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How to Cast a Fishing Rod Like a Pro

How to Cast a Fishing Rod Like a Pro
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So you’ve just purchased your fishing rod and reel, and you don’t know how to use it yet. You’re worried you might flop if you don’t get some practice. This is very possible. So, before you head over to the river or sea to start fishing, it is important to learn how to cast a fishing rod.

There are four types of fishing rod and reels each for spinning, bait casting, fly casting, and spin casting. Even though they all operate under the basic principles, each type of rods and reels has a unique mechanism. The mechanism for each piece of equipment also plays a great role in their casting techniques. For instance, you can’t use a spinning rod and reel for fly casting. This is because the weight of the fishing line would not be able to do the job.

So, before you get out there to start fishing, get acquainted with the equipment, and learn how to cast them properly. What’s more? Ensure that you carry out your practice on a field, or somewhere that the ground wouldn’t break your line.

Let’s get into the rest of the article to learn how to cast a fishing rod with each of the different kinds of fishing rods and fishing reels.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

How to Cast a Spinning Rod

To cast a spinning rod:

1. Position yourself.

The first step to ever getting it right is standing in the right position. Before you start fishing, you have to know what part of the water you’re most likely to get fish from. Your hips and shoulders should be facing that direction. To increase stability, bend your knees slightly. In all, be sure that you’re comfortable. You’re most likely not catching anything or even casting properly if your stance makes you uncomfortable.

While you’re going through the process, Ensure your body doesn’t turn suddenly. Stay the course until you’re done. This might need a lot of practice, but you’ll get it right eventually.

2. Hold your spinning rod with your leading hand.

Spinning reels are designed to be cast with one hand, while reeling is done with the other hand. Your dominant or leading hand should be used to grab the handle of the spinning rod. To hold the rod the right way, grip the reel seat firmly. Make sure your index and middle finger are above the projection while your ring and little finger are beneath it. Because most people are right-handed, most spinning rods are designed for them. But left-handed people can just change the orientation of the rod until it feels right and comfortable.

3. Reel in the line.

The lure should be hanging at the right height, i.e. 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm). You shouldn’t have an excess line in the stack, and also, your lure shouldn’t be as close as 6 inches (15cm) to you. The lure is meant to provide a little weight. Letting it go lower will help with that.

Also, you have to position your hand properly while using reeling the line. The rod should be held at waist level and in the same method as described above.

4. Pull the line up against the rod.

Keep rotating the bail until the fishing line is very close to the rod, i.e. they become aligned. Since the fishing line also becomes close to your casting hand, it is easier to grab it with your finger.

So, use your index finger to pick up the line closest to it and pull it up directly. The slack created will allow you to cast your rod well. Don’t pull your finger from the line until the cast is done.

Check out this Spinning Rod/Reel Combo with Carrier Bag on Amazon

5. Open the spinning reel bail.

The reel bail is a part of your equipment that sits behind the spool where your fishing line is wound. It gathers the line and returns it when you start reeling. You have to open the cylindrical piece with your free hand. If your right hand is your dominant hand, then use your left hand to open the bail. If the left is dominant, use your right hand to open it.

Once you open the bail, you’ll realize that you can now freely cast your lure. Make your dominant hand still grips the handle of the rod properly when you’re flipping the bail open.

6. Pull the rod back over the shoulder.

A spinning rod should not just move straight up and down. Instead, it should follow a more horizontal trajectory. As your dominant hand is grabbing the handle, your other hand should hold the line in place above the handle. Then move both hands in unison over your shoulder. When the tip of the rod reaches about 30 degrees above the ground, stop moving.

7. Whip the rod back in front of you.

After moving the rod over your shoulder, snap the rod back in front of your chest with both hands. Immediately the rod passes your face, release your grip on the line. Due to the whipping action you carried out which flexes the rod tip, the fishing line would be sent flying into the river. You may not be accurate on the first trial, but you will get better. To improve your accuracy, you can keep your index finger pointed at the spot where you want to catch the fish.

Make sure you do not release the line too early or too late. If you release it too early, your lure will shoot up instead of out into the river. If you release it too late, it will shoot straight down into the river.

During saltwater fishing, many anglers use long fishing rods. If you’re using one of these, make sure your leading hand is as stable as possible when you hold the rod during casting. Your dominant hand serves as a fulcrum around which the rest of the rod will pivot.

Check out this video for a visual guide on how to cast a spinning rod/reel

How To Cast a Baitcasting Rod

To cast with a baitcasting rod:

1. Ensure you are facing the area where you want to cast your rod.

Just like with the spinning rod, you have to position yourself properly, so you can catch something. Square your shoulders, and place your feet side to side. Make sure that every part of your body is facing where you want your bait or lure to land.

Some people prefer to stagger their stance so that their dominant foot is behind. You can do this, but you have to ensure that the stance doesn’t throw you off alignment. So, it is still preferable to stand straight for a start.

2. Adjust the bait casting reel’s drag and tension.

The first thing you have to do before taking your baitcasting reel out is to ensure that the drag and tension settings are comfortable for you. To adjust the settings, locate the magnetic wheels on the backside of the baitcasting rod, and turn it until you feel it is comfortable for you. How do you know when you get the right feel?

As a beginner (if you haven’t cast with a baitcasting rod before), you may not know what is right. So, set the resistance wheel to 9. This high level of resistance will keep your first few attempts safe and controlled. Baitcasting reels use a centrifugal braking system and tension knob. So, when the line is cast, it creates drag.

After your first attempts at casting with a baitcasting rod, you can then reduce the resistance settings. Reducing it allows you to cast into a greater distance effortlessly.

You have to be very careful when changing the settings on your baitcasting rod. The design is complex. It will go out of balance if you do something wrong. So, it is advisable to call a professional to help you adjust the settings

3. Reel your lure in.

Turn the baitcasting reel crank clockwise until your lure is 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38cm) from the rod tip. To ensure maximum leverage and momentum when you cast the rod, you should ensure that your lure is about 1 foot away from the end of the rod.

4. Position the reel mechanisms facing upward.

Turn your fishing rod so that the spool and reel crank is facing up. This way, you’ll be able to see them and your wrist will be able to snap on the cast properly.

Check out this Baitcasting Fishing Rod and Reel Kit on Amazon

5. Grip the rod firmly.

To get a good grip on the rod, place your thumb at a slight angle on the outer edge of the spool and not on the fishing line as you would do with the other types of rod. Keeping it on the spool gives you more control over the flow of the line and also prevents accidental obstruction of the spool during the cast.

Many anglers prefer to cast and reel baitcasting rods with the same hand. If you want to do this, you have to switch your grip after you cast.

6. Press the spool release button on the reel.

When you hit the spool release button after positioning your hand well, you disengage the spool and allow it to turn freely. Also, this allows you to carry out longer casts into the river. Immediately you hit the button, you have to place your thumb over the spool wheel to prevent the spool from unwinding. Many baitcasting reels have a bar or narrow button behind the reel where you can quickly place your thumb.

If you use an older baitcasting rod, you may not find the spool release button on the reel. Instead, it will be located on the outer spool-side edge of the rod.

7. Raise your casting arm towards your shoulder.

Raise the tip of the rod off until you have it pointing behind you at a slight angle, not straight. Then, flex your bent elbow out beside your face. This is not a compulsory position. The most important thing when casting with a baitcasting rod is that you’re very comfortable with the position. Your elbow doesn’t need to be held out at a precise angle.

To know if you’re holding the rod too low, check if it dips down to waist level or below. If it does, raise it slightly.

8. Swing the rod forward.

In a quick motion, swing your rod forward while removing your thumb from the spool wheel. This whip-like motion causes your lure or bait to go charging in whatever direction you’re facing. Because your finger is no longer on the spool wheel, your line will unwind freely. The cast will be complete when the rod is pointing in front of you.

Make sure your arm remains relaxed during the casting process. With a baitcasting rod, you don’t need to apply force to carry out an excellent cast. You need to be calm, and precise, and let the bait do the work for you.

9. Slowly return your thumb to the reel spool.

Before your bait reaches the water, place your thumb lightly on the spool. This allows the line to slowly come to a stop. If you don’t press it firmly, the process happens smoothly. Make sure the line has stopped moving before it touches the water. If you don’t stop the line before it gets into the water, you may end up with a bird’s nest. This means your line will tangle and you have to straighten it out before you can get your lure back.

Check out this video for a basic guide on how to cast a baitcaster:

Check out these other articles and guides:

How to Cast a Spin Casting Rod

To cast with a spincasting rod:

1. Position yourself.

Always make sure you’re facing the right direction before you start casting your fishing rod. To give yourself a more stable base when you’re facing the area of the water where you want to fish, bend your knees a little lower your center of gravity. Make sure your shoulders are squared and your feet are placed side by side. If you feel more comfortable with an angled stance, you can place your non-dominant leg in front while the other stays behind.

2. Reel in the fishing line.

To get you’re the lure hanging lower, turn the reel crank clockwise. The lure should be hanging about 1 foot from the end of your fishing rod. This way, your line would be able to travel far over the water.

3. Hold the rod handle.

To grip the handle of your rod, locate the reel button. Your thumb should go directly below this button while the rest of your fingers are wrapped around the rod to ensure that your grip is tight and the rod won’t be flying off your hands when you try to cast. Most spin-casting rods also have a small seat on the underside where your fingers will seat for more stability.

You can hold the rod with any hand you want, but most anglers prefer to cast their spin-casting rod with their dominant hand.

4. Disengage the spool line.

To disengage the spool line, you have to press and hold the button at the back of the reel with your thumb. You should hold the button firmly. When you want to cast, the line will shoot across the water. If you press the button and the line drips more than 2 to 3 inches, it means you haven’t pressed the button firmly. The line isn’t supposed to drop so low. So, reel your line in and start the process again.

5. Position your hands to cast.

With the fishing rod in your hand, raise your arm until upwards vertically until it is in front of your face. Let your arm movement come from your elbow and not your shoulder. The rod should either be pointing vertically or slightly pointing behind you when you raise your arm.

Make sure the handle of the rod always stays above your waist when holding the rod. Also, don’t raise your hand too high. It could result in a minor strain in your shoulder, accidentally hooking an object around you, or even attaching itself to your clothes.

Check out this Spincast Fishing Reel on Amazon

6. Cast your rod.

To cast your rod, quickly reverse the motion of the rod. The rod was slightly facing backward before. Make a quick sweep so that the rod is in front of your face. Your rod tip should be brought to around a 30-degree angle (10 o’clock position).

To carry out an excellent cast, you shouldn’t focus on being forceful when casting. Instead, try to put in less effort so you can maintain distance and accuracy.

7. Take your thumb off the reel button to release the line.

To propel your bait forward, release your hand from the reel button. This should be done when the rod comes to eye level. If you do it too early, your bait or lure could just fly upwards in a loose arc and flop back in front of you or into the river. If you do it too slowly, your bait will land in the water in front of you.

After you press the reel button, your line would continue to unspool fast until you press the button again.

It may be a bit difficult at first to get the exact moment to release your thumb. But after a few trials, you should get the hang of it.

8. Press the reel button.

You should press the button a second time to slow your lure or bait to a stop. You shouldn’t push your thumb on the button suddenly. Do it slowly, so that your bait will gradually come to a stop when it reaches the place you want it to land.

Alternatively, you can use the locking mechanism by turning the reel crack clockwise until it clicks. Either way, your lure sits where you want it to, and all you have to do is wait for a fish to bite.

Watch this video to learn how to cast a spincast reel:

How to Cast a Flycasting Rod

To cast with a flycasting rod:

1. Position yourself properly.

Go to the part of the water where you’ll be casting your rod and position your body to face where you want your lure to land. Make sure you pick a comfortable spot where your footing is secure. Square your shoulders and sink your weight into the ground before you cast. During fly fishing, you may have to get into the water, so make sure you’re well-grounded and maintain a stable stance. You don’t want to slip and fall in the water.

2. Hold your rod properly.

Grab the rod with your dominant hand and ensure it is parallel to the ground or slightly facing upward. The fishing rod should also be at waist level, and your thumb should rest along the top of the rod handle.

Fly-fishing requires great skill. So, you should use whatever hand you’re more comfortable with. Also, make sure your arm is relaxed below the elbow before you cast.

3. Quickly draw the tip of the rod backward.

Raise your hand so that tip of the rod is lifted 6 to 8 inches. Then, keep the rod as horizontal as possible. With a quick motion of your forearm, sweep the rod back so that the line flips behind you in a tight arc. The whiplash the fishing line makes is what gives it the momentum to propel the lure. When casting during fly fishing, you would majorly be using your wrist or forearm. So, during the backstroke, keep your arm fixed in place.

Check out this Complete Fly Fishing Rod and Reel Combo on Amazon

4. Let the line straighten out.

After the whiplash you generated, you have to pause for the line to complete its arc in the air and straighten out behind you. Make sure the line isn’t positioned close to the body so it doesn’t catch your clothes or any surrounding objects.

As a beginner, it is advisable to look over your shoulder, so you can watch as the line straightens out. After a few trials, you should be able to know when the fishing line has straightened completely.

Although you’re waiting for it to straighten out, don’t exaggerate it. You shouldn’t wait for the line to straighten completely before you carry out the next step.

5. Flick the rod.

As the line is almost fully straightened, the rod will be ready to move in the opposite direction. So, quickly snap your wrist so that the lure and the line holding it flies in front of you and towards the water or whatever area you’re targeting.

The maximum power is gotten when you time the movement of your forearm, making sure the reverse movement is carried out immediately the rod straightens out after the backward movement. To avoid overshooting your target, pull the rod backward gently once it reaches the 10 o’clock position in front of you.

6. Lower the rod tip into the water.

This should be done after you’ve completed your stroke. As the rod comes down after the flick, lower the rod tip so that the line touches the surface of the water and your lure can fall in. Ensure that you’re holding the rod properly.

7. Repeat the backstroke.

The interesting thing about fly fishing is that you can always aim for a greater distance. So, if your line and lure do not reach the part of the area you were aiming for, you can re-cast. Don’t lower the rod tip yet. Once you notice that the line isn’t on the spot, sweep the rod back and forth again with smooth strokes. You can keep doing this until the line gets to the point you want. Afterward, you can lower the rod tip into the water and wait for the fish to bite.

Learn more about how to cast a fly casting rod in the video below.


Casting your fishing rod may seem like a difficult procedure on the first trial. But when you continue working on it, you will get better and aim easier and faster. Before you cast a fishing rod on the water, you should try to do it on dry land. If there’s enough space in your home, you can try it there. This way you can practice your aim and become better skilled before setting out. When training at home, replace the bait or lure with a rubber practice plug so you don’t damage the bait.

When you finally go fishing and start casting on water, you may need the spin-casting rod and reel for lighter fishing lines and lures and the baitcasting rod and reel for heavier lures. It would be comfortable handling them that way until you become better skilled at casting and fishing.

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