My first memories of fishing are when I was very young. My mother would load the four of us boys and our gear into the car and we would go out to a local farm where my mom knew the owners and they gave us permission to fish on their property. The stock tank was fairly large and we would spend the majority of the day fishing and enjoying nature. Being as how we were very young at this time, we were all setup with cane poles and we set to work with our corks and worms while my Ma would stalk the shoreline using a purple plastic worm on a spincast setup. The cane poles were fun for a while and perch-jerking is a great way to get kids interested in fishing without much of a hassle, and as we grew so did our love of fishing.
When I was several years older, we had outgrown the cane pole lifestyle and transitioned into more advanced technology. A great man by the name of Art Van Atta introduced my brother Joe and I to the Zebco 404, which is an enclosed spincast type of setup. Art taught us about hunting safety, fishing and a better appreciation for the outdoors. He introduced us to Fred Bear back in the early 80’s and also took us to places like Fort Laramie where we would fish for crappie. This is where we learned a bit more about the improved features of the Zebco 404 and two critical components. The first being the ability to cast lures & live bait; the second being the dreaded backlash or “birdnesting”.
We were taught about the importance of casting from ten to two and I distinctly recall how aggravating it was to unscrew the top and work all the line out, get everything back into place, and then screw the lid back on only to have it happen again. There were some days where I spent more time fixing birdnests than I did fishing. This setup was the “go to” setup for my youth fishing trips. My older brother Joe was already into a spincast setup as he is several years older than me and I was eager to graduate to an improved system just like my mom and my brother.
A Lifetime of Spincast
I don’t recall how I ended up with my first spincast setup but it was most likely a hand-me-down or a gift. I recall my first setup being a two-piece rod with a very basic Shimano spincast with the trigger near the bail and a rear knob for drag adjustment. I had used this setup for the majority of my adult life and have become relatively proficient in casting and was mildly accurate in lure placement. I have been using spincast exclusively for the better part of 30 years and there are a couple things I learned that are critical to better spincast operation:
- Make sure you use the correct line size for the reel. The reel was designed by engineers to have a peak performance based on the size of line they specify. Using anything else will most likely reduce efficiency and performance.
- Fill the spool up with string. The string should be about even with the top of the spool. If you are missing string in the spool, the string will crate drag on the spool top and reduce the distance drastically.
- Backlash in a spincast is a nightmare. I have spent a great deal of time removing the spool and scratching my head at the incredible chaos that can occur in a spincast backlash. I remember asking myself “How in the world is it possible the string got wound up under the spool?”
- Linewhip is a thing. Not all rods are designed for good spincast performance. As the string flows off the spool and travels down the length of the rod, the first eyelet it meets should be close enough to the reel to prevent the string from smacking into the body of the rod when you cast. Linewhip will cost you significant distance on your casts.
- Spincast can flip the smallest of lures with ease and accuracy. I have used a spincast setup to flip lures under docks and tree branches to great effect.
It wasn’t until recently that I gave baitcast reels a go to see what all the hype is about. I went to my closest mega fishing store to pickup a cheap bait cast combo and $50 later I was walking out the door and headed back to the house. For those of you that don’t know, I have a canal in my backyard that allows me access to water whenever I want. Upon my arrival home, I spooled up the baitcaster with some 20lb braid and tied on my go to snakehead lure, the topwater frog with an Owner 2/0 wide gap and rigged it weedless (See How To Fish Topwater Frog for reference). I went out to the canal to give this setup a go.
The first couple of days were a god-awful train wreck. I had 30 plus years of spincast technique drilled into my bones and it was hard to make the adjustments to this different style as they differ greatly in some of the finer actions. I had to fix multiple birdnests that the novice baitcaster always experiences. I was paying my dues, as every baitcast aficionado will tell you.
Over the course of three days I made multiple trips to “YouTube University,” where I learned some important tips to help me better my baitcast technique. I saw how to make the adjustments on the reel to prevent the spool from over-rotating or backlashing. I also learned how to load up the rod on the back swing to allow the rod to do most of the casting work and I also learned when to release the button to ensure the string started to peel of the reel at the proper time.
Setting up the reel is the most critical part of the baitcasting experience, and after three days I started to get the hang of it. I was casting farther than I ever have and with more accuracy than with the spincast that I grew up with. I was fascinated and a little giddy thinking about how my fishing game was improving with this simple transition. Here are some things I learned about baitcast operation:
- Match the line to the reel. Just like before, these reels are designed to hold a certain size line. Consult the manufacturer specifications and use the correct line size.
- Match the reel to the length and action of the rod you will be using.
- Setting up the reel is critical to ensure you have everything in place to prevent the spool from over-rotating and causing backlash.
- You have to wait for the tip of the rod to load up before you bring the setup forward.
- There is a sweet spot where you let the spool start to flow and it takes practice to get the feel for it.
- Changing out lures will require you to make some adjustments to the tuning of the reel if there is a difference in size or weight.
- When everything is tuned up right and you have your technique perfected, you can cast these reels a mile with accuracy and precision.
- Backlash is easier to fix and here is a video I made to show you how.
A little bit more research on the “YouTube University” brought me to a reel called the Shimano Curado DC that you see featured in my video. This reel has an electric braking system which claims to have a circuit card installed in the reel that will brake the spool to prevent backlashing, I watched several videos and was convinced that I was going to give it a go. I want to be clear that I am not a paid spokesperson nor am I compensated by Shimano in any way. That being said, I am a huge fan of the DC technology in the baitcast reels. I currently have 4 of the Shimano DC type baitcast reels on my primary fishing rods and each of my kids has one. These reels are so easy to use and prevent backlash that they eliminate a great deal of the dues that need to be paid to properly use a baitcast reel. The DC technology shortcuts the baitcast learning process, however you need to make sure you set the reel up properly. I have been converted.
- Easy to learn
- Easy to use
- Small lures are easy
- Drag is easy to adjust
- String rides on the eyelets
- Lure changes are easier to manage.
- Backlash is nightmarish
- Cast distance can easily be reduced
- Linewhip is real
- Lots of moving parts.
- Farther distance on casts
- Improved accuracy on casts
- Small and compact design
- Easy to use drag
- Backlash easier to manage
- Hard to learn
- Small lures are tricky
- Flipping is challenging
- Line rides on eyelets and rod shaft
- Setting drag is challenging
- Reel setup is critical to good performance
- Lure changes require reel adjustments.
I hope this is helpful and please subscribe is you want to see more.Thank you for reading and I hope you have Another Fine Day Full of Fun and Adventure
Capt Matt Webber