I think a lot of bass fishermen fail to realize the importance of an accurate cast. Simply firing your bait up to the grassline does not constitute an accurate cast. The angler who can find the subtleties in the edge of visible cover and locate a hole the size of a soup can will find fish. But if he can’t make a cast and get a bait to land softly in that hole, he’s going to miss out on a lot of them.
There is an art form to casting that takes time to develop. Sometimes, even hitting the “sweet spot” on a line of vegetation is not good enough. Getting it to the right spot, then having it land softly and fall straight down until it hits the bottom — that’s the cast that could produce your next fish.
I learned this myself many years ago fishing as a non-boater in the bass club that I belonged to. Various anglers that I fished with that first half of the year would take us out to a spot they had located and I would watch these guys pick these areas apart.
One of the first real lessons I got in this was near the end of the year, when I watched a friend throw a crankbait up into the grassy cuts on Lake Kissimmee and bring the bait back without getting it hung up in anything. In the process, he caught four bass in 30 minutes.
He cleverly dissected each cut as they came together in little openings and worked them all methodically, constantly giving himself new angles to throw at. It was actually fun to watch, until I realized he was back-boating me to death and I wasn’t even getting to cast at any good fishable water. Not being much of a crankbait fisherman back then (I’m not even sure I owned any) I was just amazed at how he could work his bait smartly through the grass.
Soft plastic baits become so much better when you can make those accurate casts. I like approaching vegetation from a distance, and making a few long casts into the weeds before I get there has often produced some very positive results.
But accurate casts are very important to getting those bass to strike. I have watched people throw a bait into pads or reeds, simply launching a cast back into the depths of the vegetation and hoping for a bite. While they may get one or two, more often than not they just do a lot of casting.
There is a great difference in casting and throwing: You throw into an area, but you cast to a specific spot. You can throw a bait to the cover and have your line laying over everything because you threw it too far, or it may have come up short and not even be in contact with the cover. The key is to identify that small opening, cast your bait right there and get the bait to fall as vertical as possible. That is the definition of a good cast.
And always try to make your cast so you don’t have line draped over pads or twisted around the reeds and cattails. If you do get a bite, you need to be able to set the hook and know you were able to get it lodged firmly in the mouth of a bass.
You have to remember that the goal is to get the bass out of the cover and into the boat — not always easy if you have thrown your bait 15 feet deep into the weeds. Keep that in mind at all times.
I find the trick is to make a cast more parallel to the water, rather than making a throw that sails over the top of everything. If you really pay attention to what is in front of you, more often than not you can get your bait to that same spot.
If you’re not putting the bait where you want to, it’s time to put in some casting practice. Put a paper plate out on the lawn and try to land a bait on it from 30 feet away. If you can’t do that, you need more practice. If you can do it consistently, try casting to a coffee cup.
The cast you make will ultimately allow you to either catch fish or not. Putting your bait in that sweet spot should be your goal on every cast. It’s a crucial skill that will separate the top-tier anglers from the also-rans. Which group do you want to be in?
Greg Bartz is a tournament bass fisherman based in Lakeland. Greg fishes lakes throughout Florida’s Heartland and enjoys RV travel around the Southeast with his wife and tournament partner, Missy. Contact him at Greg.Bartz@SummitHoldings.com.