Quit scaring so many fish: Use these simple casting tricks.

Teensy splash of a bait, just a little too close, preceded this explosion as a bonefish evacuates the scene. Photo credit: Stephen Clark

Nothing turns off a fish more in skinny water than the KERPLUNK of a lure or bait on its noggin. Whether you are stalking red drum, bonefish, snook, seatrout, permit or tarpon, soft splashdowns are a must.

“You can make your lure or bait land more delicately.”

By somewhat changing the way you cast, you can make your lure or bait land more delicately. Two tricks: one,“feathering” the landing, and two, casting sidearm to change your bait’s trajectory. These finesse moves are easiest with spinning tackle, especially when presenting jigs, small plastics, live shrimp or crabs.


For the sake of distance or sight-fishing accuracy on the flats, I encourage casting basically overhead, or “three-quarters” overhead with both hands—one hand at the reel seat and the other on the rod butt. If you do this already, and are not too adept at more extreme sidearm deliveries, then here’s what you can do: During the delivery, just as your bait or lure has reached its apex and is on its way down to the surface, feather the line with the fingertips of your rod butt hand. By doing this, you will slow the lure down a bit to soften the splashdown. This also helps with accuracy—it prevents putting the lure or bait too far beyond the spot where you want the bait to land.


If you are seeing fish at the last minute due to light levels, a chopped surface, or dirty water, you definitely want the sidearm cast in your bag of tricks. Using the sidearm cast, fish very close to you will not as easily see your casting motion. I prefer to cast one-handed when sidearm casting at close range. It takes a bit of practice to build accuracy into this cast. If you’re familiar with skip-casting, that deadly delivery of a lure under a dock or low-hanging branches, then you will pick up on sidearm casting on the flats quickly. In fact, you must cast sidearm to skip-cast efficiently. This technique has its limitations for distance but most flats casts are less than 60 feet anyway, and with light enough line, you will make that distance and more quite easily with even a lightweight lure or natural bait. A light, snappy rodtip will help your efforts.

What the sidearm cast does is change the angle of the entry of the bait. It does take a good snap of the wrist to provide the lure speed to keep it airborne so close to the surface as it travels to the landing spot. Done correctly, the bait or lure slows down much closer to the surface than it would if you had cast conventionally, and enters the water very softly. FS

Florida Sportsman Magazine October 2018

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