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The Art of Casting: Spinning and Spin-Casting

Updated on August 29, 2009


Spinning is the art of casting with an open-faced, fixed-spool reel. This reel hangs under the rod grip to balance the tackle for easy casting. Because the line uncoils from the fixed spool, less friction is provided than with revolving-spool reels, thus affording longer casts with lighter lines and lures. Lines are of monofilament, testing generally at between 4 and 10 pounds, although for special purposes they can be lighter or heavier. It is important to fill the spool to the lip only and to keep the line tight on the spool at all times to prevent casting loose coils prematurely and thus causing snarls.

To get set for the cast, the rod should be held in the right hand (unless the reel is made for left-handed use) with (usually) two fingers in front of the reel's leg and two behind it. Thus, when the forefinger is extended, it can be pressed against the lip of the reel spool to stop the line after a cast or to act as an auxiliary brake. Before the cast the lure should be reeled in to about a foot from the rod tip, and the reel's cup turned until the line that passes over the line guide is nearest the grip. The line should be lifted from the line guide with the tip of the forefinger. With the left hand, the bail should be opened by pushing it forward and downward until it clicks open.

To make the side cast, the rod tip must be lowered to the right below a horizontal position. It is then snapped back slightly, and immediately swept upward and forward until it points to a spot about 45° over the target. At this instant, the forefinger also points toward the target. This releases the line and allows the lure to soar toward the target. The forefinger is the key to accurate control of the lure. To stop the lure in flight, the forefinger presses against the lip of the reel spool. To slow down the lure, the forefinger moves toward the spool so the line will slap against it. As the lure strikes the water it can be put under control of the reel by turning the reel handle. This snaps the bail closed and engages the line. The line, when reeled in, spools itself, but the angler should see that it is spooled tightly. By working the rod tip the lure can be given whatever motion is desired. The brake, or drag, should be set lightly to keep the fish from snapping the line. Auxiliary pressure, if desired, is obtained with the forefinger, as previously explained. The anti-reverse mechanism is disengaged for casting but can quickly be engaged when a fish is hooked. This prevents the reel from winding backwards when a fish is taking out line.

A popular line strength is 4-pound test mono-filament, ideal for lures in the 1/2 ounce class. For fishing in brushy places, 6pound test may be safer, although it will not cast the lure as far. For saltwater fishing, this tackle is excellent except for longer casts or bigger fish. A popular saltwater outfit is a rod and reel that can handle 300 yards or so of 10-pound test monofilament with 1 1/2ounce lures. To determine the right lure size for a rod, the tackle should be rigged and that lure weight selected that depresses the rod tip slightly, but not excessively. Lures for spinning tackle consist of plugs, jigs (weighted lures that can be jerked up and down), metal squids, wobbling spoons, spinners, and baits of various kinds of appropriate weight to suit the tackle.


Spin-casting requires a closed-face, fixed-spool reel. As in spinning, the mono-filament line "spins" off a fixed, or nonrevolving spool reel, but instead of coiling out unimpeded from an open spool, it travels over the lip of the spool and down and out through a small hole, or line guide, in the center of the conical hood that covers the reel. This requires heavier lures and stronger lines for long casts than the spinning method, but the line is easier to control because its looseness on the reel does not result in snarls. Thus, the spin-casting method is a compromise between spinning and bait-casting. Spin-casting reels are available in many designs, usually equipped with prespooled mono-filament line. Lines vary in strength from about 6 to 12 pounds. Of the two types of spin-casting reels, one type fits on top of the rod grip and generally is used on plug-casting rods. The other is made to fit under the rod grip, and commonly is used with spinning rods.

In casting with this gear, the lure should be reeled to within a few inches of the rod tip and the thumb lever or release lever (a button on some reels) quickly depressed with the thumb to prevent the line from leaving the spool. With the body sideways to the target, the rod, held in the right hand, should be raised to 45° above horizontal, and lined up with the target and the right eye. Then the rod is raised to the vertical, and the forward part of the cast is immediately started with an accelerating snap. At the instant the rod is back to the 45° angle the thumb lever should be released, thus allowing the line to be cast off the reel. A little practice should shoot the lure in a low trajectory to the target. To stop it over the target, the thumb lever should again be depressed. After casting, the tackle should be transferred to the left hand, and the reel cradled in the palm to make reeling easy. Regaining line is merely a matter of reeling, while jerking the rod to give desired action to the lure. Various types of casts may be made, as with other tackle. The brake should be adjusted to suit line strength and fishing conditions. The position of the brake varies in different reels, so it is essential to consult the instructions that come with them.

The choice of lures varies in different areas and under different conditions.


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