Hopefully now you have read the parts of a baitcast reel article and the article on how to set the drag on your fishing reel. Now I am going to move on to how to properly set the spool tensioner on a baitcast fishing reel and why this is so important.
Setting The Spool Tension On Baitcast Reels
Posted on September 24, 2010 // 16 Comments
For these examples I am using the Abu Garcia 6500C3, you can go to my article on choosing a catfish reel and choosing a catfish rod to get tackle suggestions on choosing your own catfish gear. You can also view a list of all the catfish tackle I use and suggest here on the catfish tackle page.
As I mentioned in the parts of a baitcast reel article the spool tensioner controls the amount of pressure that is applied to the spool (the round inner part of the reel where the line is attached). The tighter the tensioner is, the more pressure is applied, the looser the tensioner is on the reel the less pressure there is applied.
This is critical, especially if you are just starting out using a baitcast fishing reel because one of the critical concepts of fishing with these is learning how to cast and learning to do so with minimal backlashes.
Backlashes occur when the spool is spinning faster than the line is able to come off the reel which basically means that it ends up turning faster than the fishing line. The result is a big rats nest in your fishing line.
This can be especially frustrating to beginners, but learning how to set your tensioner properly will greatly reduce the number of backlashes that you will have to remove from your line.
Proper procedure for setting the spool tensioner
Get your rod and reel setup and tie your catfish rig of preference to the end of the line.
Once you have tied your catfish rig, stand holding your rod at a 45 degree angle (with the tip up) and push the button on the fishing reel releasing the line, so the sinker, hook and weight on your rig falls to the ground.
This should fall to the ground and the spool should stop turning when the rig hits the ground. If it does not stop turning when the rig hits the ground, retrieve the line (reel it in) and tighten the tensioner slightly and repeat the process again. The entire process should be repeated over and over until you get the settings correct when it stops turning when the weight hits the ground.
This may take you several tries to get it right but should be a fairly simple and straightforward process. You should do this before you start trying to learn how to cast with a baitcast fishing reel (if you are a beginner trying to learn).
One other consideration is that if you are going to be fishing with large baits (like big pieces of cut bait) this adds significant weight to the end of the line so you may need to make additional adjustments (add more tension) to compensate for the additional weight that larger baits will add.
The “real world” way
Once you get the hang of using a baitcaster and become more and more comfortable casting with (hopefully) less and less backlashes you will ultimately get to a point where you are not concerned with the spool tension and you don’t check these settings and just start casting, occasionally making minor adjustments as needed.
I keep my spool tensioners set so loose that that they are about to fall off because it is comfortable for me and allows me to achieve greater casting distances, but I find that most people are unable to cast my reels without backlashing. It is so bad that I keep extra parts around in my boat XXX because they fall off and get lost so often.
As your experience level increases you will become less and less concerned with getting these settings “just right” and will be able to quickly make adjustments “on the fly” as needed. Again, if you are new, or inexperienced with using an open faced reel I would absolutely follow these steps for making adjustments and setting the spool tensioner until you get comfortable with it and get the hang of things.
I am going to come back around full circle and cover some tips and tricks for learning how to cast with an open faced reel at some point after I get all of the proper settings and adjustments covered regarding these reels. Again , If you are wanting to break into using these reels, read this article on how to choose a catfish reel.