How to set up a Baitcasting Reel – Beginners Guide

Setting up a Baitcasting reel is an important step in becoming an expert in using them and getting the best results. No one wants the frustrations of the backlashes when the spool is spinning very fast, and the line is dragging itself in water. The outcome of the backlash is a line overrunning itself and ends up in a tangle.

Every angler knows that the first best choice she can make is to have the best reel. Having the best reel does not automatically give you the best catch but following some various fishing rules to have the best catch by the time you live the fishing spot.

Getting the best fishing experience without setting up the rod will likely lead to disappointing and a strenuous fishing trip that is why it is in your best interest to have the best knowledge in setting up the Baitcasting reel.

It is important for you to learn how to set up a Baitcasting reel, to achieve this we will take you through all the essential steps of setting up and adjusting a baitcaster.

Line Choices

If you are a learner and want to get the best results, using a monofilament as a line of choice. Most people who use fluorocarbon or braid get frustrated trying to set up the lines. The stiffness of fluorocarbon is why monofilament is the preferred selection, getting a backlash when your choice of line is a fluorocarbon weakens the line and can easily cause breakage later. On the other hand, the braided can create worse backlashes because of its smooth texture that may force you to cut out huge chunks of line to become usable.

It is for this reasons that you should use the monofilament (one that weights between 12 to 15 pounds) if you want to catch fish in most situations.  

To get the best of your reel, fill it under the pool’s edge to the maximum to avoid overruns. Tie the lure on to a rig that you use frequently and wait for the bait.

The Spool Tension

The tension knob is that small dial on the side of the plate, which also on the same side as the handle and drag star. You need to adjust the tension correctly as the first step in setting the baitcasting reel for a smooth casting day.

Hold the rod facing 2 O’clock and bring your lure up until there are at least 8-12 inches of the line drawn. Tighten the tension knob until you feel some light pressure building up, then push the thumb bar and release the lure at this point the lure should be dropping slowly or not at all. Ease the pressure on the tension knob until the pressure until it starts to fall on its own.

Continue reeling until the lure can fall within three seconds, with the correct tension; you will experience any cable overrun when it hits the ground. Please note that each bait work with different tension control.

Brake Adjustments

Getting the brakes right can be tricky when it comes to adjusting the Baitcasting reel. You need to familiarize yourself with the two kinds of braking system used in Baitcasting reel. Every manufacturer designs their breaks differently and performs according to the brand you are using. Here are the two types of breaks:

Centrifugal Brakes

These brakes use small weights on the inside of the plates to activate the braking. You access the plates by unscrewing one side and lifting a lever leading to the plates. Inside the plate, you notice even arrangement of pegs that can be adjusted to the in or out position.

Pushing it on the out (ON) position means, you are transferring more weights on the outside and ends up creating more centrifugal forces on the Baitcasting reel causing it to slow down. Always leave the pegs in a symmetrical pattern, which creates a balance. You can do 2, 3, 4, or 6 pegs to create the symmetry.

Magnetic Brakes

These brakes are easy to understand and adjust because they use a dial on the outside the reel plate that adjusts the brake strength. The dial adjusts between a MIN of 1 and MAX of 10, here the higher the setting, the more breaking applied.

Hybrid Brakes

Some Baiting cast reels use both the magnetic and centrifugal brakes the adjustments are the same, but each needs to be set a little lower, which may be a bit complicated to some anglers. Therefore, you had better stick to what you know.

The Drag

Setting the drag on a Baitcasting reel should be so simple. Look for the star-shaped dial lying between the reel handle and the reel body. Turn the star forward to tighten the drag and inwards to loosen. To tighten the drag and make it tight enough not to slip on the hookset and strong enough not to give away, tug and click the star wheel down until the line is ready to pull off the spool.

Making the Adjustments

Now that you know the different components and working mechanisms of the Baitcasting reel take time and check your spool tension and brakes in the best way as explained above. Take some test cats and see how it all goes, make the tension on the casts as you become comfortable.

Do not focus so much on the backlashes if you are a beginner because you need to get the distance right and a lot of practice in controlling the spool using your thumb. As you get the hints correctly lower the brakes and start enjoying the long casts.

Make sure your brakes are on a windy day. Casting your line hard on a windy climate without properly siting the brakes without proper knowledge on using the thumb is a call for a backlash. Instead, turn up the brakes and roll cats to reduce the chances of an overrun on a windy day.


The success of angler depends on experience and skills, when you do not catch enough fish for the day it does not mean that you are ignorant on matters related to fishing. The best is to look for the best Baitcasting reel for a better fishing outing. Better still, this article is a perfect guide to help you achieve more.

Ted Thomas

Hi there, I'm Ted Thomas, an ardent adventure writer. I write for readers with a genuine interest in enjoying the great outdoors. By sharing my experiences camping, hunting and fishing, I hope to inspire others to fully explore the depths of their passion.

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