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How to Tune Your Baitcaster to Prevent Birds Nest

By Joshua Taylor February 05, 2018

 A baitcasting reel is a fantastic addition to your fishing kit, especially for some larger lure types. However, many fishermen are hesitant to utilize a baitcasting reel due to their penchant for forming “bird’s nests” or backlash. This common problem can be easily overcome with a little instruction and some time practicing.

 A baitcaster is used for precision control, so understanding these setting adjustments is key to proper use of the reel overall. Baitcasters are also generally better with larger diameter lines.

Tune a baitcaster - no more birds nest

How a Baitcaster Reel Works and How a Bird’s Nest Forms

A baitcaster uses a revolving spool to adjust the length of the line. When you cast a line, the spool revolves forward allowing the line to extend outward. How fast you cast the line, and the lure, will determine the speed of the spool spin.

If the spool continues to spin once the line hits the water, there will be too much excess line without tension; this often causes a terrible knot called a “bird’s nest” or backlash commonly.

The Benefits of a Baitcaster

  •  Control and Accuracy:

The way a baitcaster works allows the fisherman to have greater control over the speed and eventual landing place of the lure. The added brake mechanisms also assist in this added level of control.

  • Cranking Power:

A baitcaster's gears essentially work like a winch.  The torque generated to spin the spool is exponentially increased, giving the fisherman greater reeling power.

  • No Line Twist:

Unlike a spinning reel, a baitcaster will not twist the line.


An Overview on Reel Adjustments

Backlashes are merely a side effect of being new to a reel. Have patience and give yourself time to practice. With proper control and subtle adjustments, you can tune your baitcaster to avoid bird’s nests. 

 The cast control mechanism, the spool tension knob, and the reel brake system can all be fine-tuned.  The brake system allows you to adjust the speed of the spool rotation, giving you a considerable amount of control of line tension.


The Drag Control

Used to tighten or loosen the drag.

The Tension Knob

Allows the Spool to spin tighter or freer. Tighten to where you have no back and forth motion.

Brake Controls

There are multiple forms of brake controls, but they all control the reel rotation speed during your cast.


How to Make a Cast Without a Backlash

 You will have to tune your reel settings to each lure you are using, as the different weights will require their own unique settings.

 You will start with the brake system and the tension knob. Adjusting these pieces controls the velocity of the lure. Ideally, you should be able to free spool your reel, and the lure should fall to the ground without backlash. If you can accomplish that, then you should not get any backlash when you cast. Make adjustments until you reach the desired speed.

 You can now test some casts. Do a simple overhead cast and feel out the distance, adjust the brake accordingly. Eventually, you can begin to loosen the brake a bit and control the full stopping spool with your thumb. Start practicing with a heavier fishing lure for a bit of an easier time.



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