In fact, bait casting reels are my go to favorite reel for jigging
and casting when light tackle fishing for striped bass.
a few reasons I prefer bait-casting reels:
reel fits in your hand and I feel like I have more control.
think they cast further and it makes sense given when the line
comes off the reel there is little to no resistance of the line
hitting the spool as there is with a spinning reel.
line on a bait casting runs across the top of the rod vs. under
it as it does with a spinning reel/rod combo. I feel like it gives
me more control when jigging.
your thumb sits right near the spool you have more control stopping
the spool if are casting to a target.
to being successful at casting these reels is the proper adjustment
of the break system. It takes some practice to get your break
system which controls the free spool adjusted, but when its
set I find you can cast a country mile. To adjust the break system
correctly, you want to put the lure you will be casting on the
reel. Reel it up almost to the tip and when you put it in free
spool you want the lure to fall with just the slightest amount
of line tension.
Put too much
and youll limit your casting distance; have not enough and
you risk getting a backlash. It usually takes me two or three
tries to get the setting right. If it takes you four times thats
fine. Taking the time to tune the break is well worth the time
spent to prevent getting the dreaded backlash.
a bait casting reel manufacturer for light tackle fishing in saltwater,
there really are not that many choices. Some anglers choose to
use manufacturers like Abu Garcia, Diawa, but my go to and favorite
manufacturer is Shimano. They offer a full line of bait casting
reels suitable for saltwater at several price points. Their signature
saltwater bait casting reel is the Calcutta.
a few attributes that you need to understand: reel size, gear
ratios, ball bearings, reel body make up and drag systems.
Different manufactures use different numerical sizing schemas
to designate the size of their reels. For instance Shimano, which
I use for all my light tackle bait casting reels, uses hundreds
(i.e. 100, 200, 400).
reel size means different gear ratios as well as how much line
can be spooled on a reel. For striper fishing a hundred yards
is sufficient and the Shimano 200 and 400 holds that in 10 pound
test mono and easily can hold 12 pound and even 14 or 15 pound
Just like spinning reels, as you move from small to large on the
bait casting reel size you move from one gear ratio to another.
Gear ratio means how many times the reel spins, i.e. how much
line the spool picks up with one revolution of the crank. A slow
gear ratio for example of 4:1 means the spool turns four times
for one crank of the handle, not a lot of line being recovered.
In the 200 and 400 sizes that I use for striper fishing you will
generally find gear ratios on the faster side of the scale in
the 5:1 to 6:1 range, which is ideal.
I will note
that when it comes to casting top water lures I rarely use bait
casting reels. The reason is that while the gear ratios can be
comparable to spinning reels, generally the handles on bait casting
reels are smaller which makes it hard to really rip a popping
plug across the top of the water. If the top water bite is a slow
pop, Ill use them, but for the most part for all my top
water fishing I use a spinning reel.
More ball bears generally mean youll get a smoother system.
Less expensive reels generally have three ball bearing while more
expensive reels will have six and as many as seven. Put simply,
the more ball bearings the smoother youll find the reel.
The really nice thing about bait casting reels is that unlike
spinning reels that have many pieces that make up the body. Modern
bait casting reels have generally moved to one-piece bodies. This
gives less gaps and spots where saltwater can leak into your gear
system and destroy your reel.
reels like the Shimano Calcutta use a cold forged aluminum frame,
side plate and spool that resist corrosion. As you move down the
price scale you will find reel bodies made out of aluminum, but
not forged with any process. These work fine in the salt with
good care. A good wash down and chamois dry after each day of
fishing should be part of your regular maintenance to assure you
get the best life out of your reels.
You want and need a smooth drag with minimal start up inertia
to assure you do not loose fish. On the Shimano Calcutta reels
they use what they call a Dartainium drag. This material provides
the ability to have a wide range of drag settings and is quite
What I Use
For my light tackle striped bass bait casting fishing I use mainly
the Shimano Calais 200. While mainly designed for freshwater,
I like the low profile body, how smooth the reel is and the precision
of the anti-reverse. The key to using this reel in saltwater is
wash it thoroughly with freshwater after any type of saltwater
reel I use is the Shimano Calcutta which is a saltwater
bait caster. My set-ups are their 100, 200 and 400 series. While
I really like the Shimano brand for baitcasters, there are certainly
other good brands out there on the market that offer a good product.
Visit your local tackle shop and try a few of the reels out in
the store and see which one feels best to you. Until our next
article in the series, good fishing and good times!
is Chief Angler at Lateral Line, Inc., a technical year-round
fishing clothing company located in Easton MD. He also is a Maryland
Governor appointed member of the Sport Fish Advisory Commission
of Maryland. You can learn more about Brandon and Lateral Line
on the web at: http://www.LateralLineCo.com