No More Birdsnests! How To Avoid Backlashes With A Baitcaster Reel

Fishing with a baitcaster allows you to make the most accurate casts of any type of reel.

However picking out backlashes in a baitcaster can be frustrating enough to cause some anglers to quit using the reels. Backlashes occur when your lure slows down during or after a cast, but the spool keeps spinning, which results in a tangled mess of line. Today’s baitcasters feature sophisticated braking systems and anti-backlash mechanisms that make it easier for anyone to cast without experiencing line overruns. Some reels have brake dials for engaging internal brake magnets to control the speed of the reel’s spool and others are equipped with a brake dial for adjusting a centrifugal brake system that is similar to the way brake pads work on the drum brake of a car.

Try, Try, Try Again

Braided line is popular among baitcasting anglers but beginners also commonly use monofilament because of its user-friendliness and low cost.

Trial-and-error was the best way I learned to cast a baitcaster without backlashing. I practiced casting in my backyard with my Lew’s Speed Spool reels and started out making short throws with the spool tension tightened down. As I tried lengthening my casts I loosened the spool tension and trained my thumb to press down on the spool at the same time the lure hit the ground. After about an hour of practice, I had developed an “educated thumb” and could make long casts with moderate spool tension and no backlashes.

Tips From The Pros

Bassmaster Elite Series pro Mark Menendez once showed me a great tip for setting up a baitcaster to prevent backlashing. He suggested tying on a lure you use for that day and loosen the brakes or adjust the spool tension knob on your reel to where the lure starts to slowly drop. With your rod held horizontal at about chest height, open the bail on the reel and let the lure fall until it hits the ground. If a backlash occurs when the lure hits the ground, you need to tighten the brakes or spool tension. The Kentucky pro recommended keeping adjusting the reel until the lure landed on the ground without any loops forming in the spool.

Fishing in the wind can cause baitcasters to backlash even when your reel’s brakes and spool tension are tightened down. The best way to avoid backlashes in this situation is to cast across or with the wind. If you have to cast into the wind, make short and low pitches close to the water.

Avoid throwing spinnerbaits and buzz baits with blades that catch the wind and slow down your cast to create bird’s nests in your reel. Throw compact lures such a medium-size crankbaits for cutting through the wind and minimizing backlashes.

*Feature image courtesy of Bassin Bill

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