Baitcaster Backlash: How To Avoid It and How To Get Rid of It

Baitcasters are some of the most popular fishing reels, but they are also one of the most difficult to fix and can be quite hard to master. This is largely because baitcasting reels tend to generate backlash, which is the term we use for a ‘birds nest’ formation, where all of the reels become tangled and messed up. 

The last thing you want is to be out on the water, and your reel gets tangled and stuck in a birds nest formation, as this will slow you down, and you will probably spend the rest of your fishing trip trying to untangle the mess of a reel in front of you. 

It is for this reason that many people struggle to master the baitcaster and can find them hard to use when you do not understand how to avoid backlash. This is why we have created a guide on how to defeat baitcaster backlash and how you can avoid it.

There are two ways to eliminate baitcaster backlash. The first is to learn how to cast a baitcaster without getting backlash or a bird’s nest, and the second is to remove a baitcaster backlash quickly if it does accidentally happen. 

In the following guide, we will show you exactly how to master the baitcaster backlash (learn about the best baitcaster for beginners here) and how to fish so that this never happens to you again!  

What causes a backlash?

Before we tell you how to avoid backlash, it is probably best to understand better how this occurs and what causes the bird’s nest in the first place. When you are fishing, you will have to cast a lure with your baitcaster. When you do this, the spool in the reel is triggered to start rotating and spinning quickly as soon as you have pressed down on the thumb bar.

Backlash happens when the spool begins to rotate a lot faster than the lure can pull the line away from it, which then causes the reel to cluster and cause a bird’s nest. This is because the spool is throwing off the line too fast, and the line cannot be pulled off fast enough, which will result in a baitcaster backlash. 

You will notice that baitcaster backlash happens rather often, and so there are a few ways in which you can avoid it. However, do not feel too bad if this happens to you; it’s not all about expertise; some weather conditions can cause a backlash, which is out of your control. That being said, we are here to tell you how to prevent this from happening in most cases.

How to cast your baitcaster without backlash

If you want to prevent your baitcaster from backlash, then you will need to know exactly how to slow down your spool rotation during your cast. This will then be unable to throw off more line than what is being pulled by the lure. 

To do so, you will have to ensure that you know your baitcasting reel inside out. There are three ways to slow down the spool rotation on your baitcaster: the braking system, the thumb pressure you use, and the spool tension. 

You will have to master your baitcaster, and you will need to know all of the important reel parts for this to work. For instance, you will also need to know how to spool a baitcaster properly so that there is no twisting of the lines during the spooling process, as this can also lead to a backlash. If you have not spooled your baitcaster properly, then you will most likely be suffering a lot of backlash on your next fishing trip! 

Once you have checked that the baitcaster is spooled proficiently, you will want to adjust your baitcasting reel’s braking system. There should be two different baitcaster brakes, the magnetic and the centrifugal brakes. Some baitcasters will only have one, but we recommend using one with two as this will also help prevent backlash and will work to slow down the spool rotation much better.

You will then need to adjust the centrifugal brakes and set them to the maximum number. To do so, you will want to open the side plate of your baitcaster and activate your maximum number of brakes by sliding them into the right position. This should then reduce the casting distance and prevent any birds nest or backlash. 

You can also set the magnetic brakes in your baitcaster, with a small dial on the side of the reel. As a beginner, you would need to set the brakes to 50% strength or more, reducing the casting distance just like the centrifugal brakes would. If you are more experienced than a beginner, you can reduce the brake settings to cast.

In addition, you can adjust the spool tension to slow down the spool rotation during your cast. This can, in most cases, be adjusted by the large spool tension knob close to the reel handle. 

If you want to set the spool tension accurately, you must first tie your lure to the end of your line and hold your rod out. Once this is done, you can press the thumb bar on your baitcaster to release the clutch. If the spool tension is right, it should drop the lure to the ground, and once it hits the ground, the spool should stop rotating immediately. 

If this does not happen, you will have to loosen or tighten your spool tensioner; you will have to do so until it works just right. If you have a new lure, then remember that you will have to adjust the spool tension every time you use a new one. 

How to slow down the spool

One of the simplest ways to slow down a fast-rotating spool and prevent backlash is to use your thumb pressure. This can be done easily by pressing your thumb softly against the spool while casting and then increase the pressure whenever you feel a backlash is about to form.

You can also use your thumb pressure to prevent the cast when the lure becomes too close to the water. This will stop the spool from continuing to spin and stop any chances of backlash in its tracks. This method may take a little practice for beginners, but once you have mastered controlling the spool with just your thumb, you will wonder why you never used this method before, as it will make your life so much easier. 

In addition, if you are new to fishing, and slowing down the spool with your thumb seems a little impossible at the moment, then you can purchase baitcasters with anti-backlash technology to help you out, such as

How to get rid of backlash – video tutorial

You can become a master of the spool, but you will probably end up with a bird’s nest at one point or another. It just happens. The important thing is to know how to fix it! Luckily, we have found an excellent video tutorial to help you get rid of the backlash on your baitcaster in just a few seconds.

Alternatively, you can use our way: all you have to do to get rid of your backlash is to focus on pulling the line off the spool. Try to pull as much as possible until the bird’s nest stops any more movement. 

Then, you can press your thumb down lightly on the spool or rotate the reel handle for half a turn while pressing down (learn how to spool a baitcaster reel here), and continue to pull out the line from the spool until it is stuck again and repeat the process. This will effectively remove even the hardest backlash or bird’s nest in a few minutes tops! 


In summary, you will find that baitcaster backlash will happen a lot in your fishing career. The important thing is knowing how to do your best to avoid it and fix it when it does happen. 

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