Baitcast reels are more expensive and more difficult to use than another types of fishing reels, but they are the choice of anglers who target larger species of fish and who want as much control of their reels as possible. The reels can be adjusted manually to suit a variety of fishing situations and are designed to handle heavy line. Baitcast reels also allow the highest degree of casting accuracy and are most synonymous with bass fishing.
Decide which species of fish you will target. Small baitcast reels are sufficient for catching bass, while heavy-duty baitcasters are better suited for large species like muskies and northern pike.
Set the drag, which is the star-shaped piece that's on the reel handle. To tighten the drag, spin it clockwise. It should be set tight enough that it requires a strong tug to make the drag release line. Test its tightness by holding the line just in front of the reel and pulling on it.
Set the centrifugal brake or magnetic resistance, depending on which the reel is equipped with. If the baitcaster has magnetic brakes, the control mechanism is an adjustable dial on the side plate of the reel. If the reel has a centrifugal brake system, the brake can be found on the spool or on the inside of the reel's side plate. Pins control a centrifugal system, and pins in the off position offer no resistance. As a general rule, less braking is required as lures get heaver. Whether the reel has a centrifugal brake or magnetic resistance, increasing the resistance limits casting distance and also makes backlash less likely. It is a good idea to set the resistance at the halfway point to start with, then adjust it up or down.
Push the reel's thumb lever to release the spool. Place your thumb on the spool to prevent line from coming off.
Cast the lure. Maintain thumb pressure on the spool as you swing the fishing rod backward. As you bring the rod forward in a casting motion, lift your thumb off the spool when the rod tip is beyond your shoulder. As the lure travels through the air, place light pressure on the spool with your thumb. As soon as the lure hits the water, press your thumb down on the spool.
Retrieve your lure by spinning the handle of the baitcast reel clockwise.
- cast image by Rick Sargeant from Fotolia.com