How to Use a Baitcaster: Baitcasting Reel 101
A baitcaster reel can take your fishing game to the next level. This style of reel allows you to use heavier lines and a variety of baits that are not as effective on a spinning reel. Learning how to cast a baitcaster doesn’t have to be difficult. The fear of a backlash should not deter you from taking advantage of the many benefits from a baitcaster. Let’s walk you through the steps on how to use a baitcaster reel to optimize your bass fishing.
How to Spool a Baitcaster
The first step in fishing with a baitcasting combo is to properly spool line on. Learning how to spool a baitcaster will make your overall fishing experience better. Once you have chosen the correct fishing line for your rod and application, you can begin spooling. When using monofilament or fluorocarbon, the line can be tied directly to the spool. Braided line is a little different, in that it slips on the spool so it requires backing. For an easy hack, throw on a layer of athletic tape around your spool before you string on braid. For a more professional backing, first spool on a few turns of either monofilament or fluorocarbon line and then uni-knot tie it onto your braid. The backing will grip the spool, and the braided line wont slip.
1. Thread the line through all the guides on the rod and through the reels level wind guide.
2. Wrap the line around the spool and tie an Albright knot. Wet the knot & pull on the main line to tighten it down.
3. Trim the tag end as close to the knot as possible.
4. Fasten the spool of line towards the rod tip so line flows off the holding spool in the same direction as it is going onto the reel’s spool.
5. Hold tension on the line between your thumb and finger to maintain even pressure throughout the spooling.
6. Continue to reel line onto the spool until it is roughly 1/8th inch from the top of the spool.
Setting & Adjusting the Reel
Once you get spooled up, the next important step is to set up the reel. Getting it set up before casting will avoid unwanted tangles and backlash. Hold the rod upwards, at a 2 o’clock angle, and leave a foot or so of line hanging down with the lure. Tighten the spool tension knob and push the thumb bar. While holding the spool with your thumb, gradually loosen the spool tension so the lure takes roughly 3-seconds to fall to the ground. Check it a few times to make sure the lure falls consistently at a 3 second rate. If it speeds up and backlashes on the fall, then tighten the spool tension. Repeat these steps every time you tie on a new lure. If not, a back lash is likely to occur.
Brake System Adjustments
The brake system determines how quickly your spool stops spitting out line after the lure is cast. 9/Max is the highest break pressure, while 1/Min is the lowest. This means that 9 is the slowest and 1 is the fastest. While you are adjusting the tension of the spool to determine a steady fall, the magnetic brake should be turned down to 1/Min. Once the spool tension is set, turn the brake back up as high as it goes (9/Max). Make several casts initially to get a feel for the lure and where the brake should be set to. A magnetic setting of 5-7 is an average range for new anglers. Loosening the spool tension and lowering the breaks will allow you to cast farther and faster. As you get comfortable with the casting distance, you can turn the breaks down or loosen the spool tension. However, lowering these will increase the risk of backlash. While learning how to use a baitcaster, find the happy medium and work on your casting motion.
Drag System Adjustment
The drag system manages how much tension is applied to your line while fighting your fish. This is the gear spoke next to your handle that looks like a pin wheel. Push the drag wheel forward to tighten and backwards to loosen. Cranking the drag tight will prevent line from giving while the fish fights. Winding the drag loose will disperse line to the fish if it runs with your lure. You always want to allow some drag. This keeps your line taut as you fight a fish so it doesn’t go slack or snap under too much pressure. Keep the drag on the looser end while catching small fish and tighten it up when catching larger fish.
How to Cast a Baitcaster
Now that you have set up your baitcasting reel, it’s time to learn how to cast a baitcaster. Skipping the previous steps will result in unsatisfactory results while casting. If you have your gear properly set up, casting will be a simple matter of practice. Follow these casting steps and you will learn how to cast a baitcaster in no time.
Reel in the line until it is about 12-inches from the end of the rod.
Grip the reel so that your thumb is on the button and spool, and your fingers wrap around the bottom grip.
Hold the rod so the spool is facing up, and press the spool button while the tip of your thumb is against the line.
Bend your elbow back and up over your shoulder in preparation to make the cast.
Sweep the rod tip forward to 5 o’clock while holding the spool with your thumb.
As the rod sweeps forward release your thumb slightly while feathering the line against your thumb’s skin.
Right before the lure hits the water, press your thumb back on the spool to stop the flow of line.
Crank your handle forward to lock in the spool and reel in your bait.
Tips on How to Use a Baitcaster
Learning how to use a baitcaster can bring you a rewarding experience. A baitcasting combo gives you the ability to make longer casts, use heavier lures, and spool stronger lines. A properly lined and tuned reel coupled with good casting practice brings on positive fishing results. However, as you learn this skill, backlashes will occur. A backlash is when the reel spools out line faster than the lure can travel. This occurs due to a combination of improper set up and poor casting. The following video and below tips will help prevent baitcasting issues and give you a leg up.
1. Match the line and lure weight to the rod action. Using a light weight lure on a heavy rod with heavy line doesn’t make sense, and it won’t help your ability to cast. A good base for a casting set up is 12 Lb. monofilament or fluorocarbon line. You can cast the majority of bass lures on this size line.
2. Perfect your casting motion. Practice makes perfect. Try different angles of casting and try casting at different targets. Learning how to cast with a shorter motion will allow for tighter casts while fishing in confined spaces.
3. Don’t try to overcast. Casting far is not about the speed in which you force the rod forward, it is about fluid motion. If you use proper technique and a fluid casting motion, the rod will naturally load up and send the bait across the water. Adjust your spool to the proper settings and with practice, your casting distance will increase.