How do I learn to cast with a baitcaster?
Response by Craig Baugher - Dated 4/20/03
I'm a firm believer in teaching people to baitcast with 100% of the brakes on, and to adjust the friction knob (next to the crank handle) so that a 1/2-ounce dummy lure (a lead sinker) just begins to fall very slowly once the clutch bar is engaged.
The objective of this training exercise is not to cast far, but begin getting used to training your thumb and to learn how to cast just using your wrist.
Most backlashes are caused by two things. First is using too much power during the cast. You never need to use any more power than just a wrist snap. When you over-power a baitcaster, the spool begins spinning faster than the lure can pull the line off. The second problem is caused by the angler not stopping the spool with their thumb before the lure hits the water. If you fail to stop the spool just before the lure hits the water, on contact with the water, the lure is no longer pulling line, yet the spool is still turning.
In the beginning your thumb should rest on the spool throughout the cast while applying a mild pressure. Because all of the brakes are turned on; the friction knob being adjusted tight; and your thumb riding on the spool, you will not cast very far.
Start by bending your arm at A 90° angle at the elbow, while keeping your elbow close to your side. Using your wrist, lift the rod to the 12 O'clock position, press your thumb firmly on the spool, engage the clutch bar and snap your wrist straight while easing up on the thumb pressure.
Practice this until you are stopping the spool before your lure hits the water or ground. It really shouldn't take long. Then, start loosening the friction knob a 1/4-turn at a time and practice the cast. Within a very short amount of time you will have the friction knob loose, yet all of your brakes are still 100% on. Then, start by turning off one brake at a time. The lure type; wind conditions; and the direction you are casting (into the wind or with the wind) will determine how many brakes you will leave turned on. I personally rarely cast in a total free-spool state. Normally for me, I have at least two brakes on and if it is really windy, I may have as many as 4 turned on.
For me the secret to avoiding backslashes is applying a mild pressure to the spool at the beginning of the cast until I can see the lure in flight. I then lift my thumb to allow the spool to spin freely. As the lure approaches the target or water, I reapply the pressure and increase it the closer the lure gets to the target. Finally, I stop the spool just before the lure contacts the water. This whole process takes probably only a couple seconds.