What are these of these dials for? A guide for setting up your baitcaster
You did it! You finally did it! After years of fishing spinning gear, you finally bought your first baitcaster just to see what all the fuss is about. Now what do you do? Where do I begin? What are all these dials for?

Believe me, we have all had these same thoughts. Here's a quick article on how to adjust all the dials on your new baitcaster. (Go straight to adjustments)

Parts:
Unlike spinning gear, casting reels come with a set or sets of brakes that must be adjusted depending on all sorts of conditions to optimize performance.

Brakes:
Magnetic brakes - These brakes are located on the inside of the sideplate and usually have an adjustable exterior dial which moves the magnets closer or further from the spool. The higher the number, the more brake "pressure" the magnetic brakes will apply. The concept here is as your cast reaches its apex and begins to fall, the magnetic brake system engages to control the speed of the spool at the end of your cast. 

Centrifugal brakes - These brakes are located on the spool itself. Most centrifugal brakes are adjusted by removing the sideplate and pushing/pulling tabs to turn the brakes on/off. Some newer reels have externally adjustable dials for these brakes but the vast majority of them are internally adjusted. Centrifugal brakes control the spin speed of the spool on the initial cast before your lure starts to descend. As you start your cast, the centrifugal brakes extend outward from the center of the spool to apply "pressure" much like a brake drum on cars.

Combination systems - Many manufacturers offer reels with both magnetic and centrifugal brakes.  These reels offer the best of both braking systems. You can adjust the control on both the front end and the back end of your cast.

Unique systems - Daiwa Air Brakes - Daiwa has an incredibly unique braking system. At its core its a combination system; however the design and deployment of the system is proprietary. 

Tension knob: The purpose of the tension knob is exactly what its name is. It provides provides pressure on the spool. It's main purpose is to remove the side to side play of the spool and to make fine adjustments to your cast.

Thumb: Okay so this isn't part of a baitcaster but it's the last piece of the puzzle in using your baitcaster. We will see how to use it later.

Drag: The drag adjust on most baitcasters is located next to the handle, away from the body of the reel. It's usually star shaped. Avoid leaving your reel on full drag for prolonged periods of time. Most fisherman loosen their drag completely in between fishing sessions. You want to adjust the drag until you can just pull your line with your hand. If it's too loose, the spool will not engage and your line guide will move back and forth without spooling.

Now that we know the names of the parts and a general idea of their functions, let move on to setting up your reel.

Note: Spooling your reel.
Many beginners put either too much or not enough line on their spool to begin with.  Both can cause headaches as you begin learning to cast. Ideally, you want to fill up the spool until your are 1/8in from the edge of your spool. If you are using braid, make sure to use a piece of electrical tape or 2-3 layers or monofilament line around the spool before you fill your spool otherwise, your braid will eventually start slipping around the spool.

Tips before we begin:
1. A heavier lure is easier to start with. We recommend 3/8oz or 1/2oz.
2. PRACTICE AWAY FROM WATER. Learning how to cast your baitcaster and make adjustments is 100% is less frustrating when there is 0% chance of catching fish.
3. If you are using a Daiwa with a Zero Adjust tension knob, it is advised you do not mess with the tension knob since these are set specifically for maximum performance by Daiwa.

Adjustments for beginners: (Great for reducing birdsnest occurances)
1. Tie on your desired lure.
2. Set all your brakes to half (the biggest numbers). If adjusting centrifugal brakes, use set them equally, diagonally. For example, with 6 brakes you can do 2 on/4 off, 3 on/3 off but don't do 1on/5off.
3. Lift up your rod tip and let your lure hang about 18" from the tip.
4. Release your tension knob until your lure starts to fall slowly on its own.
5. Make a cast.
6. Keep your thumb on the spool to feather and stop the spool right before your lure hits the water.
7. Adjust your brakes to reach the desired distance. Start with the centrifugal brakes. Fine tune with the magnetic brakes to avoid over spin, where your line unravels itself on the spool faster than your lure is moving. This causes many birdsnests as your line ends up wrapping around itself.
Note: It is possible end up with no brakes on or all brakes on. In addition, you will need to repeat this process everytime your lure weight changes.

Adjustments for more advanced users: (great for adding distance)
1. Tie on your lure.
2. Set all brakes to Full/Max.
2. Loosen the tension knob until you can move the spool from side to side.
3. Tighten your tension know until there is no side to side play.
4. Make a cast.
5. Keep your thumb on the spool to feather and stop the spool right before your lure hits the water.
6. Adjust your brakes to reach the desired distance. Start with the centrifugal brakes. Fine tune with the magnetic brakes to avoid over spin, where your line unravels itself on the spool faster than your lure is moving. This causes many birdsnests as your line ends up wrapping around itself.
Note: Your ability to feather with your thumb is crucial to the success of this technique. You will only need to adjust your centrifugal/magnetic brakes when you change lures. You will leave the tension knob alone from now on.

And that's it! Now you know the parts names and two methods for adjusting your brakes. Let us know if you found this article to be helpful, if you have other tips/tricks or if you have an idea for future articles.

10-4 Good Buddy!

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