As a reel technician, I get lots of customers who are wishing to achieve better casting distance or better “free spool” from their bait casting reels. During my troubleshooting process, I often notice that the reels are not adjusted properly to maximize the casting performance of the reel. An extensive cleaning and proper lubrication combined with proper reel adjustments will deliver all the desired free spool the customer could want.
The common mis perception regarding the cast control knob is that if backing it off is supposed to increase the free spool, the more you back it off, the more freely the spool will spin. This is not the case. To properly adjust the reel for the most optimum free spool, you need to first depress the thumb bar, or disengage the reel as if you were to make a cast. Place your thumb on the spool. Wiggle your thumb from left to right while depressing on the spool. There will likely be “knocking” sound as you move your thumb left to right. This noise is caused by the ends of the spool shaft knocking against the shims that lay under the bearings inside the side plate on both sides of the reel. Slowly tighten down the cast control knob while moving the spool back and forth with your thumb. The side to side movement of the spool will diminish as you tighten down the cast control knob. The idea is to tighten to the point where there is just the slightest movement back and forth. You will barely be able to hear or feel any more knocking as you move the spool under your thumb. THIS is the setting where your reel will have its greatest free spool performance. Further adjustments can be made by tuning off the centrifugal casting pins on the spool, or turning the magnetic backlash control to the “off” or “0″ position.
Further tightening of the cast control knob beyond the optimal point will result in more pressure on the tips of the spool shaft, and slow down the spool. Further loosening of the cast control knob beyond the optimal point will result in the spool knocking back and forth during the cast as the line is coming off of the spool. This will also slow down the spool and adversely affect casting distance.
Give it a try on your reels at home and see what you have been missing.