How To Spool A Baitcaster – 2021 Easy Guide

| Last Updated April 14, 2021

So you've decided to become a fisherman? Or, as we say in the game, an angler? You've bought a rod, a baitcaster reel, and some line. Now you're looking at all your new toys wondering how to bring them together so you can start catching fish. 

Well, after you've gotten the reel attached to your rod, now comes getting the line from the line spool onto the reel spool.

In this article, we're going to walk you through how to spool a baitcaster, as well as some tips, tricks, and other useful information to make your fishing experience a success.

Do's and Don'ts

Here we'll address some things to consider before you begin spooling your fishing line onto your reel.

Do: Set Your Line Guide

Set the line guide on your reel to the left or right of the spool. Setting the line guide this way before you begin reeling in line will help give a nice even spool. If the guide is in the middle, the line might develop a hump, which can later affect casting. 

Do: Know What You're Fishing for

Knowing what general types of fish are most common to your area will help determine what line size you need on your reel. For example, if you live in Texas, you're mostly going to be fishing for largemouth bass, catfish, or striped bass. Knowing this, you can estimate the top end of these fish will be about 15 to 20 lbs. 

This doesn't mean you need a fishing line that has a 20 lb tested tensile strength. Aim for a fishing line with a 10 lb test. It might be rare that you catch the high end of the species. The higher the test of the line, the thicker the line will be. Fish can then see the line, and you'll miss catching other fish.

Do: Decide If You're Fishing Lakes or Rivers

Whether you're fishing lakes or rivers coincides with what type of fish you're hunting. Fish in lakes tend to grow much larger than the fish in rivers. This doesn't mean you won't catch some massive fish out of a river, as many anglers will tell you. Typically, if you're going to be on a boat in the middle of a lake, choose a line closer to the high end of the species weight. You'll also want a reel large enough to hold more line because you might have to fish deeper depending on the season. 

Don't: Forget Your Drag

One of the biggest mistakes new anglers make is not knowing how to control their drag. It's imperative to know this, especially when using baitcasters. If you don't have the drag set firm enough when you cast your lure, your reel spool will continue to unspool when it hits the water. 

This will cause a backlash, also known as a "bird's nest." Experience one of these and your fishing trip might be over. You'll spend the next several hours untangling a mess. However, setting the drag too tight will prevent the lure from casting as far, and if you hook a good size fish, the line might snap.

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How to Spool a Baitcaster

Hopefully, you're not starting this new hobby alone. Fishing is more enjoyable when you're doing it with someone. It also proves beneficial when telling fishing stories and is helpful when spooling a baitcaster. 

1. Start at the rod's tip for starters and feed the fishing line through the rod's eyelets. When you get to the last eyelet, stop and make sure you didn't miss one. 

2. Next, thread the fishing line's end through the reel's line guide and under the reel spool. 

3. Now, tie an overhand knot about two to three inches from the end of the line and tighten it down. This knot will act as a stop in the tag end for the next knot. Now, tie a double overhand knot around the reel spool. Pull it snug to the spool, then pull on the main line till the tag end stops at the pre-tied overhand knot. Clip off the excess line and discard.

4. Ok, now have your fishing buddy place a pencil, or something like it, through the center of the line spool. Ensure the spool is held so the line comes off the top when pulled. Have your partner hold light tension on the sides of the line spool with their thumbs. It might help if they wrap their thumbs in duct tape to prevent discomfort. 

5. Pick up your rod and reel. Using the pointer finger and thumb of your non-dominant hand, hold tension on the line between the reel and the first eyelet of the rod. Begin reeling in the line until there’s about a 1/8th inch space between the top of the line and the top of the spool. Applying duct tape to the thumb and pointer finger of the hand holding tension will prevent discomfort while spooling a baitcaster.

Note: Braided Fishing Line- See next section for more information

If you're using a braided fishing line, you'll first need to apply a backing line to the reel spool. The steps for this are the same, but only add enough backing to fill about 1/8th of the reel. Then attach your braided line to the backing using a double uni knot.

That's all there is to it, folks. All that's left is putting on a lure and finding a good fishing hole. We've added a short video to aid in any confusion when spooling a baitcaster. 

How to Spool a Baitcaster With Braid

Spooling a baitcaster with a braided line is the same as mentioned above in spooling a baitcaster. The difference is in the tension placed on the line while reeling the braided line onto the reel.

  • So, when you begin reeling the braided line onto your reel, set the drag as tight as possible. 

  • Using terry cloth, grasp the braided line in your hand, creating a little of a kink to improve your grip and tension on the line.
  • Then begin to crank the braided line onto the spool forcibly. Again, we've added a video to demonstrate how to spool braided lines onto a baitcaster.

How to Spool a Baitcaster by Yourself

By yourself, spooling a baitcaster requires a few adaptations to the steps listed at the beginning of this article.

  • First, you want to get something longer than a pencil to put through the center of the line spool. A wooden dowel rod purchased from your local hardware store works well. 

  • Place the dowel through the center of your line spool. Place the line spool on the floor. Put one foot on top of the dowel and the other under the other end of the dowel. The line spool should be between your feet. Feed the line through the large eyelet nearest the reel only. 

  • Feed the line through the reel's line guide and attach it to the reel spool as described above. Once you've filled your reel spool, if you intend to go fishing, immediately, then thread the line through the remaining eyelets and attach a lure. If not, tie the line to the first eyelet and stow it. Here's a visual in case you still need a little help.


Now you've successfully spooled a baitcaster. That's the easy part of fishing. Next is finding the fish. The golden rule of fishing is if you find where the fish are hiding, DON'T TELL ANYONE! Have fun out there and, as the anglers say, "tight lines." 

People Also Ask

There are always a few follow up questions after a block of instruction. We’ve taken some frequently asked questions and included them below. 

Do You Need Backing on a Baitcaster?

It depends on what kind of line you're using. If you're using a standard monofilament line, then no, you can tie the monofilament directly onto the reel spool. If you're using a braided line, it's highly recommended because braided lines will slip on the spool. Adding backing to the reel before adding the braided line will help prevent slippage.

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What Kind of Line Should I Use on a Baitcaster?

If you ask 100 people what type of line you should use on a baitcaster, you'll get 200 answers. It comes down to preferences and what type of fish you're after. If you're deep sea fishing, then braided lines might be what you need. But if you're chasing perch or trout, then a light monofilament will probably be best. 

Will Braided Line Damage My Rod?

The short answer to whether braided lines will damage your rod is no. The type of line used on a reel shouldn't affect the rod. These rumors are typically spun by someone who sells rod parts.

How to Spool a Baitcaster Evenly

The secret to spooling a baitcaster evenly is threefold. First, do your best to begin the spooling process on one side of the spool. Most reels now have a line guide, so try to ensure it's all the way to one side before you feed in your line and begin spooling. 

Secondly, watch your line guide as you reel in your fishing line. Make sure it's moving from side to side and not getting stuck while reeling. Lastly, keep even tension on the line as you're reeling in the line. If tension changes too much, some places will be more tightly spooled than others. This can lead to the dreaded "bird's nest" if not addressed.

My name is Caleb and I am obsessed with hunting, fishing, and foraging. To be successful, you have to think like your prey. You have to get into the mind of your target - and understand Big Game Logic. If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at Read more about Big Game Logic.