How To Use A Baitcaster

A Complete Guide On How To Use A Baitcaster

Like most anglers, I started out fishing a traditional spinning gear set-up. For beginners, they are certainly easier to approach. However, as I progressed and gained more confidence in my abilities, I made the switch to using a baitcaster.

While they are more complicated than spinning reels, baitcasters are a far more versatile piece of equipment. Their technology allows me to cast much quicker than a spinning reel. My casting time increased tenfold. But that’s not to say that I didn’t experience a learning curve when I first began using baitcasters.

Because of all the moving parts, like the tension knobs and braking systems, I found myself encountering a plethora of problems when I first started using baitcasters. The main issue I encountered was backlash.

Backlash occurs when the spool spins faster than the amount of line that is being dispersed, resulting in a tangled, mess of line “birdnesting” in your spool.

If you are considering making the switch to a baitcaster, you may have some reservations. I know I did. Are the benefits of a baitcaster really worth learning a whole new reeling system? Why does my line keep birdnesting? If I can’t prevent birdnesting and backlash, am I really increasing my casting and water coverage efficiency?

These are all valid questions, and the truth is that improper baitcasting will not increase your efficiency. However, if you use it properly, a baitcaster will take your fishing game to the next level. That’s why I felt it was so important to create this guide. If you want to improve your angling abilities and avoid misuse, check out this guide on how to use a baitcaster.

Equipment Needed for Baitcasting


While this is the most obvious, it is really important that you choose the right baitcaster. Baitcasters use breaking systems that control the spool dispersion when you are casting. There are two main types of braking systems: magnetic and centrifugal

Magnetic baitcasters include an adjustable knob on the outside of the reeling system, which may make them appear to be more approachable. This is not the case. Magnetic baitcasters have a much higher likelihood of backlashes, which removes all advantages of approachability. 

Centrifugal baitcasters use a braking system similar to a car. They will be located underneath the side plates. They are adjusted by adjusting the interior pins, which can be engaged and disengaged. Pins can be engaged and disengaged by pushing them either towards or away from the center. I find centrifugal braking systems to be the far superior system. I suggest starting with a FishDrops 17+1 BB baitcasting reel from Bass Smashers. This model’s interior pins are designed like levers, which make it a baitcaster that is especially accessible for beginners.

FishDrops 17+1 BB Baitcasting Reel LB200

FishDrops 17+1 BB Baitcasting Reel LB200


While the line really depends on what rig set-up I am using, I usually go with a braided line while baitcasting. It allows me to baitcaster into heavy cover repeatedly. I use Tri-Poseidon 10 lb. braided line.


Chances are, if you are looking into baitcasters, you already have a decent bass-fishing rod. If you are looking for a recommendation, I use the Fitzgerald Vursarod. While it is a little pricey, it is the perfect rod for bass fishing.


The type of bait you will use also depends on preference and set-ups. I do a lot of crankbait fishing, so I’ll link some of my favorites here.

Steps To Follow On How To Use A Baitcaster

Step One: Locate your Braking System

The braking system slows the rotation of the spool at the initial moment that you let the bait fly. The prevent backlash, which occurs when the spool spins faster than the dispersing line.

The braking system slows the rotation of the spool at the initial moment that you let the bait fly. The prevent backlash, which occurs when the spool spins faster than the dispersing line.

I am assuming you are using a centrifugal braking system for this guide. To locate your braking system, remove the side plate opposite of the reel’s handle.

If you are using a magnetic braking system, you simply adjust the knob. Here is a video guide to adjusting a magnetic braking system, courtesy of the The Fishin’ Pastor YouTube channel:

Step Two: Adjust your Braking System

To adjust your braking system, either engage your brakes by pushing the interior levers towards, or disengage them by pushing the braking levers away from the center. Disengaging brakes allows for longer casts but have a higher chance of backlashing. For a video guide on how to engage and disengage centrifugal braking systems, you can check out this video below.

  • Pro Tip: If you are a baitcasting beginner, the professionals at HatCamBass suggest heavily engaging your braking systems. While this causes shorter casts, it will prevent backlashes until you become more experienced.

Step Three: Adjust Tension Knobs

Tension Knobs are located on the same side as the handle of the reel. Tension knobs increase the tension going to the spool. They come into play at the end of your cast, as they bring the spool to a steady stop at the end of your cast. To tighten your tension knob, turn the knob clockwise. To lighten your tension, turn the knob counter-clockwise.

You should adjust your tension depending on the weight you are using for bait casting. For a video guide on how to adjust your tension knob, you can check out part 3:30 on the video previously posted on Step Two.

Step Four: Test Your Tension

To test your tension, begin by holding your rod tip in front of you. Disengage by clicking the spool release button, located at the bottom of your spool. Adjust your tension knob until the bait falls gently to the ground without any backlash. You can watch how to do it on the previous video on Step Two at 3:50 in the clip. 

Step Five: Grip Your Baitcaster

To properly grab your baitcaster, wrap your dominate hand around the rod handle and the reel. Make sure your thumb is resting on both the spool and the spool release button. This ensure that you can properly disengage your spool and allow for proper casting.

Step Six: Release Your Line

Releasing the proper amount of line ensures that you make a good cast. For beginners, I suggest allowing about 8-12 inches of line to hang before you cast. Measure the line from tip of the rod to the bait.

Step Seven: Release Your Spool and Cast

Release your spool by pressing the spool release button and immediately placing your thumb on the spool to prevent the line from running. For casting technique, do whatever you are comfortable with.

Remember, when you are first starting out, it is good to use a heavy brake. This means that you will be making shorter cast and you will want to avoid casting too hard. Also, you will want to switch hands after casting so you can reel with your dominant hand. Once you get comfortable, you can begin experimenting more.

Above all, get out and practice as much as possible, as experience is the only way to consistently make good casts and prevent backlashing.


Baitcasters are a great reel option that will increase your versatility while fishing. While they allow you to cover more water and cast more efficiently, the learning curve often leaves beginners experiencing a lot of backlash. Be sure to get a quality baitcaster, preferably one with a centrifugal reel. And, remember to get out and practice with your baitcaster as much as possible!

Enjoy this guide to using a baitcaster? Find a step epically helpful or have your own baitcasting tip? Tell us about it in the comments below and be sure to share on Facebook and Twitter.