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Choosing a Bait Casting Reel - When to Use One, and What to Look For

If you plan on using heavy or large diameter fishing line, a bait casting reel will accommodate it nicely. Actually, the heavier the line, the easier it is to cast and control. If you want to use 6 lb or 10 lb test line, then stick to a spinning reel. If you want to get into 14 lb test line & heavier, then the bait caster is your better choice.

The reason bait casting reels do not work well with small diameter lines is because when you are reeling your line in, if there is any pressure (i.e. you may be fighting a fish), the line will have a tendency to “dig” into your spool of line. This will cause it to jam up, not allowing you to cast – or if you do manage to cast, you will end up with a “birds nest” (i.e. a big mess of tangled line in your spool).

A Birds Nest on a Bait Casting Reel
A Example of a Birds Nest in a Baitcasting Reel
image (c)

Further, Bait Casting reels are generally made to handle more line capacity. This is key when you are trolling. When you are choosing a bait casting reel, look for one with an all-metal frame. If it has a graphite frame, it will not be as strong & it will “flex” under pressure & could break on you. A metal frame (preferably one piece metal frame) is solid. It does not flex and also keeps your gears in perfect alignment. This will help extend the life span of your bait casting reel, while also enhancing the day-to-day performance of your reel.

As far as choosing between a round-shaped bait casting reel, or a lower profile “tear-drop” shaped reel, consider this: The tear-drop, low profile reel is made for all day comfort while casting & for “palming’ your hand right over top of it. The round reels, typically are a bit heavier & thus bulkier to cast, and are better suited for trolling. However, the round reels seem to be more forgiving when it comes to getting birds nests. If I had to choose one type of bait casting reel, I would go for a small, round reel. One I could somewhat easily cast & that would also double as a trolling reel.

With reference to the question of “how many ball bearings do I need in a bait casting reel?”, well the same applies as it did for spinning reels – the more bearings, the smoother the reeling process is. Look for reels with at least 3 ball bearings or more. These will offer you the performance that you need. Oh, and as I wrote some time ago, instant anti-reverse is a must.

In my other article, I gave you some simple tips to follow on using a bait casting reel, as it is more complex than a spinning reel.

Until next time, good fishing,

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