Untangling Backlash on a Baitcaster Reel

We've all been there, and some of us are too proud to admit it. The birds nest or backlash. Inevitably with thousands of casts we'll either miscast or have our reel set up incorrectly for the bait or lure. In this video Erik Luzak, from GetReeled shares his tried and true method for getting out this mess without having to cut your line.

But before we explain how to untangle the backlash we should let you know that the number one cause of backlash is an incorrectly spooling and setting up your baitcasting reel. So if you need a tune up or a primer on those, check out these videos where Erik shares his tip on How to Properly Spool Your Baitcasting Reel and then some techniques How to Use and Fine Tune Your Set Up of a Baitcaster.

So now, how to deal with the gnarly mess in your reel. First off be patient, if you start aimlessly tugging and pulling you're just going to make things worse. There's a simple art to this. Brute force doesn't work.

Erik's method is really quite simple and doesn't take much explanation. Simply press your casting button on the reel to release it and then gently start to pull the tangled loops out of the top of the reel one at a time.

After you gently, and the key is gently, pull some up then pull your line out of the front of the reel. Alternate these two back and forth and slowly you'll start to see the loops in the top of the reel you need to pull up before you pull forward.

Like I said before, I can stress patience here enough. Treat your reel and line like a surgeon not a contractor or builder.

If your tangle is extra compressed you may need a tool (see image) to help you lift the loops out of the top. There are special tools, sometimes called a "baitcast pic' you can buy at any tackle shop that look like miniature crochet or knitting needles that are designed specifically for this task. Use this tool to grab each loop and pull it up before you pull your line forward.

Trust me when I say this - if you can manage your frustration and be patient you'll get 100% of your backlashes out saving you money on fishing line and time re-spooling and re-tying.

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Comment by Rick Grenier on March 7, 2012 at 8:44pm
I have found over the many years of using baitcasters that untangling a backlash is a talent in itself. There are not many that I can't untangle. Patience and focus.
I do remember my first baitcaster cast though. Backlash so bad that I had to cut the line off.
Not anymore though! Even my bass buddie Mark asks me to untangle his when he gets too frustrated to dig it out. Lol
Again, Patience!
Comment by John Cochran on December 8, 2011 at 4:33pm

The main thing to understand here is that if you don't pick out the little loops Andy is talking about, you'll end up cutting it out.  I wish I could explain the loops better.  I'm not talking about the big ol' loop of a mess that's all over the backlash.  These loops are tight against the good line on the reel.  They are usually shaped in a real sharp backwards v.  That's what you're after.  Pick out that v shape line and the reel will then turn until you hit the next v shape twist in the line.  Good luck.  And, rooky or pro, you'll get a chance to practice this one.  We all do it.  I backlashed one of the worst ever on a little 6 foot pitch.  Brain fart moment when I just forgot to thumb the reel.

Comment by Ames on December 6, 2011 at 1:05pm

Basically the same process I use :)

Comment by Glenn Cantrell on December 5, 2011 at 11:20pm

Awesome thumb trick vid! Always like learning sumfin' new!  -Just one more cast

Comment by Glenn Cantrell on December 5, 2011 at 1:43am

That's a Black Max, I'd know it blind folded by feel. It was my first baitcaster, still have it and love it all the same. My Revo SX is an awesome feeling reel too.  -Just one more cast  :)

Comment by Gord Wallace on December 3, 2011 at 9:08am

Does this work just as well for mono or flouro line? Seems like it would be easier with braided to me.

Comment by Davis Oneil on December 3, 2011 at 9:04am

Very cool tip. I've been using this tip that I learned awhile back and it's really hit or miss. But I thought I'd share it too. 

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