How to Prevent Backlash on a Baitcaster

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Experienced fishermen who target game fish species such as bass, muskies and northern pike often use baitcaster reels. The reels are designed specifically for casting heavy lures and for fishing with heavy lines. Baitcasters are more difficult than other fishing reels to learn to use because they must be adjusted manually, depending on the lure. Improper adjustment leads to backlash, which some anglers call a "bird's nest." Depending on the severity of the backlash tangle, anglers may have to replace most of the line on the reel.

Attach a 1/4-ounce or heavier lure to the end of the fishing line.

Hold the rod and reel parallel to the ground, about 4 feet above it. Press the thumb bar on the reel and let the lure fall to the ground.

Adjust the baitcaster's spool tension, which is controlled by a knob or dial on the side of the reel opposite the handle. Turn the knob or dial clockwise to increase tension, counterclockwise to decrease tension. When the tension is set properly, the reel spool should make less than one revolution after the lure hits the ground.

Adjust the reel's centrifugal brake. Remove the plate of the reel from the side opposite the handle. Find the brake system and the blocks -- there usually are six of them -- inside of it. Tighten the brake by pushing the blocks down, and pull them out to loosen it. Push all the blocks down to minimize backlash. Keep in mind, though, that doing so also limits casting distance.


About the Author

Larry Anderson has been a freelance writer since 2000. He has covered a wide variety of topics, from golf and baseball to hunting and fishing. His work has appeared in numerous print and online publications, including "Fargo Forum" newspaper. Anderson holds a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from Concordia College.

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