5-Minute Guide On How To Set Up Your Baitcasting Reel

One aspect that makes quite a difference to your fishing day is the reel you use. A spinning reel is more efficient and durable than a spincast reel, but pro anglers know that a baitcasting reel does better than both in the same size range. Baitcasting reels can handle heavier lines and allow you to cast longer.

However, new fishing enthusiasts steer clear of using a baitcasting reel as they come off intimidating and hard to use. If you’re looking for a knee-deep but easy-to-follow guide for using a baitcasting reel, then you’ve come to the right place! 

Let’s talk about how to set up a baitcasting reel for your next fishing day.

Be Friends With Your Reel

Before you set up a baitcasting reel, we’ll walk you through a quick drop-down of the parts of a baitcasting reel. You can only maximize your reel and discover more fishing hacks when you know the parts by heart. 

Spool. Housed inside the reel’s frame but visible through the opening in the middle.

Line Guide. Guides to spooling your thread evenly.

Gear system. Found inside your reel’s body. Mirrors the rotation of your handle into the rotation of your spool.

Reel handle. For handling your reel. You may find there are two instead of the usual one on a spinning reel.

Reel foot. Connects the reel to the fishing rod.

Thumb bar. Positioned near your spool. Press this at the exact moment you’re going to cast your lure.

Star drag. Controls how you can drag your catch towards you or away from your cover. (Fun fact! Baitcasting reels are well-known for their ability to drag weights. They’re designed for heavier lines and catching larger fishes.)

Brakes. There are two kinds of baitcaster brakes: centrifugal and magnetic. Both slow down the rotation of your spool when you cast your line while preventing backlash.

Spool tension knob. After navigating through your brake, this knob at the same side with your reel controls the spool when your lure is about to submerge in the water. It prevents continuous pulling of your spool.

Casting Your Baitcasting Reel – The Usual Way

Using a baitcasting reel requires time, practice, and patience. When you’ve grown more acquainted with your baitcasting reel, you can create your own techniques for luring the best catch. 

For starters, this is the easiest way to cast your baitcasting reel:

  1. Place your thumb directly on the spool to prevent backlash. 
  2. Press the thumb bar to free the spool and load the road.
  3. Release your thumb so the spill can spin and feed your line into the line guide.
  4. Before your lure hits the water, use the spool tension knob to slow down and stop your casting.
  5. Assist the casting process with your thumb on the spool so it doesn’t create a backlash that can ruin a fine fishing day.

Alternatively, here’s a very helpful video from Joshua Taylor showing how to cast a baitcaster for total beginners.

It’s pretty easy once you use your baitcasting reel more often. However, there are other factors that play into your fishing venture with your baitcasting reel!

Fine-tune Your Systems

Adjusting your spool tension knob

Quick refresher: a spool tension knob controls how fast your spool spins when casting found next to the handle. 

Therefore, adjusting your spool’s tension makes casting more accurate and less prone to entanglement. 

Hold out your rod at an arm’s length and loosen the knob until your lure almost touches the ground then make a slight click back. Softly shake your reel to drop your lure from the tip of your rod. After that, go ahead and fine-tune your brakes.

Adjusting your brakes

Many anglers go for a more expensive baitcaster reel as they have a centrifugal brake, instead of a magnetic brake, therefore they’re easier to configure and use. But, baitcaster reels with magnetic brakes are at par with reels that have centrifugal brakes as long as they’re well-calibrated.

Centrifugal brakes have three tabs. Push them to apply the brakes. Push them again to turn them off. Ensure that the pressure is evenly distributed to all tabs. If you turn one brake on, the other one across it should also be on. You can use a triangle method to turn them on or in any way that’s more comfortable for you. 

Simply move your magnetic brake’s dial to a higher setting to apply more brakes.

We Don’t Want Some Backlash!

While backlash is generally a headache, a fishing day is always better without making a bird’s nest out of your spool. Backlash usually happens when your lure slows down during or after you have cast your line, but your spool keeps spinning. 

The latest baitcasts feature anti-backlash mechanisms and advanced-level brake systems to keep you out of trouble. If you can’t get your hand on those higher-end reels, then the best way to prevent backlash is to keep on trying! 

  • Practice casting at home before you visit any fishing hotspots. Make short throws and adjust your spool tension until you reach your comfort settings. This also builds your thumb’s memory and makes it easier for you to handle any situation when you do the real thing.

You can use a reel you prefer so you don’t freak out once your settings don’t match your lure when you finally cast them in water. It’s also easier to create your baitcast’s default settings when you’ve had a thorough dry run. 

  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions and find their answers. If you know a friend who’s been in the game for a long time, reach them and ask for any beginner’s guide they could give you. As they always say, experience is the best teacher!

There are lots of helpful resources on the web, too. Our blogs have all the must-knows for anglers. Read them here! Also, here’s a very helpful video from Tanner Martin Outdoors on how to properly setup a baitcaster to avoid backlash.

More Pro-Tips on Angling

With the basics and critical checklist on adjusting your systems, you’re almost good to go fishing with your baitcasting reel. Further keep these things in check when you set up a baitcasting reel:

  • Match the weight of your lure to the weight of your line. Using a lightweight or too heavy lure can affect how you cast. A 12lb fluorocarbon or monofilament line makes a nice base weight for a baitcasting setup. As we’ve said, it’s best to practice casting with the same lure you intend to use on actual.
  • Use a proper knot to attach your line. If you ask me, picking the right knot stopper also makes the most out of your reel. Master a knot or two that you can use for your line and try to see if it matches your settings well. Get to know more about the many options on how to tie your fishing line to a reel.
  • Try different casting angles. There are no ideal angles of casting, unlike the one that you are most comfortable with. During your practice when you set up a baitcasting reel, try various brake and spool tension settings to different angles. Aim farther, tilt to your side a bit, swing your arm a little slower, and be flexible with your target.
  • Keep the line from peeling off before allowing the spool to turn. This will cause a backlash if you are not too careful especially when you opt to use lighter spools. Additionally, your chosen knot will make or break the way your line will peel off at the same time your spool will turn. 
  • No to overcasting. If you want to cast far, do not go fast. Be more familiar with a motion that matches your rod set up. Nothing beats the synchronization of your body motion during casting to the casting technique and your baitcasting reel’s setting. Again, practice makes perfect!
  • Calibrate your star drag. Your drag setting will depend on the catch you are looking forward to bringing home after the outdoor trip. While it’s very helpful to mix and match your spool tension and brakes, finding the right pressure for your star drag that goes well with the latter will make sure that you not only hit where you aim or have a peaceful spool but also bring home the bacon – or better yet the fish!
  • Study your target landscape. It pays to know about your fishing landscape ahead. You can practice the angle and casting technique that works well for your location and help you pick the most ideal settings for your baitcaster reel. What’s more, you can be more creative on how to lure your catch.

What’s Next?

When you have finally found peace with your settings and are a tad bit closer to your reel, you can go visit a fishing hotspot and apply what you have been practicing for so long. 

You may find that the environmental set up, present-day weather conditions, and other factors can get in the way of a peaceful fishing day. Don’t fret, it’s normal. It will test your angler skills but also hone your unique way of luring the best catch you can ever imagine!

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