Baitcasting set ups are slowly becoming more popular with UK lure anglers, but they are nowhere near as widely used, as they are in other countries. This article looks at the reasons why you would want to choose a baitcaster over a traditional spinning or fixed spool set up and if its the right choice for you.

The question is, why would you choose a bait caster over a spinning reel? Lets look at the different reasons anglers choose one over another:

Baitcasting Reels – Not for bait

Many UK anglers are confused by the name “baitcaster”. The name suggests that they are used to cast bait rather than lures, when in fact the opposite is true; yes you can use them for bait fishing, but one of the terms commonly used in America for lures is crank baits and so the name given to the set up baitcaster came to pass. I will start off by saying that I would never recommend a novice angler to start with a baitcasting reel, they can be quite tricky to master and are more likely to put you off fishing in the beginning. Having said that they do have their advantages.

  • Baitcasting reels can be fine tuned to maximise casting distance and accuracy. They have several knobs to dial in casting control unlike the conventional spinning reel. By using the tension knob and the braking system, you can determine the speed of the spool during casts to gain greater distance and control. Make sure to adjust the knobs every time you change your lure, or else you’ll get a backlash.
  • Greater distance with larger lures – Due to the line coming off the reel in an almost straight line and with less drag, a baitcasting reel can punch those bigger lures out quite a bit further. This can be invaluable if you are trying to get your lures out behind the breakers when you are surf fishing, or you want to cover more water on a large lake.
  • Smaller size – As the spool depth is normally deeper than on a fixed spool reel, it allows more line to be put on compared to a similar sized spinning reel. If you set this up with a well balanced rod you significantly reduce the overall weight of the outfit. This may not seem like a big point, but when you fish for 8 hours, you will come to realise how much a difference using a lighter and smaller set up makes.
  • More feedback – Because the reel is set up on top of the rod you get an entirely different feel for how the lure works. I find that when using surface lures I can impart more moment into the lure with less effort.
  • Better for tight spots and pin point casting – Baitcasting outfits are normally lighter and shorter than a fixed spool set up, this allows you to cast singlehandedly and underarm. This is a great benefit when you are tight in against bank side vegetation or on a narrow rock ledge. The style also allows you to cast under bushes and branches without snagging up so often.
  • Dropping large lures quietly – One of the biggest problems I face when using larges lures, especially when Pike fishing, is making the lure land on the water without scaring every fish within 20m. Being able to control the speed of the spool on a baitcaster allows the lure to fall much more softly and in the exact spot.

Spinning Reels – Easy to use

Almost everyone that gets into fishing starts off with a spinning or fixed spool reel, but what do they have to offer over a baitcaster?

  • Ease of use – unarguably a spinning set up is much simpler and easier to use. There is no worrying about setting up multiple dials to ensure a trouble free cast and birds nests or over runs are almost unheard of.
  • Better for smaller lures –  if you are using small lures or unweighted soft plastics its much easier to cast them using a spinning reel.
  • Cost – You can pick up a reasonably good spinning reel for under £60.
  • Spare spools –  A lot of fixed spool reels come with at least one spare spool. This is ideal if you want to use different strength line for different species, such as 2lb mono for small course fish, or 20lb braid for lure fishing off the rocks. The spools are easy to change and cheap to buy extra ones.
  • Ambidextrous – It doesn’t matter if you are left or right handed, most spinning reels are very easy to change over to the side that is most comfortable for you. If you lend it to a friend and they use a different hand to wind in, it’s not a problem, just unscrew the handle and switch it to the other side, with no tools needed. The handle is often collapsable, which helps prevent damage when its packed away.

Cost is another consideration! You can spend very little on both types of reel, or you can spend a small fortune, but one notable difference is in the amount you need to spend to get a half decent reel. There are numerous fixed spool reels that you can buy under £60 that are reasonable. When I say reasonable, I mean they are smooth, have good gearing, a good drag system and won’t fall to pieces in a couple of months. On the other hand, to buy a reasonable baitcaster that won’t over run and birds nest easily and offers smooth casting and breaking, you need to start at the £60 mark or even more.

Would I recommend a baitcaster for fishing in relatively open water areas? No I wouldn’t, but if accuracy and weight are a consideration then learning to master a baitcaster could be time well spent.

Reviews: Over the next few weeks and months, we will look at reviewing a number of different rods and reels in different price brackets. Make sure you subscribe to our news letter so you don’t miss them. In the mean time check out a couple that I have selected from Amazon



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