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I got a couple of Cabela's gift cards for father's day and have an overwhelming urge to buy a bait casting reel. I'm not sure why. I guess it's because the look cool and the challenge of learning to use one.
About ten years ago my son and I were fishing with a guide in Minnesota. He asked us if we could handle baitcasters. "Of course!" we lied. After about an hour of rat's nests and occasionally getting a lure in the water, he said "Most people catch on faster." He then gave us a couple of Zebco 303s.
Still the bait caster fire burns in my brain.
Please talk me out of it.

Last edited by Bullhead; 06/20/10 08:32 PM. Reason: to add dramatic plot points
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fishing is about having fun. if you feel like you're gonna struggle with a baitcast reel, you probably aren't gonna have much fun. baitcasters have come a long way in 10 years, but there's still a learning curve. someone who's new to a baitcaster is not going to take it out of the box and instantly start casting like a pro. if you get a good one, learn how to adjust and use it properly, and are willing to dedicate yourself to some backyard practice before you hit the water, i think you'll be well pleased - particularly if you buy a quality reel. but if you're not willing to put in some time with the reel, i'd look for a different father's day gift. fishing and frustration should NOT go together. good luck with whatever you decide. and happy father's day.

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If you do decide to make the purchase. Be ready to be a bit frustrated at first. It does help if you have someone familiar with baitcasting reels who can show you how to adjust them properly. As jignpig said, higher quality is going to make things a whole lot easier. I have also found it easier to use super line like Power Pro or Fireline. They seem to be a bit more forgiving when you don't control the braking and if you do get a bird's nest a bit easier to pick apart. Baitcasters are nice for certain styles of fishing and for fighting really big powerful fish, they far out perform spinning reels.

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Bullhead:

I'm sure you can catch on, it's easier to get things figured out without an audience looking on. Talking with a buddy, he said look for a reel that had a large thumb tab for casting - he 'bout wore a hole in his thumb casting one day with an Abu Garcia Ambassadeur that had a small spool release button.

I really didn't know how to use a baitcaster, but fishing saltwater that's the reel to use. The only big difference is that there isn't any level wind feature on them, you have to use your thumb. There is so much strain put on the level wind that they usually break.

It took a few days casting in the local park, but I finally got it figgured out.

Now I'm looking to buy a reel for Muskies, and I don't know what baitcaster to get. I grew up with spinning reels, and I still haven't decided on whether to go with left or right hand retrieve, let alone decide on what reel!


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I have found that Bass Pro Shops and Cabelas fishing sales persons are very helpful in assisting buyers. Find a good tackle rep at the store and ask him to help you match up the best rod and reel that your gift cards, perhaps plus cash you feel comfortable with. Tell him what you are fishing for, what weight line, lures, etc. Then have him put a practice plus on the outfit and adjust it properly. Then go home and practics. When i started fishing with an Ambassadeur 5000 years ago i spent hours in the yard practicing. Now it is second nature. Used properly bait casters are more accurate in putting your lure exactly where you want it.

Bing

EDIT: Just for the record, I started with an "Ambassadeur 5000" years ago, not an "Ambassadeur" 5000 years ago.


Last edited by Bing; 06/21/10 09:27 AM. Reason: Clarify I'm not that old

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First off......Happy Fathers Day!
Now, get yourself a decent quality baitcasting reel and match it up with your choice of a pistol grip or longer handled two-handed rod in about 6' 6" length, and medium heavy action. The reel should have approx. 14 pound test or higher. 17 to 20 # test is good to start with.
Now find a park or field with no overhead obstructions! The reel should have the magnetic brake set for a relatively high number to start with. Maybe 8 or so on a scale of 1 to 10. The casting distance won't be as great, but the backlashes will be reduced to start with.

There should also be an adjustment for spool tension.Attach a 1/2 to 5/8 ounce practice plug to your line. Set this up so that when you are holding the rod at about the 1 to 2 o'clock position, and press the release button, and then release it, the line will unravel off the spool and the weight will drop slowly until it hits the ground. Once the weight hits the ground, the spool should also stop revolving. Be ready to apply pressure with your thumb to the spool as a "brake" in case it is still set too loose.

Once these two features are set up correctly, start tossing the practice weight out. Use an over hand cast to start with. You can try a sidearm kinda underhand roll cast when you feel comfortable. You can also back off the brake setting to a lower number to increase casting distance, but you will have to be prepared to use your thumb more as a brake. You want to stop the reel from spinning just slightly before the practice weight or lure hits the ground or water. If the weight hits the target surface and the reel is still revolving, you will end up with a back lash or "professional overrun"!

It sounds worse than it is. The heavier line will assist in picking out those initial birds nests! A couple of hours practice and it will be second nature.

Keep the spinning rod/reels for lighter lines and lures. Use this one for getting a bait accurately into the cover and then being heavy enough to horse em' out.

I hope this helps you out. The fellow at the tackle store should be able to clarify any of this information for you. I love my baitcasting set-ups and have been using them for over 20 years.


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The Revos are a great baitcaster for a begginer because you have a spool tension ajustment and a break adjustment. With the break adjusted to all the way on 10 it is almost impossible to birdnest. The Diawa zillion and the Abu Garcia Revo are about the only baitcasters I use because of this external break adjustment. Trying to open one up and adjust those little pegs is a royal pain. try only filling the spool about 3/4 full. If the spool has to much line it will almost always birdnest. Good luck. Trust me its like driving a stick shift, once you get the hang of it it comes natural.

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It took me about 2 weeks of daily practice in my backyard till I felt comfortable enough to use it on the water. Even then, had to deal with the occasional bird's next. There are tricks to getting them fixed fairly easily, but once you practice, practice, practice, they're a lot of fun and you'll rarely have to deal with a mess. I haven't had to untangle my baitcaster in quite a while. Last time I think is when my then 9-year old decided to cast it out "for me". eek

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Originally Posted By: Rattletrap2
First off......Happy Fathers Day!
Now, get yourself a decent quality baitcasting reel and match it up with your choice of a pistol grip or longer handled two-handed rod in about 6' 6" length, and medium heavy action. The reel should have approx. 14 pound test or higher. 17 to 20 # test is good to start with.
Now find a park or field with no overhead obstructions! The reel should have the magnetic brake set for a relatively high number to start with. Maybe 8 or so on a scale of 1 to 10. The casting distance won't be as great, but the backlashes will be reduced to start with.

There should also be an adjustment for spool tension.Attach a 1/2 to 5/8 ounce practice plug to your line. Set this up so that when you are holding the rod at about the 1 to 2 o'clock position, and press the release button, and then release it, the line will unravel off the spool and the weight will drop slowly until it hits the ground. Once the weight hits the ground, the spool should also stop revolving. Be ready to apply pressure with your thumb to the spool as a "brake" in case it is still set too loose.

Once these two features are set up correctly, start tossing the practice weight out. Use an over hand cast to start with. You can try a sidearm kinda underhand roll cast when you feel comfortable. You can also back off the brake setting to a lower number to increase casting distance, but you will have to be prepared to use your thumb more as a brake. You want to stop the reel from spinning just slightly before the practice weight or lure hits the ground or water. If the weight hits the target surface and the reel is still revolving, you will end up with a back lash or "professional overrun"!

It sounds worse than it is. The heavier line will assist in picking out those initial birds nests! A couple of hours practice and it will be second nature.

Keep the spinning rod/reels for lighter lines and lures. Use this one for getting a bait accurately into the cover and then being heavy enough to horse em' out.

I hope this helps you out. The fellow at the tackle store should be able to clarify any of this information for you. I love my baitcasting set-ups and have been using them for over 20 years.


Good advice - I start kids with a a closed face Zebco type reel and move them up to a bait caster - mistake in my mind to go to open face spin reel - casting much more versatile IMO.
If UL or casting light stuff go to fly tackle - little kids and ladies learn quickly - men won't listen or know it all already.

Crank down the spool tension on casting reels to avoid backlashes and practice in teh back yard - more simple than an open face spin rig.

Kids castch on quickly - all my immediate family of 3 generations are excelent baitcasters - even my granddaughter at an early age.





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I learned on an older model Shimano Curado. I have several of these now along with a Diawa and a Quantum. I have also used some Abu Garcia's in the past in the Salmon/Catfish/Musky sizes.

I highly recommend the Shimano CU201E7. http://www.cabelas.com/cabelas/en/templates/links/link.jsp;jsessionid=B41XLYBGBHTPZLAQBBKCCN3MCAEFKIWE?id=0060777123662a&type=product&cm_mmc=CRR-_-RLP-_-123662-_-productname_link&cmCat=CRR&_requestid=30921

I picked up one of these late last year and IMO it's their best yet. It's a very nice real at a reasonable price with easy braking adjustments. 7:1 ratio. I've found that high speed retrieve is far more versitile than slow retrieve reels. Couple it with a nice 6'9" rod.


George, are your fly rods right hand retrieve? I find it odd that a lot of guys use left hand spinning and fly rods then use right hand baitcasters. I learned to fish with a spinning rod that my grandpa set up left handed. I'm right handed but thankful for this as it's much more efficient for a right handed person to fish with a left crank reel.




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Originally Posted By: Ryan Freeze

George, are your fly rods right hand retrieve? I find it odd that a lot of guys use left hand spinning and fly rods then use right hand baitcasters. I learned to fish with a spinning rod that my grandpa set up left handed. I'm right handed but thankful for this as it's much more efficient for a right handed person to fish with a left crank reel.

Ryan, I cast flyrod right hand with left hand retrieve - seems natural to me - BUT -
cast baitcast gear right handed and switch rod to left hand while lure is in the air to crank right handed. confused ?



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Ryan, typically a "right hand" spinning reel has the crank on the left side, but a "right hand" baitcast reel is just the opposite. That's why I'm wondering if I should go with a left handed baitcast reel.

Anyway, it'll be interesting to see what Bullhead decides to do, and how fast he picks it up if that's the route he goes.


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You guys aren't doing a very good job of talking me out of it!

Ryan, I'm the same way. I'm right handed but would order a left hand reel. To me casting is like throwing, which I do with my right hand.

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Let me know how it goes, I have also had the urge to get a real nice one. I had one once that I would always backlash before a fishing trip was over. I will learn to use one sooner or later! When I do get one it will be a nice one and I will try to get outside help from internet, youtube, or someone I know.


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If you google "using a bait casting reel" there are quite a few videos that offer advice. I thought that this one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBtuWFSJVyw by Mike Webb seemed helpful.

I am in a quandary of not knowing whether to risk spending a lot for a good reel that I might not like. Or buy a cheap one in case I don't like baitcasters and not know if it's a reel that no one could have success with.

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Borrow one from someone for a couple weeks and practice and see if it's an investment you want to make. BH, if you do a lot of bass fishing, it's an investment I can confidently say you will be pleased with.

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I absolutely love bait casters. I used spinning reels for most of my fishing career (now 40 years), but got my first bait caster 6 years ago. I now own 6 and love them. I do get an occasional birds nest, but I do not mist the line twist I always got with my spinning tackle. I do use them with heavier tackle (I love to pike and muskie hunt), but have been using them for most of my crank baits the last two years. my ultralights are still spinning, but I will choose a baitcaster almost every time.

I use the Bass Pro models (Cabela's are similar) and have had great success with them. I have bought them in about hte $70-$90 range. I say, "DO IT!" Just my humble opinion.



Last edited by CoachB; 06/21/10 03:33 PM. Reason: not finished

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Just buy one! Get a good quality reel and you won't regret it. I bought a new Shimano Curado ($150) this spring and it was a piece of cake to learn. Just set the reel so that when you freespool, your bait of choice slooowly drops to the floor. This is a good starting point to avoid those pesky backlashes.

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NTCPA,

You said it bud, I got a Shimano in April and man that reel is awesome!!! I got he 7.1 gear ratio and I LOVE it!!!! The most I ever paid for a reel but man it's smooooooooth!!!!


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You guys were supposed to talk me out of it. What a bunch of enablers. I'm glad I didn't ask you to be my AA sponsor.

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You may wish to consider what size lures you use in your purchase. I am no pro, but I generally consider 1/4 oz baits about the lower limit on baitcasters. Otherwise I go to spinning equipment. If you are into throwing larger crankbaits, spinnerbaits, etc then they are great. Flat sided crankbaits like a Rat-L-Trap feel nice on baitcasters. I use them for buzzbaits a lot to.


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I've typed this same message to so many people that I really ought to save it for a cut-paste job but, here is my strongest advice:

Do NOT buy a cheap baitcaster as your first one to learn on! I made that mistake twice and gave up both times.

Buy a high-quality reel because they are sooooooo much easier to learn on. I tell folks they should spend about $150-$200 on their first baitcaster. Then, you can learn to use one and get good with it. After that, you'll be able to buy and use cheaper ones because you'll already understand how to use it. (Of course, you'll also be spoiled rotten and won't want a cheap one.)

My best advice is to get a Revo STX - they are the single most fool-proof and easiest to learn on. Added to that advice is buy a GOOD used one.

There are other excellent choices but don't try anything with those centrifugal brakes that have the little plastic pin weights you have to move around! Get good magnetic brakes - cheap-o, bad magnetic braking systems are just junk and you won't ever learn to like them.

What everybody else said is also good advice - about cranking the brakes down tight and slowly backing off.

One thing I didn't notice that anybody mentioned was about casting into the wind - DON'T! While you're learning, anytime you cast into the wind, you're going to have a backlash. Backlashes are caused by the spool continuing to spin off line that your bait is not taking with it - inertia. So, when you cast into the wind, the wind stalls your forward motion of your bait but the spool keeps spinning - you've got yourself a knitting project gone bad. wink

One more reason to buy a really good baitcaster as your first - if you don't like it, you can sell it pretty easily and get most of your money back. If you buy a cheap one, nobody will buy it from you and you'll be out all of the money you spent.

A lot of people freak out about spending $200+ on a reel but, I'm not a rich man and I own about 6 reels that cost that and above. I take care of them and I know that if I need to get rid of one of them, it would take me about 3 days to sell it at about 75% or more of what I've got in it. If I bought a $50 reel, ain't nobody gonna buy at any price. Good equipment is always like money in the bank...cheap equipment is just trash that you haven't put in the garbage can yet.

Lots of folks may disagree but, you asked for some advice so...here's mine. wink

BTW: I still use spinning rigs a lot. They are never going out-of-style. I'd always rather be throwing a baitcaster but, sometimes they just aren't the best choice for the conditions.

Enjoy your fishing! That's the most important thing.


Last edited by Al Davison; 06/22/10 10:36 PM.

If you're too scared to throw that bait where the fish are, why did you tie it on?
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Originally Posted By: Al Davison
A lot of people freak out about spending $200+ on a reel but, I'm not a rich man and I own about 6 reels that cost that and above.


Those people should price some of the larger 2-speed saltwater reels! shocked


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Originally Posted By: Al Davison


Buy a high-quality reel because they are sooooooo much easier to learn on. I tell folks they should spend about $150-$200 on their first baitcaster. Then, you can learn to use one and get good with it. After that, you'll be able to buy and use cheaper ones because you'll already understand how to use it. (Of course, you'll also be spoiled rotten and won't want a cheap one.)



That's kind of what I was so ineloquently pondering in one of my earlier posts.

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Update; Santa brought me an Abu Garcia Revo for Christmas. I decided that I should probably start practicing my pitchin' and flippin' in the living room while watching TV. For a beginner, would it be better to spool it up with braid or mono?

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