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Casting A Baitcast Reel – How To Cast

casting a baitcasting reel

Questions about how to cast and casting a baitcast reel have been one of the more frequent questions I have received since I started Learn To Catch Catfish. I get questions of different variations about casting a baitcast reel almost daily through the ask a catfishing question page.

Over the past couple of months I have written a lot about catfish reels much of which has been leading up to this article which is a good broad overview on casting a baitcast reel.

I am not a fan of spincast or spinning reels for catfishing. That’s not to say that you cannot use them but for most people a baitcast reel is going to be the best choice.

Make sure you have read these articles before proceeding with buying a catfish reel:

Once you have settled on a specific model, you need to get started with learning to cast and doing so without backlashes, and then doing so accurately. Many of the catfishing techniques that I use require little to no accuracy but there are some techniques that I will ultimately cover that require you to be able to cast accurately and with great precision so learning how to cast is very important.

Prior to getting started with actually casting (or learning to cast) you need to run through all the steps to make sure that it is setup and operating correctly.

If you are working with a used or second hand model you should definitely consider following these basic tips for maintenance.

Choosing Fishing Line and Spooling The Bait Cast Fishing Reel

I have been over and over this in several articles so before proceeding make sure to read:

Catfish fishing line – This covers some of the basics of choosing fishing line for catfishing. I suggest in this article using 20 lb test monofilament Offshore Angler Tight Line for good all around general purpose fishing line for catfishing. If you are new to learning to cast with an open face reel for catfishing then go with 30 lb test Offshore Angler Tight Line while you are learning. Twenty pound test is my preference for catfishing but learning to cast is much easier with heavier fishing line. I strongly encourage you to go with the heavier line during your learning curve and then downsizing as you gain confidence. Not only is the heavier line easier to learn to cast with but it is also easier to remove backlashes from as well.

Spooling a baitcaster – This walks you through the process of spooling reels with fishing line

Berkley Portable Line Spooling Station – This is not 100% necessary but is a really cool little tool for putting fishing line on your reels.

Setting Up Your Baitcast Reel For Catfishing

Once you have fishing line on your reel and have everything ready to get started the next step is to make sure everything is setup correctly.

Make sure your drag is set correctly. This doesn’t have any direct correlation to casting but definitely is a good habit to get into from the very beginning. Once you have the drag set then you need to proceed with setting the spool tensioner.

Setting the spool tensioner correctly has significant effects on being able to cast when you are getting started. Learn towards setting this tight while you are learning and as you get more and more confidence and skill (and fewer backlashes) you can slowly back off on the spool tension.

Setting Up Your Fishing Rod For Catfishing

This is best done in a controlled environment (just like throwing a cast net), and is just one of many things you can practice at home to keep your fishing skills sharp when you are not on the water. Starting in a yard or park and instead of out on a boat. Initially I wouldn’t focus too much on a catfish rig but rather just add a weight to your fishing line and learn to cast using a weight (sinker). Start with less weight and then again, as you get confidence, slowly increase your weight. The more weight you add and the less tension on the spool the more likely you are to backlash the line.

Once you get to a point where you are comfortable then start adding catfish rigs and getting a comfort level with casting with different types. Casting with a Santee Cooper Rig (Santee Rig) with an extra long leader has a completely and totally different feel than casting with a balloon rig or a slip float rig.

Casting A Baitcast Reel – Learning To Cast

If you will follow everything I have already outlined you will already have a huge head start on learning to cast with an open face baitcasting reel and shortening the learning curve. As previously stated, after spooling and assuring that everything is setup correctly add a small weight like a small egg sinker and begin in a nice open space to start learning.

I have wrapped this all up below in a catfishing video that walks you step by step through the process of casting a baitcast reel.

Casting a baitcast reel is not a difficult process to learn and become very fluent in but many people pick one up and start trying to cast with it with no preparation or experience and expect to be throwing like a pro in a few casts. Once there are a few backlashes in the reel and they spend some time picking out these “rats nests” they often simply give up.

If you follow the steps outlined above and put a little practice time in you will be casting a baitcast reel like a pro in no time flat. YOU WILL BACKLASH, so just get good (and fast) and picking these out and you will be good as gold!

This article is part of a tutorial series on catfish reels. Click here to get more in depth information on catfish reels including choosing a catfish reel and setting them up for use. Check out the catfish rods tutorial also if you are looking for information on fishing rods.

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About Chad

Chad Ferguson is a professional catfish guide and founder of Learn To Catch Catfish. Click here to subscribe for more exclusive catfish fishing tips by email and then follow on Twitter or Google


  1. butterbean carpenter says:

    Howdy Chad,
    Whatz the fastest way to start picking out a ‘birdsnest’ hah?? I only use 2# test line and just wind’em up on the reel!!!
    Very good article and all of the others sure do help.. You better wear
    some gloves this week!!!

  2. Aloha, Chad! Quite an interesting video on learning to baitcast – good job. My question is, as a neophyte, what’s the best way to tie the line to the spool? Should my casting rod have a trigger or not?
    Mahalo (thanks), Kaleo

  3. thanks.

    I have always hated bait casting reels but now I am going to try again.

    Thanks again Chad

  4. Chad, I just ran across your website from Google and I must say it seems to me that I have “Hit the Mother Load” of catfishing information!
    Iam 60 years old and just bought my first boat to get back to fishing. I have not fished since I was in my teens and have forgotten everything. I came here to learn how to rig a line for catfishing.
    Your site will be a blessing for me as a great resource of “how to” general knowledge.
    Thank you so much and Im headed to Bass Pro now to buy my catfish rig and the Berkley line spooling rig.

    Dennis Jennings
    Pasadena, Texas

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