How to Cast a Spinning Reel: A Beginner’s Guide

Now that you have your new rod and reel assembled and you are ready to take it to the water, understanding the proper form of how to cast a spinning reel is the next step. Failing to perform this properly can result in damaged equipment, tangled line, and lots of frustrations.

How to Cast a Spinning Reel Guide:

Missed steps can result in your line entangling itself in the trees above, or dropping the bait at the toes of your shoes. Follow this step by step how to cast a spinning reel – How-To Guide and you will be ready to get your line in the water.

Proper Grasp

When grasping a spinning reel, you want the rod held in your dominant hand, about waist high, with the reel underneath the rod. The fingers of your dominant hand should run adjacent to the reel foot, or the bracing attaching the reel to the rod.

Line Preparation

In anticipation of the cast, confirm that the bait or lure is near the tip of your rod, having approximately 6 to 18 inches of line hanging below the tip. If you need additional line or less, follow the directions here:

More Line: Manually open the bail (instructions below) and release desired amount of additional line.

Less Line: Reel in excess line by slowly turning the reel handle until the desired length of line remains.

Adjust the reel so that the line guide roller is directly underneath your index finger by turning the handle. This is mandatory for the next step. See this photograph for details:

how to cast a spinning reel

Line Release

Using your index finger, pinch the line between your finger and the rod. Maintain pressure on the line and rod, as you prepare to manually open the bail.

With your off hand, lightly pull the bail bar up, releasing the line in preparation for casting. Here is a picture from Fishingnoob for an example:


The Cast

The next steps in the process of how to cast your spinning reel all come together in one motion, but will be broken down into two separate movements: the pull back and the frontward cast.

With your line bail open and the line pinched between your finger and the rod, in one smooth motion, lift the rod tip up and bring it over your dominant shoulder, until it is overhead, or slightly behind you. Be cognizant of the hook end of your line to make sure it does not wrap around your rod, catch surrounding shrubbery, or come close to other obstacles or people that may be behind you or to your side.look-before-casting

(Anglers Marine Center)

Once the rod tip is up, allow the rod to flex slightly, or “load,” in preparation to launch forward. As the rod continues to flex backwards away from you, using your wrist and elbow, begin pushing the rod forward, directly at your target. This will cause a slingshot-type effect. This should all occur without any pause in the transition from backward to forward.

The Release


As the rod continues forward and comes to a point equal to your shoulders, release the line with your index finger, allowing the line to flow freely off the reel. With the force of the cast and the weight of the lure, the lure will propel out towards where your rod tip is aimed.

Being successful in this step depends on accurate timing. If you release the line early, before the rod is going forward over your shoulder, your lure will find itself heading skyward, either into any trees above you, or straight up into the sky, instead of out into the water.

Should you hesitate and release the line too late, as the rod is heading downward in your follow through, the lure will be sent straight into the ground in front of you.

The Landing


A successful cast will find your lure propelling through the air towards your intended target area in the water. As your lure lands in the water, depending upon which fishing technique you are using, the next step will be to manually close your line bail at the appropriate time. You can learn more about different Spinning Reel Fishing Techniques here.

Closing your bail will cause no more additional line to be released from the reel This is important to know if the technique you are using requires additional line to be released. Techniques that require the lure to sink to the bottom prior to retrieving the line will require a later closure of the bail.

While the bail can be closed manually by hand, or automatically by simply turning the handle of the reel, it is important to discuss the differences in the two. Manually closing the bail allows you more control over how hard it closes, which gives you greater responsibility on the longevity of your equipment. Automatic closure from cycling the reel produces a violent, uncontrolled snapping response from the bail, overtime exposing your equipment to unintended damage.

It is also suggested that having the bail close automatically as the retrieve is initiated, by using the reel handle, can actually promote twisting of the line and ultimately “nests” of line in a knot, or loops in your line bed on the reel. Ultimately, these twists or loops will result in an untimely, unfortunate mess which will need to be mended before the set is usable again.

Ultimately, it is the decision of the user as to how the line bail is closed, but knowing the arguments supporting the manual closure of the bail will give one the basis for making an educated decision.