Baitcaster Brakes: What Do They Actually Do?

If you’ve ever used a baitcasting reel before you probably know that they have a brake system. Some have a little dial that you turn and others have a side plate you have to take off. In this post, I’m going to be talking about what those brakes actually do on a baitcaster.

The brakes on a baitcaster are used to slow down the spool. When you cast a baitcaster, the spool will start spinning and you can set how much friction you want the brakes to apply. Having no brakes will let the spool spin faster while having them fully on will slow it down. When your lure hits the water and you have the brakes off, a lot of the time the spool will keep spinning and that’s when you’ll get a backlash. Having your brakes on will help prevent this.

Having your brakes on will help but it’s still possible to get tangles in your spool. When you’re first learning how to cast you should have your brakes fully on. Once you gain some confidence you can slowly turn them off and that’ll allow you to cast a longer distance. Continue reading or watch the video below for the full details on how to use your braking system.


The Different Types Of Brakes

The first type of brake is a magnetic brake. As the name suggests, these reels use magnets to slow down the spool speed. When you turn the brakes off it’ll move the brakes farther away. When you turn them on it’ll move them closer to the spool. The spool and the magnets will both create a magnetic force but they’ll be in opposite directions which will slow things down. This type of reel will have the adjustment dial on the side plate (opposite of the reel handles).

magnetic brake baitcaster

The second type is a centrifugal brake. This type of reel has little brake pads that rub against a ring in your reel that will create friction and will slow things down. If you take your side plate off you’ll be able to see the white flaps and those are the brakes. When you turn them off there will be nothing rubbing against the spool. This type of reel could have a dial on the side plate but you might also have to take the plate off and manually flip the brakes on.

centrifugal brake baitcaster

How To Cast A Baitcaster For Beginners

When you’re first getting started I’d highly recommend you practice a bunch and not worry about the distance. If you’ve never threw one of these rods and you try to give it some power, you’ll end up with a mess on your hands. Trust me, I know.

The first thing you’ll want to do is put all of your brakes on. You can either turn the dial to max or take the side plate off and click the brakes down so they’re on the ring (like in the picture above). This is going to help you stop the reel from spinning when your lure hits the water. If you have the wrong technique and have your brakes off you’ll get an instant bird nest when you hit the water.

The second thing you’ll want to do is tighten your spool tension knob (opposite side of the brake). This is the knob that controls how freely your spool will spin. When it’s tightened all the way you shouldn’t be able to spin the spool.

The final thing you’ll want to do is press the casting button. Your lure shouldn’t move since you have the tension knob tight. Slowly start loosening the knob until your lure starts to fall. That’s the tension you’ll want to start out with. You won’t be able to cast as far but it’s fine until you get the hang of it. You can keep loosening it as you get better.

You’re still going to get backlashes with these settings but it’ll be a lot worse if you had the brakes off and the tension light. The biggest thing you’ll want to do is keep your thumb near the spool and apply a bit of friction to your fishing line. If you feel your line about to tangle you’ll want to add some pressure to slow things down. If you learn to do this then you’ll have no issues with turning your brakes off.

How To Cast A Baitcaster With No Brakes

When you start getting a little bit more advanced you can change up the settings to get more distance on your casts. You should only try this if you feel 100% comfortable throwing it with the settings we just talked about.

The first thing you’ll want to do is start turning your brakes off. Start by turning one off at a time until you can turn them all off. If it’s windy out you’ll want to have some brakes on to prevent backlash but you’ll generally be able to get more distance with them turned off.

The next thing you’ll want to do is loosen the tension on your spool knob. You’ll have a huge mess on your hands if you don’t have the technique so make sure you get it dialed in first. Slowly loosen your knob and you should be able to get more distance on your casts. It’s normally a good tension when you can wiggle your spool a bit.

The final thing you’ll need to do is use your thumb to control your spool. Since you’ll have no brakes on and your tension will be light, your spool is going to spin super fast. Sometimes it can start spinning faster than your line is being thrown out and that’s when the backlash happens. If you watch your line you’ll start to see your line getting loose. That’s when you need to apply pressure with your thumb. You should also apply pressure when your lure hits the water because your spool will continue to spin.

This is something that takes a lot of practice and even the most experienced people still get backlashes. Have your brake settings at the correct level and slowly work your way down as you gain confidence.

Until next time, happy fishing. If you want to catch more fish, use more hooks.

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Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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