How To Adjust and Cast A Baitcasting Reel

Fishing Reels, Fishing Rods, and Casting Videos
Learn how to adjust pin, magnetic, and centrifugal baitcasting reels, plus casting techniques to reduce backlashes in this video.

Hey folks, Glenn May here with, and today I'm going to talk to you about how to cast with a bait caster. Now, I know when you're first starting out, it can seem really difficult and real daunting, and even when you've been using for a while, it can still seem kind of a pain in the butt to get it dialed in and get it working correctly. So, let me show you a few tricks and tips, on how to get there, and how to make sure that your casts are smooth and accurate, and backlash free.

First off I'd like to go through the different types of anti-backlash controls that come with bait casters today, there's basically three kinds. One is the pin kind, the other is the centrifugal brake, kind, and the third is the magnetic brake kind. And some bait casters come with a combination of two of those, or even all three, which can make it seem even more confusing. So let me take you through each one.

The first one is the pin kind and the reason I want to show that first is because regardless if your unit comes with just one or with all three, the pin is the first one you want to adjust. And you can see in this one here, I've taken the side plate off, it has six different pins. And if you look closely, you'll see that this one, right here, is sticking further out then the rest, except for the one on the opposite side. I have two here that are out, and the others are in, or closest to the center of the reel. So when it's closest to the center of the reel, that's off. And if you click it, just stick your fingernail in there, you'll feel a little bit of pressure and you'll feel it pop out, then it's on. When it's on, it's going to give a lot more resistance to the spool. It's, it's going to help cut down on back lashes. I recommend when you're first starting out, you want to have three, maybe four on, and always do it in crisscross patterns. Don't do 1-2-3-4 like that, you want 1, 2, 3, 4 in crisscross patterns, Okay.

Go with four, if you're first starting out, maybe three, and then you put the plate back on. Now those are brakes are always on, and they don't adjust or change at all throughout the cast. It's important to know, and we'll get to that in a minute later.

Now, I've been using baitcasters for a long time, and you can see I had two on. Sometimes, people like one, sometimes people like to free spool them. Once you get to a certain point in your comfort level, you can start clicking them back, and turning them off, until you feel comfortable with them, and maybe as time goes on, maybe with lighter lures, you might want to turn some more on, or you might want to turn some more off. You can experiment, but it's always good to start with three or four on and then adjust from there.

Next I want to show you, is the centrifugal brake, which that’s always this knob on the reel handle side. No matter what make, model reel that you've got, it's always with, the one next to the reel handle. And all that is, is a little knob here and you turn it clockwise to tighten, and counterclockwise to loosen. You'll notice as you get through this, there will become a sweet spot, where just a little bit of incremental change forward or backward can make a big difference. And what the centrifugal brake does, is that it applies some brakes internally on the reel, on the spool on this side. And, again that applies brakes, all the way through the cast, and that helps, again, to reduce some backlash. And the more you have it on, the, the more brakes you’re going to have, the less backlash. And of course the more you have it on the less distance you're going to have, and perhaps the harder you'll need to cast, and we'll get to that in just a minute.

   And then lastly, I want to show you the magnetic brakes. I'm going to tell you in a minute how all this works together in harmony, I just want to show you what these are. The magnetic brake, what it is, if you'll notice, there's a centrifugal on this reel right here, and the magnetic is on this side, and that's always the case, no matter what make/model you have. The magnetic brake is over here. This has a gauge, usually its one through ten, usually. What the magnetic brake does, is it applies braking more toward the end of the cast than at the beginning. Very useful for when you're throwing light lures, or you're throwing into the wind, it works real well for that. So sometimes, I'll have this dialed all the way up, if I'm throwing it in wind. And sometimes, I have it all the way off. And oftentimes I have it for all kinds of things in between. Depending on the weight of the lure I'm throwing, depending on the wind conditions, and depending on the rod, and the type of casting that I'm doing. This is what you use to fine tune your casting, once you get everything done.

If you'll notice, I've shown you progression, in order that you adjust, as your setting your reel up; it's pin first, centrifugal next, and then your magnetic brakes. Some reels, I forgot about a fourth type, there's some reels where there's just a knob over here, and that's your centrifugal and magnetic. They don't make so many of those any more but there's still some out there, you just have one knob to adjust. That's all there is to it, you don't have to worry about that. Same with the just centrifugal, that's pretty popular as well. Just that one, you don't have to adjust anything else.

Anyway, what you want to do, to adjust it is, set your lure up, hang it 90 degrees, or parallel to the boat or to the ground, release the button and let it free spool. It should drop at a slow controlled rate, and once it hits the floor, the reel shouldn't backlash. It'll spin a little bit, but not much, it shouldn't backlash. If it backlashes too much, readjust as necessary, until you get it to the point where it just stops spinning right when the lure hits the floor. Then you know you've got it set up, at least initially, you got it set up correctly.

But you know, once you have it set up, that doesn't mean that, guess what, I'm good to go, I won't have backlashes anymore. No. These brake mechanisms are not silver bullets, they're not going to prevent all backlashes. And as a matter of fact, a lot of issues people have with casting bait casters has nothing to do with getting it set up properly. So, let's go through some of the other issues you can have, and how to overcome those, once you have your bait caster setup.     

Okay, so, now we have the bait caster set up right, we're ready to rock and roll, what are some of the other issues you may have? Well, first of all, when you are casting, couple things to remember. The release point, when you cast, you want to let go between the 12 o'clock to 2 o'clock positions. And how you can tell if you're releasing too soon or too late, when you cast, if the lure goes really high, comes back down, you released a bit too soon. A big huge arc is a good indication of letting go too soon.

Conversely, if you cast and the lure lands right in front of you, or lands in a straight line really hard into the water, typically that results in a backlash, then you released too late. So pay attention to when the lure hits the water, and how it hits the water, what kind of arc it has, and that gives you an idea of when, of your release timing, and whether you need to release sooner or later.

One other thing to keep in mind is that with most bass casting techniques, it's all in the wrist. It's not with the forearm, and it's not with the arm. We're not here to do passes, we're not throwing touchdowns here, so don't do any of this... I don't want to see the rod way back behind you, and your throwing it. No. Doing that, you're going to throw it too hard, and you're going to because backlashing issues. Okay. Part of the reason why that you're getting backlashes is because you're throwing way too hard.

As a matter of fact, when you're first starting out, a lot of people get obsessed with their distance. Please don't do that. Please, please, please don't do that. With bass fishing, particularly, it's all about accuracy, not distance. So don't worry about your distance. As a matter of fact, as time goes on, and as you get more and more practice, your distance will get there. It'll come. It'll come later. Don't worry about it. If you try hard right now to throw as far as you can, I guarantee you will get a backlash.

So, first off, forget about your distance, it doesn't matter. What matters is technique and accuracy. As a matter of fact, a great way to do this is to practice in your backyard. Set up a target and aim for it, one that's not very far away. Don't try to hurk it all the way across your yard, you're going to be disappointed about the results. Focus on something within your range, and focus on that accuracy.

Now when you cast, again, it, it's wrist. And you don't need to bring the rod, way past, over here behind your head. No. Because when you do that, you don't know in which direction it's going to go, and it's hanging back here, who knows, when you fire forward, it's going to go somewhere. Keep it right in front of you, Okay? Keep the rod, right in front of you. That's the best way to keep it accurate. So all it is, you might go a little bit past your shoulder, but it's just a little cast like that. It's really light. It's not much. It's all in the wrist. Watch my wrist again. It's just... wrist. Okay? Very simple, straight forward. You don't have to throw it really hard, it's just simple wrist.

And one other thing; it's a lot harder when you shake people’s hands, to move your wrist like this, than like that. So don't cast with your wrist like that. Put it like that. See that, I've got it up and down, the real handle is up. I'm right-handed, if you're left-handed, you're going to have it the other way, but, right-handed, your wrist, you want it the way you would when you shake someone's hand. It's very easier to cast that way. Okay. A lot easier to cast that way, straight up and down, versus, trying to do it like this. Okay. It, it's a little small thing, but the spool then is on its axis, and it will spin a little bit easier. It's a minor thing, especially when you have a reel that has nine or ten barring's. It's pretty much such a minuscule improvement, it's not much. But, it does give you a little bit of a performance advantage.

Keeping your wrists straight up and down, using your wrist, not bringing it back and not throwing it as hard as you can. Just practice on that release point, and practice, how much pressure to use with your thumb on the reel. Initially when your casting, you want to use quite a bit of pressure on the thumb, right on the reel, to make sure it doesn't spin really hard. And as you practice, you can start letting it go a little bit more. But even, I've been doing this for 40 plus years, I can tell you, I always have my thumb at least resting on the spool when I cast. I can feel it. After a while you can tell, if you start to get a backlash, use your thumb to apply more pressure to prevent it from happening. Okay?

So that's it. It's very simple, straight forward. A couple of things to keep in mind. Get that skill adjusted correctly, and then start practicing with short targets.  And, I guarantee you, you will get better and better, and you'll love your bait casting outfit. For more tips, and tricks like this, visit