How to Set up a Baitcaster for Bass Fishing

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.

Baitcaster reels are a step up from spinning reels and provide anglers with a number of advantages. They can significantly boost your chances of a pretty good haul if you are savvy about how to use them. So, you should know how to set up a bait caster for bass fishing.

How to Set up a Baitcaster for Bass Fishing

Anglers have a variety of bait casters to choose from, and as a result, setting them up might be a little tricky due to the array. However, in the way of basics, this reel has three elements that are present in just about every one, and setting them up properly is crucial knowledge that you have to pick up.

  • The Baitcaster’s Drag
  • The Baitcaster’s Spool Tension Knob
  • The Baitcaster’s Braking System

These setups are simple, and completing each one completes the setup for your bait caster for bass fishing. Also, as you become more familiar, setting it up will become much easier. Here is how to set up your bait caster step by step.

An image of baitcaster

Setting up Your Baitcaster’s Spool Tension Knob

Both left-handed and right-handed anglers can use bait casters. A fishing reel’s spool tension knob is found on the handle side. This knob controls the amount of force required to spin the spool. You would need to use adequate force, especially when dealing with bass.

Tightening your spool tension knob all the way down is the easiest approach to begin setting it up. This is critical for a successful installation. Here are a few important set-ups to complete before casting with the bait caster for the first time:

  1. To begin, you would need an artificial fishing jig with a minimum weight of 1/2 oz
  2. Next, hold your fishing rod straight out in front of you with the tip straight out
  3. Getting a fishing line is next. This line should be long enough to provide a foot between the fishing jig and the fishing rod tip
  4. Begin backing off the knob, slowly rolling it towards your body, and only stop when the fishing jig begins to fall

Your spool should not backfire if you did everything correctly. If this happens, it just means you’ve gone a little too far and need to tighten the knob again, which you may accomplish by rolling forward. Your spool tension knob is ready when it does not backlash.

Setting up Your Baitcaster’s Drag

Simply defined, drag refers to the amount of pressure required to cause your spool to lip when you engage your fishing reel. You can increase or decrease drag control by rolling the control away from your body or towards your body.

  1. The major step is to engage the reel and tighten the drag all the way down
  2. Next, give the line a little tug while the reel is still engaged; this will give you a good sense of how much pressure your spool needs to spin

Have an understanding of the type of way you want to fish. If you would be fishing bass in thick covers and vegetation, the drag should be right as it can be. If you are fishing bass topwater, the drag should be pretty loose. When using a jig, with single or double hooks, on a heavy line, your drag should be pretty tight. However, in cases of treble-hooked baits, loosening the drag is recommended.

An image of fishing rod

It would take some trial and error to set up your drag. The rule of thumb is that the amount of pressure required to set your hook, your rod action, and the size of your fishing line all influence how tight your drag should be. If you make a mistake and lose your catch due to a slackline, tightening your drag is the solution. If your hook is easily damaged or your bass is tearing off, loosening the drag is the solution.

Setting up Your Baitcaster’s Braking System

Setting up the braking system can be a handful for anglers. This is because most reels feature a centrifugal braking system or a magnetic braking system. There are equally some unique braking systems with digital controls and some that are a hybrid of the magnetic and centrifugal systems.

However, centrifugal and magnetic are the most popular among bass anglers, so I would look at how they are set up.

Magnetic Braking System

Since the braking system’s settings are on the opposite side of your reel’s handle, it is easy to tell if your bait caster has a magnetic system. This method slows down your spool speed at the end of the casting. A dial is included with most magnetic systems for making adjustments.

  1. To begin, maximize the brake settings
  2. Then gradually reduce it until you can increase the distance you can throw without having an overrun of your spool when casting is complete

It is critical to realize that maxing out the braking system reduces your casting range. In the long run, you would learn to cast with your thumb gently riding the spool and the expertise of applying just enough pressure to stop your spool when casting is finished. Attaining expertise makes bass fishing easier.

Centrifugal Braking System

Just like the magnetic, this system stops your spool when casting ends. The significant difference between this system and the magnetic system is the braking controls.

Pins are what decide the centrifugal bait caster’s braking system. These pins are positioned under a side plate opposite your reel handle, and when pulled in, your reel applies fewer brakes, and when pushed out, your reel applies more brakes.

These pins are even-numbered, so setting two at a time is excellent. As a result, for typical reel balance, put two pins out that are across each other, and when you want less, push two pins in.

Benefits of Using a Baitcaster Reel

Having a bait caster for bass comes with several benefits with the base benefit being a significant increase in bass catching chances relative to bass anglers that use the spinning reel. These benefits include:

A man fishing
  • It offers more fishing line control to anglers and increases the chance of a precise cast
  • It ensures that the bass around the area you want to fish are not spooked by letting you slow down the falling speed of your jig and drop your jig softly into the water
  • It offers anglers the opportunity to maintain contact with the fish line. This allows strike detection even in a free spool
  • Casting heavier lines precisely as possible with a baitcaster
  • It comes with the required cranking power which makes it durable for baits like the crankbait and spinnerbait that requires a high drag

It is important to note that setting your bait caster reel might require some experimenting. As a newbie using this reel, it is necessary to be cautious and max out the settings of your bait caster in the beginning. This may affect your casting distances, however, it still allows you to catch some bass.

Also, it would reduce your bait caster backlashes and give you time to understand the reel and cast better. Basically, the longer you use your reel for bass, the better you would be at setting it to fit your fishing conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I Use a Lever Drag or Star Drag?

You should use a star drag because it may offer more practical benefits compared to the lever. For instance, the star drag is superior in terms of castability relative to the lever drag, it is also superior when dealing with 30 lbs and under, while the lever drag is superior for 30 lbs and over.

In essence, when dealing with really heavy fish, you should consider the lever drag. The star drag on the other hand comes in really handy for average to slightly large catches.


Using a bait caster comes with significant benefits for bass anglers and it increases bass catching chances. With this guide, setting your bait caster should no longer be tricky and should most definitely demystify the setup process.