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How to Spool a Baitcasting Reel – Red Fish Tour
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How to Spool a Baitcasting Reel

How to Spool a Baitcasting Reel

If you are here, you have probably already invested in a baitcasting reel. So you are probably aware that they provide more distance control when casting.

Often professional tournament anglers will use baitcaster reels, as they have the ability to be more specific with their targets.

If you have never used one before and are just getting started up, you will need to learn a few handy tips and tricks to get you started on learning how to master your baitcaster reel.

And don’t forget the challenge of how to spool your reel.  

Introduction to Baitcasting

Baitcasting reels are very popular and common among bass anglers, as they allow for the casting of lures such as jigs, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and other options that allow for fishing in heavily weeded areas that need a strong line and pinpointed accuracy.  

When you are fishing and the fish are biting, you’re on a roll and having a successful day, the most aggravating thing to happen can be line trouble, any backlash, line twisting, and more can halt and stop your outing and your fun, leaving you disappointed. We don’t want that.

While spooling baitcasting reels seems like a master led artform that is intimidating to those who are not yet fishing and angling pros, you can ease the burden and face the fear by looking through our walkthrough, our tips, tricks, and facts.

We will help you realize that spooling a baitcasting reel, is not quite as terrifying as it may seem. 


Let’s take a quick look at everything you will need to set up and get started before you spool your baitcasting reel.


Equipment and supplies you will need to add your line to your baitcasting reel.

  • Your rod. 
  • Your reel. 
  • A lure, hook, or anything you can use to tie off the end of your done to stop it from backing out.
  • Your line. 
  • A tool you can use to cut the line. 
  • A fellow fisherman or a friend to lend a hand.
  • A pencil, pen, or something similar. 
  • A little bit of time and patience. 

Quick Step-by-Step Walkthrough 

  1. Attach baitcasting reel to your baitcasting rod and locate your line. 
  2. Feed the line through the first eye in your rod. 
  3. Feed the line through the line guide of your baitcaster. 
  4. Tie line to the spool of your baitcasting rod via an arbor knot. 
  5. Trim off the line from your knot. 
  6. Start spooling your line on the reel by turning your handle. 
  7. Fill the spool with your line until there is only a gap of about 1/8th of an inch between the line and the spool. 
  8. Feed and tie off. 

Detailed Walkthrough of Spooling your Baitcasting Reel

1. Locate your Line

You will need to feel your line through your line guide or the first eyelet, once you have done this you can attach it to your rear spool.

Do this before you do anything else so the reel can distribute your line evenly and accurately. You can do this manually, but this would be difficult, especially on your own. 

2. Loop around the Spool 

Does your reel have holes in the spool? If so, thread your line through these and twist the handle to get the line around the spool.

If you don’t have holes, be ready for some hard work as you will need to work to get the line around your reel spool completely.

On baitcaster reels, you need the new spool of line to feed right into your reel. This can be done by threading something through the center of your reel and holding it upright, you can use a pen, a pencil, a stick, or anything you want to do this.

You should have someone assist you to hold the pencil, pen, or whatever you are using to hold it straight. This will allow the line to come off the spool perfectly straight. 

3. Tie a knot around the spool 

There are two types of knots you can tie around the spool.

The preferred one is the Arbor Knot, which is very simple to do, you should just be careful that you tighten the knots enough to generate the friction that will initiate the spooling.

You will be very aware of the knot is too loose.

4. Pinch the line 

Now, we need to maintain the tension in the line as we reel it. To do so you want to pinch the line, do this just in front of the reel.

You want to pinch it hard enough to keep it tight, but don’t pinch so tightly that you cannot reel it in.

Be careful of your line type as lines that are monofilament or fluorocarbon can stretch easily under tension, so be wary of your line type as you do this.

Only keep the stretch to a minimum while you keep it tight enough to prevent any loose loops. You do this to ensure that your reel will spool correctly. 

5. Reel it in!

As you are reeling and maintaining tension on your line, continue to do so until there is only about 1/8th of an inch between the line and the outside of your spool.

This is considered to be a full spool. Do not reel it in anymore, but also do not leave too much space. An eighth of an inch is just enough space

6. Rod Guides 

Now, run the line carefully through the guides. This is one of the easiest parts and don’t worry you are nearly finished!

Don’t forget to give yourself a few extra feet of the line beyond the final rod guide at the end of your rod.

7. Last but not Least 

Finally add a bit of tension at the end of the line, to stop it from backing up on the reel. You may want to tie on a hook, a lure, or something similar.

Now you’re done! You are all set and it is time to get casting! 

Baitcasting or Spinning?

Spooling a reel is pretty much the same across any reel, regardless of the reel.

However, there will always be a few subtle differences between different reels, much like every rod will have its differences. 

While you may be here to spool your baitcasting reel, you may also be here because you don’t know if a baitcasting reel is the best choice for you and your particular fishing style and wants.

We will explain the difference between the two for you so you can get the best reel for your fishing purposes. 

A baitcasting reel is placed on the top of the rod, it has a spool that is in line with the fishing rod, the spool of a spinning reel is perpendicular to the rod and is underneath.

The main difference this causes is that the line on a baitcasting reel will be directly in line with the rod. While the line of a spinning reel is away from the rod and will have to make a turn to follow the length of the rod as the line is cast. 

The difference in the use of these reels is in the agility and strength, spin casting reels don’t tend to be as strong and they have no distance control, although they are easier to cast near shorelines of under overhanging foliage.

Baitcasting reels on the other hand provide a longer cast and more precision, they can often hold more line and are very durable.

But they do cost and come with a learning curve, but practice makes perfect and that is why we love baitcasting reels and are sure you will as well once you get the hang of them. 

Baitcasting reels are used for many reasons, often they are used when you are fishing for heavier fish, such as largemouth bass, they are also most recommended for experienced anglers or those who live in harsher climates and need a reel that will be as strong and resilient as they are when they are out.

They are also lightweight so will give you relief if you are likely to be casting often, especially if you don’t use a rod holder, you will feel the difference.  

Spooling by Yourself 

Trying to spool by yourself may be rather tricky and you will likely want to have someone help you if it is your first time spooling a baitcasting reel.

If you don’t have someone to help you spool your reel then you can try and find some ways around it. 

The first way you could do this is to put the pencil through the hole in the filler spool, like you would if you had some help, but instead use your feet to hold it. This could be difficult and a bit awkward.

You would want to step on one end of the pencil with one of your feet while using your other foot to rest the other side of the pencil so that the pencil is at a diagonal angle.

Doing this means the spool can rotate easily as you pull the line off of it and onto your reel. Doing it this way will take some awkward positions, possible straining, and some patience but it is possible. 

Our other option if you are spooling by yourself is to run the line through your fingers before it reaches the reel, while doing this you should apply tension non-stop with your fingers throughout the spooling process.

This could also be tedious and rather awkward. So we do recommend having a friend or fellow angler with you to help, but if you do not have someone to help you have options so that you can achieve this by yourself. 

The Arbor knot 

If you have not heard of the arbor knot that is okay. This knot is what is recommended for tying the line around your spool, it is known as the best type of fishing knot for this use and is used by most anglers that use baitcasting reels.  

It is a very simple knot that simply contains two overhand knots, the only difficult part of this is, is having to tighten the inside knot slow enough that it allows the line to slip while tightening it enough to get some friction. 

This type of knot is used often when tying fly line backing, monofilament, and fluorocarbon line onto a large reel.

It is not recommended to use an arbor knot for a braided line unless you have a non-slip spool.

If you don’t have one and want to use a braided line on your reel, you should use an arbor knot to tie a monofilament backing onto the spool before you add the braided line.

This type of knot provides an angler with a quick and easy connection to attach their line to their spool. 

How do you tie an arbor knot?

  1. First of all twist, the tag ends around the standing end of your line. 
  2. Now, wrap your line around the spool a few times using the tag end. Tie a loose overhand knot in the standing end. The second will act as a kind of stopper. 
  3. Now, collapse the loop you just created, do so by pulling on the standing end so you slide the first overhand towards the spool. You will probably want to moisten these as you tighten them to reduce the likelihood of the line becoming weakened by friction. 
  4. Pull very slowly and with great care on the standing end of your line until your second overhand know snuggles up next to the first. You will want to finish this by pulling both overhand knots tightly into the spool and trimming the tag end gently. Wind the wind up into your reel and you are ready to finish your process. 

While the arbor knot like any fishing knot if not difficult to learn, it is worth getting in some practice when you can. As the more you do practice the more you’ll be able to tie it quickly and easily. 


When you are spooling a new reel it is very important to maintain tension while you reel in your new line.

If you don’t do this correctly you can look loops around your spool and you can end up finding problems are problems.

You may find it will cause some major problems and you may end up having to completely re-do it.

So it is best to take your time and be patient with it although it may be a bit delicate and time-consuming it is worth doing it slowly and steadily than having to do it all over again or facing some major failures. 

If you are wondering what issues this could cause we will go over some of these for you so you know why it is imperative to avoid them.

First of all, you may face inconsistent casting, your reel with try t unreel at different speeds as the lure soars, so you can easily lose control of your casting distance and you may end up getting some stuttering when you cast.

It will completely throw off your accuracy and result in a poor cast. It is much better to spend extra time ensuring a faultless reel than to rush and end up with poor and sporadic casts. 

Another issue you may face is that the more you lose your loop and the more layers of the line this loss lies beneath, the more kinks and bends and binds will develop. These may sound like trivial inconveniences, but they are far from that.

Kinks and bends and the like will make your line prone to breakages. This will end up costing you fish, lures, and probably some decent fishing line too. It just inst worth the loss.

So, as tedious as maintaining tension can be when you spooling your baitcasting reel, it is better to power through it and spool with perfection than it is to let things go awry 

Braided Line for Baitcasting?

Braided lines are a popular option for fishermen due to their somewhat stretch-free design and outstanding strength to diameter ratio.

It is rather slick though which can occasionally lead to issues with drag, backlash, and slipping on the spool. It is recommended that you use a monofilament backing before you spool your reel with a braided line. 

If you want to use a braided line, then when applying your line to your reel, begin by feeding the monofilament fishing line through the guide and tie it to the spool.

Spool a couple of turns until you have a decent layer across your spool. It will help to create friction on the braided line which will allow for a better performance out of the reel.

To combine your lines grab the braid and connect it to the monofilament by using a double-uni knot. 

Once you have done so, you can be to spool your braided line onto your reel like normal. As usual leave about one-eighth of an inch before the spool lip. 

Frequently Asked Questions 

What is a braided line?

A braided line is made by braiding or weaving fibers of a material such as spectra or micro-Dyneema into a strand of line, which makes it very strong and tough that is resistant to abrasion.

It is so strong that you may have trouble breaking it when you get hung up. A fish will be very unlikely to break it, although fish such as pike may be able to cut it with their teeth.

Its biggest problem is tying knots in it, as it is very slippery and you must tie the right knot in it and tie it right otherwise it will slip and come undone.

Braided lines are very visible in the water and for this reason, many anglers do not like using it, especially in clear waters when fishing for game such as smallmouth bass. 

They can also be tough to cut and may also cut into rod guides, especially inexpensive ones. Clippers won’t work to cut a braided line, so scissors tend to be the best way to cut these.

They have a rather distinct sound when you real them in and they may also start to look fuzzy after some wear.

These are a unique type of line and it is all down to the preference of the angler themselves whether or not they want to use braided line for their fishing. 

What is Birdnesting?

If you are new to baitcasting reels you may not be quite so familiar with backlash and birdnesting.

If you are about to try a baitcasting reel out for the first time, you may get to know this problem soon.

This is a problem that beginner baitcasting anglers are getting used to suffering from their reels.

It is a serious problem when you are getting used to a new reel, and once it’s happened a couple of times you may wonder if it’s time to just throw the whole thing in the trash. 

Birdnesting is the term used to describe when the reel backlashes and the line in your spool look like a birdnest, twisted, sporadic, poking out, not the nice neat reeled line you had earlier.

It happens for a multitude of reasons and can be fixed but it’s best to try to avoid it altogether. Not an easy task in itself though. 

What is the best line for Bass fishing?

There is no hard and fast answer to this. There are three types of line, Fluorocarbon, monofilament, and braided.

Fluorocarbon sinks, so it isn’t great for topwater baits but it is good for reaction baits.

It won’t stretch like monofilament but it does stretch more than braid. It is clear and harder for fish to see. 

Monofilament floats so is best for topwater finishing, it stretches the most which is great for fishing with reaction baits, the stretch will allow the fish to get the bait in its mouth best but the stretch can be problematic too, especially on long casts. 

Braid is very popular in recent times, it has next to no stretch but is very strong, and is stronger than both other options.

It is easier to see for fish, and it often employed while fishing jigs in areas of lots of vegetation.

It is very sensitive too and with a fluorocarbon leader, it makes it harder for fish to detect the line. 

It is all up to your preference, there is no strict rule on which is better and it is up to the angler themselves and what time of fish they are seeking to catch. 

What causes Backlash in a baitcaster?

Let’s paint a picture in your mind, you hold your thumb button on your baitcast and your spool spins free, if your spool is too tight your casts will be short and inaccurate, if it is too loose it’ll leave excess.

A lot of reels these days will have anti-backlash systems in place. The excess line when it is too loose is what causes backlash and birdnesting.

If you don’t know how to set-up your reel efficiently and properly it will make casting difficult, frustrating, and probably lead to this.

You need to be able to control your line just enough that it stops the excess line without doing any damage to your cast. 

If you have bought a new reel there’s a chance that it will have anti-backlash settings, do not be afraid to use these.

They can be very useful and may save some of your time, give them some practice get to know them and you will find that they can save you a lot of painstaking bird nest picking on your fishing trips.

Andrew Marshall
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