How to Adjust and Cast a Lew's Baitcaster

By : Mark Hicks

To get the unmatched performance Lew’s baitcast reels are capable of, you must make the right adjustments to the star drag, the spool tension knob, and the casting brake.

The Star Drag

A general rule of thumb is to tighten the star drag under the handle until the resistance is about 25 percent of the line’s strength. With 12-pound line the correct amount of resistance would be 3 pounds.

However, some bass fishing techniques require as much resistance as the reel can muster, such as punching a Texas rigged lure through matted grass. For this application, 50- to 65-pound braided line is typically used.

The star drag on some Lew’s baitcast reels, such as the Super Duty Speed Spool, can be cranked down to generate a remarkable 20 pounds of drag resistance. It is exactly what’s needed to horse bass out of dense cover.

The Spool Tension Knob

The spool tension knob behind the handle puts pressure on the end of the spool’s main shaft. If the pressure is too light, backlashes are inevitable. If it is too tight, your casting distance will be greatly reduced.

Get the correct setting by tying on the lure you intend to fish with and letting it hang a few inches from the rod tip. Hold the rod at about 2 o’clock and push the thumbar to release the spool. Tighten or loosen the spool tension knob so that the lure falls in free spool and the spool stops spinning when the lure hits the ground.

Lew’s pro staff angler Mark Rose recommends that you set the magnetic brake on the other side of the reel to 5. This is halfway on a Lew’s reel. As you fish with the reel and your thumb control improves, you will likely fine-tune this adjustment.

Lew’s BB1 and Adjusting Brakes

The Lew’s BB1 has a unique 6-pin SmartPlus™ centrifugal braking system in place of a magnetic brake. Lew’s pro Kevin Short dotes on this reel and knows how to make its braking system work precisely.

“The Lew’s BB1 is the longest casting reel there is,” Short stated emphatically. “There is nothing out there that will outcast it.”

To access the BB1’s brakes, remove the sideplate opposite the handle, which can be done quickly without tools. You will see six brakes fixed to the end of the spool. Four of the brakes are spring loaded. They back off pressure at the end of a cast, which allows for more distance.

“The other two brakes are blue and they’re free floating,” Short said. “By pushing the brakes in or out with your fingernail you can turn any of them on or off to get exactly the braking control you want.”

Casting a Baitcast Outfit

Your wrist and forearm, not your shoulder, are the main drivers when casting. To get maximum wrist flexibility, turn the reel handle up when making an overhand cast. Turn the spool up when making the sidearm roll cast.

  1. Learn the overhand cast first. Begin by holding the rod at 3 o’clock with the reel handle facing up.
  2. With the thumb of your casting hand, press on the spool to hold it in place and push down the reel’s thumbar to disengage the spool.
  3. Sweep the rod up past vertical to about 11 o’clock. In a smooth, continuous motion, make the forward cast. Many anglers, including pros, use two hands when casting, one on the reel and the other below it.
  4. Back off thumb pressure in the middle of the forward cast but not completely. It will take practice to determine precisely when to do this.
  5. Ride the spool lightly with your thumb as the lure sails to the target. Increase thumb pressure to snub the spool at the end of the cast.

The more proficient you become at casting and controlling the spool with your thumb, the more you can back off the reel’s brakes to achieve longer casts.

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