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Art of Casting - Spinning Reels


The need for casting arises from the simple fact that we are usually 'here' while the fish are 'over there'. Call it what you wil - casting, throwing, chucking, tossing, flinging, flipping, flicking or whatever, it's all the same thing. Call it 'lateral displacement of fish attracting substances' if you like, it won't change the simple fact that it means getting a bait, lure, or fly, from where you are, to where the fish is.

If you are fishing from dry land, you'll find that you'll need to cast, as fish will most often be some distance out from the shore. Even if you fish from a boat, you may still have to cast to reach the fish. It's true, fish do come close to banks and to boats, but usually when they do, they are down deep, or sheltering near some kind of natural feature.

Out at sea, or in a large expanse of open water, that feature might be a reef, but in rivers, and along the shoreline of dams and lakes, those features can take other forms. Here, they might be overhangs of one type or another, an undercut bank, a cleft in a rock, or perhaps a tree. Even when you get into the water with the fish, they are naturally wary. Generally too, the shallower the water, the further away from you the fish will tend to keep.

Casting, therefore, is a common aspect of fishing, and may in many cases be unavoidable. This means, we might as well get good at it, or be severely hampered in how well and effectively we can fish. You can cast with handlines and with various rods and reels, and there are both differences and similarities in the way each is used.

Hand Lines

These days, most people start fishing with fairly sophisticated tackle, but as recently as a generation ago, many kids (and adults) fished not with a rod and reel but with a handline. In the past, there were two main reasons for using handlines, those being economics and efficiency. These days, most people can afford rods and reels, but despite advances in fishing tackle and the passage of time, handlines remain an extremely effective fishing tool.

There are good and bad ways of using them. For instance, some people cast handlines by standing with their feet planted wide apart, swinging the sinker and hook-loaded line round and round their heads, like a cowboy about to lasso a steer. Aside from the substantial risk of braining someone with that sinker, this rather spectacular form of casting is not all that effective. All you really need do to get that bait out where it should be, is gently swing the line up behind you, and swing it forward again, releasing the line as it reaches the horizontal in front of you.

Using this control and swinging less than an arm's length of line, handlines can be thrown quite practical distances. If you really do need to reach a more distant spot, perhaps you should use a rod and reel and be done with it. Even if you do use enough sinker weight and do the mad helicopter thing, accuracy will be suspect, and once you've got that much line out, how are you going to get it all back in again ?

Pulling that much line back by hand can take ages, and means huge bundles of loose line at your feet. Fishing reels allow much more efficient line storage and rods can enhance your casting capabilities quite remarkably. It's better to use the right tool for the job.

Spinning or Threadline Reels

If you are going to cast with a rod and reel, by far the easiest style of reel to use is a spinning reel. Just in case you were wondering, spinning reels are those reels that look a little like an eggbeater, another of their common names. Just to confuse us, they are also called "fixed-spool reels", "open-faced reels" and "threadline reels".

Name confusions aside, this type of reel is very simple to cast with. It can also cast quite light weights considerable distances, even directly into the wind, something that is not the case with overheads, as we shall see.

The spool is mounted on a forward-facing shaft and the line is cast off the spool's rounded front edge or lip. What keeps the line from flying off the spool at other times, such as when you are waiting for a bite, or reeling in, is a large spring- loaded wire loop, called a bail arm. This bail arm is flipped open to cast, then closed again, either to wind line in or to set the rod with a bait out. Bail arms on all threadiines except for the cheap and shoddy ones, have a small revolving wheel at one end called a line roller. This roller is meant to reduce friction on the line as it is wound back in or as a hooked fish runs line off the reel under pressure.

Casting with Spinning Reels

The best way to hold a spinning reel for casting is to slide your rod hand around the reel seat, with two fingers in front of the reel stem and two fingers behind it. This gives you a good casting grip and more importantly, leaves your forefinger free to trap the line as the casting swing is made.

A suitable amount of line is allowed to hang from the rod tip (between 15 and 45 cm should do it). The first finger of the reel hand is extended down toward the spool to pick up the line ahead of the bail arm and the line is then pulled back up against the rod grip, where the finger traps it.The bail arm is opened with your other hand and the reel is now ready for casting. It's important to get this sequence right. If you open the bail arm before you trap the line, line will spill from the spool and you'll get into a mess.

With the line trapped and the bail open, swing the rod back past your shoulder and then forward again in a swift, smooth arc. This forward casting stroke should start slow, accelerate, then finish by drifting forward so the rod points horizontally in front of you.

At the appropriate moment (while rod is still moving forward) the finger holding the line is straightened, and the casting weight is thrown forward, towing the line behind it.You need to get this release timed right though, as if you release too early in the swing, the bait will fly up into the air and land who knows where. If you release the line too late in the swing, you will know where the bait lands all right because chances are it will go into the ground or water by your feet.

A useful way to get the timing of this release right, is to swing the rod forward and as your casting arms begins to extend, point the line holding finger straight at your casting target. Most times, this will release the line at the correct moment and also direct the cast where it should go.

The technique works with short and light single-handed rods, such as you might use for trout, bass, bream and so on, and with big, heavy, two-handed rods, suitable for beach or rock-fishing. With the single-handed rod, your free hand and arm does not come into play very much, but when casting with a two-handed rod, your other hand is needed, to anchor the rod butt and provide a fulcrum for the cast. During the cast, this other hand holds the butt down and in front of your body to act as a pivot point, while the reel hand swings and pushes the rod through the casting arc.

Step 1

Casting with a Spinning Reel begins by trapping the line against the rod grip with your index finger.

Step 2

Holding the line, open the bail arm.

Step 3

The outfit is now ready for casting.

Step 4

Swing the rod in a smooth arc and release the line by pointing your finger at your chosen target.

Step 5

Casting with a double-handed rod and a large spinning reel is exactly the same procedure, except that the non-reel hand comes into play, providing a pivot point for the rod swing.

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