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Tech Tip Archive

Bait Casting Reels Posted 10/30/2004

Bait casting or "wench type" fishing reels are available in a variety of designs and sizes. They all mount on the top of the fishing rod handle and they all have revolving spools. They are used in fresh water and salt water fishing.

Simply designed bait casting reels are best suited for still fishing or light trolling. Casting this design of reel also requires the use of the thumb on the casting hand to control the out going fishing line. Those of us who grew up using these types of reels still rely on "thumb pressure" to slow the spool for trouble free casting performance. That includes using today's bait casting reels with free spool and anti-backlash arrangements.

The level wind mechanism on a bait casting reel is a guide which, when the reel's handle is turned moves back and forth to re-spool the line evenly on the spool. The level wind mechanism usually requires a line guide, a pawl and a worm gear. This mechanism experiences a lot of use and a lot of water. Water when it dries becomes an abrasive. If the parts of the level wind mechanism are not cleaned and lubed frequently you can be assured of parts problems. The smaller the reel design the smaller the spool the more the level wind mechanism goes back and forth. This means lubing the mechanism every time you use the reel!

Most of today's bait casting reels are a "free spool" design. Free spool means that a clutch like system disengages everything during the cast except the level wind, reduces friction, and allows smoother, longer casts. A bait casting reel with "total free spool" also disengages the level wind, which remains stationary on the cast. The theories being that friction is further reduced while only the spool turns to pay out line. By turning the handle of the free spool reel, the clutch automatically re-engages gears to begin the retrieve. Bearings that support the spool shaft, the spool shafts themselves and the clutch mechanism require regular lubrication.

Choose a bait casting reel designed for your type of fishing. That way you will be assured of having a drag system that will handle fighting a strong fish and any trolling you may do. When you are not using your bait casting reel loosen the drag pressure. Failing to loosen the drag pressure will result in compressed drag washers, which will then result in a drag that is very tight or very loose with not much in between.

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