FISHING GUIDES

Learning to use a Baitcasting or Casting reel

Oh, those Nasty Backlashes!!

I thought I might try to explain how to use that Baitcaster that you have just bought, or are thinking about buying on ebay... I know from firsthand experience that it can be a little frustrating using one of these reels for the first time, but if you give it a little time and patience, it's one of the best types of reels to use...

The casting reel (aka baitcaster) has been around for ages. It's one of the first types of reel and one of the most versatile... Nowdays there are two main types. The large open faced round baitcaster, designed for casting live bait in freshwater and saltwater, or the "low profile" casting reel, designed for casting artificial baits... I will discuss both types. although I only use the low profile models...

The open faced round style baitcaster, designed for live bait is the one that has been around for a long time. It is the hardest for a new fisherman to use and will take the most patience. Most all of these baitcasters involve the "thumbing technique". This is when you place the thumb of the hand holding the reel against the spool of line and use thumb pressure to control how much line goes out.

Before I go any farther, let me talk a little about how all this works. There's a lot happening when you cast. You have a reel and a rod, with a bait tied on the end. When you cast, the force of your cast sets the bait in motion. The line is pulled off the spool by the force of the bait travelling through the air. The faster the bait travels, the more line goes out, but there's a lot of principles at work here, such as trajectory, velocity, gravity, inertia, drag coefficient, etc... You don't necessarily need to know all of that, but just remember that the perfect cast, involves releasing at the right angle, with the right force and with the right drag on the spool...

Now let's go back to the open faced round baitcaster. These reels usually have one brake adjustment on them. This adjustment is a cap that tightens against the end of the shaft of the spool. It's a friction brake. If set too tight, the cast will be very short. If set too loose, the spool will accelerate faster than the line feeding out and the result is a "birdnest", or the spool overrunning the line and pulling it back in on itself... Here's where your thumb comes in. Since the inventors didn't have an easy answer for the problem of the spool increasing speed faster than the line going out, the idea of using your thumb as the second brake, was the best and easiest solution... You place your thumb over the spool and use pressure on the spool, to keep it from increasing speed too much. 

The best way to learn to use one of these reels is to tie a 3/4 oz. weight on the line. Hold the rod straight out in front of you and adjust the brake, so that when you press the release bar, the weight does not start to drop. Then tighten the brake, just a little more... It will be too tight to cast very far, but it will give you the chance to control the spool better...

The cast is the same as a fly rod 10 o'clock to 2 o'clock, only faster with "snap to it".. If you are a die hard spinning reel fisherman, you will have the most trouble... Casts have to have "SNAP" in them. The snap is needed to propel the bait forward quickly enough, to keep the line coming off the reel fast enough to keep the spool's increasing speed, from overrunning the line's speed.... 10-2 with snap! I can't stress that enough...

Practice without the rod in your hand. Pretend you have a rod in your hand. Start out with your arm straight out and point to the 4 o'clock position in front of you. Now bend your elbow untill your hand is pointing to the 2 o'clock position... This is the starting position. Now keep bending your elbow back trying for the 10 o'clock position. You will notice you reach a point where your elbow can go back no further and your whole arm must rotate at the shoulder, to achieve the 10 o'clock position... When you reach the 10 o'clock position, pretend to cast with snap, forward till you reach the 2 o'clock position again... Stop rapidly at the 2 o'clock position.... You should practice this untill you are casting hard enough that you feel your fingers snapping forward when you halt at the 2 o'clock position...

Now try it with the rod. Take the rod in your hand and hold it at the 2 o'clock position. Place your thumb on the release bar and as you press and release it, press the front part of your thumb on the spool... Your thumb pressure on the spool needs to be firm during the cast, so the line does not move... Now make the cast and just as you are about to come back to the 2 o'clock position, let some pressure off the spool... If you set the brake the way I mentioned you earlier and you keep some pressure on the spool, the weight will probably only cast out a couple of feet from you... That's ok. You should not have any loose line on the spool, so there's no birdnests... Keep trying this, gradually letting off thumb pressure. till you start to notice loose wraps of line on the spool. Now you know what I mean by thumb pressure acting as a brake... All you have to do now, is back off the reel's brake a little at a time, to increase your distance, while using your thumb pressure to keep the spool under control...

Low Profile Baitcasters

These cast the same as the older style reels, but they have made advancements in adding a "second brake" to the spool. These brakes are on the opposite side of the reel from the handle. If they are the "magnetic" style, they usually have a knob to turn with markings from 10-100 or 1-10. The higher the number the more braking action is applied against the spool... I usually set these reels up in the following way... Set the off side knob at 5 or 50 (halfway). Set the regular brake up the way I stated before, holding the rod out and setting the brake so that the weight does not fall freely, when the release bar is depressed... The magnetic brake will allow you to use less thumb pressure and once you learn how to cast well "with snap", you can set the brakes up as described and not use your thumb at all.... but it takes practice!! The other style secondary brake is the "centrifugal brake". It is also found on the side of the reel opposite the handle and is usually accessed by removing a cover (see your owners manual)... Once the cover is removed, you will see a space age looking mechanism with six pins sticking out. These pins have plastic sleeves which can be backed off or extended. The more of them extended, the harder the braking. Tyr starting out with 3-4 of the plastic sleeves extended... The idea of this, is that as the spool increases in speed, the centrifugal force increases and the plastic sleeves are "thrown out" against an outer metal drum (in the cover you took off), resulting in harder braking the faster the spool spins... I don't think it works any better than the magnetic style, but it sure looks cool!!

Practice

Practice without the rod, untill you have the snap... Practice with the weight and brakes set tight, till you understand the thumbing method... Practice till you can cast twice as far as you ever could with your spinning reel. Practice till you can cast into a coffee can every time. These reels are very accurate and flexible in the way they cast and retrieve. Catch a few bass with it and you will fall in love with the baitcaster, or you will still hate it...

One thing about this reel, it isn't for everyone. but Anyone Can master it!!!

Fishing Guides