If you had to pick one all-purpose rod to cover most freshwater fishing needs, your best bet would be a combo unit—a spinning rod and reel combo. A rod that’s 6’–6’6″ in length will work with all different kinds of lures and bait. Plus, a spinning reel is easy to cast and handle: you can usually master the basics after just a few tries.
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How to Cast with a Spinning Rod
- Let out about one foot of line from the end of your rod, with the lure tied securely in place.
- If you’re casting with your right hand, place your hand on the grip handle and grip it so that the seat of the reel—the place where you attach the reel to the rod—sits between your middle and ring fingers.
- Place your right index finger on the fishing line and open the bail with your left hand. Point the rod tip at the target toward which you’re casting.
- In one swift motion, bring the rod back over your right shoulder. On the back cast, the lure should load the rod so that it resembles a bow that’s fully drawn.
- Bring the rod forward and release the fishing line from under your right index finger. The lure will propel the line toward the target where you point your rod tip. When the lure lands, start reeling with your left hand. The bail will close automatically.
Bait Casting Rods
Advanced anglers prefer bait casting rods because, by applying thumb pressure to the reel, they can cast more accurately and add more touch when fighting a fish. The drawback of the bait caster is that it has a steeper learning curve and is more prone to bird’s nests—impossible tangles that occur when the line backs up on itself on the reel. Here are the basics of bait casting.
- Hold the rod at the grip with your right hand, just underneath the reel seat. Place your thumb on the button that engages the reel, press down, and then slide your thumb forward so that it touches the line on the spool. Apply enough pressure to keep the spool from spinning.
- Keep your thumb pressed tightly on the spool as you move the rod over your right shoulder on the back cast.
- Keep pressure on the reel with your thumb as you start the forward cast.
- Aim the tip of the rod at your target and lift your thumb slightly to allow line to flow off the reel through the guides and out the rod tip. If you remove your thumb completely, the spool will turn too quickly, causing the uncoiling line to back up before it can flow through the reel. This causes dreaded bird’s nests, which can be virtually impossible to undo.
- When your lure hits the water, turn the crank handle with your left hand to engage the spool, and then start reeling.
Spin Casting Rods
Spin casting rods, also known as pushbutton rods, are the best options for kids and true beginners. The reel is easy to use because it applies the pressure to the spool so that you don’t have to. Hold down the pushbutton on the back cast, release it on the forward cast, and you’re ready to fish.