Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Reel and the Rod Tip



Captain Mary A. Fink

There are many successful fishing techniques that can be utilized depending on your fishing location and targeted species. Some of the more common techniques used include fly fishing, trolling, bottom fishing, kite fishing and cast and retrieve. In the local back country areas of the Ten Thousand Islands and Everglades National Park, I have experimented with numerous techniques, but have found one, in particular, to be most effective which I will share with you in this article.

I prefer to fish with light to ultra-light spinning tackle, a light- to medium-weight rod between 4-6 feet, 10-20-pound, yellow, Power Pro braided line and a 20-pound fluorocarbon leader. I most often fish with a chartreuse jig head weighted between 1/8 oz and 3/4 oz depending on water depths, wind strength and tidal exchange range. My preferred baits include live shrimp, baitfish and soft plastics. The line strength I use is based mostly on the structure surrounding the area I choose to fish. Very large fish can be taken with very light tackle — if fishing technique is top notch and generally free of structure. However, when fishing around mangrove edges and areas of dense hard cover and structure, it’s wise to choose a heavier, abrasion-resistant line to avoid the line being severed during the fight.

Once tackle has been selected, fishing location and technique becomes the next consideration. I seek areas that are alive with “active” water where water is moving into and around mangrove edges trapping baitfish and bringing in forage for many species. Once I select my target, I take my cast. This is where the reel and the rod tip work together to make an attractive presentation. Once the cast is executed, I anticipate when the bait is going to hit the water’s surface. At this moment, I “reel down” which closes the bail so that I am in direct contact with my chosen bait presentation. Many anglers make the mistake of keeping the bail open at this time, which often results in getting snagged on the bottom or in a tree. Moreover, many fish are lost due to a lack of feel created by the open spool.

Once the “reel down” is performed and the bail is closed, the rod tip becomes the key ingredient to desirable bait presentation. Keeping the rod tip up, I use small but quick jigs using only the wrist to create action. While jigging, small amounts of slack are present in the line, which can be eliminated by reeling in the slack. So the rod tip creates the action, while the reel is used to eliminate slack. As simple as this may sound, it is not! If the jigging action is too big, too much slack can create lack of feel and sensitivity to strikes. If the rod tip isn’t used to create action, a strike may not be provoked. Using the reel and the rod tip simultaneously is what works best when fishing inshore around structure. Simple casting and retrieving isn’t enough. Give it a try today and enjoy catching rather than just fishing!


Captain Mary specializes in fishing the beautiful Ten Thousand Islands. She holds a “six pack” captains license and has a knack for finding fish. A passionate angler possessing over 35 years of extensive experience in both backcountry and offshore fishing, Mary offers fishing expeditions through her Island Girls Charters company. When fishing with Captain Mary, you will be exposed to a variety of successful techniques including cast and retrieve, drift fishing, bottom fishing and sight fishing. Visit to learn about fishing with Capt. Mary, or reach her at 239-571-2947.

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