Are There Any Baitcasters That Won’t Backlash?

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Written By Russ Egan

Russ is a professional fisherman with over 20 years of experience. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ comprehensively tests and reviews all his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. There is nothing he prefers than heading down to his local tackle store, buying the latest fishing reel, and taking it to the water to test.


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The best baitcaster that won’t backlash is equipped with a top-notch braking system. Brands like Shimano, Abu Garcia Black, and KastKing produce high-quality baitcasters with advanced anti-backlash technology, making your fishing experience more enjoyable and efficient.

Russ Egan holding Shimano Curado 200E7 baitcasting reel

Popular Baitcasting Reels With High-Quality Brake Systems

  1. Shimano Curado DC: A digital-controlled brake system makes this one of the best baitcasters to avoid backlash. The intelligent system automatically controls the speed of the spool, giving you a smooth cast every time.
  2. Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile: An excellent baitcaster for beginners and seasoned anglers. Its MagTrax brake system provides consistent brake pressure throughout the cast, reducing the chance of a backlash.
  3. KastKing Royale Legend: With dual brakes (magnetic and centrifugal), the KastKing Royale offers an unparalleled level of control, minimizing backlash and making casting a breeze, even for beginners.
  4. Lew’s Speed Spool LFS: This baitcaster reel features a reliable Multi-Setting Brake (MSB) system that combines both external magnetic brake and internal 4-pin centrifugal brake for precise casts and minimal backlashes.

What is Backlash?

Backlash, commonly called a bird’s nest or air knots, is a tangle of line that occurs when your baitcasting reel’s spool spins faster than the line is released. Having nowhere to go, the excess line bunches up and creates a frustrating mess that can be quite time-consuming to unravel.

baitcaster bird nest from backlash

What Causes Baitcasting Reels to Backlash?

Backlash occurs when the tension on the line isn’t properly balanced with the speed of the spool. This imbalance usually happens when the lure hits the water, and the spool continues to spin while the line stops, causing the line to loop and create a backlash.

Several factors can contribute to a reel’s propensity to backlash, and it’s essential to understand each one to prevent and manage the situation effectively:

Casting technique

One common technique-related cause of backlash is casting against the wind. The wind resistance slows down the lure’s forward motion but doesn’t affect the speed of the spool, causing an imbalance leading to backlash. Another technique issue is not applying proper thumb pressure on the spool. Your thumb acts as a natural brake and can help control the spool speed throughout the cast. Failing to do this efficiently can lead to a backlash.

Incorrect brake and tension settings

Every baitcasting reel features brake and tension systems to manage the spool’s speed and prevent backlash. However, they’re not a set-and-forget type of feature. For every different weight of lure or bait you use, you should adjust these settings. The spool may spin too quickly if the settings are too loose for a light lure.

On the other hand, if the settings are too tight for a heavy lure, the spool may not spin fast enough. Both scenarios can lead to a backlash.

When to adjust the brake or the spool tension knob of a baitcasting reel

Thinner Fishing Line

The type and quality of line used in the baitcaster can contribute to backlash. Thinner, lighter fishing lines are more prone to tangles and knots, while heavier, high-quality lines can help reduce the risk. Also, using a line unsuitable for your baitcaster’s specifications can lead to backlash.

Overfilling the Spool

If your spool is filled beyond capacity, it can lead to line jumping off and forming a bird’s nest. Filling the spool only up to its specified limit is crucial to maintain line control during casting.

Mismatched Gear

If your rod, line, and lure aren’t properly matched, it can lead to casting issues and potential backlash. For instance, using a heavy lure with a light rod and line can cause the spool to rotate faster than the line can handle.

Lack of Maintenance

Regular cleaning and oiling of your baitcasting reel are essential to ensure its smooth operation. Dirt and grime can affect the reel’s performance, including the efficiency of its braking and tension systems, leading to increased chances of backlash.

Strong Wind

Weather conditions, especially wind direction and strength, can significantly affect casting performance. Casting against strong wind often leads to backlash as the wind slows down the lure’s forward progress, but the spool continues spinning at the same speed.

How Do Braking Systems Prevent Backlash?

Braking systems in baitcasting reels help control the speed of the spool during a cast, which in turn helps prevent backlash. There are two types of brakes: magnetic and centrifugal.

  • Magnetic brakes: These brakes exert force on the spool through a magnetic field. The closer the magnets are to the spool, the greater the braking force. They are easily adjustable and are excellent for long casts.
  • Centrifugal brakes: These brakes use pins inside the baitcasting reel that extend out during the cast to create friction and slow the spool. They’re best for short, accurate casts.

Most high-end baitcasters now offer a combination of both magnetic and centrifugal braking systems for maximum backlash control.

Are Any Baitcasters That Won’t Backlash?

While it’s impossible to eliminate the risk of backlash completely, the right baitcaster can dramatically reduce it. A high-quality baitcasting reel with a good brake system, like the Shimano Curado DC, the Abu Garcia Black Max Low Profile, or the KastKing Royale Legend, can help you minimize backlash. With the right settings and practice, backlash can become a rare occurrence.

BFS reels (bait finess systems) also contain extensive braking systems to help reduce backlash, such as the KastKing Kestrel Elite.

shimano curado new on bench

Tips for Preventing Backlash

  1. Adjust the tension: Proper tension adjustment is key to preventing backlash. You should adjust the tension knob so that when your lure is at rest and you press the spool release, it falls slowly to the ground.
  2. Set the brake correctly: Depending on your reel, you’ll have a magnetic or centrifugal brake, or both. Start with a higher brake setting and gradually lower it as you become more comfortable.
  3. Practice thumbing the spool: Train yourself to apply slight pressure with your thumb on the spool during the cast, releasing completely at the point of delivery. It will help control the spool speed and prevent backlash.
  4. Choose the right line: Heavier lines are less prone to backlash. Starting with a heavier line can help you avoid backlashes as you learn if you’re a beginner.
  5. Gradual casting: Instead of trying to cast as far as possible immediately, start with short, smooth casts and gradually increase the distance as your casting technique improves.


Backlash is a common issue faced by anglers using baitcasting reels. However, understanding the causes of backlash and how to prevent it can go a long way towards a more pleasant fishing experience. Remember, practice and patience are the key to mastering any skill, including baitcasting.

With a quality baitcaster like Shimano, Abu Garcia, or KastKing in your hands, and the right techniques, you’ll be able to cast backlash-free in no time!

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