Different Braking Systems On Baitcaster Reels

The best baitcasters have efficient braking systems to control the resistance on the spool during casting. This is vital as the baitcasting reels have more direct power than spincast reels because of how the reel is configured. This means that the spool on a baitcaster rotates as you cast.

This rotation of the spool must be controlled with a braking system. Without some resistance, your spool will spin even after the lure hits the water and you’ll end up with a backlash. A backlash will invariably result in tangles and birds nests. A good braking system will minimize the backlash.

When you are learning to cast a baitcaster, you need to keep the brakes fully on until you gain some confidence. You can then turn off the brakes to cast further. It is essential to get familiar with the different braking systems available to decide which is best for you. The below section will elaborate on different braking systems on baitcaster reels.

There are three main braking systems used in the majority of today’s baitcasting reels- Magnetic, Centrifugal, and Manual. Let’s take a close look at each of them.

The Magnetic braking system

Magnetic braking system

Efficient control in the palm of your hand: the Magnetic Braking System on baitcaster reels.

The magnetic braking system works on the concept of Lenz’s law.  The side plates of the reel contain little round magnets. The opposing forces of these magnets generate resistance to the spool. These magnets can be moved with the help of a dial situated on the outside of the side plate.

When you turn the dial, the magnets can be moved closer or further away from each other creating a stronger or a weaker force. When the dials are turned to the highest number, the magnets will move closest to each other creating the strongest force. Similarly, setting the dial to the lowest number will move the magnets furthest to allow the reel to spin freely.

In this system, there is always some force exerted on the reel by the magnets even at the lowest dial setting. Experienced baitcasters consider this as a disadvantage. But for those just starting on baitcasting, the magnetic braking system is a very effective system to use.

The Centrifugal braking system

Centrifugal braking system

Experience unparalleled control and accuracy with the centrifugal braking system.

The centrifugal braking system is situated in the same area where the magnetic braking system exists. It works with little braking pads that are situated inside the reel.  These pads apply pressure on the brake ring to create friction to slow down the spool. The more the pressure, the quicker the spool will slow down.

There are different ways to adjust a centrifugal braking system. Some reels have dials to control the braking. At a higher the dial setting, the braking pads will exert more pressure on the brake ring to slow the spool down quickly. In a lower setting, the resistance will be lesser allowing the spool to slow down less quickly.

Some reels have the settings for the Centrifugal braking system inside the side plate. You need to remove the side plate every time you want to adjust the brakes. Some of these have a dial for adjustment and others work on a spring system where the brake pads are on the end of small springs. 

The centrifugal braking system can be turned off completely if you go inside the side plate. While many expert baitcasters prefer it off, it is not recommended for beginners.

The Manual braking system

The Manual braking system is the most important of all the other braking systems in your baitcaster reel. All anglers aim to get adept at this as soon as possible as it allows you to cast long distances. In this method, the thumb is used in a technique called feathering to control the spool rotation.

Feathering involves exerting pressure on the spool with your thumb to slow down the spool while casting. Many experts prefer using this method to the others as it affords a greater degree of control and long casting distances.

Usually, all the brakes are turned off while using this method. The spool spins super-fast when all the brakes are off. If you are casting against the wind, it is recommended to have some braking in place to avoid backlash.

In some cases, the spool spins faster than the line is being thrown out. It requires a deft application of pressure with the thumb for you to avoid backlash. Feathering requires a lot of practice to get it right. Even experts get backlash from time to time.

As a newbie, you must keep the brake settings at the correct level and slowly work your way down as you gain confidence. Use the other braking systems along with feathering in situations like casting against the wind. Don’t forget to exert pressure on the spool while the lure is about to hit the water.

Despite all the precautions and practice, backlash or a big birds-nest tangle is inevitable. The sooner you learn the different methods to easily untangle birds nests the better. You will find many excellent videos on YouTube for untangling birds nests. This will save you plenty of time and frustration.

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