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I know not everyone tunes into the Tidal Fish Homepage (you should:yes: there is fresh fishing news, weekly fishing reports and fishing articles) and given there has been some discussion around light tackle fishing for stripers lately since it's game on time I thought I would post this article here. You can also find it under the "Articles" link at the top of all of Tidal Fish pages.

Feel free to add anything in this thread, I certainly do not know it all, and I'll incorporate comments into the article or you can also comment in the comment section of the article.

Good light tackle fishing!
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Light Tackle Fishing for Striped Bass- Part 4 Bait Casting Reels




By Brandon White In part three of this series we covered details about light tackle spinning reels you have to choose from when light tackle fishing for striped bass. In this article we'll cover light tackle bait-casting reels.

Bait casting reels are not as popular as spinning reels for light tackle striper fishing arguably because they are more difficult to cast. If you make a mistake casting and get a backlash you can have a real mess on your hands and find yourself untangling yards and yards of line while your friends are casting and catching away. However, with a little practice you can get good at casting these reels and once you do I suggest you'll be reaching for them more often. In fact, bait-casting reels are
my go to favorite reel for jigging and casting when light tackle fishing.

There are a few reasons I prefer bait-casting reels:
1) The reel fits in your hand and I feel like I have more control.

2) I think they cast further. This is the case because when the line comes off the reel there is little to no resistance of the line hitting the spool as there is with a spinning reel.


3) The line on a bait casting runs across the top of the rod vs. under it as it does with a spinning reel/rod combo. This gives me more control when jigging.

4) Because your thumb sits right near the spool you have more control stopping the spool when casting to a specific target.

The trick to being successful at casting these reels is the proper adjustment of the break
system. It takes some practice to get your break system that controls the free spool adjusted, but once it is set I find you can cast a country mile. To adjust the break system correctly you want to tie on the lure you will be casting, reel it up almost to the trip and when you put it in free spool you want the lure to fall with just the slightest amount of line tension. Put too much tension and you'll limit your casting distance, don't have enough and you risk getting a backlash. It usually takes me two or three tries to get the setting right, if it takes you four times that's fine, taking the time to tune the break is well worth the time spent to prevent getting the dreaded backlash.

There is an additional breaking adjustment you can make by taking off the side cover of the
reel. Inside this area you will find small cylinder looking pieces. These pieces usually have two adjustments, inside and outside. A combination of adjustments will tune your reel to eliminate backlashes. The challenge using this adjustment if you change lures frequently, as we do when striper fishing, is that it can take some time to fine tune this adjustment. I usually tune it to a one ounce jig and leave it there. When I go to a lighter or heavier weight lure I simply use the main break adjustment as first explained.

There are a few attributes of a bait casting reel that is good to understand: reel size, gear ratios, ball bearings, reel body make up and drag systems.

Reel Size
Different manufactures use different numerical sizing schemas to designate the size of their reels. For instance Shimano, which I use for all my light tackle bait casting reels, uses hundreds (i.e. 100, 200, 400).

A different reel size means different gear ratios as well as how much line can be spooled on a reel. For striper fishing a hundred yards is sufficient and the Shimano 200 and 400 holds that in 10lb test mono and easily can hold 12lb and even 14 or 15lb test braid.

Gear Ratios
Just like spinning reels, as you move from small to large on the bait casting reel size you move from one gear ratio to another. Gear ratio means how many times the reel spins, i.e. how much line the spool picks up with one revolution of the crank. A slow gear ratio for example of 4:1 means the spool turns four times for one crank of the handle, not a lot of line being recovered. In the 200 and 400 sizes that I use for striper fishing you will generally find gear ratios on the faster side of the scale in the 5:1 to 6:1 range, which is ideal.

A side mote when it comes to casting top water lures. I rarely use bait casting reels. The reason is that while the gear ratios can be comparable to spinning reels, generally the handles on bait casting reels are smaller which makes it hard to really rip a popping plug across the top of the water. If the top water bite is a slow pop, I'll use them, but for the most part for all my top water fishing I use a spinning reel.

Ball Bearings
More ball bears generally mean you'll get a smoother system. Less expensive reels generally have three ball bearing while more expensive reels will have six and as many as seven. Put simply, the more ball bearings the smoother you'll find the reel.

Reel Body
The really nice thing about bait casting reels is that unlike spinning reels that have many pieces that make up the body, modern bait casting reels have generally moved to one-piece bodies. This gives less gaps and spots where saltwater can leak into your gear system and destroy your reel.

Bait casting reels like the Shimano Calcutta use a cold forged aluminiim frame, side plate and spool that resist corrosion. As you move down the price scale you will find reel bodies made out of aluminum, but not forged with any process. These work fine in the salt with good care. A good wash down and chamois dry after each day of fishing should be part of your regular maintenance to assure you get the best life out of your reels.

Drag
You want and need a smooth drag with minimal start up inertia to assure you do not loose fish. On the Shimano Calcutta reels they use what they call a Dartainium drag. This material provides the ability to have a wide range of drag settings and is quite smooth.

What I Use
When choosing a bait casting reel manufacturer for light tackle fishing in saltwater there really are not that many choices. Some anglers choose to use manufacturers like Penn, Abu Garcia, or Diawa, but my go to and favorite manufacturer is Shimano. They offer a full line of bait casting reels suitable for saltwater at several price points. Their signature saltwater bait-casting reel is the Calcutta.

For my light tackle striped bass bait-casting fishing I use mainly the Shimano Calais 200. While mainly designed for freshwater, I like the low profile body, how smooth the reel is and the precision of the anti-reverse. The key to using this reel in saltwater is to wash it thoroughly with freshwater after any type of saltwater use. The other reel I use is the Shimano Calcutta which is a "saltwater" bait caster. My set-ups are their 100, 200 and 400 series. While I really like the Shimano brand for bait-casters, there are certainly other good brands out there on the market that offer a good product. Visit your local tackle shop and try a few of the reels out in the store and see which one feels best to you. Until our next article in the series, good fishing and good times!

The Light Tackle Fishing for Striped Bass Series

Part 1 - Introduction to Light Tackle Fishing for Striped Bass
Part 2 - Light Tackle Fishing Rods

Part 3 - Light Tackle Spinning Reels

Part 4 - Light Tackle Baitcasting Reels

Part 5 - Fishing Line

Part 6 - Lures: Plastics and Jigs/Bucktails

Part 7- Lures: Topwater Poppers

Part 8 - Lures: Crank Baits

Part 9 - Lures: Spoons

Part 10 - Putting it all Together: Where to look for Striped Bass

Part 11 - Boats: Reviewing the Best Light Tackle Boats

Part 12 - Boats: Rigging your Boat for Light Tackle Fishing


 

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Brandon,

Thanks again for the good info. To smooth up my bait casters when using braid, I spray them with REEL MAGIC. I find that the braid doesn't hang up as much coming off the spool when using this stuff. I don't know what it's made of but it works.
 

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That's a great writeup - thanks! I also read the preceding parts and can't wait for the rest of the series. BTW, I still only use spinners due to bird's nest anxiety with bait casters. Maybe someday I'll get the nerve to try one again.
 

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John,
REEL MAGIC is a great suggestion. My brother and I used to "Tangle Free" and it was awesome. I just did a Google search and can find results, but it looks like it has been discontinued, wish I knew who made it to contact them. It was amazing stuff for mono and from what I could find it looks like they had a braid version as well. If you or anyone has any information please pass it on in this thread, I would love to get some more of it.

jaksprat,
You'll get a few bird-nests, but that is part of the learning curve, once you get used to them I think you'll be reaching for them more often then not.
 

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Thursday I'll be at the BB. Probably will be jigging or using cut spot. I'll catch the spot with my Quantum AC501 Accurist on a Berkley Lightning shock 6.6 rod and the Rock with my Penn Model 10, that's right, I said 10 on a Diawa Eliminator 6.6 rod.

I just want a 20 incher or so for dinner with my wife. God help me if I latch on to a rouge 40 incher!!!

LTJ, the only way to fly!
 

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You may want to mention reels with flipping switches, takes some time to learn to cast with but they are nice for letting line out when the depth is changing or on a fast drift- also an advantage over the spinners.
 

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Funny you guys mentioning a Quantum Accurist and flipping switches. It reminded me of a video I bookmarked the other day of someone suggesting one when bucktail fishing for fluke (see :48 in video):


The guy was really nailing the fluke. I just might have to try one of those reels. John, does your AC501 have the flipping switch?

Jack
 

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Jaksprat, Yes, my AC501 has a flippin switch. This is one of the best innovations for bait casting. The only thing that comes somewhat close is the live lining spinners. The problem with those is you still need two hands to control the reel.

The flippin switch does make a big difference. BTW, I use a left hand spinner and also use a left hand bait caster. Funny since I grew up using Penn Senators and such and they were always right handed.
 
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