Merwin: How to Clear a Backlash on a Baitcasting Reel

Every baitcaster gets a backlash once in while. Untangling the line can be a real pain, and many resort to a knife or scissors to cut away the tangle in frustration. No more. This quick video tip for clearing backlash snarls will help.

Reeling forward slightly while pressing on the tangled line with your thumb smooths the snarl and pushes those overlapping line loops free. It's not a new idea. I first heard of this in an article by bass pro Shaw Grigsby maybe 10 years ago. But the video here by Maryland bass-blogger Kevin Scarselli is the first live demonstration I've seen.

Yes, it works. At least it works most of the time. The main thing in clearing a backlash by this or any other method is ... ... patience. If you get angry and frustrated and start yanking on the line willy-nilly, you'll just be making things worse.

If things are so bad that you do have to resort to cutting the line to clear a tangle, then be careful of this one thing: Make sure after cutting the tangle free that the remaining line is not wound under itself on the spool. Sometimes the newly cleared line end gets tucked under a slack coil on the reel. If this happens--and it can be hard to notice--line won't pay freely off the reel, and you might be creating another tangle worse than the one you had in the first place.