How does a Baitcasting Reel Work

A baitcasting reel is popularly used by those who are interested in precision fishing. The robustness and strength of a baitcasting reel make it stand out and a better choice than a spinning reel or spincasting reel. Baitcasting reels have made it way easier in today’s world to catch a fish. And if you want to know how does a baitcasting reel work, then keep reading.

Baitcasting reels can seem intimidating to amateur anglers, but a general knowledge of the parts at play will help carry your casts and catch fish all day long. Knowing about reel designs is key!

Parts of a Baitcasting Reel and Their Functions

An understanding of what sets this type of reel apart from other fishing reel types starts with a breakdown of its individual pieces.

Baitcasting Reel Parts Diagram
Baitcasting Reel Parts Diagram

Foot and Seat

The first fundamental part is the joint between the rod and the reel, known as the foot. This joint is a vital part of any fishing reel because its durability and ability to withstand casting pressure depend on this structure’s firmness.

Next, there is the reel seat, which comes paired with the reel foot. You will often find a threaded keeper with the seat with the wheel housed inside. Before you cast it into the water, don’t forget to check the rear socket nut in the foot to ensure everything is nice and tight.

Drag System

You will find the drag beside the handle. It’s also called star drag for its appearance. When you are fighting a particularly robust fish, you can set and regulate the fishing line’s tension with help from the drag. You’ll find it in every reel, Whether it’s a low profile baitcaster or a round reel.

Braking System

The braking system performs much the same function as the brakes in your car. While casting, the braking system regulates the rotation of the spool. The spool will face more resistance if you apply the braking system more during casting and vice-versa.

If you don’t have a lot of casting experience, you will likely find yourself making heavy use of the braking system. However, with enough practice, you will become more comfortable and settle into a more appropriate rhythm requiring less braking.

Most baitcasting reels have two different types of brakes.

  • Magnetic brake
  • Centrifugal brake

The former is slightly easier to use and operate than the latter. These brakes help you controlling spool rotation to cast baitcaster without backlash. Their position is just beside the reel, which is why you can make quick and easy adjustments without wasting any time. You can also make timely readjustments to the spool.

Spool Tension Knob

The spool tension knob is a vital part of a casting reel. It’s also known as a cast control knob. You use the spool tension knob when adjusting the speed of the spool. If you do not want any backlash after casting, you need to check your spool tension knob. The primary function of this knob is to maintain a smooth line speed coming off the spool.

While cast control knobs vary between manufacturers, you will often find these knobs just next to the reel handle. You can use the braking system for larger restrictions as well, but if you want to fine-tune the spool, then the spool tension knob is your best friend.

Spool Tensioner

To ensure that the spool does not face any obstructions and glides smoothly on the reel, you can use a spool tensioner. You will usually find these beneath the reel body. People often get confused between the spool tension knob and the spool tensioner, but the latter is slightly smaller in size.

To arrive at the optimal spool tension sensitivity, use a lead sinker and tie it to the line. In this way, you can adjust the tension sensitivity, so your first cast into the water is perfect.


While listing the different parts of a baitcaster reel, you cannot possibly leave out the spool itself. Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of the baitcasting spool is that it rotates, unlike the spinning reel spool. This design of the baitcasting spools makes it much more suitable when you are going out to catch bigger fish because it can handle far more pressure than a spinning reel spool.

Reel Handle

Another self-explanatory yet essential part of the baitcasting reel is the handle. The handle’s function in a baitcast reel is more or less similar to a spinning reel fishing handle. When you move the handle, it helps you to move the spool.

Since you will be using the handle quite frequently, you must choose one that feels comfortable in your grip right from the start. Purchasing anything else and hoping it will feel better with time is a surefire way to ensure you will have to purchase another reel sooner than later. Handles are commonly made of aluminum in most baitcasting reels, giving them just the right amount of strength without leaving them rigid.


This is another feature that distinguishes a baitcasting reel from that of a spinning reel. Its primary function is to click to indicate an increase in line tension. It typically sits on the reel’s left-hand side. When the switch clicks, it tells you that a fish has caught the lure, or at the very least, some obstacle underwater has snagged it.

Thumb Bar

You can press the thumb bar of your casting reel so that the line can lead out. It’s the only way of controlling the amount of line that gets released when casting a lure out into open water. With just one push down on this button, those gears will disengage from their spool and let go of some more slack in the process. So make sure not to press too hard, or else there won’t be any tension left for reeling!

Line Guide

It is a very crucial part of a baitcasting reel. Whether you are retrieving the line or casting, the smooth movement is ensured by a line guide. One of its basic functions is to make sure there are no tangles in the spool because of an obstructed unspooling.

Understanding baitcasting reel gear ratios

Gear ratio is a term used to describe the number of rotations that take place on your reel spool when you turn the reel handle once. For example, if there are 6.4 rotations per turn, then this would be considered “6.4:1”. Different types of fishing reels come with different gear ratios.

Baitcasters tend to have higher gear ratios than spinning reels, which means you can retrieve the line more quickly. Any reel with a ratio above 7 is considered fast. Baitcast reels generally have gear ratios of 5.4:1, 6.4:1, and 7.1:1. If you’re a bass angler, you may be interested in a reel with a high gear ratio.

How to use a baitcasting reel for beginners?

Casting the baitcaster can be done by following three simple steps. Your knowledge of the individual parts of a baitcasting reel will really help you in your first cast. The baitcaster has an advantage over the spinning reel because here, once you have set the spool into motion, the bait will travel through as the baitcaster feeds the line to the bait, whereas in a spinning reel, throughout your cast, the bait keeps pulling the line off the spool.

Step 1 – The bait will launch from the rod tip. This happens when the spool starts spinning after you have unpressed the thumb that was previously kept on the spool. This is also the step where you have to make precise adjustments to the spool control knob. When you are making your first cast, make sure your target is at a comfortable distance away, for example, 15 feet. The cast should be gentle, somewhat like a pendulum motion.

Step 2 – The bait will slow down a bit because it will meet resistance in the form of gravity and wind. Here, you have to apply appropriate brakes. Moreover, the right braking setting will also prevent any backlash.

Step 3 – Then comes Step 3, where the descend of the bait into the water starts, and the moment it touches the surface of the water is when you need to use the “educated thumb.” This means that you have to put all your focus on the lure’s trajectory.

When the bait reaches the highest point in the air, you will feel as if it is stalling. At that precise moment, you have to thumb the spool so that it slows down. The brakes also have to be used at this point because you will lose distance if you brake too early. And, if you brake too late, there is bound to be a backlash.

If the braking system has been fixed at a high setting, you will not make the perfect cast or reach your target. And remember, using more force to cast is not the solution because it will only backlash. You simply have to get the braking systems right. Backlash can easily be avoided when there is a proper balance between the spool’s forward momentum and the lure’s forward momentum.

If you have been using the spinning tackle all this while, it will take you some time to get used to a baitcasting reel. But always keep in mind that in order to perfect the cast, all you need is a simple turn of the wrist to swing the fishing rod and the right adjustment of brakes.

The secret to becoming good with a baitcasting reel is perfecting your cast. If you want to get the response you are expecting in bass fishing, or you are after any other fish species, you should perfect your short form and increase your cast’s length from there. The idea is to work on your control and increase the distance you can retain the same level of control with time.

Additionally, a novice angler might find that learning the ins and outs of baitcasting is much easier with a braided line than it is with other line options due to its extremely flexible nature. As you become more comfortable using your baitcaster you can increase the rigidity of your line accordingly.

When you are casting, it is essential always to keep a watchful eye on your spool; it is also vital to keep an eye out for any potential backlash while casting. Casting the spool without any backlash is something you will only perfect with practice. Backlash usually happens when there is too much wind or when the lure touches the water while the spool overruns the cast.


Knowing different parts of a baitcasting reel and how do they work is a milestone in any fisherperson’s life, indicating they are more than just a novice. For those just starting out, this type of reel might appear tough and intimidating. If you keep practicing, however, soon, you will be overcoming that fear, and you will be ready to tell people a true fish tale.

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