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When adjusting a bait caster do you set spool tension first then brakes or vice versa? I read doing it both ways, just looking for the correct way.

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Spool first. I adjust until there is a hair of side to side rocking. If you are a newb get to that point and tighten it a hair. Start your brake on max and work down in sigle increments until you get a birdnest. Then tighten it up a half. Some say to adjust the spool for every lure such that gravity dropping it puts just a touch of tension on it. I do it my way because I have quality reels and I have tried everything and I get max distance and no birdnests doing so.

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I do it a bit differently, 1st is selecting the viscosity of the spool bearing oil, then I adjust the tension knob, to where there is no side to side play, and then after choosing lure, I adjust the centrifugal pin/brake thingies. I run my reels a lot looser than most. I want it set up so on a hard snap cast, I get some over run that I can feather. If it's windy or I'm casting poor casting lures, I'll tighten things up a bit.

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Really good reels won't have to be adjusted much between lure weights.  Between a spinnerbait cast upwind and a lipless crank, yes, but not often just due to weight.  After lubing it will take a number of casts before the reel stabilizes.

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I loosen spool tension until there's a wee bit of side play and go fishing.  My reels don't have any of the advanced braking systems of the reels on the market now, all about that Thumb Fu baby!

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The two adjustments work on different parts of the cast.  Spool tension keeps the line from peeling off faster than the spool is spinning at the start of a cast and brakes slow the spool down during the lure's flight so it doesn't spin faster than the line is coming off.  Start with one or the other, but be sure to adjust both accordingly. What works best for you will be trial and error. Many anglers set the spool tension on the light side and use their thumb to control the initial spool start up and slow down. Others rely solely on the reels ability to control backlash.

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Went out today adjusted spool tension based on lure I was using, then set brakes at about 50% percent plus or minus. Casted had a small backlash adjusted the brakes until there was virtually none. Still using thumb, I don't think that will ever change. The more confidence I get the less braking I will need. LOL

Thanks everyone for the help.

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