How to Use Baitcasting Reels

by Raymond Manley
Simple baitcasting reel.

Simple baitcasting reel.

Baitcasting reels are preferred by many anglers because they allow for more accurate casting. Experienced anglers can toss their lures very near structure, such as logs or weeds, where fish often hide.

A drawback is that baitcasting reels are more difficult to master than spinning reels. You must properly set up your reel and be patient as you learn to cast consistently and avoid backlash tangles.


  1. Set up your reel for right-handed or left-handed casting. When casting with the right arm, make sure the handle is on the left side of the reel. If you are casting with your left arm, the reel should be on the right. Many baitcasting reels can be easily switched to accommodate either.

  2. Load the spool with 10-pound test line or heavier. Make sure the line winds onto your reel the same way it comes off spool that was holding it.

  3. Adjust the spool tension rod in accordance with the weight of the lures you plan to use. With the baitcasting reel on your rod and rigged with a lure, tighten the spool tension rod so that when the rod is held parallel to the ground and the spool release button is pushed, the lure does not move. Loosen the spool tension rod gradually until you reach the point where the lure slowly drops toward the ground.

  4. Engage the baitcasting reel braking system to about 75 percent. If your reel has a set of magnetic brakes that can be individually set, leave about four brakes engaged. For any baitcasting reel that uses a knob to adjust the brake, turn the knob so the brake is about three-quarters engaged.


  1. Press the spool release button and place your thumb on the spool to prevent line from coming off the reel. Rotate your wrist and forearm so the handle of the reel is facing upward.

  2. Draw the rod back to the "two o'clock" position while keeping your casting forearm away from your body at about a 45-degree angle. In one smooth motion, cast the rod forward to the "10 o'clock" position. Allow your thumb to lightly touch the spool as line is going out.

  3. Watch your lure carefully, and when it hits the water, push your thumb down to stop the spool from spinning. Reel in your lure.

Items you will need

  • Baitcasting reel
  • Baitcasting rod 6 to 8 feet long


  • Reset the spool tension rod when you change to either a heavier or lighter lure. To increase casting distance, gradually decrease the braking setting. Have a spare reel handy so when you get a backlash tangle that can't be easily unsnarled, you can quickly change reels and not lose too much fishing time.


  • Do not use any line lighter than 10-pound test. It will catch on itself in the spool and cause backlash problems. Don't overfill the spool. Fill to about an eighth of an inch beneath the rim. Don't whip the rod forward when casting. This will increase backlash.

About the Author

Raymond Manley started writing for newspapers in 1975, including the "San Jose Sun" and the "Cupertino Courier." He also has extensive experience copywriting for catalogs and the internet. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Jose State University where he won statewide and national awards in feature and news writing. He plays jazz professionally and is an avid fly fisherman.

Photo Credits

  • Podknox:Flickr.com