There is no doubt that to increase your success in fishing, you need to improve your casting accuracy. Better accuracy not only brings more bites, but also less frustration in getting your bait or lure exactly where you want it. Some people will tell you to do things like practice more, but throwing your rod around thoughtlessly until you catch a fish won't help. It could even reinforce some bad habits.
So, if you want to get better at casting, you need to use smart techniques, stay calm and focus on what you can control, and practice mindfully. Below are some helpful tips:
Learn what each part of your rod and reel does.
Nothing kills the accuracy of your casting faster than worry and hesitation. Whether you're using a spinning reel, baitcaster, spincaster, or fly rod, you need to know your gear well so you can use it easily. Before you go fishing, you should figure out what the handle, spool, bail, and drag, etc., do. This will help you avoid making awkward, off-target casts.
Make sure your equipment is right for you.
Just as important is making sure you have the right equipment. There’s no question that equipment is a personal choice. What’s right for me may not be best for you. Still, it's possible to make a bad choice when choosing equipment. For example, if you are just starting out, you may have heard that baitcasters are good for accurate casting. So you get your hands on one and bring it with you on your next fishing trip without so much as testing out the brakes. One problem you’re likely going to run into is that baitcasters are more complicated than spinning reels. It takes much more skill to take advantage of the baitcaster’s accurate casting power, and you probably haven’t mastered such skills yet. In this case, a spinning reel would be better. It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of a baitcaster, but it's easy enough for you to use with your skill set.
Don't forget to practice with your lures, too, as you need to get a feel for them before you go fishing. For example, you have to know if your lure sinks or floats, or whether it moves fast or slowly in the water.
Reel in any slack before casting.
Make sure there's no slack in your fishing line by pulling it straight back toward yourself and then holding it there for a moment before making your cast. This eliminates any chance of backlash when you make the forward motion with your arm.
Feather your line.
In fishing, feathering your line (sometimes called feathering your cast or feathering your reel) means pressing on the line with your finger as it leaves the reel. This gives you better control as it allows you to prevent the line from tangling and to slow down the end tackle so it doesn’t end up with a noisy splash in the water.
Here's a demo on feathering your line:
Aim where you want to hit.
Aim where you think the fish you’re after would be, whether that’s in the shallow water or in the deeper parts. Also, try casting right into where you expect fish to be feeding on baitfish or insects.
Practice casting at different distances.
Practice casting at various distances, both near where you are standing and far away from where you're standing. This will help build up muscle memory for how much force goes into each cast depending on the distance traveled by line during each cast (more force is required if farther).
Master the different ways of casting.
There are lots of ways to cast, each with its own specific ways of timing the release of the lure with the movement of the rod. Here are three you can practice to get you started: the overhead cast, the roll cast, and the single-handed flip overhand cast.
- The overhead cast is like a golf swing: it’s a smooth, fluid motion that gives you plenty of time to study the spot where you want your lure to fall.
- The roll cast is used when you need an extra-long cast or when there’s no room for a backcast, such as in heavy cover. You can also use it in windy conditions to help get your lure out quickly with little effort.
- The single-handed flip overhand cast is useful when fishing around rocks and other obstacles where accuracy isn't so much an issue as getting the lure into position quickly and accurately so that fish can see it more easily.
Here's a video showing some methods of casting.
You can try practicing these and move on later to more specialized techniques as you figure out what works best for you.
Casting is one of the most important aspects of fishing, so it's worth taking some time to learn how to do it right. Whether you're fishing in a river or lake, on an ocean pier or dock, or even by a creek bed at home, thoughtful casting practice and following these tips will go a long way in helping you catch more fish.
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