Baitcasters are a staple for most bass fishermen. They can be used in most applications but certainly not all. Using the wrong reel for a particular tactic can wreak havoc on your fishing day and the potential for your fishing success.
Use lures with a baitcaster where the total weight of the lure PLUS added sinker are more than ⅛ of an ounce. The most common lures that you use with a baitcaster are topwater lures, crankbaits, jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, swim jigs, punch baits, swimbaits, flipping baits, and soft plastics.
Certain techniques, strategies, and tactics work best on baitcaster reels. Power fishing and even some types of finesse fishing work best on baitcaster rod and reel setups. Below, I’ll discuss 9 of the best baits and lures to use with a baitcaster.
1. Use a Baitcaster for Topwater Lures
Baitcasters are a better reel for most topwater lures because they allow for longer casts so you can cover more water efficiently. Additionally, when fishing topwater near cover, you can cast more accurately by controlling the spool with your thumb. Here’s one of my favorites (found at Amazon) to throw early in the morning to cover water with a baitcaster setup.
2. Baitcasters Are Good For Fishing with Soft Plastics
When bass fishing with soft plastics like plastic worms or flukes, you’re often making casts at particular targets which means accuracy is a plus. Baitcasters allow for more accurate casts.
Often, soft plastics like speedworms (grab ’em on Bass Pro’s site here) or senkos are fished in and around heavy vegetation because of their weedless nature. In these settings, it’s often best to fish with heavier line like braid. Baitcasters are better suited to cast braid and withstand the rigors of heavier braided line fishing.
Finally, when fishing in thick vegetation, a higher gear ratio may become vital to getting fish out of the thick stuff in a hurry. Baitcasters are built with higher gear ratios specifically designed for situations like these.
I rest my thumb or a finger on my line while fishing with soft plastics rather than relying on the feel from the rod. I can do this easily with a baitcasting reel because of the “symmetrical” retrieve of a baitcasting reel which allows the line to slip through my fingers or over my thumb as I work the bait in. This extra feel is NOT possible with a spinning reel because the line will “flutter” through the fingers as it is reeled in.
3. Baitcasters are a Great Fit for Spinnerbait Fishing
Spinnerbaits are usually a little heavier than the normal lure. Because of their bulk and weight, you’ll need a reel that is able to handle larger amounts of line.
Baitcasters will offer better “castability” with longer resulting casts when fished with spinnerbaits.
Additionally, you can employ a higher gear ratio reel if you’re looking to burn or wake a spinnerbait.
For some “out of the box” information on spinnerbait fishing for bass, check out Bass Fishing Insider’s article When to Use a Spinnerbait for Fishing (9 Situations).
4. Use Baitcasters When Fishing With Crankbaits for Bass
Crankbait fishing involves reeling in lures of varying sizes in a somewhat repetitive manner.
With large crankbaits, a larger stronger baitcasting reel is virtually indispensable. Bigger lures require stronger, more powerful reels like baitcasters.
I still recommend baitcasters for smaller crankbaits because the lighter, lower profile reels will handle better and cause less fatigue over the course of a fishing day for this repetitive, tiring fishing method. Bass Pro has one of my favorite crankbaits for bass, the KVD Hard Knock Squarebill.
For fishing with tiny crankbaits, I recommend checking out some ultralight options for bass fishing as a unique alternative. Here’s a great article on ultralight bass fishing with more details, Bass Fishing With Ultralight Gear (Are You Missing Out?).
5. Baitcasters Are Great For Jerkbait Fishing
Jerkbait fishing is another method that requires quite a bit of work by the angler. Reeling, twitching, pausing and repeating are the name of the game in jerkbait fishing.
Baitcasters are great for this application once again because the reels are generally lighter and lower profile than spinning reels.
I actually think this lure category is a bit of a toss-up. For an unconventional play, I like to throw jerkbaits sometimes on a spinning reel. I find it easier to work the lure repetitively with my dominant hand on the rod doing most of the twitching and jerking because it’s my stronger arm.
6. Use a Baitcaster When Throwing a Buzzbait
Buzzbaits are often fished fast and on top of the water. They are usually fished in and around some form of cover. Since buzzbaits are worked fast, a higher gear ratio is recommended. The higher gear ratio is also in order for buzzbait fishing because you’ll want to get bass away from cover as fast as possible once you hook up.
Additionally, buzzbait fishing is best when accurate casts are made to specific targets. Baitcasters allow for more accurate casts so they’re a perfect fit for this tactic.
7. Baitcasters and Swim Jigs are a Great Match
Swim jigs are designed to be relatively weedless, snagless and are a perfect fit for heavy cover and grass fishing. They are usually a bit heavier so they cast well on a larger capacity baitcaster.
Swim jigs are often fished with heavier (braid} when they’re used in thicker vegetation like reeds, eelgrass, or Kissimmee grass.
They’re also commonly fished by waking them near the surface meaning a higher gear ratio is best to keep the lure moving fast enough.
Put all of these factors together and the perfect reel match for swim jig fishing is a baitcasting reel.
8. When Fishing With a Large Swimbait, Use a Baitcaster
Large swimbaits are heavier and bulkier than many other presentations. When fishing with bigger swimbaits, choose a baitcaster reel for a variety of reasons.
First baitcasters handle more line which you’ll inevitably need for making longer casts with larger swimbaits. Second, reeling a large swimbait can be tiring so using a reel with a higher gear ratio that allows you to exert less effort per crank of the reel handle makes a lot of sense. Additionally, lower profile and lighter baitcasting setups can help with the fatigue factor associated with large swimbait fishing.
9. Baitcasters are a Must for Punching, Pitching and Flipping for Bass
Finally, there’s no question that punching, flipping or pitching for bass is a great way to catch big bass consistently. For these techniques to work effectively, you definitely need the right rod and reel setup to make things work. Power is the name of the game with these strategies and baitcasters are the way to go.
For these tactics, heavier line is almost always in order. Braid or a heavier pound test fluorocarbon line are typical line choices. Baitcaseters are the best bet to handle these heavier applications.
Additionally, to fish most efficiently, you’ll need to make as many presentations as possible to have the best chances of getting a bite. To do this, the speed of your bait retrieval after each presentation (flip, pitch, or punch) is vitally important.
A higher gear ratio will allow you to pick up the line at a very fast rate after your cast which will enable you to move onto the next target more quickly. The result– more chances throughout the day to catch more fish!
It is also important to understand that punching and flipping require precision and accuracy probably more than any other bass fishing technique. You’ll need to stop your bait on a dime (and quietly) to have the best chances of targeting bass holding areas. A baitcaster is, without question, the best way to fish these styles accurately. You simply can’t do it with a spinning reel very effectively.
This Ardent reel was specifically designed for flipping. Check out the unique attributes here in Amazon’s product description.
6 Reasons to Use a Baitcaster for Bass Fishing
1. Baitcasters are more accurate.
Baitcasters work better than spinning reels for accurate casts. By using your thumb to control the spool, you can stop your lure on a dime during the middle of a cast.
2. You’ll Get More Casting Distance with A Baitcaster.
Generally speaking, baitcasters can carry more line with bigger spools without sacrificing feel and accuracy meaning that they gain casting distance or “castability”.
3. Baitcasters Handle Heavy Line Better.
When you’re looking to use heavy line like braid or higher pound test mono or fluorocarbon, baitcasters are a better heavy-duty choice.
4. Baitcasters Come with Higher Gear Ratios.
Some baits are fished better faster. Whether you’re looking to deep dive a crankbait, burn a spinnerbait to get a waking effect, fast reel a swim jig on the water’s surface, or quickly retrieve slack after an initial cast when you’re flipping, pitching, or punching, baitcasters will do a better job with quicker, higher gear ratios.
5. Baitcasters are Lighter Weight.
Baitcasters are usually lighter in weight and a smaller profile than a spinning reel of equivalent size thus making them a little easier on the wear and tear of the person using the reel.
6. Baitcasters are Usually More Durable.
Baitcasters are usually built tougher and last longer particularly as the durability of reels relates to the usage of braided line which can be hard on reels.
Can You Cast Light Lures With a Baitcaster?
You can cast light lures with a baitcaster but using lures that weigh less than ⅛ of an ounce will result in accuracy and distance problems. Casting lures that are too light will cause a baitcaster to backlash. Smaller, lightweight finesse style lures are best fished on spinning reels.
Bass Line. The Final Word
Bass fishing requires intellect, patience, skill, experience and intuition. It also requires the right gear for a specific task.
Baitcasters are a very important part of bass fishing and have the most applicable uses of the 3 main reel types. If you don’t know how to use one, take a little time to get to know-how. If baitcasters are already part of your arsenal, consider some of the ways above that you can include them even more in your bass fishing experience.
Tight lines and fish on!