How To Use A Baitcaster – Complete 2021 Guide

| Last Updated April 13, 2021

A baitcaster is a reel that sits on top of the rod. Baitcasters are more durable, hold heavier lines, and handle heavier fish.

Baitcast reels are more challenging to control than spincast reels. Many fishers are afraid of using baitcasters.

We will teach you how to use a baitcaster so you can catch fish like a pro.

How to Use a Baitcaster for Beginners - Step-by-Step Guide

Baitcasters are challenging to cast. Follow this guide and you’ll be a casting master.

  1. Before casting, it’s essential to make sure you have adjusted your baitcaster. This step will help you avoid getting backlash or a “bird’s nest,” an awful knot in your line. We will explain how to do this later in the article.

  2. You want to make sure that your lure is in the ideal position. It should be 8 to 10 inches from your rod.

  3. Once you position your lure, place your thumb lightly on the spool. Feather your thumb there. When the bait hits the water, apply pressure.

  4. There are two types of casts for beginners. The sidearm cast is more manageable. However, you should also practice overhand.

  5. In the sidearm cast, rotate your hand to the outside. Then, move the rod backward. The rod tip should be about 45 degrees behind you. 

  6. When your rod is beside you, release your line. Finally, arch your rod forward, following through to about 45 degrees ahead of you.

  7. In the overhand cast, bend your casting arm at the elbow, approaching a right angle. While doing this, raise your rod until the tip is a bit past vertical.

  8. Arch the rod forward until it’s at eye level, about 30 degrees above horizontal. While doing this, remove your thumb from the spool.

    Be sure to refer to the video below for a review of what was described.

How to Cast a Baitcaster Without Backlash

Backlash is a common problem for beginners. There are several ways to help prevent backlash. 

You need to understand what backlash is. Backlash is when your spool spins faster than your line goes out.

  • One way to avoid backlash is to adjust your tension knob properly. This control puts pressure on the outside of the spool. A higher tension setting ensures that, even if you accidentally remove your thumb, there’s no backlash. Lower the tension setting as you get more comfortable. 

  • Make sure that you properly adjust your brakes. We will talk more about brakes later.

  • Thumb pressure can also help. When casting, you should always have at least light pressure on the spool. If you feel the backlash, apply more pressure. 

  • What gear you use is vital. Start with a medium or medium-heavy power rod with a fast or moderate fast tip. The rod will take less power to flex and will be easier to cast.

  • Use a braided line, which is less likely to flare out. You should also use a lure of about ⅜ of an ounce. This weight is enough to throw out but not heavy enough to cause knots.

  • Use the sidearm cast. The overhand cast leaves the lure in the air for a long time. Without proper thumb control, this cast can cause bird nests.

    Be sure to refer to the video below for an overview of what was described.

How to Adjust a Baitcaster

You must adjust your baitcaster properly. Your baitcaster will have one of or a combination of the following anti-backlash controls.

  • Your reel may have pins underneath the plate. Adjust this control first. When the pins are pushed in, they are off. 

  • Click it with your fingernail to pop the pin out and turn it on. This adjustment will give more resistance. As a beginner, you should have three or four pins on in a crisscross pattern.

  • Next, adjust the centrifugal brake, a knob on the handle side of your reel. Turn the knob clockwise to tighten it, or the opposite way to loosen it.

  • The centrifugal apply brakes internally on the spool. The tighter the brake is, the less backlash you have.

  • Finally, adjust the magnetic brake on the opposite side of the reel. This gauge, from one to ten, applies to the brake at the end of the cast.

Once you finish adjusting, set your lure up parallel to the ground. Press the release button and let the lure drop at a controlled rate. If there’s backlash when it hits the ground, readjust. Be sure to refer to the video below for an overview of what was described.

How to Cast a Baitcaster Far

Once you have mastered casting without backlash, you can start learning how to throw your baitcaster far. Many factors go into increasing your casting distance.

The type of spool you use can affect how far you cast. Use a spool with slots drilled into it and with a shorter shaft. These features will help you launch further by reducing the weight and making your spool rotate faster.

If your spool doesn’t have these features, you can still increase your casting distance. Consider changing out the bearings to ceramic, which are lighter and have less resistance. 

The diameter of your line is essential as well. A thicker line means less spool capacity and causes more drag in the air. Use a thinner line, but don’t go too light. We recommend a 40- or 50-pound line.

When choosing a lure, look at the weight placement. The heavier part goes out first. Use an aerodynamic bait that has most of the weight at the end of your line. Be sure to refer to the video below for an overview of what was described.

Baitcasting Tips, Tricks, and Hacks for Success

There are some recommendations from master baitcasters that can improve your chances of success.

Practice off the water before using your new reel. Practicing beforehand ensures that you're confident and ready to go when you make it to the lake.

Starting out, don’t worry about how far you cast. Worrying about distance before building confidence increases your chances of backlash. Once you are comfortable casting, you can start working on improving your reach.

Most reels have a narrow opening where the line comes off the spool. This feature is the line guide.

If the line guide is off to one side, friction is added to your cast. Make sure it’s in the middle when you go to cast.

Make sure to use the correct motion when casting. If you fish a lot, you may experience forearm or elbow injuries. These injuries are caused by overextension.

To avoid this, don’t extend your arm completely straight.  Instead, keep your elbow tightly bent. 


Baitcasters can be intimidating to a beginner. If you know how to avoid backlash and adequately adjust your reel, you can use one effectively. You can even learn how to cast farther with your baitcaster. Follow this guide to catch giant fish like an expert.

People Also Ask

People tend to avoid using baitcasters out of fear. Learning the answers to your questions about baitcasting can help eliminate this fear. Below are some commonly asked questions. 

How Should I Hold a Baitcaster?

Many people hold baitcasters with the reel facing upwards and the handle on the side. This technique is incorrect.

Grasp the rod with your index finger on the rod grip. Then, rotate your wrist so that the reel faces up. The first knuckle of your index finger should now be on top of the rod grip.

How Much Should My Bait Weigh When Baitcasting?

Baitcasters are designed to handle heavier lines and lures. You should use lures that weigh more than ¼ ounce.

Baitcasters are great for heavier lures such as crankbaits or spinnerbaits. As a beginner, we recommend using bait weighing about ⅜ ounce, which is light enough to avoid backlash if you fail to use enough thumb pressure.

What Pound Test for Baitcasters?

Knowing a line’s pound test is crucial. A pound test is the amount of pressure a line can withstand.  Baitcasters are used for heavier lines, with a 10-pound test or up.

How Do I Wind a Baitcast Reel? 

First, attach the reel to the rod. Feed the line through the first eyelet, then attach it to the spool. Wrap the line around the spool. 

On the mainline and the tag end, respectively, tie an overhand knot. Then pull the main line, tightening both knots on the spool. Trim the tag end.

Now spool the reel. Place tension on the line as you wind it around the spool. Continue doing this until the spool is almost full. Then trim the line from the package and thread it through the rest of the eyelets.

My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) 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.