One of the biggest mistakes I see bass anglers new to bass fishing make is in their casting. It may seem obvious to many of us; however, I see seasoned anglers do it too. Casting is an art form; there are many different ways to cast depending on how far away or what kind of angle you need to give your bait in order to hit your target. From a side arm cast, to a two handed heave, to a simple pitch, the goal behind casting is putting a bait on target; or is it? “On target” is the question here.
What is the target? I’ve taken anglers fishing and told them that we will be catching bass on tree stumps in two to five feet of water with Zara spooks. Pretty simple, right? When we get to the first spot, my partner makes his first cast, and it’s a beautifully placed cast laying that 5/8 ounce Zara spook right next to the stump that was barely scratching the surface of the lake. A few twitches later, nothing. He’ll burn it back in because he’s already eyed another likely spot and with a quick cast he lands that Zara spook right against the side of another stump. So perfectly that I have to congratulate him on his efforts. Again, a few twitches later nothing.
My turn, I whip my spook out and it lands about ten feet past the stump. My partner chuckles, “looks like you need a little practice”. I simply smile and start my walk the dog efforts back towards the stump. Just about the time I nose the Zara Spook up against the stump a three pound bass inhales it.
Many anglers believe that a perfectly placed cast is right on top of, or next to the intended target. When in actuality this is probably the least effective cast to make, particularly with heavy baits like a full sized Zara Spook. However, this concept goes much further than heavy top water baits.
Spinnerbaits are another great example and probably one of the most abused. In order for a spinnerbait to be effective, the blades need to be spinning, to create the flash and vibration that will trigger a strike. If you are targeting bass that are using cover for concealment, casting at that cover crashes your bait in their house and then its strike attracting qualities don’t come into effect until you pull the bait away from your target. Casting past the target, far enough to get the blades spinning and the bait traveling at the proper depth before it travels past your target will not only prevent spooking the bass, but will give you the best opportunity to show the bass all the spinnerbait has to offer.
Crankbaits are another fine reason you should cast past your targets. Getting the bait down to the depth the bass are holding, before you get to your target, will produce more strikes. Otherwise, you are just casting a top water lure to the targets, because the bait won’t reach the depth the fish are holding until your bait is halfway back to the boat.
Even with pitching soft plastics or jigs to cover, it’s a good idea to pitch past the target and then pull your bait to the target. This will prevent spooking the fish when the bait lands in the water. I’ve been on patterns where it was imperative to have a vertical fall of your jig right next to the base of standing timber. Even in these situations it’s best to pitch past your target, and as soon as the bait hits the water pull it along or just under the surface back to your target and then let it fall. This does two things for you; one there is no splash against the target and two when your bait gets to the target you simply lower your rod tip, and there is slack line to let it fall vertically. Depending on depth you may not need to strip line to let it fall straight down. This is my favorite way to pitch to standing timber; I pitch past the target, still trying to make a quiet entry, and when the bait hits the water I put my thumb on the spool and lift my rod tip to pull the bait to the timber. Once my bait hits the side of the tree, I lower my rod tip and let it fall on semi slack line so that I can watch for the tell tale tick that is a bass inhaling the bait on the fall.
No matter what the pattern is, from deep cranking, to pitching to brush piles, you will give yourself more opportunities in the form of strikes to put bass in the boat if you teach yourself to cast past your targets. Even when fishing a lily pad field with a Spro frog, there are place in that pad field that look fishier than others. Always cast past likely ambush points and bring your frog to them.
To take this simple, but often over looked concept one step further, when fishing areas with a lot of cover, line up several things that should hold a bass, and cast across all of them. Why not put your bait in three strike zones in one cast versus just one?
By casting past your targets, you will not spook the bass using the cover as your target, and you will give your bait the best chance to entice that bass into striking. Simple, but often over looked.
Learn More about Mike Cork