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hand hold a baitcasting rod

How To Cast Light Lures With A Baitcaster | The Inside Information

Baitcasters are beloved my many in the fishing community, but many have trouble casting light lures with them.

So, how do you get any distance on those light lure casts and keep from getting a bird’s nest?

Well, it’s obviously a challenge, because the lure is very lightweight. So, challenge, guys, because there’s very light weight. You have to really get the spool on your baitcaster turning in order to get momentum so that you can get distance on your cast.

So, I’m going to show you a few tips that are really going to help you cast little bitty light lures with a baitcaster!

First things first… the proper fishing rod

Before we get into the actual reel itself, one of the most important aspects of casting lighter lures with a baitcaster is to make sure you have the proper rod.

For a longer cast with lighter lures, you ideally want a 7’4″ rod with a very fast tilt.

joshua taylor holding a st croix baitcaster fishing rod
To cast lighter lures with a baitcaster, you should aim to have a 7’4″ rod with a fast tilt. This is the St. Croix Legend Xtreme, which is only a 7-foot rod, but it has a very, very fast tilt. I can still cast a light lures a good distance by making a few small adjustments. I’m also using the Concept TX reel, from 13 Fishing. It’s one of the smoothest baitcaster reels I’ve used.

Reel adjustments for casting light lures with a baitcaster

Once you have an appropriate rod for baitcasting smaller lures, you’ll need to make some adjustments to your reel.

Adjust the magnetic brake

One thing that you have to do is adjust your magnetic break control. Now, this is going to be different for each reel, so you really need to get to know your baitcaster reel very well.

Now, ideally, you’re going to want to reduce the amount of breaking when you’re casting light lures. There will be a sweet spot and you’re going to have to play with the reel breaking to find where that is. I typically turn the breaking down to the 2 setting (on a reel with a 0-6 range). I find that setting works best for me. But you are going to want to adjust that to see where that sweet spot is for you.

making magnetic brake adjustment on baitcaster reel
On the Concept TX reel from 13 Fishing, the side panel has a small wing that you press and it will open up so you can adjust the magnetic brake.




Adjust knob tension

Now, the other thing you need to adjust on your baitcaster reel is the tension knob. (If you want to learn more about how to tune your Baitcaster, I go into complete detail).

Adjust the tension knob on your reel so that when you press the button to release the line, the lure will be able to hit the ground and not cause a massive bird’s nest.

adjusting tension knob on baitcaster
You need to adjust the tension knob so that your lighter lure can fall to the ground freely without causing a large bird’s nest in your line.
man holding baitcaster after adjusting tension knob
The key to adjusting your tension knob is to be sure you are not getting a bird’s nest when the lure hits the ground.

Proper light lure casting techniques

Once you have everything dialed in on your reel, you need to be sure you have the proper mechanics and technique to be able to maximize the distance on your light lure casts.



Longer leader length

One of the important factors when you’re trying to do a light cast or cast lighter lures is line leader length. You want to make sure that when you cast, your leader is actually hanging down a little longer than normal.

Typically, 8 to 10-inches from lure to the rod tip works well with a baitcaster. However, when casting a really light lure, you can let out 2 to 2-1/2 feet of line, so that you can get more momentum on your cast, resulting in a great cast distance.

I can absolutely guarantee you that longer linger leader length will work and help give you that leverage you’ll need to cast farther.

Try a wider spool

In addition to longer leader length, you should try to find a reel that has a larger spool. There a many on the market, and I have found that larger spools will allow you to increase your distance because the spool has to turn fewer revolutions to disperse the line.

So, if you have a smaller, skinnier spool, you’re not going to get as far of a cast as you would with spool that has a larger diameter.



Casting mechanics

When you’re casting lighter lures with your baitcaster, you’re going to make sure that you’re not over powering the throw or you’re going to have overruns resulting in a bird’s nest.

You have to use not only your wrist and your arms, but you want use the full momentum of all of your body. This includes your legs, back and torso.

man casting light lure with baitcaster
When casting the baitcaster, use both your wrist and your arms.
man casting bait caster and following through
I’m using not only wrist and my arms but also my legs, back, and torso. If you use your entire body, in sync, you can cast very light lures. Then, you can adjust to drop-shots and other weighted baits. The key is not to overpower it, but to finesse cast using your entire body.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial on how to cast light lures on a Baitcaster.

Remember, it’s not very complicated. It just really boils down to making sure that you’re practicing and that you understand the mechanics of your reel and your rod.

Fine tuning your baitcaster is one of the most important things in getting the the range out of your light lure casts.

joshua taylor of salty scales
Joshua Taylor

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ice fishing 101 header image

Ice fishing 101 | A beginner’s guide to ice fishing

So, you’d love to ice fish, but aren’t quite sure how to do it?

Well, I’m going to cover the basics of ice fishing – an Ice Fishing 101 – so you can get out, safely fish, and share moments on the ice with your family and friends.

  1. Locate an ice fishing spot
  2. Be sure ice is safe
  3. Ice fishing clothing
  4. Ice fishing gear
  5. Drill hole in ice
  6. Bait the jig
  7. Jig the lure

Step 1: Locate your ice fishing spot

man at ice fishing spot
Once you locate a good ice fishing spot, it’s best to fish 50 to 100 yards from shore.

Now, the first step to getting on ice fishing is to find a good place to ice fish. Once you do that, you’re going to want to start to fish in the first 50 to 100 yards from shore.

You’re going to typically target 10 to 15 feet in depth and that will allow you to catch panfish, crappie, bluegill as well as pike and hopefully largemouth bass as well.

If you are ice fishing for the first time in a particular location and don’t know exactly where to fish, a good move is to get started right next to some other shelters. There are great communities out on the ice and everyone is fighting the cold and usually love fishing next to each other.

Step 2: Check for safe ice conditions

man making sure ice is safe for ice fishing
Always be sure the ice you are planning to fish is safe before drilling and ice fishing.

You should always be sure that the ice conditions are safe before attempting to fish a certain location. I highly recommend that you call or stop into your local bait and tackle store and make sure that the lake you picked out has safe ice conditions.

You can typically see where other people are safely fishing as well as sticking to the foot paths that they’ve already created, so you know it’s generally safe ice.

I highly recommend drilling holes (we’ll get to that further down) every 10 to 20 yards to double check the ice thickness.

I don’t recommend going out on any water that has under 5 inches of ice. If you have 5 inches, you’re going to be good, but you want to keep checking to make sure that there’s no variation in thickness.

If you do get to an unsafe spot, get off that lake. Five inches is the minimum.




Step 3: Wear appropriate clothing

man wearing ice fishing clothing
Be sure to layer up in the appropriate clothing: coat, mittens, hat, snow pants and snow boots.

Before you go ice fishing, be sure to gear up with warm winter clothing. It’s a good idea to dress in multiple layers as well as a coat, mittens, hat, snow pants and snow boots.



Safety gear is an essential part of your clothing

Safety spikes and ice cleats and floating bibs are very important components of proper ice fishing clothing.

The cleats help you walk on the ice without slipping and the safety spikes allow you to pull yourself up out of the water in the event that you fall in.

The floating bib has material in it that will allow you to bob back to the surface if you were to fall through the ice.

Now, if you don’t have higher end ice fishing bibs that can float, I highly recommend taking some sort of floatation device with you, most notably, an inflatable life preserver that’s easy to carry and lightweight.

man holding ice fishing safety spikes
Safety spikes are an essential part of your ice fishing safety clothing.
man holding ice cleats
Ice cleats help you walk on the ice without slipping and falling.


Step 4: Ice Fishing Gear Inventory

Once you get your winter clothing taken care of, you need to get your ice gear taken care of.

ice fishing gear and tackle

There are a few pieces of gear that are rudimentary and essential to getting out on the ice to fish.

Sled: First, because you will likely need to drag your ice fishing gear and equipment with you for long distances, you will need a sled.

ice fishing sled
You’ll need an ice fishing sled to hold all your tackle and gear.

Auger: Secondly, you will need an auger. An auger is a drill that will cut through the ice. It goes from 6 inches to 10 inches, and some even go up to 12. If you’re just getting started, I highly recommend just having a 6-inch hand auger.

ice fishing auger
You’ll need an auger to drill a hole in the ice.

Bucket: Another important thing to have is a bucket. This bucket is going to carry all of your tackle, your bait, all in one thing. And it also serves as a stool so you have a place to sit when you’re out on the ice.

ice fishing bucket
Your bucket holds your tackle and also gives you a place to sit.

Scooper: Next, you need a scooper. This is going to allow you to hold the ice out of your hole, clean it up and fish that hole consistently without having the ice interrupt your fishing or the fish coming through the hole.

ice fishing scooper
You’ll need a scooper to clean the ice out of the hole you drilled.

Ice Fishing Rod: When you’re ice fishing over a hole that’s right in front of you, you don’t want a long freshwater fishing rod, because it will put you too far away from the hole. You won’t be able to fish with it inside of a shelter. Plus, they have very low sensitivity. I recommend a 28″ ice fishing rod.

man holding bent ice fishing rod catching fish
The size of the ice fishing rod is important. It needs to be small. 28″ is recommended.

Jigs: Next, you need some jigs. The Tailored Tackle Multispecies Ice Combo allows you to jig or deadstick for a multitude of species. It includes micro jigs, tungsten jigs and others that you’re typically going to be using.

tailored tackle jigs
You’ll need jigs to put your bait on for ice fishing.

Bait: Lastly, you’re going to need some bait. Spikes are maggots that are used in ice fishing. You tip two to three of them on your jig and you jig them up and down to catch all sorts of species; primarily panfish, like perch and crappie.

spike maggots for ice fishing
Spike are a great bait for ice fishing that can attract a variety of species to bite.


Step 5: Drill A hole in the ice

Once you arrive at your ice fishing spot, you’ll need to drill a hole in the ice. You will need to take the safety device on top of the bottom of the auger and remove it. Drill down into the ice by moving it clockwise.

man holding ice fishing auger
Make a hole in the ice with your auger by moving it clockwise. Once you have drilled your hole, pump the auger up and down three to four times to remove all of the big bunch of slush out of the hole.

Once you have drilled your hole, remove the excess slush with your boots.

man removing slush from ice fishing hole
Once you have drilled a hole in the ice, kick the sides of the slush off the side. Be sure to cover up the auger blade with the safety guard so that while it’s standing there, nobody trips and falls on it.

Scoop the hole

After drilling the hole, you’ll need to scoop it, using your scooper. Dip the scooper slowly into the hole and pause.

man scooping ice slush out of ice fishing hole
When scooping the hole, wait for all of the ice and slowly lift it up. Don’t do it quickly, or you’ll just push the ice around. Do that until the hole is nice and clean.



Step 6: Bait the jig

Once you have drilled the hole and scooped out all the ice, it’s time to bait the jigs.

a hand holding jig head for ice fishing
A jig head, like these from Tailored Tackle, are great for baiting your hook with spike maggots.
baiting a jig head with spike maggots
Spike maggots are great for ice fishing and can attract a bite from many species of fish.

Once you have baited your jig, lower the lure down into the hole. Open the bale on the reel and let the line out. Fishing one to two feet off the bottom is very effective.

man letting out line ice fishing
Set your drag loosely and pull out your line until your lure is on the bottom. This helps get any kinks out of the line. Then crank the reel a few times so that your lure is one to two feet off the bottom.

Step 7: Jig the lure

man jigging ice fishing lure

The next step after lowering you lure and getting it off the bottom is to jig.

Lift your rod tim up and back down and then pause 2 to 3 seconds. That’s just a basic jig. Lift up. Drop it down. Pause 2 to 3 seconds.

You can even last a couple of seconds longer, maybe 5, 6 seconds for the pause. The bites are going to happen on the pause. So, the jigging is calling in fish and the pause is letting them come up and take a bite.

Another jigging cadence you can try is to softly jiggle it in place or work it upwards in little blips upwards just like that. So mix your jigging cadences. Try different techniques, big swoops, lift-ups, jiggling in place, or just the regular jig. Pause.

man holding bream caught while ice fishing
Wait until you feel that tap, tap, tap. Then, set the hook lightly, by lifting the rod tip up 3 to 4 inches and then reel the fish in.

Now, when a fish comes through and is interested in the bait, you’ll feel a tap, tap, tap.

It will be easier to handle the fish by taking off your mittens and using your bare hands.

When releasing the fish, kneel down and drop it into the hole. Sometimes a bigger fish will need a tail wag in the water and it will be on its way for someone else to catch!

Good luck ice fishing!

Ed Hitchcock of Tailored Tackle
Ed Hitchcock of Tailored Tackle.

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ice fishing family in tent

Let’s Go! Best Ice Fishing Locations For Your Family

Nothing builds family relationships quite like drilling holes and catching fish together on the freezing ice!

Wait, what?

Yes! Ice fishing is a fun, relaxed activity to do alone, but it’s really great when the whole family can take part. 

It can be nearly impossible to find good ice fishing spots in some parts of the country, considering the sub-tropical climate. But, if you’re willing to take a bit of a fishing road trip with the family, here are some of the best ice fishing locations for your family that are worth the trip. 

Pactola Reservoir, Deadwood, South Dakota 

Fishing at Pactola Reservoir is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and not just because you may catch a trophy fish!  

Beneath the water, at a depth of 150 feet, lie the remains of an old mining town. This old town has now become home to a variety of fish species, including Northern Pike, Largemouth Bass, Yellow Perch and Trout. 

mother and son hold yellow perch while ice fishing

Don’t let the cold keep you from experiencing the thrill of ice fishing. There are several great ice fishing locations in the U.S. you can travel to for ice fishing adventure!

When ice fishing here, challenge your family members to see who can catch the largest fish for the day. If you’re lucky, you may catch the Lake Trout that sets a new state record! 



Lake Erie, Ohio 

Ice fishing on one of the Great Lakes should be on every angler’s bucket list. Lake Erie is a great place to take the family ice fishing. 

You can hire a licensed ice guide, who’ll take you to the best ice fishing spots, where your chance of catching Large Walleye and Perch are good. They’ll also be able to advise you on the fishing regulations in the area, which are very strict. 

The guide will also know the migration patterns of the fish, and will have all the necessary equipment to make your family’s ice fishing trip enjoyable and memorable. 



Silver Lake, California 

Tucked away in the Golden State, sitting snug at the foot of Carson Peak, is an angler’s paradise. Silver Lake provides fishing year-round, but ice fishing here is a unique experience. 

Every member of your family will be able to ice fish for Lake Trout, Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, Brown Trout or Cutthroat Trout. With such a large variety of trout, it could be a close contest to see who catches the biggest fish of the day. 




Deep Creek Lake, Maryland 

Deep Creek Lake has a winter activity for every member of the family, from cross-country skiing and sledding to ice skating. One of the more popular activities is ice fishing, as the lake contains a variety of fish. 

northern pike caught ice fishing

Northern Pike are just one of the many species of fish you can catch while ice fishing on Deep Creek Lake in Maryland.

The family will be able to pick and choose which fish they want to catch, as there are plenty of Walleye, Northern Pike, Trout, Bass, Yellow Perch, Bluegill, Sunfish, Pickerel and Crappie.

Here you can challenge your family to see who catches the most fish on the day. 

If you’re looking for a slight advantage over the rest of your loved ones, then fish where the water is the warmest and keep your fishing line close to the bottom of the lake. This is where you’ll find the fish! 



Lake Winnebago, Wisconsin 

For an experience that every member of your family will remember, head to Lake Winnebago. While you can fish for Perch, Crappie, Northern Pike, Walleye, Bass, Bluegill and Muskies, it’s the huge Sturgeon that are the main attraction. 

You can expect to catch Sturgeon up to 80 inches long, and weighing up to 140 pounds! Finding the Sturgeon may be the easiest part of the day, but getting them to bite is a whole different story. 

If you want a great story to tell, then make sure that you use a braided line with a weight capacity of up to 100 pounds. Sturgeon put up a fight that can last for an hour, and the last thing you want is for your line to break



kids ice fishing with dad holding fish

Ice fishing trips with family can make for some unforgettable moments!



Chambers Lake, Colorado 

If your kids are old enough to handle some winter hiking, then fishing at Chambers Lake will be a great outdoor family experience. Start your hike at Inlet Bay, as this will lead you to one of the best trout fishing spots on the lake. 

Anglers can catch large Lake and Rainbow Trout between 14 and 20 inches in length. You may even find a Kokanee Salmon on the end of your line, especially if you’re fishing with jigs. 

There are also tent camping sites on Lake Chambers.

One of the best things about planning an ice fishing trip to Chambers Lake is that it will often stay frozen until late March. 





Devil’s Lake, North Dakota

Have you or your loved ones ever caught more than one trophy fish in a day? If not, then add Devil’s Lake to your ice fishing bucket list. 

You’ll find that Devil’s Lake is home to a variety of fish, including Black Crappie, Northern Pike, Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass, Bluegill and Brown Trout. 

black crappie and bluegill ice fishing

Black crappie and bluegill can both be caught on Devil’s Lake, during the ice-over from December to March.



Every member of your family will stand a good chance of catching a trophy Northern Pike, Walleye or a Perch, all on the same day! The lake is frozen from December until March, and depending on your travel plans, you can choose to get either a 3-day or 10-day fishing license

Just make sure that each member of your family has their fishing license on them at all times, in case they need to show it to the authorities. 



Conclusion 

If you’ve fished as a family before, you’ll know how the activity can make for a great day out, and some close family bonding

If  you love the bonding experience of fishing together, ice fishing as a family should be on your joint bucket list. 

Even if there aren’t any ice fishing spots near your location, you can make a trip of it. Why not take a weekend, go on a trip to a new place, and see which family member can catch the most fish, while sipping hot chocolate on the ice? 

Hopefully, you have learned about some of the best ice fishing locations.

If you want to get away from the cold entirely, you can always take a family trip to a warm weather destination, but we recommend giving ice fishing a try at least once. You may just fall in love with it! And if you go, we hope you put a hook N1!

Kenneth Reaves, of the Perfect Captain.

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