fall out.
Aim the rod at the target you wish to hit. Then, in a gentle motion using the bend in your elbow, bring the rod up to vertical and then allow it to move behind you to about a 20-degree angle. Keep the opposite hand on the base part of the handle for control and support. Allow the rig to steady on the line, and you should notice a flex on the tip of the rod showing that the rod is loaded.
Now, in a smooth but forceful motion, whip the rod forward in the direction of your target and as the rod is about 45 degrees let go of your finger on the line to allow the tackle to be deployed.
You will need to practice this a few times to get a feel for the different weight and power that you need to get the distance required.
Once the bait has hit the water and settled, you need to close the bail arm to secure the line onto the reel and then wind in a forward motion which retrieves the line onto the reel to tighten up the connection between the rod and the tackle.
This sounds like a simple process but does take a little bit of practice. If you release your finger from the line too early, generally the tackle will go high in the air but not travel much distance. Conversely, if you leave your finger on the long line too long, it will make a huge crash about 3 feet in front of you.
Once you get the hang of it, it is quite simple, and you’ll be amazed at how accurate your casting will quickly become. A handy tip when fishing close into the margins of a river or lake is to practice the underhand casting method. When fishing very close to the margins, you do not need the distance required from the overhead casting method. Just ensure there is enough line hanging from your rod tip so that you can hold it in your opposite hand.
Then, release the bail arm and hold the line as in the previous example. Raise the rod so that it’s pointing almost vertically in the air and swing the tackle from the rod tip towards the desired area releasing your finger from the line when the when the line is at about 45 degrees.
Baitcasting follows the same principles above except that the reel and the fitting of the reel to the rod is slightly different. Essentially, a baitcasting reel sits on the top of the rod rather than underneath, and the line rings also run along the top of the rod rather than underneath. Typically, just at the rear of the spool, there is a button called a spool release button. As you press this button it releases the spool, but at the same time, your thumb will rest on the reel preventing it from turning and releasing line.
Just follow the same steps as above remembering to release your thumb from the spool at the casting point. Then wind the handle forward to click the gears back into play, stopping the line from also spilling out to get the tension. Both techniques require a little bit of practice that are very simple to master. Here’s to tight lines and happy fishing.