Bait Caster......??

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Im going to make it a goal of mine to learn how to use a bait caster this summer....I had one a couple years ago, it was a disaster...I spent more time un-clogging the reel than i did fishing. I ended up selling it to a guy at the office. After talking around some with guys at the gun shop...What i have been told is..it just takes practice, keep your thumb on the spool, and dont buy a cheap one.. Well they can go up to $400 or $500..... 😲 . Thats not happening.....so any advice would be welcome..Whats a good price range to look at..? Do any of them have features that help beginners..? Any advice in this matter would be much appreciated...
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Been doing some research....The more you look at baitcasters, the more confusing it gets...There are hundreds of them. This is the one i am seriously considering for now. Its a BPS Johnny Morris, 10+1 bearings. Would this be considered a "good" one..? Its $199.00, is this the price range i should be looking in..?
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I know BPS "re-brands" alot of items..does anybody know who makes their rods and reels...?
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I am not sure about everyone but I practiced with the bait caster by getting a spoon. I took off the treble hook then went at it in the back yard. They are harder but are awesome once you get used to it. As in buying one I could not tell you which are the best but more on what you using the bait caster for. Like drag strength , how much line it holds, or how much line is retrieved on each cycle. Whichever you decide you will have to practice.
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As mentioned getting the occasional birds nest is normal especially for someone starting, even the pro's get them. With practice and decent equipment you can really minimize them . I'm not a big fan of BPS branded rods/reels , not sure who makes them so I stick with the major brands. Personally I would plan on spending $100-150 which will buy you good quality,good bearings and minimal plastic. Most of mine are Abu Revo's (SX), Shimano's or Diwa's . I would recommend geting a reel with both magnetic & centrifugal brakes which will give you more control and worth the extra coin in my opinion.
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Senko - what your describing there is setting the spool tension , which needs to be done every time you change lure weights.
Cast control is done either by the control adjustment (for magnetic brakes) or by changing the position or the centrifugal brake sleeves (usually accessed under the side plate)

Spool tension

Magnetic brake adjustment

Centrifical brake adjustment

I learned to cast a bait caster years ago but have moved to spinning reels for a couple of reasons.

One, Spinners retrieve faster, in general.

Two, and this is the most important for me, left hand retrieve. I'm right handed and use my right arm to work the rod. I have more finesse with the right hand and more strength in that arm to horse the big ones up. I can feel the fish much better with my right. All the left hand has to do is turn the crank. This is really important when I hang one of them big, full of fight, flatheads.

The biggest advantage that bait casters have over spinners is inline strength. They are more sturdy. But, unless you are chasing deep sea monsters, that's really not much of an issue.

The other advantage is, in general, bait casters hold more line than spinners. That's an advantage that will only matter in wide open waters. Most of us actually use less than 75 yards of line most of the time. It's only when a big fish runs that we may stretch out more than that and then you run the risk of him breaking off in the thick.

Cast farther? Some will say "yes" but I can make a much longer cast with my spinners than I can with bait casters. My spinner has no resistance other than the line itself dragging through the guides. The bait caster will bird nest without some resistance.

But... To each his own.