How to Use a Baitcasting Reel Like a Pro

Whether you’re new to fishing or a seasoned veteran, you can learn how to use a baitcasting reel like a pro angler.

A baitcaster is a step above the traditional spinning reel, but it requires a bit more work to use it correctly. With the baitcaster basics, you’ll be bringing in prize fish in no time.



Birdnesting happens to every fisher at some point, and it’ll likely happen more than once. You can also call this event “backlash.” It happens when the spool spins faster than the line is moving, which results in a mess of fishing line tangled around the spool.

While backlash is frustrating, it isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it’s part of learning how to use a baitcasting reel. With the right items and know-how, you can know how to set up a baitcaster reel and get fishing.

Items you need

In order to catch fish, you need more than just a baitcasting reel. This may seem like a no-brainer, but sometimes we all need a checklist to make sure we have everything before we leave the house.

Along with your baitcaster reel, you need a sturdy rod to attach it to. You also need a sturdy fishing line that can withstand heavy cover and the weight of the fish you’re fishing for. Many avid fishermen recommend a braided fishing line at 10 pound test or higher.

Last of all, you need the right bait for the fish. This will depend on the type of fish you want to catch and your own personal preference.

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Set the brakes

Once you have your rod assembled, line attached, and lure ready, you need to locate the brakes on your baitcasting reel. It’s always on the opposite side of the handle, but the brakes will look different depending on the type of brake you have. The two different kinds of braking systems are magnetic and centrifugal.

Magnetic brakes on a baitcasting reel are simple to engage. The reel will have a simple dial on the side and settings that start at 1 and go up to 9 or 10. The lower the number, the less engaged the breaks are.

This means that you can cast further because the breaks won’t slow down the spinning of the spool. The higher the number, the shorter the cast. Professionals recommend that beginners start high so they can practice the technique without the high risk of birdnesting.

Centrifugal brakes are underneath the side panel of the reel. It has springs that you can engage and disengage to determine how heavy to engage the brakes. Pressing the springs away from the center disengages, while pressing the springs toward the center engages them.

djust the tension

Next, you need to adjust the tension on the baitcaster. This is a small knob on the same side of the reel as the handle. You tighten the tension by turning the knob clockwise and loosen it by turning the knob counterclockwise.

The tension helps steady the spool, which means that the spool shouldn’t move after you press the spool release button. The ideal tension will allow the bait to slowly drop without creating any backlash in the spool.

Adjust the tension, and press the spool release button. If the bait still doesn’t move, slowly turn the knob counterclockwise until the bait starts to drop slowly. The amount of tension you need will vary from lure to lure.

Once you have the tension just right, you’re halfway there to knowing how to use a baitcasting reel.



image by pixabay

The other half of knowing how to use a baitcasting reel properly is knowing how to cast with one. It’s great to set up the reel properly, but you’ve got to get the bait in the water before you can get any bites!

Casting a baitcaster will go smoothly if you hold the rod properly as you do it. You’ll then need to know when to release and stop the line to prevent backlash.

Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t perform the perfect cast your first time. Even the pro anglers had to practice before they could cast correctly. As you practice, you’ll refine your form, and it’ll feel more natural.


Knowing how to hold a baitcaster comes down to your thumb placement. Many fishermen are more comfortable casting with their dominant hand, so start by holding the rod in your dominant hand.

Your thumb should sit just over the spool, allowing you to both press the spool release button and push your thumb onto the spool. Some find that sitting their thumb at an angle over the spool allows more control, so you’ll need to experiment to find which position works best for you.

You don’t have to put your other hand on the rod, especially if you’re a beginner. You’ll be able to cast with the strength of one arm because you don’t need much strength for a short cast.



image by pexels

Before you cast, make sure your bait is hanging 6 inches to 12 inches from the tip of the rod. When the bait is at the right length, press the spool release button and place your thumb on the spool to prevent the bait from dropping.

For an overhead cast, bend your casting arm so that your elbow forms a 90-degree angle, and the rod is pointing just barely behind you. If you had a clock next to you, your rod should be pointing at 2 o’clock.

Swing the rod forward, and take your thumb off the spool when the rod passes the 10 o’clock point. The weight of your lure should send the bait and line toward your intended target.

Just before the lure touches the water, place your thumb back on the spool to stop the line. This will drop the bait into the water and prevent backlash in the spool.

Once you get your lure in the water, you’re ready to fish.

Love Video? Here’s a great one to go along with this article:


It takes some time, but anyone can learn how to use a baitcasting reel. All you need is the best baitcasting reel, the right equipment, and an understanding of how they work. You can then work on your cast until you get it down.

What was the hardest part for you to learn when using a baitcaster? Let us know in the comments section.

Featured image by Pixabay

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