April 2021

Setting Up Your Baitcasting Reel

Jason Christie shares his tips on setting up a baitcasting reel for optimal performance. Avoid backlashes and achieve maximum casting distance by learning how to fine tune your reels for different situations.

Backlash / Professional Overrun

In all my years of fishing with a baitcaster, I have never escaped the words backlash or professional overrun. I started to learn that whenever a reel gets a backlash (tangled line within the reel), the reel is set too loose and then spins faster than the bait can move. On the flipside, you can also tighten the reel too much and cause backlash as well. This makes the spool tighter, so casting the reel when it is too tight will cause the spool to spin slower than the bait moves. It is important to learn how to adjust it just right for each condition.



When I get a new reel, I need to adjust it for which bait and casts I am using. When flipping, I don’t want much drag or resistance in the spool. On the other hand, if I’m casting top water, I want to be able to throw it 75 to 80 yards. I should be able to push the button and see the bait fall freely down to the water with any bait. If I have it set too tight it will fall much slower. The bait should be moving freely. After making major adjustments, I’ll make some test casts. When test casting, I’m not trying to cast far and hit the other side of the bank, just nice and easy to get a feel for it.


Fine Tuning

When I feel the bait having a little too much or too little resistance on the cast, I fine tune the drag on the left side of my reel. These adjustments are very fine but can make a difference when casting. I always start with a one notch adjustment and go from there. As the conditions change throughout the day and I change locations, I continually change the fine tuning. I find whatever setting helps me cast the farthest and lets the bait move freely. If I find myself with a 20mph head wind, I can tighten it down a little bit and still cast far. Once you practice and learn these fine reel adjustments, it will increase your cast length no matter the conditions.


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