How to cast a Bail less spinning reel in the surf

You know, those of us that been fishing for awhile are sometimes little ignorant of the issues that those new to the sport might have. After all, some things like rigging eels, making leaders, tying hooks, that kind of stuff, we can do with our eyes closed.

Tie a knot or change a plug in the darkest of the night without a light? No problem.

But those new to the sport must be looking at us and saying, damn, I need to learn THAT. And yet, we think nothing of it.

I watched guys who started yesterday struggle with using a manual pick up on their reels (or bailles reels). I watch them use both hands to get a line on a roller, I watched them turn reel upside down, I’ve seen them struggle. And in the dark, I’ve seen some new casters totally fall apart because of their inability to put the line on the roller before that bucktail is buried into the rocks at Montauk.

When I was guiding for one season this was a common theme. I should have offered a casting lessons instead of fishing because some poor folks spent more time being stuck in the rocks than fishing. And yet they keep saying “I can do this, I am good”

You are not good. And admitting you have a problem is the first step in SJ Twelve Step Program in becoming a sharpie

It’s easy. I mean it, no joke, easy as pie BUT ONLY if you are really serious about learning how to do it right. No looking where your plug lands. No worries where the fish are.

Just two things. Cast like you always do and put your rod  between your legs. Place one hand on reel handle. Stick your index finger out. Once the plug lands in water (remember you are not looking at it, you are listening to your line slowly down coming off the reel) you do two things but you do them at once

With one hand turn the handle, with index finger grab the line as the line will slap your finger as its coming off the spool. The line should get on your roller automatically. Obviously you will release the line as soon as you feel the reel pick up

Need a visual ?

It just happens we have it on a new video. We are happy to provide this


11 comments on “How to cast a Bail less spinning reel in the surf

  1. Big Jim

    I am getting my first bail less next month and this is something I was thinking about just watched it a few times I’m all set and ready for some practice Thanks SJ

    1. blackdog

      I’m trying to learn this after converting my 704Z. One issue is that the reel handle turns slowly when moving the rod back prior to the cast. This means the rotor turns and the manual pickup roller can come to rest against the line. You know what this means? It means that you snap a lure off when you cast- the exact thing that we are trying to avoid. Although it’s a pain in the ass, I can check visually every time during the day and try to cast fast enough that the handle does not have a chance to move. but at night it’s totally different. Cannot see where the roller is and lures snap off, guys have said to take stainless steel washers and “shim out” the handle on it’s shaft so that the handle is straight down when the pickup is in the correct positions. But the handle can STILL turn during the cast.

      1. Cliff

        “the rotor turns and the manual pickup roller can come to rest against the line.”
        Have the same problem with my VSX 200….any solution for this?

      2. Tim

        I bought a 706Z from Ebay, and the rotor would turn during the cast, causing the roller to catch the line. I was able to return it. I converted my 704Z to bailless, and actually caught some bass with it, but too often the line would wrap around the bail arm after I picked it up. That is not good when night fishing. I changed it back to a bailed reel. Bail springs are cheap and easy to replace, but I haven’t broken one yet anyway. I have not snapped off a plug yet, either. The bail on a 704Z is pretty well locked down when it is open; impossible to manually close.

  2. rob medina

    Thanks for sharing all the great info you share. I am glad I subscribed to the magazine for even more information. Keep up the great work!

  3. Richard aka Woodwker99

    Thanks Z. It’s about time someone did a non-shop video about this. I have only one googan question. how do you keep from getting the line wrapped around both rollers on the twin roller z reel? I get them both.

  4. tommy d

    The bail spring on my 704 broke 3 times this season . So I’m tired of fixing it and just converted it to a manual reel. Used it for the first time, got into a good bite it worked great. Thank you for the instructional video it really helped.


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