Bryon Thompson

Indiana-based Total Outdoorsman Challenger Dennis Billingsley likes to hit the local bass ponds at this time of year. His preferred rod is a fairly typical bass setup: a heavyweight Fenwick matched to an Abu Garcia baitcasting reel. But he uses an unorthodox cast. A right-hander, he casts across his body, sidearm-style. “It gives me more control,” he says. “A regular cast is too powerful for the soft presentations I want with my Carolina-rigged plastic worm.”

Learning the sidearm cast adds a useful skill to your casting toolbox. Moving the rod parallel to the water’s surface helps the line and lure clear obstacles like overhanging tree limbs and bankside brush. This is key when the fish hang tight to the bank. If you can’t cast this way, you’ll pass up truly productive water. It’s also useful when the wind kicks up.

Sidearm (top): It’s not hard to master. Consider it the overhand cast shifted 45 degrees to the side. The tough part is getting the timing down, but some practice in the backyard can take care of that. “You may find your line-release timing is a bit off at first, but stick with it,” Billingsley says.

Cross-body (bottom): “The cross-body presentation is essentially a lob. You’ll lose speed as well as some accuracy. This is not for when you need to throw a lot of line, but with a slower delivery you’ll get a much softer presentation. And the bass, at least the ones where I fish, really seem to prefer that.”

About the Outdoorsman
Diesel mechanic Dennis Billingsley likes to describe himself as “a regular Joe,” a hunter and angler who enjoys and appreciates wildlife and the wild places where it’s found.