Beginners to baitcast reels need a few tips to get started. Baitcast reels are great when used properly. Yet, are a nightmare when used the wrong way. There are differences between a baitcast and a spinning reel. Baitcast reels have braking systems. Also, the spool rotates allowing the line to freely come off the reel.
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Adjusting the brakes and spool settings leads to the best performance. The adjusting varies with the many models. The braking systems are centrifugal, magnetic, or a combination of both. Understanding how the brakes work and adjusting the brakes is critical. The line tension is also an important part of the setup.
Setting Up a Baitcast Reel for Beginners
Setting up a baitcast reel for beginners starts with the line. The braided line casts farther and is strong with a thin diameter. The line has coating reducing friction going through the guides. These qualities are a problem on a baitcast reel. The line will slip on the spool due to being slippery. The small diameter allows the line to dig into the line below on the spool.
Spooling line on a Baitcast Reel
There is a simple solution to the problem. A monofilament line will solve the slipping problem. Choosing a braided line requires using a monofilament backing on the reel. Placing 20 yards of monofilament on the reel is how to use backing. The braid is tied to the mono with a Uni-knot then the reel is filled with braided line. This prevents the slipping on the spool with a braided line.
Stopping the line from digging into the line on the spool is solved with proper tension. Tackle shops use a machine to properly tension line. At home placing tension requires using the correct method. Another person can hold the spool and place tension on the filler spool. This will put the tension on the line.
In addition, the line needs to come off the top of the filler spool. This prevents twisting of the line.
If no one is helping spool the line. Go out in a boat and attach the line to a lure. Then let out most of the line. Reel in the lure to create the tension. Anglers without a boat need to tie the line to a tree or post. Take a walk to remove the line. Then reel in with tension.
Do not pinch the line between fingers while holding the rod. This does create tension but will make the spooled line uneven. The line needs to move back and forth freely when spooling. Pinching with the fingers prevents free movement.
Setting the Brakes on a Baitcast Reel
Baitcast reels use brakes to reduce spool over spin. Spools can spin faster than the rate line is removed. This is how backlashes occur. The line on the spool lifts up off the spool becoming tangled. Braking systems reduce the problem but do not stop the backlash. The tension knob and your thumb are used to control spool speed also.
Beginners to baitcast reels need to set the brakes to full. After gaining experience using the reel the brakes are lowered. Taking a few hours to practice makes lowering the brakes happen fast. Setting the brakes depends on the type.
Centrifugal brakes have pins that are locked on or off. The pins are located under the side plate opposite the handle. Check the manual for the reel for instructions. It will explain removing the cover and turning the brakes on or off. The reel will have 4 or 6 pins. The model of the reel will determine the number of pins. These brakes control over spin at the beginning of the cast.
The reel will have a dial with numbers on the reel for magnetic cast control. The higher the number the more force the brakes apply. Some reels with magnetic only controls use spool speed with the magnets. These reels have an aluminum cup enclosed by the magnets. Magnetic controls help during mid-cast and at the end of the cast.
Setting the Tension Knob
Setting the tension knob is easy but often done wrong. Over tightening the tension knob damages the spool shaft. Tighten the knob until the lure does not fall. Hold the rod with the lure above the ground. Loosen the knob until the lure falls. The spool will make 1-2 turns after the lure hits the ground.
If the spool does not turn when the lure hits. The tension knob is too tight. Loosen the knob slightly and let the lure drop again. Adjust the knob until the spool makes a few turns after the lure hits the ground. A few loops of the line will appear. This is okay, but you do not want any tangles. Slightly tighten the tension knob if a tangle occurs.
Once these steps are completed the reel is ready to cast. Practicing the cast is the next step in learning to use a baitcast reel. Setting the reel correctly allows easy casting. Distance improves with practice and experience.
A newer model Daiwa with Mag-force braking does not need tension knob adjustment. The tension is set at the factory. The brake system controls the spool well on these reels.
Casting a Baitcast Reel for Beginners
Beginners to using baitcast reels need to practice. Taking the reel fishing right away leads to problems. Baitcast reels take a little time to learn. Trying to learn while fishing is frustrating. Spending an hour or two before fishing gets you ready. The practice includes learning the correct motion and doing adjustments for different weights.
Each time a lure or weight is changed. You need to make a few minor adjustments to the tension knob and magnetic brakes. Learn to adjust the brakes when practicing. Practice with the weights used when fishing.
A common mistake beginners make with baitcast reels is the motion. Using the motion common to spinning reels causes backlash. Anglers often use the hatchet chop motion with spinning tackle. Baitcast reels use a smooth motion. A sidearm cast is easier to start with when learning. Swing the rod back and feel the rod load. Then swing forwards with a smooth motion. This technique keeps the lure at a controlled speed.
Controlling the spool speed is related to the lure speed. The line needs to come off the spool at the same rate as the lure flies. A hard snappy cast throws the lure hard. The spool jumps to speed and the lure slows down with the hard cast. A smooth motion controls the lure’s take-off speed and the spool’s starting speed.
Using the Thumb
The best way to control the spool speed is with your thumb. Learning thumb control is part of practicing. Placing the thumb close to the spool lets an angler feel the line lift. The line lifting is the sign of a backlash ready to occur. Using the thumb prevents or greatly reduces backlashes.
Your thumb needs to be 1/16th of an inch away from the line. The spool release is fine to hold to start a cast. I find it preferable to use the thumb. When casting the thumb is moved slightly to release the line.
During the cast, it is in a position to apply pressure if needed. If you feel the line lifting move the thumb closer to slow the spool. After a little practice, the thumb will become trained to control the spool speed.
The lure will go out and begin to fall towards the water. You need to place the thumb on the spool before it hits the water. Allowing the lure to hit the water and not stopping the spool is a problem. The spool will keep turning feeding line off. You need to stop the spool with the thumb.
Using a baitcast reel requires a few important steps. The line needs to be put on the reel with tension. The brakes and tension knob must be set before casting. This is done when changing lures also. The casting motion is smooth, not hard, or snappy. The thumb is used to control spool speed. The spool is stopped by the thumb before the lure lands. Check this article for baitcast combos. They have matched rods and reels to perform well.