Is A Baitcaster Difficult To Use? (Read This First!)
UPDATED 08 MAY 2023
by Robert Ceran
If you’re new to fishing, one of the first things you need to decide what kind of fishing reel you want to use.
Baitcasting reels are an attractive option, since they are very popular among many anglers (including the majority of bass professionals).
And while baitcasters definitely provide a lot of advantages, a key question for every beginner is this: are baitcasting reels hard to use?
Here’s the quick answer:
Yes, baitcasting reels are relatively hard to use for beginners, since it takes a lot of practice to learn how to control spool rotation while casting.
If not done properly, this results in backlash and birds nest formation.
You can avoid this problem by choosing a different reel type, or by using a baitcaster with anti-backlash technology.
Now let’s dive into the details, to help you understand what you need to know about this topic.
How to use a baitcaster reel
Baitcaster reels offer several key advantages over other reel types, including the ability to spool heavier line, throw heavier lures, make longer casts, and to make more accurate casts.
Due to these advantages, baitcasters are very popular for bass fishing with artificial lures, which explains why they are the most common reel type used by many bass anglers (both pros and amateurs).
For example, a great way to use a baitcaster reel to catch big largemouth bass is with a frog rod, topwater rod, or jig rod to throw big lures with a high degree of accuracy.
In addition to bass fishing, baitcaster reels are also great when it comes to targeting large fish species in freshwater, such as catfish and salmon, as well as for many saltwater fishing applications. This is due to the fact that the large spool size of big baitcasters allows you to fish with heavy lines, which is important for this type of fishing.
Finally, baitcasters are also often used for trolling, again due to their ability to spool more line and heavier line than spinning reels.
How hard is it to use a baitcasting reel?
Compared to other reel types, baitcasters are significantly harder to use, especially if you have very little experience with fishing. The reason for this is simple: when you cast a lure with a baitcaster, the spool rotates to release line during the casting process. This is actually a great thing, since it’s one of the main reasons why baitcasters have a longer casting distance than other reel types with a stationary spool.
But the problem with a rotating spool is that it often tends to rotate faster than the speed of your lure flying through the air. This results in excess line getting thrown off the spool, which is called backlash.
In order to avoid backlash, you have to adjust the brakes of the baitcaster reel. These brakes slow down spool rotation as much as possible without reducing casting performance, and in some cases this is enough to prevent backlash.
But in other cases the braking system isn’t 100% effective at preventing backlash, which is why many anglers also use their thumb to slow down spool rotation. In fact, some of the most experienced anglers rely almost entirely on this method, and loosen their brakes as much as possible.
Bottom line: Baitcasters have a relatively steep learning curve, and most beginners find them hard to use. The reason for this is that you need to learn how to fine tune the braking system of the reel, as well as how to use thumb pressure to slow down spool rotation during the casting process. For most people this takes a lot of practice before they can do it effectively.
What is a baitcaster birds nest?
You might be asking yourself, why is backlash such a big problem? Well, if you don’t get it under control, it quickly leads to birds nest formation.
A baitcaster birds nest is a big mess of tangled line around your spool, which effectively puts an end to your fishing exploits, until you painstakingly untangle the whole mess.
It’s a very frustrating experience heading out to a lake to do some quality fishing, only to spend most of your time untangling a baitcaster birds nest. For some people, this experience is enough to put them off fishing forever, which is why it’s important to be aware of this issue before you choose a reel.
Should a beginner use a baitcaster?
A beginner can definitely use a baitcaster, but just be aware that you may spend the first few fishing trips just learning how to use your reel, and won’t get much actual fishing done.
If you’re a novice angler who’s already highly committed to fishing as your passion, you probably won’t let the challenge of learning how to use a baitcaster stop you (even if it means dealing with a birds nest or two). On the other hand, if you’re a beginner who’s not quite sure how committed you are to the sport, then it’s probably better to start off with a different reel type that’s easier to use.
We recommend either a spinning reel or a spincast reel for this purpose. Both of these reel types have a stationary spool, and because of this there is no backlash formation during the casting process, which makes them a lot easier to use for beginners.
By using a spinning or spincast reel, you’ll be able to focus on enjoying the experience of fishing without having to wrestle with technical challenges. If you find you really enjoy the experience, you can then decide you’re ready to make the effort to learn how to use a baitcasting reel.
What kind of baitcaster is best for beginners?
The best kind of baitcasters for beginners are those with effective anti-backlash technology. These reels have a dual braking system that combines both magnetic and centrifugal brakes.
Traditionally, baitcasting reels had only one braking system (either magnetic or centrifugal). But in recent years, some manufacturers have started building baitcasters that have both of these systems, which makes them much better for avoiding backlash.
A great example of this is the Abu Garcia Revo SX, which has one of the most effective anti-backlash technologies on the market. Its infini dual brake system is so good at controlling spool rotation that you don’t need to use thumb pressure to slow down the spool during the cast.
So instead of wrestling with your gear, you can focus on enjoying the fishing experience, which is a blessing for every beginner. Each of the two braking systems can be adjusted individually, which gives you a lot of control over spool rotation.
Due to the recent advances in baitcaster anti-backlash technology, the barrier to entry for beginners has been lowered considerably.
But you really need to make sure to look for a reel that has a dual braking system, as getting one of these reels will save you a lot of hassle by not having to untangle birds nests during your time on the water. There’s nothing worse than going on a fishing trip, only to spend endless hours fighting with your fishing reel, which can take all the fun out of the experience.