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Brad Laabs: Learn to use your reels, cast correctly

Casting is a very important skill to learn if you are going to be able to consider yourself a good angler. Casting is an important skill that is a significant part of many fishing presentations. Casting jigs, crank baits, bobbers, top water lures, buzz baits, spoons, and lures of all types with accuracy can make the difference of a day of fishing vs. a day of catching.

Many factors play a part in casting distance and accuracy. One factor is having the right reel for the right job and using it properly.

Level wind or bait casting reels are the favorite for anglers that use high vibration lures, spinner type lures, or heavy baits. The level wind reels will not suffer as much line twist as an open face spinning reel or a closed face reel. They can be set to be very smooth with the release, and with the line coming strait of the reel will fly through the guides with les resistance. The older models frustrated anglers with bird nesting backlashes. It was important to learn how to “thumb down” gently on the line on the spool to control the line flow. The new models available in the level wind reel selections are way more user friendly than the old bait casters. They have magnetic drags that can be adjusted to the weight of the lure you are casting to maximize distance.

To set the proper tension, put the lure you are casting on your line and adjust the spool tension until the lure falls slowly. Now you are ready to cast. It is important to re-adjust if you change lures. Level wind models are also now made with a “line counter” feature that lets you know how much line has come off the reel. These are excellent for trolling applications. Lure diving depths can be controlled with a combination of lure diving depth and length of line. You are also able to reproduce success with combinations of boat speed, lure type, length of line behind the boat.

Light tackle and lighter lines can be easily handled by open face spinning reels. They are smooth operating and easy to use. They are also easily adjusted if handles need to be switched from one side to the other for user comfort. Spools and different line can be changed quickly and easily. Easily adjusted drags and the ability to also back reel give anglers a lot of versatility with type of reel. Spinning reels matched with spinning rods help maximize the efficiency of the rod, as guide placement on the rods is set with the spline of the rod. Spinning reels are usually considered to be used for finesse fishing. More and more professional bass anglers are adding the spinning reel use to their repertoire when fishing lighter jigs or drop shot type presentations.

The biggest mistake in casting with the open face spinning reels is the users attempt to get distance by throwing hard. Pace and release are more important for distance and accuracy. Use one hand and a finger on the line released at the right time makes it all work. Trying to use one hand on the rod and one on the line and casting is a bad habit. Practice for a short time the correct way and you will never regret it.

The closed face reel has long been a big seller. The affordability has contributed to the popularity. Most anglers over the age of 40 were raised on these reels. These reels have made it hard for some to try anything else. Casting was made easier with the push button release. There are many limitations with these reels, but most that still use them overlook the deficiencies in favor of ease of use. For these reels to work well for you, line must be fresh, and the use of extra limp line will help considerably. Drags tend to be sticky and need to be oiled and broken free by hand before using.

The types of line and line diameter become important to match with the type of reel you are using and the type of fishing you are doing. It is also good to learn different ways of casting. If you side arm all the time but are in the middle of the boat between two other anglers, you will struggle. Learn to cast from both sides, overhead, and underhanded (comes in very handy if pitching to tree cover along shorelines). Get out and practice, practice, practice. If you can’t get out in the boat, practice from shore. If you can’t get to the lake, tie a weight on and practice in the yard. Improving your casting will improve your fishing experiences.

(Laabs runs Brad Laabs’ Guide Service in Detroit Lakes.)