Baitcaster Setup – 2021 Complete Guide (With Videos)

| Last Updated April 10, 2021

You've decided to become an angler, have gone out, bought a rod, reel, and some line. Now you're looking at your new toys, wondering how these puzzle pieces go together to create a picture of you catching your first fish on your own setup. 

Well have no fear, in this article, we are going to go through those steps plus some tips to make things a little easier when performing a baitcaster setup.

How to Set Up a Baitcaster - Beginner's Guide

There are a few steps to a baitcaster setup to ensure you spend more time fishing and less time messing with your gear. 

First, set the centrifugal braking system, located on the left side of the reel, to about ¼ tight. Meaning if you have the dial set to the minimum, turn the dial ¼ the distance to full. 

Next is probably the most important part of setting up your baitcaster. On the right side of the reel is a spool feed knob. Tighten this knob as tight as you can, using just your fingers. With the lure attached to the end of the line, loosen the spool feeder knob until the lure falls freely to the ground. 

The line shouldn't continue to unspool when the lure is completely resting on the ground. Getting this set properly will defend against the dreaded backlash or "bird's nest." When changing lures, pay attention to if there is a significant change in a lure's weight, as it might be necessary to repeat this process.

Lastly, set the drag so that it's moderately difficult to pull the line from the spool by hand. This will give the fish resistance to fight against, but not so much resistance that the fish snaps the line at the first strike.

In my favorite Looney Tunes character's voice, "Th-Th-That's All Folks!" 

You're set up and ready to hit the water with this baitcaster setup. For a visual, check out the video below.

How To Tie Fishing Line To Baitcast Reel

To tie the fishing line to your baitcaster reel, first loop the fishing line's end around the spool. It's easier to go under the spool than over when feeding the line. Using an Arbor Knot, secure the fishing line to the spool. 

Don't know how to tie an Arbor Knot? We'll explain below. 

How to Tie an Arbor Knot

To tie an Arbor Knot, tie an overhand knot around the fishing line's main line, forming a loose slip knot. 

Next, tie a second overhand knot in the tag-end of the fishing line and tighten. Then pull the mainline and tag-end until the loose slip knot tightens around the mainline. Now, pull on the mainline till the overhand knot in the tag-end butts-up against the slip knot around the mainline. Lastly, cut excess tag-line off and discard. 

There you go, all ready to catch some fish, with this baitcaster setup. We have added a video to walk you through attaching a line to your reel visually.

How To Lube A Baitcaster Reel


Locate the oil-port on the bottom of the reel. Using an appropriate screwdriver, loosen the screw, holding the port enough to open the oil-port. It shouldn't be necessary to remove the screw completely as it might fall out. 

Next, add three drops of oil directly to the visible gears and one to the void next to the gears. Reattach the oil-port door and secure it with the screw. Lastly, turn the reel crank handle a few times to disperse the oil over the gears.


Locate the shaft where the line guide of the reel is attached. Using reel grease, coat the shaft with the reel grease and turn the reel crank until the reel guide travels the shaft a few times. This action should evenly coat the shaft in grease.

It's wise to perform these tasks before adding the line if possible. If that is not possible, try to be careful not to get oil or grease on the fishing line because fish can smell or sense it. Because of this, you might have difficulty catching fish. 

How To Adjust a Baitcaster Reel

When adjusting your baitcaster, it depends on preference more than anything. One thing to set correctly is your spool feed. With the lure you have picked attached to the line, you should tighten or loosen the spool feed knob until the lure falls slowly under its own weight. Ensuring you have a proper baitcaster setup and that it’s adjusted correctly, for each lure will prevent backlashes and make your time on the water more enjoyable. 

As you become better at casting, you might begin playing with this setting to maximize casting distance and how the lure drops underwater. When you get to this fishing level, using your thumb to control the spool is a critical skill. 

Intermediate anglers should press their thumb down firmly on the spool just before the lure hits the water, then relax the tension on the spool after to allow it to sink. The lure might pop back a little at first, but as you get better at using your thumb on the spool, that will happen a lot less. We have added a video that discusses adjusting your reel to add a better understanding of the topic.

How To Set Drag On Baitcaster

First, open the reel to expose the reel brakes on the spool spindle. Engage a couple of the brakes using a penny or something of the kind. It's best to start with engaging two brakes and working up from there. 

Give the rod and reel a test cast to determine if you have achieved the desired outcome, this process can be repeated as often as needed. The goal is to prevent the reel from free spooling when the lure hits the water. Free spooling after the lure makes contact with the water's surface causes backlashes. 


When setting up your baitcaster, take the time to pay close attention to the rate of spool feed. Failure to give this aspect proper consideration will cause many backlashes, which will only add frustration to your fishing trips. 

We hope following this simple guide adds joy to your fishing experiences. Tight lines, anglers!

People Also Ask

There are typically a few missed questions in our articles' main body, so we've done our best to include them below. We hope the answer to the question you have has made our list and further help your baitcaster setup

What Size Braid For Baitcaster?

They design braided line to handle larger loads and bait sizes. Because of this, braided lines with 30-80lbs tests are normal.

How Much Line To Put On a Baitcaster?

When adding a line to a baitcaster, it's best to fill the reel until about ⅛ of an inch shows between the top of the line and the top of the reel spool.

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How To Line a Baitcaster

When setting up a baitcaster, adding a line might be the first thing to do if it didn't come pre-spooled. If you have to add a line to the spool, run the line through the fishing rod's eyelets, and attach it to the reel as described above. Placing a pencil through the line spool has a buddy hold the line spool as you reel in the line until it is full.

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.