rod and reel repair


Basic Baitcast Reel Setup 101

I read it everywhere. "I can't cast my baitcasting reel for the life of me". I read complaints that the lure just falls at the anglers feet. The lure is going to the right or left, outside of the casting path. I read the answers that some of the same novice baitcasters are getting and it blows me away. So for those of you that are having problems with professional overruns, bird nest, backlashes, whatever you want to call them. I am going to try and get you started in the right direction. With the basic setup for a baitcasting reel. There is a whole lot of technical information you are shown on other source pages, that I feel confuses the new angler, and even the experienced spinning angler that is trying to learn how to use a baitcasting reel.

OK, you have a new baitcasting reel just out of the box. You have your new baitcast fishing rod (or old one). You have placed the reel on your rod and you have spooled your favorite line on to it. Now you take and add a casting plug to it.

Just a side note here.
This is were a lot of anglers go wrong, in learning how to use a baitcasting reel and rod. Not following the manufacturers ratings. They read so much on the forums about this and that baitcasting reel throwing super light lures and using super light lines. That they tend to forget that you have to use what has been suggested by the manufactures. They are the ones that know the gear that the angler is using and how to rate it. For example if your reel is rated at 14lb. test and you place 8lb. test on it, and, place it on a rod that is rated for max 10 - 17lb. test, then place a practice plug that is lighter than the lure rating on the rod. You basically have an out of tune system.

Now if you take a reel rated for 14lb line spool that weight on it, mount that reel to a rod rated for 14lb test, then add a practice plug in the higher end of the rods lure rating. You would then have a balanced system to learn on. I know that the title of this is Basic Baitcast Reel Setup 101. But you can not setup a baitcasting reel on a system that is all over the placed on what you the angler thinks it should be. Now from this point I would hope that you have taken my advise and setup your system properly.



Ok now enough of that because now you want an answer to Bait-cast Reel Setup. So lets get to it

First we want to cover the braking systems. If you have an old Abu Garcia C when you remove the spool you see the (2) two blocks sitting on the post, remove these for now.
If you have a newer Daiwa reel take and set your magnet dial to zero. If you are using a newer Shimano reel use your turnkey dial to access your spools brakes and turn them off. Now if you are using a newer Quantum reel take and set your brake dial to "Free"

Next we need to set the cast control. That is the knob just under the crank handle.

I would set that tight for now.


Now let's examine the free spool release systems. On the left is a push button system. On the right is a thumbar system.
When you are asked to hit the free spool, you will push the button or thumbar and slide your thumb down onto the spool to hold the spool from turning.

Disclaimer: This is just a starting point for beginners and is not etched in stone..
Ok you have the reel spooled up and the mounted to the rod, the line is threaded through the guides and you have tied on the appropriate weight practice plug. You are now going to peel off enough line to hang your practice plug 6" from the rod's tip. Now you hit the free spool and lightly shake the rod's tip, and lifting your thumb so that the line can peel. If the lure doesn't fall to the ground or floor, the cast control cap should be loosened by a half turn and repeat the process.

Now you have re-adjusted your cast control. Set the plug at the 6" mark again and repeat the process. Do this until you have the plug falling to the ground or floor without the spool turning more than 1/2 turn. For a beginner I would set the cast control tighter so that when the plug hits the ground or floor without the spool turning more than 1/4 turn (that's pretty tight).
Note: It doesn't take much of a turn per try to get any adjustment from a properly maintained cast control. If you get the cast control cap too loose you will have to use your thumb to stop the spool from turning (it will be your first experience thumbing or feathering the spool, you will be practicing this next) and causing a birds nest.

Ok once you get the plug to fall to the ground or floor and the spools rotation stops at 1/4 - 1/2 turn consistently (more than once), you have achieved the correct cast control starting place for the weight practice plug or lure you intend to use.

Now it is time to go back to your brakes, whether they are magnetic, centrificale, or other, you now want to set them at about 50%. On a centrificale brake I would set it to an even number to start. On a magnetic brake system I would start at 5 on the dial. For those of you that have to remove the side plate to set your brakes, set them and replace the plate. You should now have the cast control and brakes set for the weight of the practice plug or lure you intend to use.

How To Get A Smart Thumb
The most important part of casting a bait caster is a smart thumb. Your thumb lightly rides on the spool of line and controls it (Feathering), so you must educate your thumb. You can do this by practicing while your watching TV. Tie on a good heavy practice plug or lead weight, and sit down. Loosen up the cast control knob until the weight drops freely, and use your thumb (feathering) to slow/stop it just before it hits the floor. Do this over and over until you get the feel for feathering the spool with your thumb and stopping the weight just before it reaches the floor. Once you feel comfortable feathering the spool and not causing backlashes, reset the cast control knob to the practice plug weight as before. Because now your going to take your outfit outside and start practicing casting it.

Time To Cast Your Practice Plug.
Don't try to hit the garage door across the street. Don't try to get the bait to the next county. Easy does it the first few times. Pick a spot or target. Set the practice plug or lure at 6" from the tip (before every cast). Take your outfit and make a short lob type cast to it. Swing your whole arm, don't try to snap the rod tip with your wrist. The reason for casting like this to start, is that you want the spool to start spinning slowly and evenly. A lob cast (controlled roll cast) will do this. Using a snap cast (hard overhead for distance) will make the spool start spinning fast from the beginning, almost guaranteeing a backlash.

Keep casting like this until you feel comfortable and are hitting the target you picked, then moving further away, start making longer and longer cast. Gradually loosen up on the cast control knob until you have to stop the spool with your thumb, just like you practiced (watching TV). Once you get confident using the exact to heavier weight practice plug, try lighter weights and learn different ways to cast.


A tip : "The reel should be vertical, with the handle facing up, at the end of the cast".
I hope this has helped you setup your baitcasting reel, and with casting practice you will be hauling in those lunkers in no time.

The Reel Mechanic



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