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Helpful hints to help you use your braking system like a pro


By Kevin Forrester



Baitcasting reels have seen major changes throughout the years. 


I have one of the old baitcasters my grandfather had, and the only thing you could do the reel is to push a switch on to make it click when you reel. 


Today''s reels allow you to set brakes, drag, and tension. One reel has a circuit board that stores each cast so you can repeat the motion, and it will speed up the spool or slow it down to help you make it perfect. This reel is more than $600, so we will talk about the other 99 percent of the reels on the market. 


I have adjusted reels for beginning anglers and explained their braking system so that once they become comfortable with it, they can loosen the brakes and get more distance with their casts. 


Most reels have six brakes on the side of the spool. For beginners, I recommend you turn on five of the six brakes. Then with a spool filled with your choice of line and a lure tied on, turn the tension knob (located under the handle) clockwise to tighten it. Push the release button and start turning the tension knob counter-clockwise slowly until the lure begins to fall. The goal is to allow the tension knob to control the spool, stopping it once the lure hits the ground. Make several casts and you will probably find the brakes will keep you from making a long cast. 


Practice in the yard until you feel comfortable and then remove the side plate and turn off another brake. Always try to adjust the brakes across from each other. If you have three brakes turned on all on the same side, it will cause problems. Once you turn off a brake, you will want to re-adjust the tension control knob. 


A drag that is set too tight can cause you to lose several fish from the line breaking or the fish pulling so hard that the hook will pull loose from its mouth. I would rather have a drag that is set too loose so the fish can make a charge without breaking off. 


The drag is designed to keep tension on the line and to cause the fish to have to fight to get away from the angler. This causes the fish to become fatigued and lose its will to fight. 


I have found that hauling rods and reels in a rod locker or in the back of the truck will sometimes loosen the drag and you not know it. I experienced this in a tournament one morning and when I set the hook, the drag was so loose that it created a backlash in my spool. A simple pull on your line to ensure it has tension will prevent this and keep you from losing fish. 


Thirty-one boats competed in the Thursday Night Tournaments directed by Tony and Marian Parson. Ken Lowry and I won the tournament with 8.95 pounds. We also won the big bass pot with a 4.15-pounder. Larry and Jason Mitchell finished in second (7.16 pounds), followed by Carey Upton and Blake Koenigsberger (6.53), Josh Sansing and Todd Cantrell (5.74), Jeffery Davis (5.33), and Carlton and Carrie Hollis (4.9). 


For more information, call Parson at 662-386-9629. 


Good fishing and God Bless. 




Kevin Forrester is Outdoors writer for The Dispatch. He can be reached at: [email protected]



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