Fishing with baitcaster reel made easy: All Revealed

Baitcaster reels

A bait caster reel has everything to do with this one reel. Switch to a baitcasting reel if you eliminate spinning reels because of their limited casting distance and less line capacity. Fishing with a bait caster reel needs accurate information and some expertise; lacking them might cause a bird’s nest or severe backlash. Some find the bait caster reel’s mechanism difficult. That can deter even seasoned anglers. Without trepidation, I, with the help of my fellow anglers, prepared a post that will teach you how to overcome the complexities and reveal the hidden strategies, methods, and tips to push you to start making your fishing experience like a pro.

Baitcaster reel basics (learn to master)

A major drawback that most of our young anglers may face with bait caster is its complex features and unique mechanism, as bait caster reel does not have any bail arm to open and close to release the line. However, you cannot master the bait caster until you know the power of your thumb to change the entire game. Therefore, I decided to make you a maestro in its component understanding so the next journey of spooling, lining, and casting might be a no science for you.

What is a bait caster reel? A reel mounted on the top of the rod and directly coming off from the spool with the turn of a handle is said to be a bait caster. These reels are multifaceted because they can be used for saltwater or freshwater fishing with casing lures, light baits, or trolling. Despite their bird’s nest and price issues, they are best known for casting distance and holding heavier lures.

Baitcaster reel’s components

I collected information about every deep feature of the baitcasting reel from  Jason, a fellow tackle shop manager, to give you minute details.

Baitcaster reel components, Spool, Brakes, Thumb bar, Line Guide, Drag, Spool Tension knod, Handle
  • Spool: A bait caster spool is the main component where your fishing line lies and is horizontally mounted on the reel, either with a big or small size per the manufacturer’s design.
  • Thumb bar: The thumb bar or clutch is the area just below the spool to control the line with the thumb.
  • Reel foot: A area where the reel gets attached to your casting rod generally has two holes and is inserted at the rod’s reel seat with the help of a screw.
  • Tension knob: Tension knob means to handle the spool working during cast, usually handling lighter lures, and is located at the reel’s handle’s side. You can resolve the bird’s nest issue by mastering this component.
  • The handle of the reel: The reel’s handle is used to engage the spool and retrieve the line, and it comes on the right or left hand to accommodate anglers.
  • Drag: The system through which you can control the resistance with the help of its inner washers and disks that create friction to pass signals to an angler about how much pressure is required to pull the line out of the spool.

For flipping and pitching heavy cover, Drag must be down or tight.

For a drop shot or a lightweight presentation, Drag must be loosened.

  • Line guide: The line guide is placed at the front of the reel, near the spool. Before spooling your line onto the spool, you have to carry it through this part to distribute the line evenly, avoiding backlashes.
  • Brakes: A brake system means controlling the spool turn speed during casting. It may have two designs, centrifugal and magnetic, but I prefer magnetic brakes for the newbie because of its hassle-free procedure.
  •  Gear ratio: The gear ratio is how many times your spool will rotate as one turn of the handle, and in baitcasting, you should know your baitcaster gear ratio for a perfect backlash-free journey.

I prefer a high gear ratio for spinnerbaits and a low gear ratio for soft plastic or crankbaits.

Baitcaster reel types

Baitcaster reels have two categories to be divided into. Sometimes, new fishers contact me about what to do. We have a bait caster reel but have some issues with casting and line management, so the first question I asked them was what bait caster reel they own: Round or low-profile? Said knowing both types individually is crucial.

  1. Low-profile baitcaster reel
  2. Round baitcasting reel

What are they suitable for:

Round baitcasting reel
Low-profile baitcaster reel
Round and complicated to lubricate.
Compact and open parts.
Line volume
Cover more lines due to the big spool size.
Less line capacity.
Great cranking power.
Best for lightweight fishing.
More life.
It may get damaged soon.
Lightweight and more portable.
Casting performance
Low casting accuracy.
More casting performance.
Line friction
More chances of line friction
There are chances of friction.
Lure compatibility
Workable for heavy lures and baits
For finesse fishing
Comfort level
Extended use may make you exhausted
Best for long fishing trips
Learning level
Beginner friendly
For novice anglers

How to cast a bait caster reel?

If you make exact settings and proper adjustments, a bait caster reel is your best friend. Before making any setting, you should consider your learning level; either you get a start-up or an expert to handle a bait caster.

When a newbie wants to clear his idea on how to use a bait caster reel, I give these tips for casting accurately.

  • Unceasingly, put your thumb on the spool to give some additional friction.
  • Use a 15lb SpiderWire Stealth braided line with a 50-65lb mono leader because monofilament has much line memory compared to braid.
  • Put some electrical or masking tape across your line 1/3 or 2/3 of the spool. This is a loss-recovering method. You only lose the line above the tape if you accidentally get an untangled bird nest.
  • Try using an overhand cast, at least, because this technique causes your bait to stall in the air, which causes your reel to spin faster, and you get nasty tangles.
  • I use lures of 1/8 to 6-ounce lures (try Rayburn red trap 3/4 lure on your casting rod) with my bait caster reels like:
  • 1/8 to 1/4-ounces lures for:  

Calm or freshwater fishing to catch Bass, Trout, or Panfish. The lures include small jigs, inline spinners, or tiny crankbaits.

  • 1/4 to 1/2-ounces lures for:    

    Freshwater fishing to catch Pike, Bass, and larger Panfish. The lures include spoons, jerk baits, or spinnerbaits.

  • 1/2 to 2-ounce lures for:        

       These lures work well for freshwater or saltwater fishing to trigger Muskellunge, Redfish, or Snook and include topwater baits or saltwater casting spoons.

  • 2 to 6-ounce lures for:               

      Use this lure for powerful saltwater fish like Tuna, Tarpon, or Kingfish. These lures include deep-diving plugs and heavy saltwater jigs.

Here is the detailed method of casting a bait caster reel.

Step by Step guide for casting with baitcaster reel

Step 2: Hold your fishing rod at 45 angles at your dominant hand with your elbow slightly bent and your forearm parallel to the ground, and manage the reel with your non-dominant hand.

Step 3: Push down your reel spool’s release button for making longer casts.

Step 4: Start making cast either overhand or side cast, but remember casting motion must be smooth to propel the lure toward your target.

Step 5: Put some pressure with your thumb to control the spool’s rotation as the lure travels through the air.

Step 6: When the lure falls on the targeted place, engage the reel’s handle and start reeling in your line to retrieve the lure.

How do you make adjustments on a baitcaster reel for a long-casting?

Baitcaster reels, although too versatile on the dark side, have challenging features like backlash, poor performance due to a mismatch of the lure, a tricky spool tension method, and an authoritarian braking system. Therefore, with my personal or with some research, I collected tips that have never been discussed. I bet.

Set the brakes    

The brake system of the bait caster reel decides how your spool stops after casting a lure. There are two braking systems; one is centrifugal, and the other is magnetic. If you have a centrifugal brake system on your baitcasting reel, you must adjust it by pulling the outer part and setting the dial. If you want more braking, change the tabs, but I recommend two on opposite sides of each and make a cast. For heavy lures, turn the brakes to high; for lighter lures and wind blows back, turn the brakes to low or loose. You may face challenges in cleansing your bait caster reel, but for winding noise-free brake, put oil in your bearing or clean the drum to remove all debris. Now, if you have a magnetic braking system, it has numbers from 1 to 10. As a beginner, you should turn the brakes on 10 or 9 for a smoother learning process. However, after getting familiar with the braking system, decrease the number incrementally to increase your casting distance.

Practice in a controlled environment like a yard or an open field to minimize external factors that might affect your cast turn your brake high when using light lures, and lessen the brake when pairing heavy interests.

I usually set the brakes on 5-6, but for starters, it would be 9-10.

Set the Drag

The Drag placed near the reel’s handle often has a star shape. If you are fishing in a situation like flipping and pitching and grabbing a fish from heavy cover, my method is to tighten the Drag down because when I get the bite, I turn the head and push the fish out of cover; still, as opposite when I fish crankbait or jerk bait, I turn down the Drag just at a position where I can pull the line with resistance the, reason being when the fish get hooked side the boat, it might dive; therefore, consistent pressure allows the same line, so they don’t pull the hook while coming on the bottom.

While setting your Drag, always keep the fish type you are targeting in your mind. Set the drag light or low for Panfish  Trout, moderate for Bass, Walleye, Redfish, and snook, and heavy for Catfish, Tuna, or Bluefish because of their incredible strength and instant run.

Set the spool tension knob

The tension knob is used to adjust the tension on the spool during casting and provide pressure to the outside of the spindle. For setting up the tension knob, firstly, hold your rod parallel to the ground and turn the knob counterclockwise to release it entirely while depressing the thumb bar (your thumb must be on a bar to control spools over running. Then turn the knob clockwise to feel slightly pressure when you press the thumb against the spool. Tension must be appropriately set if the knob is too tight, the lure will never move from its place, and if it is too loose, the inside spool will spin faster to create bird’s nests.

Your tension knob must be tight enough that your lure will touch the ground or water at 2-3 seconds speed, and the reel’s spool will stop spinning; if it falls within no seconds, it results in backlash, and if you too much tighten the knob, the lure will hang on the air and never move from its place. My formula is if the angler notices a wrap nest at first 70%of the cast, adjust the magnetic brakes, or if the line fluffs in the last 30% of your cast, adjust your tension knob.

Thumbing system

Thumbing means putting pressure with your thumb on the spool on the line during casting. I see many anglers who run away from bait caster reels because of the hard-to-manage thumb system, but I assure you it is a simple task. You must put your thumb on the line, not squeezing it, to avoid running it too much during casting. If you are worried about the whole controlling system, buy the Svivlo Genesis Baitcaster reel, which I tried two times with my friend and love its working features.

Tips on how to use a bait caster reel without a hitch

In my childhood, I received two Shakeaspear bait caster reels from my uncle as a gift and a lot of good advice from him that made my fishing journey much more effective with the bait caster reel. I also made too many mistakes during my baitcasting journey, but with years of experience, I collected tips for smooth casting. Here are the quick tips for you as well.

  • Shop a suitable reel: A baitcasting reel must match your expertise level. If you are new to this journey, Daiwa Fuego and Shimano SLX-XT are best for you because of less cost and smoother function with fewer backlash chances. If you are at the peak of your baitcasting journey,  buy Lews Laser Pro Speed Spool Baitcaster Reel as an honest suggestion.
  • Rod, line, or lure weight must be matched: For effective casting performance, rod sensitivity, less fatigue, and fishing with precision, notice the compatibility of lure, line, and rod weight. For catching heavy fish, select a more severe line and lure with moderate to heavy power rods; for finesse fishing, your lure and bar must be lighter.

I Pair 12lb monofilament or fluorocarbon line with soft plastic, jigs, and spinnerbait.

  • Upkeeping the reel: Maintaining the bait caster reel is vital for up-to-date reel working and avoiding mechanical failure. After every fishing trip, rinse your reel with fresh, clean water, use a soft brush to remove all the dust, and check out the internal condition of the revolution. I maintain my reel because I lubricate it periodically on its bearings, bushings, and moving parts.
  • Unwaveringly practice: Practice recovering all the limitations. Learn a lot from the experts, look at many videos on YouTube, and start practicing daily in a smaller space to gain much learning. If you get a lot of backlash, make it correct like this:
  • Retrieve smoothly: Instead of overhand cast, I prefer side cast for the starters and retrieve smoothly to prevent line tangles. During casting, put a slight pressure on the spool to avoid overline coming.
  • Safety during casting: I more than once hurt my eyes because lures can fly over unpredictability on you, so protect your eyes with some eyewear. Wear a brimmed hat, long-sleeved clothes, and sunscreen with SPF during the heat. Always take non-slip footwear, personal flotation devices, PFD, gloves, rain gear, and a first aid kit.
  • Go for a right-handed reel: Whenever you decide to buy a baitcasting reel, I advise you to purchase a right-handed reel because of its easy availability, easy transition option from spinning to bait caster, and, of course, on your personal preference as if you are lefty, you lean toward the left-handed reel.
  • Filling the spool with cheap mono and braid: A braided line is relatively costly, so filling the entire spool with a braid line may burden you. Fill the spool 1/3 with cheap mono and 75 yards of braid because mono will fill the spool while the braided line gives more strength and sensitivity and reduces line memory.

How do you choose the best baitcaster reel for you?

Baitcaster reels have many benefits and positive points to be used. I collected the best reviews about the Shimano Curado DC reel with four braking systems:

  • 1 for less braking force,
  • 2 for braided line,
  • 3 for mono line,
  • and 4 for lightweight lures.

I have never bought it, but I am considering shopping for it quickly. Why do you use a bait caster reel rather than a spinning reel? Or what is the bait caster suitable for?

  • It’s a more accurate cast.
  • The chances of spooking a fish are less.
  • Detect strikes better.
  • High drag power(18-30lb) and heavy lures usage.
  • Available in the left or right-handed handle.
  • Less line memory.
  • You can catch fish more than 10lb in size.
  • More variety in markets.

 How to choose a baitcaster :

  1. Determine what amount you have either to own a price-tag reel ( Shimano Chronarch MGL 151HG Baitcasting reel) or only be able to purchase a less-price reel. ( Shimano SLX A150 Reel)
  2. Consider your fishing style, like inshore, freshwater, finesse, or saltwater fishing.
  3. Learn about your targeted fish. Heavy fish demand heavy bait caster reel and lure.
  4. Baitcaster reels have two braking types, centrifugal or magnetic, but I like the second one most because of its easiness of use.
  5. Research different brands and customer reviews before placing a reel order. Also, check the manufacturer’s warranty considerations. The best brands include Daiwa, Shimano Metanium DC, and Shimano Bantam. I used the last two for almost six months but have one dislike about them: they have less line capacity. As with the Daiwa Tatula, I witness that due to the loosening tension knob, the spool becomes a side-to-side movement, damaging its pinion gear.
  6. Examine the spool material because they come in aluminum or graphite; the first is more durable, while the second is featherweight, so use it as your preference. The frame of the round baitcasting reel should be made of aluminum, and the low-profile reel may be made of magnesium, carbon, or aluminum material.

What are the issues with baitcaster reels?

You may face some conundrums while using bait caster reels, but take advantage of this fishing type and learn my tips and helpful insights to overcome these limitations.

  1. Backlashes or bird’s nests: Every new angler complains about the backlash when you never make the proper adjustment on a reel, and your spool spins faster than the line. What you can do to set the breaks, thumb properly, and practice with the plug before the actual trip.
  2. Time-taking settings: Adjusting the spool’s tension, Drag, or knobs may be a time-taking process that never happens in spinning reels.
  3. Wind sensitivity: A bait caster reel is more prone to wind sensitivity than spinning reels. Strong wind can affect the casting distance.
  4. Expensive backlash recovery: If you get severe backlash and there is no chance to cut the line and re-spool it as I had to face it in my early journey, it becomes more expensive and a big dent in your pocket.
  5. Limited line capacity: A baitcasting reel has less line capacity than a spinning reel and is sometimes not workable in tight and confined situations.
  6. Picking the right lure: You might need help to match the light or heavy lures to the bait caster reel. It means you are staking your casting distance.

What are the different casting techniques on a bait caster reel?

A bait caster works best on various casting techniques, which I will teach you.

  • Overhead/ Overhand cast

The overhand cast means casting a fishing lure or bait by swinging the rod backward and then forward in an overhead motion, but I never prefer this type on a bait caster reel.

  • Sidearm cast

The sidearm or underhand cast is useful when you need to cast under a low-hanging obstacle or try to bring your lure close to the water’s surface. I love it, and I hold the rod parallel to the water’s surface with my thumb on the spool’s thumb bar and swing the rod forward in side cast motion by releasing the thumb bar. Allow the bait to travel horizontally along the water’s surface.

  • Pitch Cast:

This casting method works for the limited areas for presenting lures to the targeted areas. It is a  close-quarter cast.

  • Roll Cast

You can try to roll cast with a bait caster reel, and in this method, I  swing the bait in a circular motion before releasing the line to catch fish under low-hanging branches.

  • Finesse cast

Releasing the bait with minimal force and pressure and allowing the lure to fall gently on the water to trigger cautious or skittish fish of clear water.

Informational queries

When to use a bait caster?

Bait casters will add a new life to your fishing experience. Still, you predispose them when you need more casting accuracy, heavy lures, more drag power, target aggressive fish, or a greater level of experience to handle the complex features of this reel.

Can you put a bait caster on any rod?

Yes, you can pair a bait caster with a spinning rod, but I never transmit this idea because bait caster reels are made for casting rods, not for the spinning rod; the reel seat is on the top while the spinning reel is mounted beneath.

What do active and passive braking do on a bait caster reel?

Active and passive braking systems are designed to control the spool’s rotation during casting, ultimately preventing backlashes. The magnetic or centrifugal brakes are called dynamic braking systems because they directly intervene to control the spool’s rotation while setting on the spool tension knob is considered passive braking because it never directly interferes with the spool’s movement during casting.

What are the best baitcaster reels?

I like Lew’s company’s bait caster reel because of their best customer service regarding shipment, or I can directly talk to its owner to clarify my confusion. I will present my overall summary to you.

Best reels
Liking features
Daiwa Tatula SV TWS reel
Backlash free system
Daiwa CR80
Finesse fishing
Shimano SLX
Within budget
Lew Super Duty reel
For wide spool

Gathering up all

Baitcaster reels, although I know it’s a little trickier for newcomers, will shine if anything gets time. If you are serious about bait caster fishing, stand up and never think of its backlash and heavy lure management. Just do it.

About Haseeb

Haseeb, a 35-year-old fishing angler, has dedicated 20 years to perfecting his craft. His passion for fishing was sparked at the age of 15 when his father instilled in him a love for the sport. Since then, Haseeb has immersed himself in the world of angling, acquiring extensive practical experience and a deep understanding of fishing techniques. With certifications, tournament wins, and a commitment to academic pursuits, Haseeb's expertise shines through as he continues to excel in various fishing environments, driven by his unwavering enthusiasm and genuine love for the sport

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