For my first blog, let’s talk about the easiest way to start catching more fish — casting accuracy. Fish often hang out in very specific areas, close to rocks, docks, stumps, weeds or breaks in the current. The more often you put your lure in places where fish are likely to live, the better your odds of catching them.
Practicing is very simple, and you can even make a game of it. Either buy a casting practice plug at a sporting goods store or have an adult cut the hooks off an old lure. A lure that weighs about 3⁄8 oz is a good size. I use the lids from old plastic food containers or paper plates as my targets, but just about anything will do, like dandelions or footprints in the snow (I did a lot of this as a kid in the winter when the lakes were frozen). If you’ll be fishing from shore, stand on the ground and cast. If you’ll be fishing mostly from a boat, stand on a step about one foot off the ground to replicate being a bit above the water.
Set out several targets, close, far and in-between. Once you can consistently hit the close target, start working out to the farther targets. To make it more of a challenge and more like real fishing, mix up your casts with one short, then a long one, then a medium one. To make it more fun, you can have a contest with friends or family members to see who can hit the target most often. Trust me, hitting the targets will be tough the first couple of times you try, but you’ll be amazed how much better you get in just a few days.
Here’s one tip to help you hit the key spot: If you cast straight overhand, a messed-up cast will end up either too long or too short. On the other hand, if you cast more sidearm, a bad cast will end up either to the right or to the left. If you cast directly overhead, you can always cast past your target, then steer it with your rod and reel to the target and still get the lure where you want it. If your cast is short of, or left or right of, the target, there is no way to get it to the key spot once it lands.
After making millions of casts in a lifetime, fishing pros like me get pretty precise with our casts. While working on an article and videos for Boys’ Life last fall, the film crew set up some casting challenges for me, and we had a lot of fun with it. Check it out: