How to Side Arm Cast With a Fishing Rod

by Lynda Wilson
Learning to side arm cast takes patience and practice.

Learning to side arm cast takes patience and practice.

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The two casting techniques most frequently used in freshwater fishing are the overhand and side arm casts. The techniques used for the overhand and side arm cast are similar, with the side arm done off to the side of your body. Since wind has less velocity closer to the water, the side arm cast is most often used when fishing in high winds. It is also useful when aiming for a spot underneath a dock or an overhanging tree branch.


Step 1

Get to know your reel. You will need to know how your reel operates before you attempt your first cast. Closed-face reels usually have a button that releases the fishing line on the spool inside the reel. When the button is pressed, the locking mechanism is released and the line moves freely from the reel. Open-face reels have a bail. The bail is aluminum or stainless steel in a semicircular shape that, when flipped one direction, prevents the line from coming off the spool, and flipped the other direction, allows the line to come off the spool.

Step 2

Find a clear, open area to practice casting and make sure that there is at least 6 inches of line between the tip of the fishing rod and your lure. If you are using a closed-face reel, press and hold the button that releases the line. If you are using an open-face reel, flip the bail to the open position, and trap the line between your finger and reel to keep the line from being released.

Step 3

Face the target where you would like your lure to land, with your feet comfortably apart. Keep your elbows as close to your sides as possible, and grip the handle of the fishing pole like a firm handshake.

Step 4

Swing the rod out to your side, perpendicular to the ground. Use your wrist to point the tip slightly up and back. At this point the fishing rod is in a position similar to that of a baseball bat when swinging at a low pitch.

Step 5

Whip the rod toward your target while making a flicking motion with your wrist and forearm, and release the button or the line on the reel just after the tip of the rod passes your body. Follow through with your arm and stop when the rod is at a 45 degree angle in front of you. You may need to use some of your upper arm to whip the rod forward, but the majority of the effort should be done with your wrist and forearm.

Tips & Warnings

  • For beginners, a closed-face reel is easier to use than is an open-face reel. Practice at home from your porch or deck by casting into the yard and using a sinker at the end of your line to simulate a lure. Casting style is personal, and after practicing the basic casting technique, you will find a stance and arm motion that works best for you. After mastering the basic method, you should be able to do a side arm cast either facing the target or turned at a 90 degree angle to the target.
  • Always look behind you before casting to make sure that your hook will not get caught on a power line, an animal or a person.

About the Author

Lynda Wilson has been sharing her knowledge with web readers for over 10 years. She currently owns and operates online travel websites covering travel to Mexico. Her past experience includes operating a Spanish school in Mexico, as well as directing graduate admissions at a major U.S. university. Lynda holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Minnesota.

Photo Credits

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