What Are The Parts of a Baitcasting Reel? Baitcaster Assembly

Learning about the parts of a baitcasting reel is important for many reasons. Baitcasting reels are one of the most popular types of reels among anglers. Using baitcaster reels can improve your casting accuracy and distance, especially when compared with a range of other fishing reels on the market, such as cheap spinning reels.

In most cases, baitcasting reels as compared to spinning reels, are used for precision fishing, where it can be harder to gain control and accuracy with the predatory fish. The last thing you want is to sit at the shoreline for hours on end only to go home empty-handed because of the type of fishing reel you were using.

Fortunately, a good baitcasting reel can come to the rescue and not just improve your accuracy but your catch rate too.

If you are just beginning on your angling journey, baitcasters could be ideal for you. The best baitcaster for beginners are more lightweight than spinning reels and have a similar line of capacity. Before you head out to the water, it is useful to know the advantages of using baitcasters. To understand this, you will need to find out about the various parts and what they do.

We will discuss the features and components of a baitcasting reel below so you can soon go from a beginner angler to a more advanced level.

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Parts of a Baitcasting Reel

If you’re in a hurry and want to simply learn the names of the different parts of a baitcasting reel, here is a list of every component.

  • Foot
  • Brakes
  • Spool
  • Drag control
  • Thumb bar
  • Handle
  • Line guide
  • Cast control knob
  • Spool tensioner
  • Pawl
  • Baitclicker 

Now, let’s look at each part in detail so you can become a pro in no time.

Reel foot

The baitcasting reel is attached to the rod through its foot. These are typically shaped squarely or rectangularly so they can fit the frame of the rod holder.  Low-profile baitcasters, which are reels that are ergonomically designed for anglers who prefer to hold the reel in their hand when controlling bait, have a recessed foot resulting in the reel body lying on top of the rod instead of sticking out.

This makes it easier to handle over longer periods as the line comes straight from the starting guides. The line then drops into the water for a smoother and more friction-free cast. It needs to withstand the torque and pressure of casting as well as receiving.

Baitcasting reels are located on the top of a rod, unlike spinning reels. Baitcasters tend to face the angler while they cast. Still, the reel foot must be fastened securely and tightly to the rod’s reel socket (reel seat) before fishing to prevent it from becoming loose and impeding your fishing experience by separating.

The reel socket/seat houses the entire reel and normally includes a threaded keeper that gets moved down by hand so that the detachable reel is fixed into place.


The brakes are another important component that is unique in baitcasting reels. These are used when you have to control backlash. This is when the line tends to tangle. Such backlash can be challenging with the set-up of a baitcasting reel and can take some time to get used to.

The brake systems of reels are typically adjustable and can be altered easily by moving one or two screws found on the reel body so you can access the metal components.

There are two types of brakes with baitcasting reels. These are typically centrifugal or magnetic breaks. Both work in different ways, however. Magnetic brakes are usually much simpler to operate, but this tends to leave them in a higher price bracket than centrifugal models.

The reel brakes are situated on the reel’s side, which is advantageous to the angler because it becomes much easier to access by hand. This allows for quicker readjustments if required. This adjustment can also change the spool speed and control the overall rate of deceleration. If this becomes too fast, the line can become tangled.

There are two major components that function with the brakes; the initial brake, which is bigger and easier to adjust, and the deceleration brake. Centrifugal brakes have a system of blocks within a ring which they use to cut down any friction. Therefore, the force of the brake becomes equal to the square speed of the rod’s spool.

Magnetic brake systems are different in that they use metal magnets alongside electromagnetic forces to slow down the spooling rate. You can control this system by tightening or loosening a dial located on the side of the reel.


Many would agree that the spool is one of the most important components of a reel. The spool is where the fishing line is stored. A baitcasting spool rotates instead of moving up or down like in spinning reels. This means baitcasting reels can withstand more pressure, resulting in better reels for heavier set-ups and larger-sized fish.

Many angling professionals prefer baitcasters because of their spool design. It is ideal for anglers who choose lures such as jigs that lie deep in the water and are moved across the bottom surface. Tackle needs to be more durable and sturdy when used in this fishing style as they are far more likely to come up against underwater objects and obstacles.

Beginners can find spooling a baitcasting reel quite difficult, but novices can soon get to grips with it with some simple steps. Firstly, the spool’s surface should always be smooth, clean, and completely free of other materials. Ensure this is the case at first. From here, you just need to feed the line onto the spool with a little tension and your index finger and thumb.

Spooling the line is one of the most vital processes when setting up a rod and reel. If a line is spooled incorrectly or lacks pressure, it can come off the reel quickly, tangle, and eventually break.

Drag control

This control is usually a button or knob found in the shape of a starfish, which is also referred to as “star drag.” It is usually located on the right side of a reel next to the friction control buttons or tensioner and cast control knobs. You can control the backlash and cut down any time needed to fix tangled lines, thanks to the drag control button.

Drag setting is especially important when you are playing a fish and then retrieving the line on a catch. Lines with high tension levels or minimum drag tend to break far more easily than reels that give a little drag, allowing the bass to pull some length of the line off the reel. You can test the drag by tugging the line by hand and then trying to pull it out.

A line that burrows into the spool with low levels of give usually causes trouble with the backlash. The drag control settings must be lowered to a certain point in which there is less tension. This will dramatically improve any angler’s catch rate.

Thumb bar (Clutch)

The thumb bar works with the spool, ball bearing system, and the anti-reverse function found in a range of baitcasting reels. The thumb bar is used to release your line when casting your lure. As you press the thumb bar down, gears from the spool disengage, resulting in a free reel rotation.

The thumb bar must be pressed at the precise moment you want to release the line as you cast. One benefit of this is how your thumb becomes positioned very close to the spool, helping you manually slow down spool rotation during the casting process.

Thumb reels can cause adjustment problems due to their unique positioning inside the reel’s body and varying dimensions. If you have to replace the thumb bar, it can be quite difficult as you will have to match its make to the reel manufacturer, but this is an inexpensive process.


The baitcaster reel handle is different from a spinning reel as it contains two knobs instead of the spinning reel’s one. The handle is the main part between your hand and the reel, ensuring you have a working line.

The handle is usually quite large when compared to the reel’s body size. The knobs are made from ergonomic EVA foam or hard plastic, depending on the model. Comfort is key when holding a fishing rod (learn about the best swimbait rods here), and baitcasting reels are built for the comfort of use with the two knobs for your thumb and forefinger to grip. Lightweight reels, such as these, fit perfectly on the rod handle, while the large reel handle is easy on the hands.

Baitcaster reel handles work the same way as traditional fish reel handles. Their prime function is to move gears on the interior of the reel along with the spool.

Most handles on baitcasting reels are made from aluminum which can be long-lasting. High-end market models are sometimes constructed with reinforced metals and are very solid and dependable for professional anglers who require more durable and strong reels.

Line guide

The line guide is a helpful feature that ensures the line is spooled evenly onto the baitcaster spool. It achieves this by moving backward and forwards from either end of the spool as you rotate the handle. This range of motion is often referred to as an “old typewriter.” You must remember to thread the line through the line guide before threading it through your baitcasting rod line so it won’t become tangled.

The line guide helps the line move through and into the water freely when being cast and retrieved. As well as making sure the line doesn’t unspool incorrectly, the line guide also keeps down friction and reduces any line breakage. A good spool and line guide will also help you resist baitcaster backlash.

Cast control knobs

Cast control knobs (spool tension knob) are essential in maintaining a smooth casting process without backlash. The design of cast control knobs differs from one manufacturer to the next, varying from a singular knob to several.

Nonetheless, its main function is to adjust the line speed when coming off the spool. You will often find the control knobs situated by the reel handle.

Your fingers can rotate cast control knobs if you wish to increase or decrease the speed of the reel. These control knobs are usually easy to replace and are made from the same colored metal as the reel’s body. Many anglers choose to replace these cast control knobs to suit their design preference or their preferred size. To remove them, simply rotate the knob until it becomes entirely loosened.

Spool tensioner

To ensure the spool remains securely and tightly fastened to the reel body, spool tensioners are used. These also ensure the line can move freely on and off the spool.

You will usually locate the spool tensioner on the bottom side of the reel body but don’t confuse it with the cast control knobs. You can distinguish the spool tensioner as it is usually much smaller in size than the cast control knobs.

You should test the adjustability with a lead sinker tied to your line when outside the water. This testing will give you a clue of how sensitive the tension is, so you can then set it to your preferred level in time for casting off.

This is an ideal method for novices and beginners learning their way with baitcasting reels. If you’re a beginner who wants to avoid backlash, allow the sinker to drop and then hit the floor. Ensure there is no line continuing off the reel, and you should be able to avoid any backlash going forward.


The pawl is a gear that is found throughout the length of the reel. It is situated slightly below the line guide and is responsible for moving the line back and forth to ensure the spool line is distributed evenly and correctly.

If the pawl is damaged or broken, you will end up with reel damage and monster knots more often than not.


The baitclicker is a common feature in baitcasting reels. You will find this in the form of a switch on the left of the reel. It makes a clicking sound to indicate the line tension has increased. 

The baitclicker is an especially useful feature as it acts as an alarm to inform the angler of a fish taking the lure. This can also signify the lure coming into contact with underwater objects and becoming caught.

If you intend on fishing with more than one rod, the baitclicker feature is very helpful as it will notify you of any catch or movement when away from the rod. You’ll never have to miss another catch again!

The Parts of a Baitcasting Reel Summary

Baitcasting reels are very similar to other fishing reels in terms of form and function. Still, the increased level of control for anglers wanting to improve their game means baitcasting reels are a favorite among most anglers.

Go and give a baitcaster reel a try, and your fishing game and catch rate should improve drastically. Now that you know about the parts of a baitcasting reel, check out our posts on the best baitcasting reel for bass and the best baitcaster for beginners.

For more information, below are a couple of videos reviewing the parts of a baitcasting reel.

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