How To Set-Up a Baitcasting Reel: Easy Step-by Step Instructions

Baitcasting tackle is a daunting task for many new anglers. While they do require more skill and knowledge, it doesn’t stop you from trying them!

Baitcasting tackle can be used for all types of fish, including bass and tuna. Although setting up a baitcasting rod is more difficult than just tying the line to the spool, and setting the drag, it’s not impossible.

We want to optimize your baitcasting reel’s performance. No matter if you are an experienced angler or not, these tips and tricks will help you get more out of your baitcasting rod.

Baitcasting Basics

Baitcasting reels are made with a free-spinning spinning spool that delivers lines in the desired direction. This reduces memory, especially when using larger lines. It also allows them to cast farther with less line.

These boats also have excellent drag systems. They are usually controlled by a large star-shaped wheel located behind the handle. Expect heavy drag weights, as they were designed for larger lines and fishermen.

Cast a baitcasting reel by placing your thumb on the spool. The thumb bar will allow the spool to turn, so you can release the thumb and load the road. The spool will spin as you release your thumb. The line will be fed down by the guides. To prevent your lure from hitting the water, slow down the spool and then stop it with your thumb. This will stop a bird’s nest from forming because the spool feeds lines that have nowhere to go.

It’s easy enough, right?

Unfortunately, no! It takes practice to get your thumb and reflexes used to casting, as you’ll find out when you first start. You will feel confident casting after just a few hours.

Let’s take a look at the steps involved in setting up your reel. Check out our top picks to find the best baitcasting rods.

Step 1: Feed Line to the Spool

To set up a baitcasting reel, you must first run your line through the guide. You should feed the line to your spool to reverse what happens when casting.

I prefer to run my line through the guides to the reel. This simplifies Step 3.

Step 2 – Secure line to the Spool

The second step is very important and simple: tie the line to your spool using a good knot. The Uni knot is my favorite because it’s secure and cinches down well.

Many reels have a series of holes in the spool. If the line isn’t moving easily, simply pass it through the holes and turn the handle. The tag end will be returned to you.

After you have your knot secured, trim the tag to approximately half an inch.

Step 3 – Load the line onto the spool

How to Line a Baitcaster

Next, wind your line onto a spool. I prefer to do this using the guides. I also like to have a friend help me with the tension as the line comes off the factory spool. To achieve the same goal, I will fold the factory spiral with my feet if I am by myself.

Simply grasp the factory spool between your feet and run the spool in your direction.

Filling your reel correctly is important. Jordan Lee, a two-time winner in the GEICO Bassmaster Classic, says that many anglers leave too much space on their spools. He says that it is not necessary and that a spool that is too full can cause your reel to lose some of its potentials.

He recommends you fill them up. He says that the best place to put your casting reels is between one-eighth of an inch and the top.

You’ll notice a weird sound when you cast if you load too much hairline. However, a hair that’s just under full is fine, especially if the backing line is used to reduce costs for expensive braids.

However, not all agree. A baitcasting spool casts better than spinning reels. It doesn’t matter how much line it has. This means that a baitcasting spool with less line is better for anglers who don’t want to use the backing line.

Jason Sealock does not believe that full spools should be used. He asks, “Are you casting 60 yards?” That’s 180 feet. This would make for a very long and healthy cast. I have started to spool my reels using fewer lines. This means that I no longer use backing, and a 250-yard filler line spool will now fill 4 reels as opposed to 2 1/2. This saves me money.

There is no right or wrong answer. Do what you believe is best.

Step 4: Set the Spool Tension

Baitcasters use a free-spinning spinning spool. The more friction you apply with your thumb, or by tightening it with the tension knob, the less you will have to cast into the wind. When you first learn to cast, it is a good idea to increase the tension.

In general, the braking system should be set as light and smooth as possible. Step 5You should adjust the tension so that the lure you intend to cast slowly falls to the ground when you release it. Take two to three seconds.

If you are a beginner, the lure may fall slower than normal. The spool should stop automatically when it reaches the ground. You won’t be casting far with that tension but it will drastically reduce backlashes.

This is a caveat: the tighter the tension, you will the cast shorter. As your technique improves and your thumb skill increases, I would recommend that you lower the setting. A two-second fall is a good choice for experienced anglers.

You’ll need this adjustment every time you adjust your lure weight.

For anglers who are new to baitcasting reels, this video is a great place to start.

Step 5 – Adjust the Brakes

There are many braking options for baitcasting reels. Depending on the brand and model, they can be magnetic or centrifugal. They can also be actuated internally or externally.

It sounds complicated, but it isn’t as bad as you think!

Shimano Centrifugal brakes

For example, some Shimano reels use a centrifugal brake system with two controls. The SVS Infinity brakes use differential pressure to reduce backlashes. They are available on popular models such as the Curado K and allow for nearly unlimited settings.

There are two things you need to adjust, as you can see in the above picture. The brakes can be accessed via a side plate.

These brakes are color-coded by Shimano. Shimano offers two types of break weights: Heavy (Black, Green, or green in color) and light (Red and Blue in color, and Clear in color). The majority of new reels ship with the light break weights on the reel and the heavy break weights in the packaging. You can easily remove the light break weights from the reel and replace them with heavier weights if they don’t have enough stopping power.

To adjust the brakes, press lightly toward the center (to disable) or towards the outside (to engage).

All four brakes should be on for new anglers. You can learn to turn off one or two of the brakes as you progress, while true experts will sometimes turn them all off.

An external dial allows you to adjust the power of the internal brakes by turning them on and off. Combining brake and dial settings gives you amazing control over backlashes. However, the longer the cast the better!

Shimano also uses VBS braking systems.

It works the same way as before, with colored pins moving in and out (on) and out (off).

This is an excellent video about the braking system.


All centrifugal brake systems, regardless of manufacturer, work in the same way.

Daiwa magnetic brakes

Daiwa employs a magnetic brake system that applies more magnetically applied friction when you adjust the knob.

It’s that simple!

Step 6 – Set the Drag

It is just as important as easy to set your drag. Use a scale to set your drag at 1/4 to 1/3 of its rated value.

This is done by simply tying your line to a scale and gradually increasing the drag setting to get to the desired weight.

This video shows how Tom Schlichter teaches new anglers:

Last Thoughts

Now your baitcasting reel can go!

As you get more experienced, you will be able to fine-tune the settings to allow for greater casting distance. Some anglers use very few brake settings and rely on their experienced thumbs to manage backlashing.

No matter your level of experience, you can still try baitcasters!

Our guide will help you choose the right fishing reel for your situation.

Lewis
Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.