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…
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: