There are specially designed fishing rods for both baitcast and spinning reels. Knowing the specifics of each type of rod will keep you from making the mistake of using a rod designed for a spinning reel with a baitcast reel, or a baitcast or bait rod with a spinning reel. Are you using the proper rod with your reel?
Many modern casting rods allow use with and claim to be suited for either baitcast or spinning reels, but frankly, baitcast reel users end up with a slight disadvantage because the reel seat position of the rod is still a bit too high for optimal baitcast reel performance.
You can identify a rod designed for Spinning Reels at a glance. You will notice in Picture 2:
1) These rods have large guides which taper to a small guide at the tip .
2) The guide nearest the handle and the reel is very large.
3) The reel seat on long saltwater rods rest about 20 inches from the end of the handle. On some rods it is much further away.
You will notice these things about a Bait Rod at a glance in Picture 3:
1) Guides are much smaller and more plentiful.
2) The guide nearest the handle and reel is quite small.
3) The reel seat is nearer to the end of the handle; 12 to 14 inches on long telescopic rods.
What is the function of the guides on fishing rods? With spinning reels, the line loops to the side upon casting and releases off the top of the reel at a rate determined by the weight of the cast set up and rod flexibility. One of the main reasons for the large guide nearest the reel is to reduce line resistance. If there is a small guide near the reel, the line whips against the guide’s inner circular edges at quicker intervals while unraveling its loops. This shortens casting distance and can cause line damage. Fewer guides also lessen resistance when casting.
In the case of baitcast reels, the line shoots off the center of the spool at a much faster rate while being guided through the level wind of the reel. It is easy to overrun the speed and distance of the cast with the amount of line going out from the spool, resulting in backlashes. This is why the guides for baitcast reels are smaller and greater in number. This helps control the line from exiting too quickly, and prevents the line from flaring off course during a headwind. I, as well as many baitcast reel experts consider the level wind on the reel to be one of the most important guides, second only to the human thumb to control the line while casting.
What should be done if the wrong type of rod is used? It may prove best to replace the rod with the correct type, or to change the reel to match the rod. If you are not proficient with the baitcast reel and mainly want to continue practicing without changing the rod and it is a telescopic rod, or if you are using a telescopic rod for use with either type of reel and have a baitcast reel mounted on it, you may consider changing the guides. Check with your local fishing supply dealer to see if an appropriate set of guides for your fishing rod is available. If your rod is not telescopic, the guides are permanently affixed and none of them can be freely moved, it is not a good idea to attempt replacing the guides. Damage to the rod or guides may result. These factors also apply to those who happen to be using a bait rod with a spinning reel.
The telescopic rod has guides set with glue at the head of each section, and the remaining guides fit the taper of each section so that you can slide them down to set into position. Many standard models designed for use with spinning or baitcast rods do not have the guide nearest to the reel affixed to the head of the last section. Some have the last guide moving freely on the section above and the user sets it into place slightly above the last section. If your model does not have this and the last guide is at the head of the second section, inserting an appropriate guide below this or at the head of the last section is ideal for use with a baitcast reel.
When replacing the guides, start with the uppermost at the tip of the rod. Gingerly use the flame of a lighter for a moment on the metal of the guide to melt the glue holding it in place. Ensure that the flame does not contact the tip of the rod, or it will burn off. Use pliers to remove the heated guide. Repeat this process to remove the guides affixed at the head of each section. When the new guides are inserted onto the sections, be sure that the guides to be glued align with the guide-line markers if the rod has them on its sections.
Although I have used spinning reels for casting on occasion, I have used baitcast reels exclusively for more years than I care to remember. Before telescopic bait rods were made available by manufacturers, I customized my rods in the manner described here and doubled the number of guides on my rod while reducing their size. I went as far as adding a lowered reel seat to enhance my casts. Frankly, as I developed skill in handling the baitcast reel, I realized that rod customization was not the ultimate factor in improving my casting distance. It was the desire that eventually brought good results. Learning to use my thumb for cast and line control worked like a magic charm for me. I have even restored the guides on some of my rods to their original condition without any problems, thanks to thumbing. (See Picture 4)
Long distance bait casting is an indescribable thrill. It is a healthy outdoor sport to enjoy for a lifetime.