How To Set-up a Baitcasting Reel

Baitcasting reels are a popular and priority option for fishing at a higher level yet in the meantime many people find it frustrating and annoying. The reason is, they simply don’t know the effective method for how to set up a baitcasting reel, and thus they have to quit it after all. 

How To Set Up A Baitcasting Reel

Many new anglers find it difficult to set up the baitcasting reel – because that does involve a process but as far as I have seen, some specialists have made it or explained so hard that instantly turns off the anglers to make use of it and get back to their spinning one. 

However, I have tried to explain it in a simple way as possible by dividing the components that involve baitcast reel setup. They are the spool tension knob, brake settings, and the drag system. All you need is to get these 3 things done and you’ll be master at setting up a baitcaster.

Though, some people tend to confuse it with spooling and casting process which makes it look hard to learn how to set up a baitcaster. The setup process is totally different and comes before the casting and after the spooling system. 

Spool tension knob: 

Spool tension knob

You can find the tension knob near the handle of the reel. The tension knob is supposed to control the spinning of the spool or keep the spool spinning at a constant speed when the lure hits the water. 

Typically, when the lure meets the water, its speed tends to get slow down while the spool moves at the same speed, and thus happens the backlash. It also happens due to the wind condition that slows down the lure speed even in the air. 

However, there you need to add some resistance or slow the speed at which the spool is spinning and for this purpose, you will turn the tension knob to the left side to reduce the tension. 

Braking system:

Baitcaster Braking system

The next thing to set up in a baitcaster is the braking system. However, starting from a little introduction. There are two types of braking systems; centrifugal and magnetic. Nowadays, there are advanced reels that feature both types as well like the Infini brakes of Abu Garcia Revo 4. 

The centrifugal braking system is set up by sliding the side panel by turning the brake out. Let suppose you turn 2 out of 6 will give the less resistance. If you turn them out, it means the more brakes and if you turn in that means the less. 

Magnetic brakes are easier as compared to centrifugal ones. In them, you only need to adjust the dial as the numbers ranging from 0 – 10. The formula applied here is the same as the above e.g. 1 means the highest speed and 10 means the lowest. 

In the meantime, you need to keep ready your thumb. In fact, most people control the spool spinning with their thumb but as a beginner, you might not be pro at it so can just turn the brake at max and it will apply the required pressure on the spool for you. 

Nevertheless, these adjustments will be enough to set up the brakes. However, if you like to learn more about them, visit how to set magnetic brake on a baitcaster for further guidelines. 

Drag system:

Drag is the most critical part of the entire baitcasting reel setup. The drag system will come into use once you are done casting. Despite it, like the tension knob and the brakings, they also need to be set up before the cast. 

Drag is situated near the handle in a star-like shape and its function is to apply the pressure to the line when you have hooked the fish in the water. For tightening up, you can turn the drag clockwise, and for loosening it, anti-clockwise. 

Basically, drag applies the resistance on the line while you need to pull up the fish and since here most probably the chances are tour line gets broken therefore adjusting the drag “correctly” is important. 

So, The first thing you need to do for the drag adjustment is the measurement of the line with a digital scale. Now set the drag in accord with the reel’s line guidances since every reel has mentioned how much drag it can hold. 

Whilst, to set the drag perfectly; you can divide the breaking strength by 4 and the results will tell you the exact pound for how to set a baitcaster drag. 

One thing to keep in mind, if you’re using a heavier line, the drag needs to be tighter while it is opposite with lighter lines. The reason behind this is that lighter line usually cannot handle much pressure and if you set the drag tighter the results will break the line. 

Baitcasting Reel Tips: 

To ensure you have a nice and fish-full experience with your baitcaster and gain enough knowledge about how to set up a baitcaster reel. Here are some of the bait casting tips. 

  1. Always set the brake with the same power as the spool tension. 
  2. Always check if the gears are perfectly lubricated before the cast. 
  3. Always set the drag before the cast and never leave the settings to be done between the cast. 
  4. Always keep your thumb ready throughout the cast and use it at the right time. 
  5. Get to know the breaking strength of your line for the drags. 


Fishing lines get wrinkled or curly if they are on the reel for a very long time or haven’t been reeled properly. To remove the curls, you need to hold the line in between your fingers firmly and then start retrieving slowly. Though, it is impossible to remove the memory completely. 

The setting of the drag depends upon the breaking strength of the line that tells you how tight or loose should be your drag. In general terms, it should be 1/4 of the breaking strength that allows the drag to work smoothly and efficiently. 

It is a must to change your fishing line often like in one or two years especially if you fish on a constant basis or regularly otherwise you are likely to face tangles and memory in your fishing or it can break too if you keep using it for a longer period. 


To conclude, we’ll quickly sum up the whole process for how to set up a baitcasting reel. All you have to do is to set the tension knob and breaking all the way down. Don’t forget to use the thumb. 

And finally, set the drags according to the breaking strength of the line and you’re all set to cast. Though, you can also visit how to cast a b aitcaster reel for learning the cast in the easiest way. 

To be precise, the baitcaster setup requires practice and understanding of the reel to get the best of it. Just have patience, give it a shot and try more smartly and you’ll definitely ace the baitcasting game.

Clinton Shannon

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