If you’re new to fishing with a baitcaster, you are going to experience a backlash, resulting in a huge nasty birdsnest. Don’t worry; they happen to all of us, and anyone who tells you differently probably doesn’t do a whole lot of fishing.
Even if you have everything set just right, they happen!
What exactly is a Backlash or Birds Nest and how can you Prevent Them?
Backlash is caused by the spool turning faster than line can leave the spool.
The most common cause of a backlash is having your reel settings out of whack. When fishing with a baitcaster, you need to set your spool tension and the brakes on your reel just right in order to prevent a backlash. If the spool tension is too loose, or the break isn’t set tight enough, the spool is going to spin out of control causing the line in your reel to explode into that huge mess that we anglers refer to as a “birds nest.”
To prevent these backlashes, you need to make sure your settings are correct for the lure you’re using, and you need to learn how to use your thumb to control how fast the line comes off the spool – eventually, your thumb should be doing it all, and the settings on your reel will matter less.
Here are some things you can do to prevent baitcaster backlash:
- Use a Heavier Lure: If you are just getting started, don’t fish with lighter lures. Baitcasters are easier to use when you have a more substantial weight on the line.
- Don’t Cast into the Wind: Casting into the wind causes your lure to slow down, but your reel continues to unspool at a normal rate. Unless you’ve perfected your thumbing action on the spool, stay away from the wind for now.
- Put your brakes on all the way: Another thing you need to do when getting started is dial up the breaks as high as they go. Once you get better with the reel, you can slowly start to dial it down.
- Make sure your Spool Tension is right: Your spool tensions should be set, so your lure falls at a slow to medium speed when released.
All of that being said, this article is not about setting up your reel, but instead getting rid of the backlash once they happen.
Removing a Birdsnest from you Baitcaster Reel
A lot of people are going to tell you to reel slowly while pressing on the tangled line; while this sometimes works, I’ve found it can actually make the problem a lot worse.
The first thing you want to do is relax! We’ve all wanted to freak out and just throw the damn rod and reel into the water; but if you relax, I promise you can get these things out relatively quickly.
What you want to do is look for the loop that is looped around the main line.
Don’t pull on the line coming out of the top of the reel, but instead pull the loop that has wrapped around the line. Pull that loop out about 6 inches or so, or until it stops; then grab the main line above the reel and give it pull. 99% of the time this is going to clear the backlash. If it doesn’t, repeat the process. Sometimes a couple of loops may have worked their way around the line, and you’ll have to find the one that’s causing the problem.
Here’s my video on how to Remove a Backlash (Birds Nest).
Bonus Tip: Head on over to your local sewing shop and buy knitting needle for your tackle box. The knitting needle is a great way to grab those loops if you have larger fingers!