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I know we’ve been fishing for several months now. Well, at least maybe you have. I haven’t been “cut loose” yet! Enough of my whining.
A while back I was asked, “How do you cast a baitcaster?” *A baitcaster is the reel that looks like a little winch.
How do you cast it? The simple answer is “Ya just fling it!” The real question would be “How do you adjust a baitcaster so it doesn’t backlash when you cast it?”
A baitcaster is a complicated piece of machinery with a bunch of parts that work together. Of course, all these parts have different functions but they all work together to allow you to cast. In order to work together everything has to be adjusted to do so!
The logical place to start is to let you know what these controls (parts) are called and what they do.
The thumb bar is at the rear of the reel and positioned so your thumb naturally rests on it when you grip the rod.
The cast control knob is on the right hand side of your reel, located beside the reel handle and star drag. This knob maintains control of the spool through the entire cast. The spool is what your line is wound on. The handle turns the spool to retrieve your line and the star drag helps in fighting the fish. Neither of the controls affects the cast.
The centrifugal brake control controls the beginning of the cast when the speed of the spool is greatest. This control is on the left side of your reel “inside” the left side plate. *Good luck figuring out how to access the part. Seems like every reel make is different. But, there’s a pin, a lever or a screw somewhere that’ll let the side plate come off. With the side plate removed you’ll see the brake pins.
Some reels have a magnetic brake control on the left hand side. This is adjusted by a dial in the side plate.
Some reels will have both centrifugal “and” magnetic brake controls!
Now to start adjustments. First, spool up with 14-17-pound line. Use cheap line cause you’ll ruin it anyway! Then, “lightly” snug down the cast control knob. Adjust the brake pins (left side, under the side plate). Start by pushing every other pin in. Replace the side plate. If you have magnetic brake control, set it to “0”.
With the cast control snug…but not tight…every other brake pin locked in, side plate back on and the magnetic control on “0”, its time to run your line thru the rod guides. Tie on a half-ounce weight and we’re ready to adjust!
O.K. Hold your rod tip in the 11 o’clock position. Hit the thumb bar and hold the spool with your thumb. Slowly release your thumb pressure. If the spool starts to turn “slowly”, tighten down on the cast control knob until it stops moving.
Now, with your rod still at the 11 o’clock position, your weight at the rod tip and the cast control knob snugged down so the spool doesn’t move, slooooowly loosen the cast control knob until your weight begins to fall…very slowly. The rate of fall should be slow and steady all the way down.
Congratulations, you’ve just adjusted the cast control.
Next, we’ll adjust the magnetic brake control, if you have one. Reel your practice weight back to your rod tip. Depress the thumb bar and let the weight go all the way to the floor. When the weight hits the floor the spool should stop! If it doesn’t, adjust the magnetic control dial to progressively higher numbers until the spool stops as soon as the weight hits the floor. If you don’t have a magnetic control knob, then tighten the cast control knob slightly.
Just so you’ll know: All your baits will have different weights and the reel may have to be readjusted to the bait weight!
Your thumb pressure is the main control when using a bait caster. What the brakes do is “assist” your thumb.
How do you get this “educated thumb”? How did you learn to ride a bicycle? With the bicycle you may have gotten a skinned place or two. With a bait caster you’ll get backlashes. Yes, you will get them. You will get them occasionally forever…it just happens!
Some things to avoid: Avoid casting into the wind, don’t “strong arm” your casts…slow and smooth is what you want.
Last tip: Pick out a target you want to hit, lay your rod on the ground then “walk” your casting weight to your target, then pull out another 10-feet of line. Go back, pick up your rod and reel. Put a piece of tape around the rest of the line on your spool. This way your backlash can only be as deep as the tape!
Reel in, take a breath, cast to your target. Now, pick out the backlash and cast again…and again…and again.
When starting out, practice casting on dry ground. If your practicing on the water, and have a frustration driven melt-down, you may toss everything, and rod/reels don’t float!
Or…and I’m not claiming to be good…get hold of me and I’ll show you what little I know.
As I said before, you…and everybody else…will backlash. Some days you’ll never get one, but on other days you’ll spend more time “pickin’ out” backlashes than you will casting!
•Mid-Kentucky Bass Anglers will fish the Springfield Reservoir on Sunday, Aug. 14, from 6 a.m. till noon. Come out and give it a try!
• Don’t forget, Sept. 17-18, Outdoor Weekend to kick off Ham Days!
Guess that’s it. Get out and enjoy what Mother Nature has to offer. Stay safe and I’ll see ya next week!