Fishing - Knowledge

How to Use a Baitcaster Rod and Reel - Stop the Backlash!

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Baitcasting rods and reels are popular among experienced anglers because of their accuracy and control. On the contrary, amateurs shy away from them owing to their difficult-to-use features, or backlash. However, once you understand how to use a baitcaster and reduce backlash through practice and experience, baitcasting can become your best fishing buddy.

How to use a baitcaster

Backlash occurs when the spool runs over the cast or continues to spin after the lure has met with the resistance. This resistance happens mostly when the lure hits the water or on a windy day when the wind provides the resistance.

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How to Use a Baitcaster – Avoiding Backlashes

Two Critical Adjustments You Must Get Right:

Spool Tension

Spool Tension Knob of a baitcasting reel

The spool tension knob is located on the handle side. It applies friction to the spool and comes to play at the end of the cast. The spool keeps rotating even when the lure has hit the water, so the tension knob brings the spool to a smooth stop.

You can tighten the knob by turning it clockwise and loosen it by rotating it counter-clockwise. The adjustment to the knob mainly depends on the weight of the lure being used.

Every time you tie a new lure, you should adjust the tension. Hold the rod, disengage the reel, loosen the tensioner, and let the lure drop gently so that there is no backlash. If the lure drops too quickly, tighten the knob, and if it does not drop at all, loosen it and try again.


Brakes of a baitcasting reel

The main function of the braking system is to slow down the rotation of the spool when you let the bait fly. The spool tends to accelerate faster than the line can be dispensed, which causes the backlash. There are two types of brakes: magnetic and centrifugal.

Magnetic brakes are located on the side opposite the handle and are adjusted using a dial. You can increase or decrease the braking power using the dial. Centrifugal brakes work like car brakes and are located underneath the side plate. You can adjust them by engaging or disengaging the six pins.

A higher braking power means a shorter casting distance and minimal backlash, whereas less brake means a long casting distance and a high chance of backlash. Experienced anglers use low braking power, but as a beginner, we suggest you start with heavy braking until you gain experience.

Apart from the above two adjustments keep the following points in mind while casting to avoid backlash.

  1. Choose a heavy lure like a large swimbait or a big crankbait. You will be able to take the line out fast enough to keep up with the reel, thus avoiding backlash.
  2. Always cast in the windward direction. While casting against the wind, your bait will slow down as compared to the reel, resulting in backlash.
  3. Beginners are more prone to experience backlash. We recommend you to use a monofilament fishing line over braided and fluorocarbon ones. This will not prevent you from backlash but it will be easy to untangle the line.
  4. A short fishing rod gives you more control, thus enabling you to cast your lure without backlash.

How to cast using a Baitcaster Reel

Now that the adjustments are done, let us discuss the step-by-step process for casting.

Thumbing the spool

  1. The first step is to grip the rod and reel. Wrap your hand around the rod and reel and place your thumb near the spool.
  2. The distance between the rod tip and the bait should be about 8-12 inch.
  3. To begin the cast, press the spool release button and immediately put your thumb on the spool.
  4. For the overhand cast, keep the reel in front of you, and using the elbow, move the rod slightly behind your back. While bringing the rod forward, between your 12 and 1 o’clock position, release the thumb so that the lure can fly.
  5. Keep your rod tip pointed in the direction of the lure. When you see that the bait is about to hit the water, place your thumb back on the spool to stop it from rotating.
  6. For sidearm cast, the steps involved are same, except the swinging movement. It is more of a wrist action and you have to release the thumb from the spool as soon as the rod crosses your body.

How to use a baitcaster – Tips for Improved Casting

  1. Do not cast too hard. Focus more on accuracy and consistency.
  2. Focus on the elbow and arm movement. Do not land the bait directly into the water. Release the thumb at an earlier point.
  3. After you are comfortable with the casting, use the off-hand and place it under the lower end of the rod handle. It will provide better control and improve accuracy and power.
  4. This technique requires various hand movements. During the cast, you need to switch hands. So be comfortable moving both the hands.
  5. For better long-distance casting and reduced backlash, loosen the tension knob and use less brake.

Baitcasting is not a very complicated technique but requires practice to excel. Be patient, make the above adjustments, and set the cast right. Once you get the hang of it, how to use a baitcaster will be as easy as a walk in the park.

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