Each morning when I greet my clients, I introduce myself and then help them get on board my boat. Once I get them situated and comfortable, I then like to get to know a little bit about each one of them. The most important thing that I need to find out about them is their skill level — in other words, do they know how to fish? One of the things I have noticed over the years is that most men who aren’t experienced anglers won’t give up that fact. Women and kids are almost always open about their ability or inability to cast a line, but for some reason men seem to prefer to hide the fact that they’re not Bill Dance or Jose Wejebe (may he rest in peace).
When I have a backcountry trip booked with new clients (experienced or not), I almost always make my first stop a trout and ladyfish spot over an open grassflat. I love to start these trips out using soft plastics attached to quarter-ounce jigheads. A D.O.A. shad attached to a jighead is one of the easiest and most effective lures on earth, in my opinion.
This lure also very quickly gives me a view of each person’s ability to cast a line. If their lure lands 5 feet from the boat — or in the boat — then I know some teaching will be in store for that person. If they cast their lure and retrieve it like a pro, well then, it’s off to the backcountry we go.
My reasoning for this tactic is simple: I don’t want to get people on a school of redfish and then learn they have no idea how to cast as the school bolts away. I also don’t want to be pulling hooks out of the mangroves all day. I don’t mind people squirrel fishing on occasion, but it doesn’t take many hooked trees to make a client upset. I love teaching people how to fish, and teaching them to cast with better accuracy will make their trip with me more enjoyable. It will also make them better anglers in the long run.
The first thing you have to do is pick an area you want your cast to land. This can be somewhere in your front yard or out on the water. Square up your shoulders in the direction you want to cast. Keeping your elbows close to your ribs, bring your rod tip back over your head to about the 10 o’clock position. Make a fast, smooth forward progression and let go of your line (not the rod!) at about the 2 o’clock position. Your wrist flick at the end of the cast is where your distance will come from, and always remember to follow through with your cast.
The overhand cast is easy to learn and fun to practice. It’s probably the most used cast in the wonderful world of fishing, and you can get more distance with this cast than any other. Distance and accuracy are very important when you’re trying not to spook that school of reds in Bull Bay.
This is a great technique for getting your bait under a dock or to a fish sitting under a tree or overhang. The trick here is to hold your rod at your waistline with the bait about 6 to 8 inches from your rod tip. Your rod tip should be down, and when you cast you should only be using your wrist. The cast will kind of be in a half moon shape if done right, and you should release your cast at the end of the moon. Raising your rod tip as you cast will give you more control of the cast and some added distance if you need it. As with the overhand cast, follow through or you’ll come up short.
This is a great technique for open water trout and mackerel fishing when you have three or four people on board. You give up some distance in the cast as opposed to the overhand cast, but fewer people get hooks in their noses or ears. The trick here is to hold your rod at waist level. Rotate from left to right (or right to left, depending on where your friends are standing) with a quick forward motion and let go of your line about three-fourths of the way through your cast. You should be using mostly your wrist. Follow through with your cast as always and use the rod movement for control.
There are a few more casting techniques out there, like flipping and pitching, but in order to get good at them you have to be good at the above techniques. Practice the three casts I described above. They are the ones most useful in our area. And when you’re ready to learn flipping and pitching, give me a call — I’d love to help you out.
Capt. Mike Myers, owner and operator of Reelshark Charters, is a full-time Charlotte Harbor guide. Having fished the waters all along the Southwest Florida coast for more than 40 years, he has the experience to put anglers on the fish they want. His specialties are sharks, tarpon and the nearshore Gulf waters. For more info, visit ReelShark.com or call Capt. Mike at 941-416-8047.