Cure for the Dreaded Backlash!

Okay, so if you’ve ever fished with a baitcaster…you have, undoubtedly, been on the receiving end of the dreaded backlash (rat’s nest, professional override or Cluster Foogazi). So, what to do?

Well, I’ve heard of some miracle backlash remedies like the one that goes: After you get a bird’s nest, crank the drag all the way down and then tightly press your thumb on the spool and start crankin. The first time I ever tried that, it worked like a charm. Unfortunately, it’s never worked since and I’ve heard the same from everybody who’s tried it.

The long and short of it is, the best way to get back to casting is to…

…just sit down, take a deep breath and start picking away at your reel. Take the line and back it up to where it cinches down and work that loop out and keep working your way deeper into the spool, one pinch point at a time.

Of course, these things often happen in the middle of a wide open bite and it’s almost impossible to pick a backlash when your buddy’s getting bit every cast. Which leads to the fate of the reel pictured here. The bite was on and I rushed a cast…the lure hooked my anchor line behind me and all hell broke loose.

After frantically trying for a few moments to pick this one clean while the stripers boiled all around us, I fixed the situation permanently by cutting the line chucking the reel over the side. Problem solved!

But you don’t have to resort to such drastic measures…

Preventative Measures

Backlashes occur when more line is coming off the spool than is going out through the rod tip. Of course, thumb control here is the ultimate solution and that just comes down to practice. But you can also do more…

To get the most out of a reel, start by filling the spool completely with line. As you wind the stuff on, be sure to do so under tension so it doesn’t go on in loose wraps.

When you get ready to cast, reel your lure close to the rod tip and then depress the thumb bar (or release button). Watch how fast your lure falls to the ground. As a starting point, you want it to drop at a slow, steady pace…which can be controlled by adjusting the tension control knob on the side of the reel. If you need more distance, back off the tension…but just be sure to pay more attention to when you apply your thumb on the cast (feather the spool lightly at the beginning of the cast and then clamp down as the lure reaches it’s target).

Quality reels also have magnetic casting control features which allow you to adjust how much brake is applied to the revolving spool by internal magnets. You can set the reel for full break in the beginning and the back off slowly as you get more proficient.

And just remember that no matter how good you get and how much experience you have, you’re never fully immune to the dreaded backlash…

And oh yea, if you want to give the ol’ thumb trick a try, here’s a little video how-to:

10 thoughts on “Cure for the Dreaded Backlash!”

  1. I also have had my share of birds nest, I have also used the thumb method for clearing same . I have had good luck with ,if possible , casting from the side so as to let you throw from a low to high arch. Seems to work for me most of the time

  2. THAT THUB DEAL MIGHT WORK 3 OUT OF TEN TIMES. MY EXERIENCE WAS WITH AMBASSADOR MODEL BAITCASTER AND NO MAGNETS ALL THUMB CONTROL, AND AFTER A COUPLE YEARS HAD IT DOWN PAT. I’M LOOKING FOR A MODERATELY LOW-PRICED BAITCASTER AFTERYEARS OF NOT FISHING AND AM GTTING BACK INTO BASS FISHING.
    GOOD LUCK
    BOB (BUTCH) CONLEY

  3. being a professional at the backlash game i have earned the nickname E.D.B. / EVIL DOCTOR BACKLASH!! given to me by bill herzog one fun after noon on the sol duc.. i went through 2 of my 3 levelwinds that day.. nobody is immune even the general

    1. Evil, you are not alone, my friend! Thanks for coming clean. Anybody who says they haven’t backlashed is full of it. The only way you can avoid a backlash is to never use a bait caster!

  4. Yea, I can relate i was in the canyon of the Smith river and had steelies all over the tailout, i was so excited i could barely get my bait on so when i did i went to cast and i hooked onto the only weed growing out of the rock behind me and i heard it and felt it luckly i had a back up reel it is to hard trying to take backlashes out when fish are rolling ok jim

  5. I am using the Curado now but I started out baitcasting with a Daiwa Exceller which have the magnetic dial on it’s side. It allowed me to have quick brake adjustment and it worked so well, I didn’t even have to thump the spool when the lure hits the water.
    other ways to prevent or limit the backlash are to cast a floating lure as far as possible then let some more line out manually then stick a price label on the spool. This will prevent the backlash to go beyond that point.
    and it helps also to cast where the spool in the vertical position.

  6. just to let everyone know that this is the reason zebco invented the spincast reel everytime i go fishing with my buddys they use the expensive professional baitcasters and when there picking at there reels cussing im still fishing away get a zebco 33 platinum or a zebco rhino RSC3 with all brass gears or a top of the line zebco omega with all brass gears and spend more time fishing and let the pros pick there reels.say what you want but spincast is trouble free and i have had no trouble cranking in 5 lb bass and 25 lb cat fish on them and been doing it every year since 1980

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