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How to Prevent Backlash on Baitcasters

Baitcasting reels allow you to use heavier baits and line which gives you more options when targeting bass and larger fish. Baitcasters can be imtimiating though, especially for beginners. They often get a bad wrap for being difficult to use which causes many beginners to stick with spinning reels. This is something I experienced years ago before I purchased a baitcaster. Every article I read online mentioned how difficult they are and how often they backlash. This is simply not true once you know how to use them properly. The key to avoiding backlash is tuning the reel for the baits you are using.

Adjusting Baitcaster Reel Brakes to Avoid Backlash

To cast a baitcaster without causing backlash you need to propperly adjust the brakes of your reel for your bait. That means everytime you switch to a new lure, you need to make a slight adjustment to your reel. Every bait weighs a different amount so you must make adjustments to account for this. Don’t worry, it is a quick process and only takes a few seconds.

On most backcasting reels there are two breaking systems. The spool tension knob which is by the drag, controls the amount of pressure applied to the spool. This tension controls the brakes on the first half of your cast. The second brake is the magnetic brake. This is on the opposite side of the tension knob and is either a dial or under a cover plate. The magnetic brake comes into play on the end of your cast as your bait starts to slow down.

When you tie on a new bait the fist thing you want to do is adjust the spool tension knob which is next to the drag. This tension knob adjusts the amount of pressure applied to your spool.

How to Adjust the Tension Knob on a Baitcasting Reel

  1. Start by reeling in your lure up close to the rod tip and tightening the tension knob all the way.
  2. Engage your reel by pressing the spool release button. (Your bait should stay where it is and not fall)
  3. Next slowly loosen the tension knob. Your bait will start to fall. You are looking for a nice and controlled fall. When the bait hits the ground the spool should stop and there shouldnt be any backlash.
  4. If you get some slight backlash, add a bit more tension and try it again. If the bait looks like it is falling too slow and you dont get any backlash then try loosing the tension knob slightly. It is a bit of a balancing act but once you get the hang of it you can do this very fast.

This will take care of the braking for your initial cast. Next you want to adjust the magnetic brakes to prevent backlash on the end of your cast. Your magnetic brakes will be on the opposite side of the reel than the spool tension knob. Depending on your specific reel, the magnetic brake will either be adjusted by an exposed dial or you may need to take the cover off and adjust a set of pins.

How to Adjust the Magnetic Brake on a Baitcasting Reel

  1. Start by turning up the magnetic brakes all the way up. This will make it very hard to backlash at the end of your cast and won’t require you to slow or stop the spool with your thumb perfectly. Having the magnetic brakes up all the way will prevent you from casting as far as possible however.
  2. To cast further you will need to turn down the brakes. As you lower the magnetic brakes the more you will have to control the spool speed with your thumb. This is a skill you will develop over time.
  3. Before turning the brakes down I recommend you make atleast 10 casts in a row without backlashing. Once you make 10 good casts in a row lower the magnetic brakes slightly. Everytime you get a birdsnest restart your count.
  4. Eventually you will reach a point where you are happy with your casting distance and your ability to avoid backlash.

Tips For Preventing Backlash on Baitcasters

  1. The number one thing you can do to prevent backlash is to properly adjust your baitcasting reel based on your lure. This needs to be done every time you tie on a new lure. It is quick and easy, don’t skip it.
  2. The next thing you can do to prevent backlash is to put on a strip of electrical tape on your spool just beyond how far you can cast. To do this make the best cast you can. Then pull out another 10-20 yards of line. Next wrap your spool in a short strip of electrical tape. Reel in your line over the tape. You can now fish like you normally would. The tape will prevent you from backlashing beyond the tape which will save you a ton of time while you learn.
  3. Avoid casting directly into wind. Try to position yourself so you are either casting with or across any wind.