I remember when I learned to use a baitcast reel. It wasn’t pretty. Like most anglers, I spent most of my time untangling snags and massive bunches of line, also known as “backlashes,” or more affectionately, “bird’s nests.” Anglers new to baitcast reels shouldn’t beat themselves up when backlashes occur; they happen to everyone, even professional anglers. There are some measures you can incorporate, however, to improve your chances at preventing your reel from turning into a massive, afro-like nest of line.
As with anything in life, practice does make perfect. You can purchase the most high-tech, magnetic braking system baitcaster reel available, but it still takes a well-practiced thumb to avoid a bird’s nest in your line. Spend some time pitching and casting a practice plug—a weighted piece of rubber for casting practice—in your backyard and you’ll be well-prepared for a few trial runs on the water.
Keep Multiple Combos On-Hand
The wrong combination of rod, reel, and lure weight can increase the risk that your line with backlash. However, rather than attempt to readjust your baitcaster’s settings with every different lure you use, if you have the means, dedicate a different baitcaster rod and reel combo to each lure type instead.
Load the Line Correctly
Believe it or not, new line fresh off a recently purchased spool can be loaded incorrectly onto your reel. Baitcast reels, for instance, require the line to come from the top of a new line spool. If you aren’t able to keep the spool upright while you load the line, lay the spool flat and wind on several feet of line, then open the bail. If the line uncoils like the foam snakes out of a fake peanut can gag toy, take it off and try again with the new line spool flipped over. Bonus Tip: Don’t over-fill the spool, as this, too, increases the risk of a backlash.
Use Braided Line
Braid doesn’t have “memory,” which means it doesn’t recall it’s tightly coiled shape around a spool and will straighten flat when you cast it, making it ideal for baitcast reels. Once I started using Sufix on my baitcast reel, my kinks almost disappeared completely. If you do get a small kink in your braid, though, simply pinch it hard and roll it between your fingers and it will loosen. Solid braided line options include Sufix Performance Braid, PowerPro, or Spiderwire.