Basic skills like learning to cast are important steps for novice anglers to master. Photo by Josh Gassmann

When I’m not traveling across the country competing on the Bass Pro Tour, you’ll likely find me spreading my passion for fishing with others on the same Arizona lakes where I fell in love with the sport of bass fishing. Sharing my knowledge of fishing with others has always been important to me, and guiding offers the perfect avenue to do just that. 

Whether you’re a seasoned tournament veteran, or an angler just beginning your journey, we can all learn valuable lessons from other fishermen. And the first fundamental that we all must learn as aspiring anglers – and one that I teach almost daily when I’m guiding – is casting.

Before you stop reading, because you think this sounds too elementary, I promise you that there are a couple of tips below that might help you personally. Or just as importantly, they might help you teach somebody else how to cast.

I suggest starting off with a spinning rod and reel combination. Basic equipment includes a 7-foot rod, a spinning reel and 6- to 10-pound test line for casting 1/16- to 3/4-ounce lures. Utilizing your dominant hand to grip the rod is an essential element of making accurate casts with this combination. 

Not following this rule of thumb is one of the most common mistakes I see novice anglers making when learning to cast a spinning rod, and can lead to errant casts. 

I also suggest utilizing a two-handed grip when learning to cast with a spinning rod, as it promotes longer and more accurate casts. 

Hooking the line with your forefinger and opening the bail while continuing to hold the line is the next step in making a successful cast. Next, pull the rod back so it rotates over your dominant shoulder, sweeping it forward while pointing it straight toward your target. While bringing the rod forward, release the line with your finger, allowing the momentum and weight of your lure to propel the line off of your reel. 

Finally, close the bail of your spinning reel with your hand instead of utilizing the reel handle to close it. This is not only better on your equipment but also helps to prevent line twist that often occurs on spinning reels. 

Learning how to cast – or even more importantly, teaching a novice how to cast – is one of the most basic parts of enjoying a day of fishing. Photo courtesy Josh Bertrand

Patience and Persistence Pays Off

As with any other newly learned skill, practice makes perfect, and casting is no exception to the rule. Even after thousands of days on the water, I still make bad casts every time I go fishing, so don’t get discouraged. 

Start off fishing in open-water areas where you can get comfortable with your equipment, and your casts don’t have to be so precise. Once you’ve mastered your basic cast, you can then start casting toward targets to improve your accuracy. 

Putting too much pressure on yourself – or someone you’re trying to introduce to fishing – is never a good thing, so try to have reasonable expectations when it comes to reaching your goals. Most of all try to have fun and enjoy your time on the water!

The next step in your fishing journey is to become comfortable with a baitcaster, a skill that many, many people struggle with. In my next column, I’ll help novice anglers better understand the art of casting with a baitcaster.