How To Cast a Baitcasting Rod & Reel Combo
Baitcaster reels can be intimidating to learn to cast for a beginner with all the extra moving parts. Those new to fishing, or coming from using a spinning reel their whole life, may find themselves constantly backlashing. But with a little practice and understanding of how a baitcasting reel works, you'll open up a whole new and exciting way to fish for bass.
In this article we'll go over how to cast a baitcaster for beginner bass anglers to improve casting distance, accuracy, and prevent backlash. We'll also touch on how to hold a baitcaster and some alternative and advanced casting techniques you can use with a baitcaster that offer unique advantages over spinning reels.
How To Hold a Baitcasting Reel To Cast
While casting, hold the reel in your dominant hand so that your thumb rests gently on the spool and your pointer finger, or middle finger, wraps around the rod's trigger grip.
Gently rest your thumb on the spool before and during the cast. This allows you to quickly stop the spool from spinning if the lure is heading in the wrong direction or to slow the spool by feathering it if it begins to overrun.
Grip the butt end of the fishing rod with your other hand to provide extra control and aid in the gentle whipping motion required to cast. As you become proficient with a baitcaster, you can learn to cast one handed for pitching and flipping techniques like the pros, but definitely start out with both hands on the rod and reel.
Beginner Steps For Casting A Baitcaster Without Backlashing
Once you've tied on a lure and set up your baitcaster, it's time to make your first cast. If you've never cast a baitcaster before, it's a good idea to start with just enough spool tension that your lure doesn't move while the bail is opened. As you learn to use your thumb to control the spool you can back off on the tension so the lure slowly falls when the bail is opened.
It's a good idea to learn to cast in a wide open area so you don't snag or hit anything, or anyone, around you. The best technique to start learning to cast a baitcasting reel for beginners is with a side arm cast.
- Start with your lure between 6 and 12 inches from the rod tip.
- Hold the rod out horizontally and to your side with the reel facing up and at a slight angle. Some anglers will recommend tilting the reel at almost a 45 degree angle.
- Open the reel's bail by pressing the button and rest your thumb on the spool so the lure does not move.
- In a sweeping or swinging motion, use a combination of hips, shoulders, arms, and wrists to swiftly
the rod's tip in the direction you want the lure to go, letting go of the spool with your thumb as you
the end of the motion.
- Remember to utilize the weight of the lure to keep tension in the fishing line at all times. The lure should swing out in front of the tip of the rod by the end of the movement. It may help to think of the casting motion as if you were trying to swing a ball tied to a rope in a circular motion.
- As the lure is about to touch the water, quickly begin applying pressure to the spool with your thumb.
- Re-engage the bail by turning the reel
- That's it, congratulations, hopefully you've just made your first successful cast with a baitcaster!
A note on casting distance: A common complaint beginners have, is they find it difficult to cast a baitcaster very far. However, and I think most anglers would agree, casting distance is inferior to casting accuracy. So don't worry if you can't cast far at first. Focus instead on casting so the fishing lure lands exactly where you intended it to and let the casting distance improve naturally over time.
Advanced Baitcaster Casting Techniques
There are many ways to cast a baitcasting setup and each technique has its own advantages in any given situation. Some of these techniques can be easily used with a spinning reel as well, though others, like pitching and flipping, can be more difficult to replicate.
But first, let's talk about why anglers are generally drawn to baitcasting reels over spinning reels.
Why Bass Fishermen Use Baitcasters Over Spinning Reels
Bass fishing involves lots of moving lures when searching for active fish. With the baitcaster's unique free spool and high gear ratio design, anglers can quickly cast and retrieve fishing lures to hunt for active bass. It's not uncommon in pressured waters to make a hundred or more casts to find fish willing to bite.
The baitcasters design allows for more control over the trajectory of the lure. Its open face allows the angler to control the speed of a baitcaster's spool by feathering it with their thumb, greatly improving casting accuracy. When bass are easily spooked and refuse to bite, having this sort of control allows the angler to gently place a lure in the water from a distance.
So what are these alternative casting techniques?
The Roll Cast
The roll cast is almost exactly the same as a side arm cast, but in addition to sweeping the rod tip, you roll the bait to help load the rod tip and create extra momentum to cast farther. This is usually a great next step for beginners to practice after learning the side arm cast.
The Overhand Cast
The overhand or overhead cast is sort of a power house, chopping motion. I don't like recommending it for beginners because it can create way too much momentum and result in backlashes. However, when you have to get your lure way out there, it can come in use.
Just remember that all casts require the line to stay taught the whole way through the cast, and that too much force can overpower the baitcasters brake system causing overrun and ultimately a backlash.
To overhand cast, simply lift the tip of the rod straight up, and with a slight whipping motion, quickly point the rod tip in the direction you want the lure to move.
Pitching & Flipping
Technically pitching and flipping are two different ways to cast but the terms are often used together. To clarify the difference, flipping refers to the act of pulling an arm's length or so of fishing line off the reel and swinging the bait to cast in close quarters while pitching is more of an actual cast out a distance.
To flip with a baitcaster, open the bail and hook the line near the reel with your non-dominant thumb. Pull out an arms length or so of fishing line and close the bail. From here you'll swing or “flip” the tip of the rod to cast the lure while controlling the lure's momentum with the fishing line in your non-dominant hand.
To pitch with a baitcaster, let out enough line so that when you grab the lure with your non-dominant hand, the line is taught and the lure is near the reel. For a 7 foot rod this would be roughly 6 feet of line between the lure and tip of the rod.
How To Pitch a Baitcaster
- With the reel in your dominant hand and lure held near the reel in the other hand, press the button to open the bail and stop the spool from moving by holding it with your thumb.
- Hold the reel about chest high with the tip of the rod pointing down at roughly a 45 degree angle.
- Let go of the lure so that it swings to swing in a pendulum motion.
- As the lure begins picking up momentum, let off the spool with your thumb, and without moving your arm, swiftly lift the tip of the rod with a flicking motion of the wrist. Make sure the fishing line stays taught the whole time.
- Control the momentum of the lure by feathering the spool with your thumb as needed to land the lure gently.
Frequently Asked Questions
How far should I be able to cast with a baitcaster?
If you check forum posts, the consensus on how far the average fisherman casts a baitcaster is around 25-30 yards. With that said, it is possible to cast out to 50 or 60 yards even, but it requires lots of practice, a good rod, reel, line, and adequate lure weight.
You'll also need to have your brakes and spool tension as loose as you can get them without backlashing. Casting accuracy is far more important than distance in most circumstances, so it's best to focus on practicing casting your lure exactly where you want it to go.
Practice casting within distances you know you can reach while focusing on accuracy, let the casting distance come naturally with it. As you gain confidence with your baitcaster you can back off the spool tension and brakes to increase your casting distance.
How far should I be able to pitch with a baitcaster?
Pitching with a baitcaster is a highly valuable skill to learn with a baitcaster. Once you've mastered the basics, pitching 10-15 yards with high accuracy is not uncommon. You lose out on accuracy as the distance increases, but it is possible to pitch over 15 yards. The ability to pitch far is very useful when bank fishing as there are often places you can't cast regularly. Pitching requires lots of practice, so make sure you put in the time and effort to get good at it.
Learning to cast a baitcaster requires some practice to get down. They're often more intimidating than spinning reels for a beginner due to the extra moving parts, but learning to fish with them opens up a ton of fun and exciting ways to catch bass.
Be patient, practice making accurate casts, and you'll learn how to cast, pitch, and flip with a baitcaster just like the pro's in no time!