The first step in learning how to fish is learning how to cast. Each of these techniques takes a bit of practice. Practice, whether in your backyard or the neighborhood park, will make casting second nature, if you give it some time. You should learn how to cast with spinning reels if you like to fish with smaller baits or lures. If you prefer to fish with heavier lures, you should learn to cast with baitcaster reels.

How to Cast Spincaster Reels 

A spincaster reel, which is best for teaching children how to cast

Spincaster reels are one of the easier reels to use when learning how to fish, they are especially great for kids. To begin casting, hold the rod about waist level, grasping it so that the reel is above the rod, and so that your thumb falls naturally on the button at the base of the reel. 

The bait or lure should be 8-10 inches below the tip of the rod. To let some of the line out, simply pull it gently with your hand. Push and hold the button with your thumb. 

Pull the rod tip back above your head so the tip sweeps over your dominant shoulder, and then bring it forward swiftly, pointing the rod tip at your target on the water. As the rod comes forward of your shoulder, release the button so that the weight of the lure can pull line from the reel. 

When the lure hits the water, reel once to engage the bail and drag, then you can begin your retrieve or using one of these fishing techniques.

TIP: When teaching children how to cast with spincaster reels, let them practice without a hook on the end of their line, maybe just tie on a bobber. Start them with simply dropping the bobber straight to the ground or water. After this concept is grasped, next have them cast overhead. Once they have mastered the cast, then add a circle hook and bait so they can begin fishing.  

How to Cast Spinning Reels 

The key in how to cast spinning reels is a smooth motion. Each fishing rod flexes differently as you cast. Timing the release of line off the reel with the rebound of the rod will maximize the distance you can cast. 


To begin, hold the rod at about waist level, grasping it so that the reel is below the rod, and the stem of the reel feels natural between your fingers. 

The bait or lure should be hanging 10-18 inches below the end of the rod. Hook the line with your forefinger, and open the bail, continuing to hold the line. 

Pull the rod tip back so the tip sweeps over your dominant shoulder, and then bring it forward swiftly pointing the rod tip at your target. As the rod comes forward of your shoulder release the line with your finger so the weight of the lure pulls line off the reel. Close the bail with your hand, and you’re ready to reel using a retrieve technique (link).

A little practice and you’ll be teaching others how to cast spinning reels next.

How to Cast with Baitcaster Reels 

Many people think learning how to cast a baitcaster is more challenging than learning how to fish with a spinning reel. But the truth is, once you learn the technique, you’ve got much more control over the speed and distance of your casts, thanks to the ability to limit the spin of the spool with your thumb. But this also means you have to stop the motion of the spool BEFORE the lure or bait hits the water.  


To learn how to cast with baitcaster reels, begin by holding the rod about waist level, grasping it so that the reel is above the rod, and your thumb falls naturally on the bottom of the spool. 

The bait or lure should be hanging 8-10 inches below the tip of the rod. Push the button to put the reel in free spool while holding your thumb against the spool to prevent it from unwinding. 

Pull the rod back so the tip sweeps over your dominant shoulder, and then bring it forward swiftly, pointing the rod tip at your target.

As the rod comes forward over your shoulder let your thumb off the spool so the lure can pull line from the reel. With a baitcaster, you have to stop the spool’s motion before or just as the lure hits the water, so let your thumb hover just above the spool. 

Place your thumb back down on the spool as the lure splashes into the water. Miss the timing, and you can get a “birds nest” or backlash where the spool keeps spinning, but the line has no where to go so it bunches up in the reel. A little practice will help keep this from happening. 

Reel once or twice to engage the anti-reverse and you’re ready to fish. Mastering how to cast with baitcaster reels is not difficult, it just takes practice. After your cast you should retrieve your bait or lure with one of these fishing techniques.

TIP: If you do get a “bird’s nest” or a jumble of line in your reel, don’t worry, It happens to most anglers. Simple untangle and try again. Here are 7 Fishing Tips on How to Prevent a Bird’s Nest from the Take Me Fishing blog. 

For step by step instructions about how to fly cast, visit our fly fishing section. For information on ice fishing techniques, visit our ice fishing section.