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Fish: Smallmouth Bass

Need help from Baitcasters

Post By: Big-Low      Posted: 2/8/2021 8:17:13 AM     Points: 6    
Okay, So I am going to give this baitcaster thing a third try. I have been using spinning reels for over 45 years and the change has been difficult but I want to expand my regions, technique and fish species. With the help of several videos I now know more than ever that you get what you pay for in baitcasters! Lol! I am looking at a higher end Lews baitcasting combo. I also learned the importance of using the 3 break systems in a baitcaster to avoid backlash. What I need to know is, Is it easier to breakout on a baitcaster with Mono, Fluoro or braid?I will be targeting Smallies, Largemouth and Walleye. Thank you in advance for your help.
 Reply by: anglerwannabe      Posted: Feb. 8, 8:31:25 AM     Points: 67044    
Mono is easiest. Use at least 12 lb test

Start with lures that float and are rated towards the heavier side of the rod rating.. if the rod is rated to cast 1 oz lures, use 1\2 to 3\4 oz lures. Using a floating lure, if you backlash, it will still be on top of the water instead of sinking to where it can get hung up

Let out about 50 yards of line. Put electrical tape on the spool at that point. Then if you backlash that's as deep as the backlash will go

if you backlash. Do not release the spool.. instead loosen your drag and pull the line through the reel. this is will get rid of 75% of backlashes without cutting line. Do not turn the drag off.. you want some resistance.

Once you get the hang of it... you can cover water twice as fast with a bait cast setup than you can a spinning setup. i.e. more time with lure in water = better chance to catch fish
 Reply by: Big-Low      Posted: Feb. 8, 8:56:38 AM     Points: 6    
WOW! Good info. Never seen anything about the electrical tape but that makes sense. One guy in the video's I watched said it was easier with braid because braid didn't kink when you tried to pull backlash through the drag? He also said to set brake knob so that the 3/4 oz lure just barely falls to almost no fall rate. then set magnetic brake to at least 5 or 6?
 Reply by: Walleye Guy      Posted: Feb. 8, 9:12:40 AM     Points: 133    
I learned this real fast....cast with the wind, not into the wind. And do not try over cast (muscle it) it.

As in most things, nice and easy wins.
 Reply by: sylvan      Posted: Feb. 8, 9:17:16 AM     Points: 11989    
Anaglerwannabe is a great source for baitcasting info he's been using them since caveman days. Another good tip is to practice befor you go fishing as you found out in the past they can be frustrating to learn. Use a bucket or coffee can to practice flipping and pitching in your home practicing casting in an open field make sure you have room. At BPS I would tell everyone interested to try casting side arm just to get used to stopping the spool with your thumb then try overhead casting. Good Luck Don't give up
 Reply by: rdailey      Posted: Feb. 8, 9:39:25 AM     Points: 1561    
JMO. Do not practice in the yard or parking lot. If you choose to add extra brake. When whatever you are using hits the ground it stops immediately, not gradually like in the water. I found that very not helpful.
 Reply by: FishingJunkie      Posted: Feb. 8, 9:59:39 AM     Points: 1816    
Practicing in the back yard is different than on water, for sure, but I found it very useful when starting out with the bait caster. Just my opinion. I also find that braid is easier to learn with, but your backlashes, should they happen, will be tougher to undo. The electrical tape mentioned by AWB is excellent tip. Be sure to do that - you won't be sorry.

Not sure where you live, but find someone nearby that has been using a bait caster and watch them, try it and copy what they do to flatten your learning curve.

Though I still use spinning reels, I really do like the bait caster reels a lot - when they work... :) Once in a while I'll get a backlash and then they can hear me cussing across the lake on the other side.... but they do have their merit. Take your time to learn something new.
 Reply by: Barnacles      Posted: Feb. 8, 10:15:46 AM     Points: 1106    
All good advice here. I've been using these things since I stole my Dad's back in the 70's. Rod choice is just as important as the reel. I have no complaints with the less expensive stuff that I've bought. I use a lot of lighter weight jigs and crankbaits for smallmouth especially. If you buy a lighter action rod suited for 1/8 - 1/4 oz baits, and go a little lighter on the line (definitely mono for me) it will help. Get everything tuned right & you won't even have to think about backlash. Practice casting "line drives". Send it like a bullet to the target.
 Reply by: Big-Low      Posted: Feb. 8, 10:27:37 AM     Points: 6    
MAN!! All good stuff here. A lot of this advice was mentioned and addressed in the video's so it is good to see you guys re-iterate that. I have a few local ponds I plan on practicing at. I also seen that a side arm cast is one you should perfect first before you start "whipping" it out there. I also seen that as you get out on big water in hopes of hooking up rather than "practicing" you should also be aware of the lures/ rigs you change too as the braking system will need to be adjusted. I still see a lot of back and forth on the braid vs Mono but I think I will start with a 15lb mono as it is mono that I am familiar with. From what I hear, Braid is a whole different animal all together outside of just the cast?
 Reply by: Big-Low      Posted: Feb. 8, 10:29:31 AM     Points: 6    
I also plan to GoPro the practice sessions and maybe post. That way maybe more insight can be given. Plus, A little good humor is always appreciated on this site! Lol !!!
 Reply by: anglerwannabe      Posted: Feb. 8, 10:56:23 AM     Points: 67044    
mono is much cheaper to buy if you have to cut it out.

the put a lure on and set brake so it slowly drops..... I'm not a fan of that tidbit of advice. For the most part my brakes are turned off or almost off.

Better advice is to learn to "thumb" or "feather" your line. Once you've done it a while, you will be able to feel the line and will notice when something isn't right.

For the different lures, probably more important than the brakes is... what is the lure weight.. what size line are you using and how is the rod rated. For example... throwing a quarter oz lure on 20 LB mono with a MH rod.. is not going to end well. That is where you might get away with braid.

Also for CO... I don't use braid because our water is so clear. My experience is when using braid my catch rate decreases. Altho there are members that say this isn't true for them

Most of my backlashes these days come from being over cocky... like throwing a quarter oz lure into the wind while leaning backwards on my toon to throw behind me.

One more thing, some of the digitally Controlled (DC) baitcast reels pretty much eliminate all the issues. They're about as easy as it gets
 Reply by: anglerwannabe      Posted: Feb. 8, 11:44:08 AM     Points: 67044    
Important note.. and I cannot stress this enough.... when you make your cast use your thumb to STOP the line right BEFORE the lure hits the water. I think that's what RDAILY was getting at too.

That sudden deacceleration of the line while the spool is still spinning will cause more birdsnests than anything else.

Once the lure hits the water you can manually release more line so your lure will drop straight as opposed in a pendulum.. just like you do with a spinning rod.
 Reply by: SurfaceIron      Posted: Feb. 8, 2:33:02 PM     Points: 366    
Use 10lb copolymer line. It's 8lb test diameter. Copolymer is more forgiving for casting over other mono. It's softer and more supple. We're not punching mats here.
Most of the time your baits are only going to be 1/8 to 3/8 oz for Smallmouth.
Get a medium, fast action rod. Shorter is easier to start but you'll eventually want 7 foot.
Get a large arbor reel with a light spool like MGL. Lew's are ok, but you'll get smoother gearing with Shimano or Daiwa. My high end Lew's feel rough compared to my Chronarchs, Curados, and Scorpions.
The reason I mention Daiwa is, the Tatula or Tatula CT is probably just what you would like. The T-wing levelwind will definitely cut down on backlashes, it has the mag you're looking for, and it is a monster caster. I prefer only centrifugal brakes. DC reels are the Cat's Meow though.
If you have to have mag, make sure you can get good free spool with it turned off or it will chop down your distance when you get comfortable. I see mag as good for skipping baits or throwing large profile baits into the wind.
I agree with most here. Train your thumb over all else. And even though it's counter-intuitive, the firmer you throw the easier it is. (Bullets) Throw hard, stop fast. As long as you accelerate smoothly all the way though the cast you're safe. You cannot lob a baitcaster. You must load the rod. Side arm or 3/4s. Start by pitching a 1 oz weight further and further, letting the spool slide until you don't backlash, then lower the weight and do the same, again and again. Soon you'll have to start loading the rod to get distance, but your thumb knows what to do. Eventually you'll be firing a 10th of an ounce, and have to buy 28 more baitcasters and donate all of your spinning gear to a new generation because you've gone mad.
Also, throw with the side of the reel towards your target. You have better range of motion for acceleration.
I'm insane.
 Reply by: SurfaceIron      Posted: Feb. 8, 3:27:04 PM     Points: 366    
My heaviest and lightest freshwater baitcast rods.
Big one takes a Shimano Tranx 300 with 65lb Power Pro.
Little one takes a Shimano Scorpion BFS with 2lb Sunline Super FC Sniper.
I like baitcasters.
Just showing I am truly nuts.

Big- Low,
Stick to a medium, fast action for your smallmouth.

So far, my all time favorite for 1/8 to 3/8 is a Phenix Feather FTX-71MH Extra fast taper. It's really more of a medium. I have the medium also and it's only good for 1/10 to 1/4. It's a little soft for hooksets so I fish small jerkbaits or cranks on it.
You can't go wrong with any rods that are Shimano or St Croix for action and quality either.

 Reply by: Barnacles      Posted: Feb. 8, 4:50:04 PM     Points: 1106    
Thanks SurfaceIron. I love to go light for clear water, high pressured bass... but still love the feel of the baitcaster. Got a few ideas from you that I'll be looking into when the income tax refund gets here. You are a tad bit insane, but "fins up" for me.
 Reply by: Good Sam      Posted: Feb. 8, 6:40:32 PM     Points: 4240    
Very important to have balanced gear. With a spinning rod and reel, it is rather easy to cast a light lure with a heavy rod and vice versa. Don't try this with a baitcaster setup. Pick a lure, say a 5\8 ounce floating crankbait, and match the rod, reel, and line combo to this lure. Fish exclusively with this lure for a while. When you feel comfortable with this one lure, then you can move to a 3\4 ounce and then to a 1\2 ounce lure. By this time you will begin to have the feel necessary to be able to adjust and change lures on the fly.
Be patient, and one day you will be able to look back and laugh at your experiences.
 Reply by: FXA0      Posted: Feb. 8, 7:58:19 PM     Points: 171    
Third try... You are a brave man. I must admit I never developed the extra sense or two required to throw baitcasters on windy nights... I was told that I needed to practice for one million hours and meditate for another million hours for that. :) You baicasting demi gods rock on! If I am brave enough to try it again, it will have to be with DC reels.

I don't like how silent baitcasters are. But apparently they also make noise when pushed to the limit. :)
[log in for link]
 Reply by: anglerwannabe      Posted: Feb. 8, 8:08:51 PM     Points: 67044    
Linh - DC reels are noisy on the cast. lol
 Reply by: Big-Low      Posted: Feb. 9, 7:07:56 AM     Points: 6    
Thanks Everyone! I wrote down a lot of notes, reel brands and models. I will spend the next month or so researching, practicing and asking for forgiveness for the language that will come out of my mouth!!! Lol ! Your expertise in this matter is very much appreciated.
 Reply by: spicyhombre      Posted: Feb. 9, 8:32:06 AM     Points: 6831    
All great info here. For me the best thing I learned is the “thumb trick” for getting bird nests out. There are several videos out there and I attached one here. You will bird nest and this is the negative part of baitcasters but once you limit your concern for them you gain confidence.

[log in for link]

As others have said, you need to stop the spool with your thumb before the lure hits the water to avoid backlashes. I will go a step further and say stop the spool with your thumb anytime something goes wrong with your cast such as lure hitting anything (whether branch, boat, butterfly). Even if you are not sure where the lure is. The spool wants to spin so as soon as the lure slows the spool wants to overrun. Feathering is challenging but essential. Basically it is better to apply slight pressure as the lure gets closer to the target as it keeps the line tight throughout the cast. You can dial the brakes in to completely eliminate backlashes with a quality reel but you will lose distance and control. I suggest applying some of these controls at first and accept loss of distance and not trying to over power it. Once you get comfortable with the mechanics of the cast, back off the resistance and increase thumb controls.

Lastly, avoid light lures and casting into wind.
 Reply by: MileHighMike      Posted: Feb. 9, 9:16:42 AM     Points: 284    
definitely a ton of good info, got my first baitcaster for christmas this year. excited to get it wet for sure. would be cool if an in depth article/blogg about baitcasters pops up here on the site
 Reply by: SurfaceIron      Posted: Feb. 9, 10:13:11 AM     Points: 366    
You eloquently nailed it.
And stopping the reel for branches, boats, and butterflies is critical, because it happens. Especially fishing on a tight bank. Oh, how many times have I tapped my windshield or an overhanging rod on the deck?
A couple more:
Reel 3/4 full makes a world of difference.
Remove all loose wraps before winding in. It'll prevent mid cast flareups.

Gotta love the Tatula, St Croix, and light line in the video too.

Back to my meditation.
 Reply by: anglerwannabe      Posted: Feb. 9, 10:46:57 AM     Points: 67044    
Wait.. what? Spicy said something how? lol

Hey Bill... that rod\reel look very familiar for some reason.. ok so my reel is different but it still a Daiwa

I agree with surfaceiron too.... Tatula CT is in impressive reel for the cost. I have 3
 Reply by: SurfaceIron      Posted: Feb. 9, 11:04:02 AM     Points: 366    
Speaking of the DC.
I once had an impressive Hall of Shame entry. (Among others, but this one rates up there.)
Shimano had just introduced DC technology.
I got my chance to try it in front of Shimano engineers, industry professionals, writers, and buyers.
I stepped up to the plate, and what did I do?
I could have launched a nice graceful cast down range and admired the attributes of the reel, but nooooooo, ...... I had to set the world record.
I absolutely exploded the reel and had to spend 15 minutes picking it out.
My face is still red.
 Reply by: anglerwannabe      Posted: Feb. 9, 11:48:54 AM     Points: 67044    
LOL that's awesome!

Don't feel alone in doing silly things though. One of the times I was giving a demo at the BP Aquarium I used their gear instead of mine and they had over spooled the reel with that cheap mono they have. I flipped a lure to the other side of the tank and the line literally JUMPED off the spool making a big mess.

Here's a vid of me fishing the aquarium.. just not the one where the line jumped. lol

[log in for link]

 Reply by: SurfaceIron      Posted: Feb. 9, 12:47:10 PM     Points: 366    
Very nice to see you teaching and passing it on.
I looked more closely at your last photo and I see it's a Steez on a Legend Tournament.
Now THAT is an incredible outfit.
The whole tax return.
 Reply by: MileHighMike      Posted: Feb. 9, 1:27:13 PM     Points: 284    
im located in southern co near canon city. have some of the best in-laws a guy can ask for, was given a curado dc for christmas(first baitcasting reel for me). once its time and you guys start getting out and about with em, if anyone has the time/patience to let me tag along for a trip thatd be awesome
 Reply by: FishHuntNow      Posted: Feb. 9, 1:54:31 PM     Points: 1707    
Electrical tape is a good tip. I learned the hard way. :D
 Reply by: Big-Low      Posted: Feb. 11, 10:31:25 AM     Points: 6    
Again, thank you all for the feedback! Really good stuff! If I can I have one more question and this one is not nearly as important or seems intelligent even but, I reel with my left when I use a spin cast but for some reason it feels awkward to reel with my left with a baitcaster. Is it cause the reel is on top? Is it normal to switch it up? Thanks in advance.
 Reply by: anglerwannabe      Posted: Feb. 11, 10:42:14 AM     Points: 67044    
the natural way is to cast is with your strong arm and reel with the opposite. That said, there are plenty of pros that cast right and reel right. You're going to have to do what works best for you. In my way of thinking, it just makes sense to hold the rod with your "strong" arm.

Of course you can do like Kevin Van Damm... he can cast and reel with either arm\hand

But I think your issue has more to do with the difference in the handle and they way it winds compared to a spinning reel.
 Reply by: Barnacles      Posted: Feb. 11, 11:48:21 AM     Points: 1106    
Just me, but I cast with the strong arm, hand off right about the time the lure hits the water & I'm done with the thumb, and reel with the strong arm too. Use both hands and your whole body for the hook set. It's an athletic event. Set the drag where it peels a few feet on a solid hook set. It's a beautiful sound.
 Reply by: Barnacles      Posted: Feb. 11, 12:37:01 PM     Points: 1106    
I thought I knew everything about fishing. I hearby move to nominate SurfaceIron as Baitcaster Bassmaster Blog Czar. I'm going go find another expensive hobby and accept my shame.. What's the link to the golf or ski forum?
 Reply by: FXA0      Posted: Feb. 11, 1:41:22 PM     Points: 171    
"Set the drag where it peels a few feet on a solid hook set. It's a beautiful sound."

I had a friend who would set the hook so hard, the end of his rod tip would end up on the ground behind his back... First time I saw it, I was like: did I really just see that? :) Stick to spinning reels if you like the sound of the drag. I do. But there's nothing wrong with spending your money on fishing gear.
 Reply by: SurfaceIron      Posted: Feb. 11, 7:30:07 PM     Points: 366    
There are many ways to fish, but this is my take. This applies to plastics, jigs, tubes, etc. (Although bites feel incredible on reaction baits.) And, I'll get to which side to reel on. Again, my opinion. I've known a lot of studs that throw right and reel left.
The most enjoyable thing about a baitcaster is feeling the bite.
The way to fish a baitcaster is to palm slightly ahead of the reel with the line barely resting on your forefinger. (This is also where the the outfit balances. Imagine that.) You can feel a fish move a bait with a tail whip, without touching your lure. No rod will detect that.
Try dragging a small weight on a tile floor while barely touching your line(even with spinning gear for the effect). Not pinching the line, just touching it with your forefinger. You will feel every undulation in the floor and a seam will feel like a train wreck.
You can feel soft bottom, pebbles, weeds, rocks, sticks, and especially bites if you're touching your line. You can set the hook on a pressure bite instead of a snag, or you will know if it's a snag and gently twitch it out. Rods can't transmit that.
Yes, there are rods that are more sensitive and I search for that because they help the LINE transmit the sensitivity. I don't want to feel my tip diddle, because that's too late. Of course super fast actions and light weight rods are bitchen. I love them. But you can feel a bite on a spaghetti noodle if you touch the line. Can't do THAT on a spinning outfit. To me, rods are for different weights and casting applications........not for feeling bites.
You must gently touch the line ahead of the reel. All bites and structure will feel electric. If you palm the reel without touching the line, or fish behind the reel, you might as well be fishing with a cane pole and hope your tip diddles.
Long, long story short. This is to fish while feeling the line.
If you cast right handed and use a right handed reel it takes 3 moves(more like 2) to get in position to set the hook or feel bites. Cast right, set the reel in your left palm with finger touching line as the bait hits the water, move right hand to handle. Ready.
If you cast right handed and use a left handed reel it takes 4 uncoordinated moves to get in position to set the hook or feel bites. Cast right, somehow grab rod while lure sinks, move right hand to palming reel with finger touching line, move left hand to handle. You were bit. It's over.

 Reply by: rdailey      Posted: Feb. 26, 9:47:40 AM     Points: 1561    
There is a new "episode" of Fishful Thinker I just saw the other day that is just learning bait casting. It was on World Fishing Network (394 Dish) and said it was new. It may be available on You Tube also. I don't know if they wait before making those available or not. He did one on spinning reels recently also I saw.

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