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Posted: January 11, 2013 by Hellcat in Fish Reports, Gear Fishing, Salmon, Trout & Steelhead, Tips & Advice, Tutorials
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Proper reel adjustment is commonly misunderstood. By myself included. Read on….from John Strenk, The Reel Tech

Recipe for a professional overlay
By The Reel Tech

As a reel technician, I get lots of customers who are wishing to achieve better casting distance or better “free spool” from their bait casting reels. When I receive the reels, during my troubleshooting, I notice that the reels are not adjusted properly to maximize the casting performance of the reel.

The extensive cleaning and proper lubrication the reels are to be given will certainly improve every aspect of the reels performance. A good cleaning and lubrication, coupled with proper adjustments on the reel, will deliver all the desired free spool the customer could want.

The common perceptional error regarding the cast control knob is that if backing off on it is supposed to increase the free spool, the more you back it off, the more freely the spool will spin. This is not the case.

To properly adjust the reel for the most optimum free spool, you need to first depress the thumb bar, or disengage the reel as if you were to make a cast. Place your thumb on the spool. Wiggle your thumb from left to right while depressing on the spool. There will likely be “knocking” sound as you move your thumb left to right.

This noise is caused by the ends of the spool shaft knocking against the shims that lay under the bearings inside the side plate on both sides of the reel. Slowly tighten down the cast control knob while moving the spool back and forth with your thumb. The side to side movement of the spool will diminish as you tighten down the cast control knob.

The idea is to tighten to the point where there is just the slightest movement back and forth, you will barely be able to hear any more knocking as you move the spool under your thumb. THIS is the setting where your reel will have its greatest free spool performance. Further adjustments can be made by tuning off the centrifugal casting pins on the spool, or turning the magnetic backlash control to the “off” or “0″ position.

Further tightening of the cast control knob beyond the optimal point will result in more pressure on the tips of the spool shaft, and slow down the spool. Further loosening of the cast control knob beyond the optimal point will result in the spool knocking back and forth during the cast as the line is coming off of the spool. This will also slow down the spool and adversely affect casting distance.

Give it a try on your reels at home and see what you have been missing.



  1. Strick says:

    Whoaaaa! I had no idea. Thanks for the tip Strenk! Right on.

  2. Sam Yoder says:

    Who knew ? I certainly did not.. My frustraition with poor casting and constant back lashing caused the donation of my fisrt bait caster reel to the deepest depths of a particular Olympic Peninsula river some 20 years ago. Although I have refined my casting abilities and calmed my frustrations quite a bit since then. I now own several different bait casters but, they are not my go to reel. With these tips and some more practice they just may become my new favorite..I love everything about a bait caster except the casting…Thanks John and AAA

  3. NIC says:

    Awesome!! Thanks for the tip! Really cool.

  4. Captain Jack says:

    I also had no idea, Thanks John!

  5. Sal says:

    Good advice. I did go back and check 3 reels and all of them seemed good to go. It is hard to believe that I had them spot on but it’s nice to be sure. Sal

  6. Ken Sheaffer says:

    Holy crap!!! What a difference!!! A little tip sure goes a long way!!! I primarily use baitcasters and am always looking for ways to better the cast. This one’s awesome!!! Thanks again John!

  7. The Stunner says:

    Thanks for the great advice John

  8. Mike says:

    I never thought of that but it makes sense. Thanks for the tip.

  9. Glad you guys learned something new. That is what its all about!
    Any questions regarding reels, adjustments, etc etc, feel free to give me a call or shoot me an email. I will be happy to add some insight.

    Thanks for reading the article.

  10. Headrush says:

    I never had any idea about this, hate getting a rats nest from time to time.

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