dave mercerAngler Fame or Backlash Pain

It happens every year. Anglers take their annual pilgrimage to their local tackle superstore and find them-selves entranced by shiny new pieces of fishing mechanics. In their minds, the brand-new Acme B2000-28 Super Baitcaster is the only thing standing between them and their chance to be on the cover of a magazine and the newest sensational fishing pro. By the time spring rolls around and the final mortgage payment on the reel has been made, they are ready to take their rightful place atop the angling food chain. Unfortunately, what starts off as a dream, quickly becomes a nightmare with a backlash big enough to make a bald eagle jealous.

A bait casting reel is one of the best tools in fishing. Not only will it enable you to cast with pinpoint accuracy, but this reel also allows an angler to effec-tively fish with heavier line – which is a must when fishing around vegetation and shoreline structure. However, all of this gets a whole lot tougher if we don’t take the time to set the reel up right from the start. Even with the latest and greatest gear, many anglers don’t take the time to set up their casting reels properly. Before you start planning your magazine photo shoot, it’s wise to figure out that amazing, shiny reel you have spent half your winter dreaming about.

One easy way to avoid disappointment is to adjust the spool-tension knob located on the side of the reel. This simple little knob is one of the most important but also one of the most overlooked parts of the reel. This little knob may just be the difference between you looking like a hero or a zero on the water. The official name of this part is a spool tension knob but if you set it up right it becomes a backlash eliminator. To do this properly you need to set the reel up right before you ever attempt to make a cast.  First you want to string the line through the rod and tie your lure on. If you’re just getting started with a baitcaster it is always help-ful to start with a heavier bait. I would recommend you start with an offering that is at least a 1/2 oz.

So your bait is tied on and you are ready to go but first you need to test and make sure the magical spool tension-knob is adjusted properly. To do this, hold your rod tip up, then press the free spool button and let the bait fall to the ground without your thumb on the spool. If the lure hits the ground and a small backlash happens you now know the spool tension knob is not tight enough. Tighten the knob and try again. If you press the free spool button and the lure doesn’t fall then your tension is too tight. You want to adjust the knob just right so that the spool stops spinning as soon as the lure contacts the ground. This is not something you are going to do once. This is something that you want to get in the habit of doing every time you change your bait. This simple knob can honestly cut the bait caster learning curve in half as long as you adjust it correctly for each lure you use. Every lure does not weigh the same so your set up should not be the same. Failure to set up your reel from the start is the best way to skip any chance you had at Angler Fame and head right to backlash pain!