How to Put a Line on a Baitcaster

By Brenna Swanston; Updated September 26, 2017

Baitcasting tips and more for the best fishing vacation

How to Put a Line on a Baitcaster

Ah, fishing. It's not as easy as it looks. One of the many technical choices fishers have to make is which reel to use: the spincast (or closed-face), baitcasting or spinning reel. There are pros and cons to each. Baitcasters are great for heavier lines and lures, but they're also the most difficult reel type to master since the spool turns during the cast. They require a little more attention to detail than the typical spinning or closed-face reel, so it's important to know how to navigate a baitcaster before hitting the water with one.

Loading the line

Before beginning, remove any old line, and make sure the spool's surface is clean and smooth. Then start with the rod tip and thread the fishing line through each guide. Attach the line to the baitcaster with an arbor knot (see below).

Tying an arbor knot

The arbor knot is simple but strong. Here's how to make one:

  1. Wrap the fishing line's tag end around the arbor of the spool.
  2. Tie an overhand knot with the tag end around the standing end.
  3. Again using the tag end, tie another overhand knot an inch or two up from the first one.
  4. Pull the standing end of the line until the knots jam together against the spool.
  5. Trim the tag end.

Respooling a baitcaster

For this part, make sure a friend is nearby to help out:

  1. Have the friend put a pencil or screwdriver through the eye of the fishing line spool and hold both sides.
  2. Make sure the line is coming off the spool in the same direction that it goes on the reel.
  3. Begin reeling the line, using your index finger and thumb to add some light tension to keep the line from twisting.
  4. Fill the spool until about 1/8 inch from the rim.

Avoiding backlash

One of the biggest drawbacks of baitcasting reels is backlash, otherwise known as a bird's nest. This happens when the lure hits the water after casting but the spool doesn't stop spinning, resulting in a mess of tangled fishing line in the water.

Here are a few tips for avoiding a bird's nest while using a baitcaster:

  • Use a heavy lure, which helps take the line out fast enough to keep up with the reel.
  • Don't cast into the wind, which can cause the bait to slow down while the reel keeps going.
  • Use a shorter fishing rod to have more control.
  • Adjust the reel's braking system to a high setting, especially as a beginner, to keep casts short and the likelihood of backlash relatively low.
  • Stick to an entry-level baitcaster in the beginning. It's low-cost and easier to use, and it has systems in place to prevent a bird's nest.

About the Author

Brenna Swanston