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Yes, baitcasters are great when it comes to achieving long distance and accurate casting. They are also good in terms of control, retrieval speed, and they can often handle some pretty heavy line and lures too.
However, baitcasters can be a bit tricky to use, especially for beginners. They often suffer from issues when casting, specifically related to something called backlash.
Backlash is a baitcasting reel’s worst nightmare, but what is it, why does it happen, and how can you fix it? How to prevent backlash on a baitcaster is what we are here to figure out right now.
What Is Backlash & Why Do Baitcasters Suffer From It?
Backlash is the biggest problem which you will face when using baitcasting reels, and is in fact really one of the only problems with them in general.
Backlash is one of the reasons why newbie fisherman are advised to use spinning reels.
Until you get casting down, a spinning reel is much easier to use for this backlash problem.
So, What Is Backlash?
Backlash is when the lure and line come off the spool way too fast, or if the lure is cast into strong winds. Backlash happens when the fishing line is not taught.
In other words, instead of the line remaining tight as it flies through the air, it becomes loose. A loose line is definitely a problem when it comes to casting and overall reel function. A loose line will wrap around the tip of your rod, it will get tangled up, and just cause a huge mess.
A line suffering from backlash will also create this bird’s nest, a serious tangled mess on the spool. Once again, backlash is a problem that baitcasting rods can definitely suffer from.
It happens when you don’t have the spool and brake system set properly, it can happen if you aren’t using the right rod, and it can happen if you are not using the right line and lures.
The bottom line is that backlash with baitcasting rods is a mess that you absolutely want to avoid.
Preventing Backlash On Your Baitcaster
Ok, so there are a few main problems or issues which could be causing the backlash to occur.
Let’s talk about each of them and how can fix them as easily as possible.
1. Don’t Cast Into The Wind
One of the biggest things which will cause backlash to occur on a baitcasting reel is the wind. Yes, the wind might be out of your control, but the direction in which you cast your lure is surely not.
Simply put, if you are casting directly into strong winds, it will push the line and lure back towards you, thus causing the fishing line to be loose instead of tight.
It will be all loose in the wind, it won’t fly as far, and it can end up winding around the tip of the fishing rod and making a real mess on the spool. Just try not to cast into the wind as much as possible.
As you will see down below, there are other issues which can cause backlash, but they are all pretty much irrelevant if you are casting into the wind.
Your line and lure can be as heavy as you want, but if you are casting into strong winds, it really won’t make any difference whatsoever.
2. Use A Heavier Lure & Line
As we touched on above, if the line and lure is not heavy enough, you will probably suffer from backlash when using a baitcaster.
This does also have to do with spool tension and the brake system. You need to have the right weight of fishing line and lure weight, in combination with the proper tension and brake system settings to prevent backlash.
Simply put, if you have a very light lure, but the line is too light, the lure won’t be able to generate enough force and momentum to keep the line tight and straight as it flies through the air.
You need the lure to be quite heavy if you want the line to stay taught as you cast, and the heavier the line is, the heavier the lure needs to be by comparison.
Yes, using a slightly heavier fishing line can also help. The heavier the line is, the less it will be affected by the wind and other environmental factors. However, keep in mind that if you are using a heavy line, the lure needs to be comparably heavier yet.
The lure needs to have enough weight to it to pull the line tight and keep it that way for the duration of the casting flight. At the end of it all, to fix backlash, you might just need a heavier lure.
On a side note, it can also depend on the type of fishing line you are using. If you are suffering from lots of backlash, you want to switch to monofilament line, if you are not using that already.
Both fluorocarbon and braided lines tend to suffer from increased backlash when compared to monofilament line.
3. Adjusting Spool Tension & The Brake System
Now, the weight of the fishing line and the lure does make a big difference, as does the spool tension and brake system, plus they work together as well. Both of these factors come together.
Speaking of the brake system and spool tension, if the brake system is not set high enough, and the spool tension is too low, the line will fly off the spool way too fast in comparison to how fast the lure and front of the line can fly through the air.
So, if you are suffering from backlash with your baitcaster, tightening up the spool and increasing the level of brake might do the trick. This will slow down the speed at which the line comes off the spool, therefor helping to keep it tight.
Yes, this does also relate to the weight of the lure. If you have the tension and brake set low, you need to have an increasing heavy lure. A heavier lure will generate enough momentum and velocity to keep the line tight, even if it does come off the spool quickly.
The lighter the lure is that you are using, the higher you need to set the brake system and the tension on the spool. You can use a light lure sure, but then the brakes need to be on pretty tight.
As you can see, the weight of your tackle does combine with the brake system and spool tension to create backlash. Once again, if you are casting into strong winds that are opposing you, none of this will make much of a difference.
4. The Right Rod – Length & Action
Another thing to keep in mind if you are suffering from backlash with your baitcaster is that you might not be using the proper rod. For one, you don’t want the rod to be overly long.
Generally speaking, baitcasting rods are a bit hard to use, but the shorter they are, the easier it will make things in terms of backlash. For reasons beyond our capacity to explain here today, longer rods often suffer from more backlash than shorter ones.
Also keep in mind that if you are using a super-fast action or very slow action rod, it can also cause backlash to occur. A medium action baitcasting rod is what you want to go for here.
So, just remember, a short rod with medium action should go a long way in terms of helping solve the backlash issue, especially if you are beginner.
You can also look at combos, we have covered our top 10 picks over at this article.
5. Line Memory & Line Loading
Another issue could be that the line you are using is just not very good. Some fishing line suffers from a lot of line memory, which is especially true if it is old fishing line.
It can retain the shape of the spool, and this, when it flies through the air, it just won’t be very tight.
Use fishing line that has low memory, and if the line is old, just try replacing it.
Also, when you load the line onto the spool, make sure you do so with the label facing upwards. This will ensure that you are loading the line in the proper direction.
6. Practice – Trial & Error
Guys, the bottom line is that baitcasters just are not the easiest rods and reels to use.
That is a matter of fact. It all comes down to practice, and some good old trial and error.
Use heavier lures, lighter lines, don’t cast into the wind, chose a good rod length, and make sure to set the brake and tension right. Technically speaking, there is no correct or ideal setting.
Every setup can be different, so practicing over and over again and making adjustments until you get it right is something you will have to do.
More here on how Baitcasting reels work.
The bottom line is that your baitcaster could be suffering from backlash due to a number of reason. Just remember, do not cast into the wind, use a heavy lure, use the right fishing line, use new fishing line, and get some practice in. At the end of the day, it could just be due to your limited skill level with baitcasting rods and reels. How to cast a baitcaster without backlash is not as easy as it might seem.