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March 11, 2016

How To Choose The Right Baitcasting Rod

Baitcasting Rod & Reel

I may be a BassHole, but I ain’t no liar!let-s-go-fishing-2-1505999

So I’m going to admit, I don’t have the practical experience to justify me to say what bait casting rod and reel you need.

Simply put, the difference between a baitcasting rod and both spinning and spin cast reels is this:

  • The line comes off a fixed (non moving while casting) spool of a spinning reel in loops, and is wound onto the reel (with the help of a wire called the bail) at a right angle.
  • The line comes straight off and goes back onto a revolving spool of a bait casting rod. Think of a winch on the front of a jeep. Indeed, a baitcasting reel is basically a winch. It’s tough, durable, and will stand up to much more punishment than a spinning reel. But it comes with a cost.

What’s The Problem With A Baitcasting Reel?

Again, simple. Backlash.tangled line

If, while you’re casting, the spool spins too fast, the fishing line will snarl into what is called a bird’s nest. This is very frustrating, and requires time, patience, and a bit of luck to get clear it out.

The learning curve on casting a baitcasting reel is, as I was told by my BassPro buddies, “STEEP.” I’m 62, and so have opted to stick with a spinning reel, as I’d rather spend the rest of my time here on earth improving my performance on that, as opposed to learning baitcasting. Plus, BassPros do use a spinning rod and reel in certain conditions, so I’ll stick to what I know!

I will further admit that I DID try a baitcasting rod and reel about 20 years ago, and on my third cast had to abandon the rig because of the dreaded bird’s nest. I tried practicing at the casting ponds for a while, and finally gave up and sold it to another fisherman.

However, there are certainly advantages to a baitcasting rig.

  • Toughness of the reel (as mentioned above)
  • Accuracy
  • Distance

A spinning reel, as well as a spin cast reel (more on that soon), has the line come off the spool in loops, rather than straight off the reel. It is possible to get snarls with them as well, but that’s typically due to line twists, and improper reeling, and are certainly far less common than a beginner experiences with a spinning or spin cast reel.casting-angle-1437212

A baitcast rod has what is called a “pistol grip” handle. There’s a piece of plastic in the shape of a trigger that you use when you cast, hook, play, and reel in your big bass.

You will notice that with a baitcasting rod and reel, the line does not pull directly against the rod guides while fishing or playing your fish; instead, the guides are pointed up to the sky. That’s because originally, the idea was you would cast, then turn the rod over and reel (which is also why most have a right hand retrieve, since if flipped over, you would reel with your left hand). Nobody does turn the rod over, but people still catch some BIG BASS on this rod and reel combo!

Since I’m NOT an expert, here IS an expert on the baitcast rod:

Elite Series Pro Britt Myers

I did research this type of rod and reel. The more expensive reels are, according to my research, better suited for experienced users. So that’s good news for you! If you’re on a budget (married). But don’t choose the least expensive either. Here’s a middle of the road choice recommended by many:

Zebco Quantum PT Team KVD Baitcasting Reel

Gear Ratio: 6.3:1 (Recommended by Britt Myers above)Quantum KVD Baitcasting Reel

Price: $89.99

Zebco is another long-time fishing equipment maker, which introduced a new type of reel (wait until below!) when a Texas watchmaker saw a butcher pulling string from a fixed spool.

The “KVD” stands for “Kevin Van Dam,” one of the leading bass pros in the world! So even though I’ve only heard others recommend this reel (and not used it myself), I don’t hesitate because I know KVD stands behind products using his name.

Note that baitcasting reels (unlike most spinning or spin cast reels) are either right or left handed. So choose the one you need based on whether you reel with your right or left hand.

The Rod (Magic Wand)

Bass Pro Shops Extreme Casting Rod

Length: 7 foot
Power: Medium Heavy
Price: $99.99

As I said, I don’t have a casting rod and reel. But I DO own the BPS (Bass Pro Shops) Extreme Spinning Rod. Mine’s a 7 foot, medium-heavy, and it’s a real workhorse. Plus the BPS Extreme line is both affordable, and what my fishing buddies at BassPro say they use! (Of course, when I worked at the Orvis Fly Fishing Shop in San Francisco, all MY fly fishing gear was Orvis!) But assuming the quality and performance translate from the spinning rod to the baitcasting rod, I’m happy to recommend it!

Bass Pro Shops offers “Gear Guard,” in this case for $19.99, so you can buy the rod and then no matter what you do to it (close it in the car door, for instance), you can replace it during a 2-year period.

Baitcasting Rod & Reel Combo

Zebco Hellcat 11bb Medium/Heavy Baitcast Combo

Rod length: 7 foot (Recommended by Britt Myers above)BC Combo

Reel Gear Ratio: 6.3:1 (Recommended by Britt Myers above)

And here’s a Zebco rod (my first few rods, not counting the one I made myself, were all Zebcos!) and reel combo. But note the reel is NOT the KVD Quantum described above.

Please Prove Me Wrong!

Hey, I’d LOVE it if you tried out a baitcasting rod and reel, and had little or no difficulties learning how to use it.

Plus ALL your fellow BassHoles would like to know (we’re a curious bunch — in more ways than one):big-fish-1554459

  • What rod(s) do you use?
  • What reel(s) do you use?
  • What techniques can you share?
  • What’s your advice to us “old timers” and the new comers?

So please, fill us in!

Thanks, and Tight Lines!

Roger, The Smiling BassHole


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The Smiling BassHole

I'm a BassHole! Kickin' Bass and lettin' them go.

Roger, The Smiling BassHole

  • This is quite interesting! You had me well engaged with this discussion of casting equipment. I have to admit this is something out of my field of experience; but you certainly have me thinking about by-gone days when fishing was a lot lower tech!

    This whole idea of the winch is a comparison that never occurred to me, well done! Like you, there is still a lot about this equipment I need to study out some more. I didn’t realize how many great choices existed in this price range until now; I appreciate you bringing all of this together in one spot. I hope you will write some more on your experiences with this…Thank you!!

    Could you answer a question for me? What system are you using and how does it compare with these pro recommendations, you have provided?

    I’ve got to go now. But, will be returning to check out more here, and look for your answer! Thank you for taking the time to educate a newbie, like me. You probably have had to answer my question many times.

    I’m bookmarking you; have a great day!



    • JChrisA,

      Glad to be of help!

      I have a number of rods and reels, including fly fishing equipment!

      But since I was talking about NON-fly fishing gear, I’ll stick to that for now.

      So, I have 3 main rods:

      * 1 Medium action 7 foot rod paired with a Shimano Sedona spinning reel.

      * 1 Medium-Light action 6 1/2 foot rod paired with a Shimano Sedona spinning reel (the same model as above).

      * 1 Medium-Heavy action 7 foot rod paired with a Pfleuger President spinning reel.

      These do all my spin casting. I don’t now own either a baitcasting or spincasting rod or reel. But I know these can be very productive!

      For fly fishing for bass, I use either an Orvis 5-weight rod and line, or a Sage 8-weight rod and line. I’ll talk more about fly fishing for bass in future posts, so if that interests you, stay tuned!

      What looks most interesting to you?


      Tight Lines!

      Roger, The Smiling BassHole.

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