Let’s Look Back: There Is More Than One Way – Part 2

Nothing beats the open faced spinning reel for a host of bass fishing problems.  It’s still tops for lightweight work.  And now there are super strong but small diameter braided lines that work just fine on an open face reel.  This lets you handle things even if the cover is a bit heavy.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Nothing beats the open faced spinning reel for a host of bass fishing problems. It’s still tops for lightweight work. And now there are super strong but small diameter braided lines that work just fine on an open face reel. This lets you handle things even if the cover is a bit heavy. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

The open face spinning reel is a wonderful fishing tool.  As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t anything else available that will let you handle really light lines and lures as efficiently.

In my previous column I detailed how the great majority of users of the open face get the job done.  They do it by draping the line across their right forefinger; then they straighten that finger at the instant they want their lure to fly off to its intended target.

Being able to place your lure exactly where you know it should be is usually far more important in most kinds of fishing that simply being able to cast a long distance.  The key to doing this in 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 the thousands of casting demonstrations I’ve done around the world you know I utilize yet a third technique with my open face spinning reels.  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 suppose I got what most would consider accuracy casting in the conventional fashion for a right hander, but it wasn’t consistently enough for me to feel comfortable when I had 500 to a 1,000 people jammed around my casting area waiting to see if I could practice what I was preaching.

This picture shows how I trap the spinning line against the front of the reels spool with my left forefinger.  I release the line when I want the lure to head for its target.  The line flows over my left forefinger while in flight.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

This picture shows how I trap the spinning line against the front of the reels spool with my left forefinger. I release the line when I want the lure to head for its target. The line flows over my left forefinger while in flight. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I set out to do something about that.  It wasn’t easy in the beginning but once I worked out the procedures involved through a good bit of practice everything turned out just fine.  The technique is one I used in all of my demonstrations as well as every darn bit of my fishing.

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 over my left forefinger.  I find it a whole lot easier to feather the line with my left forefinger.

When I use the above procedure, I’m still casting with my right hand.  All that left hand’s foefinger does is sort of steady things and provide that left forefinger out front to feather the line.  All I need to do in order to drop the lure right where I want it is slightly raise that left forefinger.

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.

Here's a picture from the opposite side again showing the line trapped against the front of my reel's spool with my left forefinger prior to casting.  Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

Here’s a picture from the opposite side again showing the line trapped against the front of my reel’s spool with my left forefinger prior to casting. Photo Stan Fagerstrom.

I eventually switched to Shimano reels because removal of the bail wire was 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 used a great deal for casting demonstrations was the Symetre.  This dandy little reel was a pleasure to use in the fashion I’ve detailed.

It really doesn’t matter how I cast or how anyone 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.  As I’ve detailed, 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 more than the past half-century.

With a little practice the chances are great you can do the same.

  • William Sonnett

    As always Stan —Very informative