December 30, 2015

You Need to Start Using a Baitcaster

Learning this type of reel opens new doors in inshore angling. This is why you really need to use a baitcaster.

Inshore anglers in Louisiana have it made. One can pull up to virtually any shoreline, with spinning tackle, put their back to the wind, cast live bait and eventually catch something.

So why use a baitcaster?

What are the benefits? In short, you become a more experienced angler with a new tool to compliment your fishing arsenal.

But let me be more specific:

Baitcasters Open new Horizons

There is more to inshore fishing than watching a cork going down. Baitcasters open new doors to a variety of soft and hard baits that fish cannot resist.

Yes, you can use these lures with spinning tackle, in the same way you can use drag tires on a minivan.

Baitcasters, by the nature of their design, offer capabilities spinning reels simply don't have. These include higher gear ratios for taking up slack, the ability to execute precision casts for sight fishing and extra sensitivity for deep-water jigging.

Spinning reels are a great tool to have in your toolbox, but you have to recognize what they are made for. They can't replace the role of a baitcaster.

topwater she dog mirrolure

Topwaters are easily worked with a baitcaster. Topwater lures tend to bring out the larger trout.

Cast Fast and Accurately

Given the free-spool design of modern baitcasters one can easily cast, retrieve and, with the push of a button, cast back out again.

One can do this much quicker than a spinning reel setup. Spinning reels require having the bail on one side of the reel, the bail opened, and line fingered before it can be cast.

A gentleman I brought sight fishing with me had 34 opportunities to cast on redfish and only caught 1. Here you can see his cast fell behind the redfish. Typically, we see 3-5 redfish to catch 1. His see/catch ratio would have been better if he ditched the spinning reel and learned a baitcaster.

Chunking bait at a shoreline hides the performance gap between a baitcaster and spinning reel. Get into more technical applications like sight fishing for redfish and you will see the need to cast accurately, retrieve and quickly cast again.

Redfish can appear out of nowhere and swim away from the boat before you have time to open the bail on a spinning reel. With a baitcaster you can make a quick, reflex-like cast to present the lure and get him to bite.

A lure flying too far and too fast is easily adjusted by thumbing the spool. That is one critical difference between a spinning reel and baitcaster.

redfish sightfishing platform baitcaster louisiana marsh

Vito nailed this redfish from a tall sightfishing platform using, you guessed it, a baitcaster.

Work Lures Like a Pro

Because a baitcaster is held in the palm of your hand, not dangling from it, line sensitivity and manipulation are increased. It's easier to feel what is going on at the end of your line.

Are you working your lure across a muddy bottom or an oyster bed? Was that a faint, winter-time bite by a cold speckled trout or a snag on aquatic grass? These are easier to differentiate with casting tackle.

The difference between a baitcaster and a spinning reel is like that between a manual and automatic transmission:

The automatic transmission works, it gets you around and is easy to operate. Yet a manual transmission requires a little more skill and opens up doors to higher-end performance vehicles.

louisiana state record speckled trout kenny kreeger 1999 11.99

Look closely at the rod and reel used by this trout fishing master. This is Kenny Kreeger with his 11.99 lb trout caught in Lake Pontchartrain in 1999 on a queen sparkle beetle.

Baitcasters are Used by the Best

For those of you still not sure, I beckon you look at record holders of Louisiana speckled trout, such as Dudley Vandenborre and Kenny Kreeger.

In case you don't know who they are, they caught Louisiana state-record speckled trout. These gentlemen are highly skilled anglers and if you perform a Google Image Search you will see in virtually every picture they are wielding a baitcaster.

A baitcaster -- in the hands of an experienced angler -- is a deadly weapon against speckled trout and redfish, trophies or not.

Everybody loves to rant and rave about their favorite lure, spewing crappy marketing contrived by tackle companies lusting to make the sale, but fact of the matter is Kenny Kreeger caught his 11.99 pound speckled trout on a queen sparkle beetle.

A queen sparkle beetle, the simplest soft plastic lure since 1959.

This lure does not have a special rattle, swim body or paddle tail, or really anything to stand out in tackle stores. However, it did stand out to an 11.99 pound speckled trout and that is because the angler working that bait found he could do it best with a baitcaster.

If that doesn't move you to try something new then I have no clue what does.

sparkle beetle different colors h&h

The sparkle beetle is a time tested favorite of Louisiana anglers. While it is not fancy it is irresistible to fish when jigged proficiently.


We are spoiled here in Louisiana -- spoiled with such a great fishery that we can get away with bad habits and still catch a respectable box of fish under easy conditions, whereas those same bad habits keep us from the better catches to be had on tougher days.

When you start using new tackle you will start thinking in new ways that will expand your mind and allow you to become better at fishing.

Being stubborn, hiding behind the spinning reel and refusing to try new things will get you the same ol' results you have always produced.

Even if those results are good, they can be better. No angler is crushing tournaments and records without paying close attention to their tackle and techniques.

Ready for more? Click here to learn about selecting a great inshore baitcaster.

Captain Devin

About the Author

Devin is a former fishing guide and lifelong inshore angler. He founded Louisiana Fishing Blog in 2012 to share his ideas as a charter captain and still writes in it today. Since then he's created a fishing university — LAFB Elite — where he teaches inshore anglers how to safely navigate Louisiana's coast and catch more fish.

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