Learn to Use a Baitcasting Rod and Reel
Learning to Use a Baitcasting Reel
Most serious fisherman use two types of reels, a baitcasting reel or a spinning reel. A spinning reel is pretty intuitive and fool-proof. Spinning reels rarely tangle and are easy for beginners. They are also better to use for lighter tackle that baitcasting reels sometimes struggle with. If spinning reels are so dependable, why go through the trouble of learning the technique of using a baitcasting reel? There are three main benefits of using a baitcasting reel:
Advantage #1- Accuracy: Serious fishermen know that accurate casting is crucial for catching fish. Big fish are often times found in tight spots, between branches, rocks, weeds, channel points, or other obstacles that could lead to disaster. The open spool on a spinning reel does not lend itself to accuracy, but the targeted spool and tight guides on a baitcasting rod and reel let you pin-point and pick apart cover where big fish live.
Advantage #2- Feel: With a spinning reel, the rod is not an extension of your arm like it is with a baitcasting rod and reel. Today’s low profile baitcasting reels fit in the palm of your hand and are incredibly light. This lets you feel the lure and most importantly, the fish’s mouth.
Advantage #3- Speed and Maneuverability- The feel of successfully using a baitcasting rod and reel is incomparable to a spinning reel. The angler can make hundreds of casts more over the course of a day using a baitcaster. When money or victory is on the line, using a baitcasting reel is crucial.
How to Use a Baitcasting Reel
Using a baitcasting reel can be a frustrating experience at first. The dreaded birds nest can monopolize your time on the water and cost you money in expensive line. Here are some tips on successfully getting started with a baitcasting reel:
1. Buy a High Quality Reel, Rod and Quality line- It all starts with a quality reel, rod and line. Reels in the $100+ range cost that much for a reason. Features like anti-backlash, magnetic brakes, more bearings and lighter weights will lead to a better overall experience. I know this is coming from the guy who sells fishing gear, but trust us, we would rather sell you one high quality reel than several lower quality ones. Good line is also important. One spool of quality fluorocarbon line will result in smoother casts and fewer backlashes. The line also has less memory than monocarbon, which means when you fix a backlash, the line memory doesn’t tell itself to backlash again on the next cast. Look for a rod with coated Fuji guides, uninsulated metal guides will fray your line over time which creates resistance and therefore backlashes.
2. Start With Heavier Lures- Backlashes and bird nests happen when the spool is still feeding line, but the lure isn’t traveling further in distance. Heavier lures advance the line with greater force and therefore make it more difficult for a backlash to occur. Casting with heavier lures (like jigs, 1 oz spinner baits, larger crankbaits, Carolina Rig Plastics, Texas Rigs, etc.) will greatly improve your feel for the motion of baitcasting. This is why I recommend a fisherman’s first baitcaster should be a pitching and flipping set-up. Casts are short, braided line has no memory, and lures on this setup are heavier.
3. Don’t Cast into the Wind- Casting into the wind will devastate your chances of failure in the beginning. Wind resistance slows down the lure speed. When the line is coming off of the spool faster than the lure is traveling, a backlash is the result. On windy days it’s important to set your brakes (the dial on the side of most reels) to a higher setting and also tighten the spool dial. This will prevent the spool from flowing freely. The result will be shorter casts, but you will avoid backlashes.
4. Keep a Tight Line During the Cast- If the lure and line are not stiff when you cast motion goes to follow through, the line will be traveling faster than the lure, the result, yet again, is a backlash. Watch the pros cast. They have a vicious back motion to get the lure and line tight with no slack before they rip through the cast. This isn’t done to show off, but to keep the line tight. Tight line also leads to more accurate casts. It’s easier to shoot a laser beam than a cooked spaghetti noodle. Also, don’t be afraid to use your thumb to slow the spool before the lure hits the water. Your thumb is the ultimate backlash control.
5. PRACTICE!- Michael Jordan didn’t dunk from the free throw line on his first jump. Fishing, despite what naysayers claim, is an athletic sport. Build the muscle memory in your eyes, shoulders, arms and torso to create a repeatable and successful motion. Ask Kevin Van Dam how his muscles feel after 3000 casts in a day of tournament fishing! In the winter or days off the water, go in your yard or open space and tie a ½ oz egg weight to your line, or take the treble hooks off of an old crankbait. Set up targets, buckets or spray-paint a circle for target practice. Call a buddy and make a competition out of it. Playing corn hole is getting old! You may even film each other’s casting motion and give each other tips on how to improve. Practicing on dry land will also help you know the distances you are able to cast your next time on the water.
With these tips, I have confidence that you will learn how to baitcast in no time. Learning how to properly cast is equivalent to a baseball player’s swing at the plate. Practice is the ultimate tip, but developing feel and a proper technique is an important foundation. Listen to our pro staff’s recommendations for gear you will be on the road to baitcasting success.