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There's More than One Way to Cast with the Open-Face Spinning Reel

      by Stan Fagerstrom


Lot of fishermen who use open-faced spinning reels fail to realize there is more than one way to cast with them.

Observe carefully the next 10 anglers you see using a spinning outfit. I'd bet a generous chunk of next month's paycheck I could tell you exactly how they cast with it. They will open their bail and drape the line across their right forefinger. When they are ready to cast they simply straighten out the forefinger and the lure sails away.

There's nothing wrong with that method of casting. It's the one most manuals advocate. But it's not the only procedure useable with an open-face spinning reel. 

Some readers will recognize the name Steve Rajeff. This confident casting expert has won more casting championships at the national and international level than anybody. Steve, now a key executive with G. Loomis Rods, is best known for his skills with a fly rod. He's just as good with a spinning outfit or bait casting gear.

If you ever have opportunity to watch Steve handle his open-face reel, observe carefully what he does with it. You'll see him drop his right forefinger, after he's opened the bail, to trap the line against the side of the reel's spool. He gets better control that way than he does casting in what's considered conventional fashion.


Here's the method I recommend for getting pinpoint accuracy with the open faced spinning reel. My left forefinger traps the line against the lip of the spool. When I want the lure to fly I out I simply release the line with the left forefinger. All the time the lure is in the air the line is flowing off of the spool under my left forefinger. The result is line control similar to that a caster experiences with his thumb on a level wind revolving spool reel.

"I get a degree of accuracy using my open face reel this way that's very close to what I enjoy with a level wind reel," Rajeff says. "It's the procedure I always use when I'm involved in casting competition."

The key to any kind of casting is being able to stay in touch with your line while the lure is in flight. You've got to be able to slow the flight of the lure, but you can't do it in such a fashion the lure stops with a jerk. 

If you've ever watched one of my casting demonstrations you know I utilize yet a third technique with spinning gear. I learned early on I couldn't get the kind of pinpoint accuracy required for demonstration work with a spinning outfit trying to feather my line with my right forefinger. I got reasonably good accuracy, but not consistently enough to feel comfortable when I had 500 people jammed around my casting area waiting to see if I could practice what I was preaching.

The procedure I worked out brings both hands into the act. I open the bail and trap the line against the lip of the front of the spool with my left forefinger. When I release pressure on the line with the left forefinger away goes the lure. All the time the lure is in the air the line is flowing off the spool immediately under my left forefinger. I find it a whole lot easier to feather the line with my left forefinger.

Here's a view of the positioning of the left forefinger as seen from the left side of the reel.

When I use the above procedure, I'm still casting with my right hand. All that left hand does is sort of steady things and provide that left forefinger out front to feather the line. Anyone who would like to study the technique might be interested in my newest hour-long video on casting. It details how the left forefinger is used. The charge for the video is $19.95. It can be ordered from Stan Fagerstrom, 928 Island Drive South, Florence, OR 97439. Enclose $3 for postage & handling.

We all know it's our thumb that controls things as line comes off the spool of a level wind reel. It's this constant thumb control that let's us achieve pinpoint accuracy with a bait casting outfit. The effect I get using the open-face spinning reel in the fashion I've outlined is much the same. The left forefinger does the same job on the line that my thumb does with my level winders.

Depending on how the spinning reel is constructed, it's sometimes difficult to slip your left forefinger under the bail wire to trap the line against the spool. This is particularly true of older reels. For years I got around that problem by simply removing the bail wire. I left the line roller in place, but removed the bail wire completely. I used my right forefinger to get the line back on the spool when I began the retrieve. With a bit of practice it wasn't all that difficult.

Since I switched to Shimano reels, removal of the bail wire is no longer necessary. You can use my left forefinger technique with these excellent reels without messing with the bail wire. One of the Shimano reels I use for casting demonstrations and lots of my fishing is the Symetre. I've been using the Model SY-1000FH. This dandy little reel is a pleasure to use in the fashion I've detailed.

It really doesn't matter how I cast or how Steve Rajeff casts. The only thing that does matter is how much accuracy, enjoyment and satisfaction you are deriving from the method you're using for your own fishing. Nowhere is it written-in-stone that you have to cast as I do or that you have to follow the instructions printed in someone's manual.

Chances are the guy---or gal---who wrote that manual for your spinning reel hasn't spent half the time fishing you have. But I say again what I said in the beginning: How are you going to know if what you're doing really provides the most accuracy and enjoyment unless you give the other methods a try?

It's fun to practice with your spinning reels. It doesn't cost a dime and there are no rules involved. Controlling a spinning reel line with my left forefinger works for me. I've proven that in casting demonstrations around a sizeable chunk of the world over the past half-century. With a little practice the chances are great you can do the same.

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