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October 31, 2012

Casting Techniques and Tactics

Tune up your casting technique to maximize opportunity when it comes along.

Side-Arm Tactics

Side-arm inshore casting is the trick for pitching a lure underneath docks, mangrove overhangs, around bridge pilings, and parallel to bridge pilings or seawalls when you’re underneath a bridge with limited space overhead. Side-casting provides the low trajectory needed to get a lure up underneath hanging structure, right into a fish’s den, where they await a free meal.

Not unlike swinging a baseball bat, hold the rod off to your side at a 90-degree angle to the water, open the bail, bring the rod back a couple of feet, and then cast. The objective is to keep the lure and line as close to, and ­parallel with, the water as possible. Sometimes squatting down to make a successful cast is required. Again, put power behind the cast to compensate for wind. Before approaching the target, make a few warm-up casts to acquire the feel necessary to make a perfect cast. You’ll want to be dead-on with your initial cast, as that might be your only shot.

Soak-a-Dope

One trick for getting up under thick overhangs, those too challenging for even side-arm casts — such as when you are baiting snook, redfish, sea trout and even winter gag grouper — is to utilize the tide and wind. For example, when the situation presents itself, I’ll make a side-arm cast up-current of the overhang, and immediately dip my rod tip into the water, sometimes to the third rod guide. Submerging the fishing line helps prevent snagging protruding structure. I’ll let the tide carry the bait or lure underneath the overhang, and right into the strike zone. And when setting the hook and fighting a fish out of the mess, keep the rod tip down until the fish gets into open water.

Pendulum Away

When pitching baits in between tight pilings and groins, especially those underneath bridges, overhead casts are nearly impossible, and side-arm casts lack accuracy. A pendulum cast can get a bait well into the zone and on a straight trajectory. This one might take a bit of practice to master, but it’ll certainly pay off.

Face your target, and point the rod down and just off to your side. Open the bail and strip off a few feet of line. Hold the line coming off the reel with one hand (at least a couple of feet away from the reel), while with your other hand you apply pressure on the spool with a finger or two. Swing the rod from low to high, back and forth, causing the lure to swing like a pendulum, while holding the line taut. Once you have the momentum, make the cast by raising your rod and simultaneously snapping back the line you’ve been holding. This will launch the lure toward the target, provided you immediately release your grip on the line and reel spool.