Trout Fishing with a Baitcaster? [All the Fundamentals Explained]

Last Updated on October 2, 2023 by Kyle Whitley

trout fishing with a baitcaster

When you think about trout fishing, baitcasting reels are usually not the type of reel that comes to mind.  Normally we think about fly reels and spinning reels.  Bait casters are usually regulated bass fishing and saltwater fishing,  Is it possible to go trout fishing with a baitcaster?

Can you Trout Fish with a Baitcaster?

Fishing is a sport of habit. You’ll always return to that trusted lure, or your favorite pole and reel because it‘s what you know. If you become accustomed to a particular style of fishing, and you find yourself struggling to adapt to a different approach, then it may not be the right time to change. For those primarily used to a Baitcasting rig, a common query is can you trout fish using a baitcaster?

The answer is yes.  Trout fishing is considered to be finesse fishing because of its size and behavior. Though you can catch trout over 18 inches, it’s uncommon compared to catching a trout in the six to twelve inch range. 

This is why you might not consider fishing for trout with a baitcaster.

baitcaster reel with trout fishing lures resting on doc

Catching Trout with a Baitcaster

If you own just one baitcasting reel, it might be relegated to fishing for larger species of fish like bass or stripers.  There are many bait casting reels that could be useful in catching trout.  They have the capability now to cast the smaller lures trout to find more appealing. 

Benefits of Baitcasting

Baitcasting rigs are more accurate because they allow you to cast farther than spinners. Baitcasters also give you greater control over your line speed, allowing you to adjust your drag settings to match the current conditions.

You can also change your reel tension to match the weight of the lure. These features provide an advantage for anglers who need to cover long distances while casting technology plays an important role in casting.

What Are the Downsides of Baitcaster Reels?

Baitcasting reels are great for casting large and heavier lures, but they can be tricky to handle when you’re fishing small fish.

Baitcasters can be very expensive.  They require lots of practice and patience to master. If you’re looking for a reel that will last for years, then a baitcaster may be your best bet.

Can You Use A Baitcaster For Trout? 

I started using a baitcasting rod and reel when I bought my first boat. I wanted something that could cast farther and hold heavier lines, so I decided to get a baitcasting reel.

I didn’t think I would like it at first because I had never fished with a baitcasting reel before. But after a few days of practice, I realized that I liked it.

You can use a baitcasting rod to fish for trout, but they require a lot of practice to master.

They are also more expensive than spinning reels, but you can get some lower-end models relatively inexpensively. I like using a baitcaster because it allows me to cast further and casts are more accurate.

If you only had one setup I’m sure you’d choose a spinning rod, but I think you should consider getting a second rod and reel just in case.

How To Setup Your Baitcaster

I use a very similar setup when I fish for different species. I don’ t want to have to change anything depending on what I am fishing for and I”m sure you’ve got the same thing in mind. You will have to tweak things here and there but not too much.

The first step is choosing the right type of line. There are many different types of lines out there, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Some are more sensitive, others cast farther, and still others last longer. You should consider your casting distance, sensitivity, and strength when selecting a line.

A braided line will usually be more abrasion resistant than a monofilament line, making it easier to handle. Fluorocarbons are harder to see than other materials, making them ideal for fly fishing.

How To Fish For Trout With A Baitcasting Reel

It depends on where you’re fishing, but the most important thing with these lures when you’re retrieving them is that you need to get them back quickly. With some lures you can just let them lie in the water (powerbait), or twitching them around, but with spinners you’ll want to keep reeling it in. 

One of the main things I like about a spinner is that they’re so easy to use. It’s not the best choice if you want to relax on the water but it works. You just need to cast and reel in. Next, you’ll want to figure out where the trout live. It depends on where you’re fishing.

We’ll start with lakes and ponds first. Trout usually swims around looking for food and much of it depends on when you’re fishing. Trout will be a whole lot deeper in the summer than they were in the spring and fall because water temperatures are lower.

During the spring and fall, their habitat tends to be near vegetation in lakes, streams coming into lakes, or around areas where there are places to hide (rocks, trees, etc). 

 Next, we’ll talk about the streams and rivers. Trout will usually be sitting in certain spots looking for food. Trout will start out by hiding near bushes, trees, rocks, and sandbars.

The next place trout like to hang out is near drop-off spots near the bank for easier ambush spots.  The last place they’ll most likely be is in deep pools with slow-moving water. You just need to find these spots, cast your lure near them, and then swim your lure through them to catch fish.


How to Use a Baitcasting Reel

Baitcasting reels are designed to allow anglers to fish with heavy line and large lures. These reels are also great for casting multiple different types of lures at once. Baitcasters are often preferred when using heavy tackle because they provide a smoother feel when reeling in the line.

A backlash is a term used to describe the resistance felt when pulling back on the handle of a spooled reel. When the drag setting is turned down, this resistance will be less noticeable.

However, if the drag is too low, then there may be backlash issues. If you experience any problems with backlash, try increasing the drag setting until you reach the point where it feels comfortable. Once you’ve found the right amount of drag, you’ll notice that the reel will be easier to handle.

How to Spool a Baitcaster

The first thing to do when setting out to fish with a baitcasting combo rod is to choose the right type of line. The best choice depends on what kind of fishing you plan to do. If you’re going to cast lures, then you need something like mono.

Fluorocarbon lines are great for fishing because they are strong enough to withstand the rigors of casting and retrieving large lures. If you’re planning on catching trout, you’ll probably want to go with a braided line.

A uni-knot is recommended for tying on the braid. You can also try wrapping a piece of athletic tape around the spool if you want to save time.     

  • Thread the line through the guides on the rod, then thread the line through the reels level winding guide.
  • Tie the line around the spindle and secure it with an Albright knot.
  • After wetting the knot, pull on the main line until it tightens.
  • Cut off the tag end as close as possible to the knot.
  • To ensure that the line is flowing off the holding spool and into the rod tip in the same direction as the line is coming out of the reel’s spool, fasten the spool of the line towards the rod tip.
  • To keep even pressure throughout the entire spooling, hold tension on the line between the thumb and finger.
  • Keep reeling until the line is approximately 1/8th inch above the spool.

Adjusting the Reel

When you first start fishing, you need to get your reel ready. Make sure the reel is level and the spool is tight.

Then slowly release the line from the reel until it takes about three seconds for the lure to drop to the ground. Once you’ve done this several times, you’ll notice that if the lure goes fast, it will backlash once it hits the ground.

To fix this, just tighten the spool tension knob. You should also check your reels regularly because sometimes the tension knob can become loose.

Brake System Adjustments

The brake determines how fast the spool stops spinning when the lure is cast. Low brake settings mean the spool spins at a slower rate, allowing for longer casts. High brake settings mean the spools spin faster, making for shorter casts.

The brake is adjusted during fishing to ensure consistent casts. Magnetic brakes are adjustable, meaning the higher the number, the lower the braking force.

Setting the brake to 9/Max will give you the shortest cast possible, but will prevent you from backlashing. If you need to adjust the brake, start with 1/Min and then slowly raise the brake until you reach the desired level.

Lowering the brake will allow you to cast further and faster, but the risk of backlash increases.

Find out what works best for you and practice until you get it right. You will need to experiment with different settings and techniques to see what works best for you. After you have found the perfect setup, you will need to practice and refine your technique.

Drag System Adjustment

The drag works just like a pulley system. If you tighten the drag, the line gets tighter. Pull If you crank the wheel back, the line gets looser.

Smaller fish need less drag tension, which allows you to more delicately land the smaller fish. A looser drag will help you play the fish, possibly allowing you to possibly catch fish easily.

Tighten the drag down when you’re fishing for bigger fish, to keep them from pulling you into snags or structure.

fisherman holding thumb on spool of a baistcasting reel when fishing

How to Cast a Baitcaster

You’ve spent some time setting up your baitcaster, and now it’s time to get out there and cast! You’ll need to follow these steps to ensure you’re successful.

First, make sure your baitcaster is set up correctly. Make sure all parts are tight, and that the spool is not loose.

Next, make sure your line is straight and taut before you begin casting. Finally, make sure you have enough slack in the line to allow you to adjust your cast as necessary.

Now, when you’re ready, cast away!

Reel in the line until it’s about 12 inches from the end of the pole. Grip the reel so your thumb is on the spool button and spool, your fingers wrap around the base of the reel, and you hold the rod so the spools face up.

Press the spool button while your thumb is against the fishing line.

Bend your elbow back over your shoulder to prepare for the cast.

Sweep the rod tip to 5 o’clock (the right) while holding the spool (the reel) with your thumb.

When you sweep the rod forward, let go of your thumb slightly while feather-touching the line against your skin.

Tips on How to Use a Baitcaster

Learning how a baitcaster works can bring you a rewarding fishing experience. A baitcasting reel gives you the ability to cast longer distances, use heavier lures, and spool stronger lines, all while keeping your hands free.

Properly setting up and tuning your reel will ensure that you get the best results possible. Below are some tips to keep in mind when using a baitcaster.

Match the line and rod action to the bait you’re using. If you’re fishing with a soft plastic worm, you’ll need a heavier line than if you were casting spinnerbaits.

If you’re fishing a crankbait, you’ll need a lighter line than if you were using a jerk bait. When choosing a rod, consider its length, diameter, and flex characteristics. For example, a shorter rod will require less effort to hold steady when reeling in, while a longer rod will allow you to cast farther.

Practice casting before you go out. Once you’ve got the basics down, practice casting at different distances. You may need to adjust your technique as you get closer to the water.

Cast slowly. Casting too fast will cause your line to whip around and lose tension. Slow down and let the line fall naturally through your hands.

Perfect your casting motion first. Practice makes perfect. Cast at different angles and target distances. You’ll get better results if you practice with a shorter motion.

Don’t try to overpower your cast. Casting far isn’t about the speed in which the rod moves forward, it’s about fluid motion. If done properly, the rod will automatically load up and send the lure across the water. Adjust the spool brake to the right settings and with practice, you’ll see an improvement in your casting distance.

Trout Fishing with a Baitcaster? Should you or should you not?

In conclusion, if you’re new to fishing, you may be wondering if you can go trout fishing with a bait caster. The answer is yes, but you’ll have to be prepared for a little bit of trial and error. Baitcasters aren’t usually the go-to choice for trout fishing, but you can use a baitcaster to catch trout. 


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