The best baitcaster setup for light lures

If you’ve gotten comfortable with a baitcaster you might want to start using it all the time instead of a spinning setup. Unfortunately, baitcasters usually aren’t the best option for lures below ¼ ounce. They don’t cast very far and you’ll increase the chance of backlashes.

But thanks to new technology in fishing reel design, you actually can find baitcast reels that will cast under ¼ ounce. Some will even go to ⅛ ounce lures if you have the right setup overall.

Lets talk about what reels to look for, what line to pair them with, and what rods you should be look at for lightweight lures if you want to use a baitcaster. Or, if you want the short version, the baitcast reel I recommend for light lures is the Daiwa Tatula Elite paired with a 7’ or longer medium moderate action rod and 10 pound braid or 6 pound monofilament. 

Why baitcasters won't work with light lures

Lets start by talking about why baitcasters don’t work very well with lures under ¼ of an ounce generally. This is because of the way spools work inside of a baitcast reel. When you cast out a baitcaster, the spool (the part the line sits on) spins freely. This is what gives you maximum distance and how the line comes off the rod smoothly.

However, this also leads to overruns or backlashes. This is when the spool (and the line) is coming out too quickly and doesn’t stop once the bait hits the water. The bait has no where to go, but the line keeps coming out and loops and knots.

In contrast, a spinning reel does not have a spool that moves freely. It is static and the line just comes off the spool as you cast it. Thus, when the bait hits the water or stops moving, the line automatically stops moving as well. It doesn’t have the momentum built up like a freely moving spool does to keep the line coming out and knotting.

Now for light lures specifically, it becomes very hard to put enough force on the light lure to keep it going at the same rate as the spool. You cast it hard and the spool easily starts turning – but a light lure will only go a short distance and then fall. The spool has too much momentum and will release more and more line, creating backlash after backlash. If you correct by making too soft of a cast, then the lure just won’t go anywhere because there is no weight to it.

So how do we use a baitcaster with light lures?

The way we fix it is a bit complicated but I’ll try and break it down easily. First, you want a rod that “loads up” well to create maximum distance. This means it needs to bend easily and it needs to bend throughout the rod and not just in the tip.

So what you want is a medium, moderate action casting rod. Medium is light enough to bend easily, and moderate action means it will bend throughout the whole pole to really get that whiplike motion to get even light lures flying. If you want a rod that I have used and recommend, take a look at this St. Croix Mojo Casting Rod.

Then, you need to think about the weight of the fishing line. Part of the reason it’s hard to cast light lures is that the line it is attached to becomes too heavy, provides too much friction, and you can’t get the momentum behind a light lure to overcome this. Since you can’t change the weight of the lure, you have to change the resistance provided by the line. So you need to get one that is smoother and has a smaller diameter.

The best choice for this is braided line, as it comes off baitcasters very smoothly and is always smaller diameter than any plastic line counterpart. 10 pound test is usually about as light as you can get away with so it’s a good plaice to start, I personally like this brand from Sufix.

But if you don’t want to tie a leader on to the end of your line or are worried that fish may see you line color with braid, you can use monofilament instead. Try to go with a good 6 pound test like Trilene XL and you should be good to go. 

The best baitcast reel for light lures

So you have the rod and line – now the most important part- the baitcast reel. Unfortunately there aren’t many specifications for baitcast reels that make them great for light lures. Gear ratio, number of ball bearings, and the usual suspects you see in baitcast marketing don’t actually have a thing to do with if a light lure will work with your reel.

Instead, you need the lightest spool possibly to get it going easily with the bait instead of being heavy and providing too much resistance. It also needs a tremendous magnetic braking system, as it’s impossible to cast light lures without getting the spool spinning faster than where the bait will go. So it needs to have the technology to help you stop the line coming out easily as soon as that bait starts slowing down.

Frankly, this means you’re going to need a top of the line baitcast reel option.

In my opinion, the baitcast reel that best matches this description is the Daiwa Tatula Elite. If you look at their specifications, everything specially engineered for this reel is to make it cast further and be as lightweight as possible. Those are the two things you want in a baitcast reel for light lures – as it will help you get distance which prevents backlashes and is lightweight to provide the least resistance as possible – making a fluid casting motion.

Don’t just take my word for it, go to Tackle Warehouse and look for the #1 selling baitcast reel. It’s the Daiwa Tatula, though a different model. Read these forums from Bass Resource on the best fishing reel for light lures – you will see the Daiwa Tatula Elite all over it. Daiwa has made a name for themselves among fisherman for producing the best baitcasters on the market. With light lures, you want the best of the best. So the top of the line offering from the top rated brand is the best way to go. 

Daiwa Tatula Elite Specifications

  • Specially engineered for long-cast performance – this is what is going to help you get some good distance with those light lures when paired with the right rod and line.
  • Lightweight aluminum frame and side-plate – lightweight means less friction on the cast, longer distances, and less chance of overruns
  • Free-flowing T-Wing System – a unique design in Daiwa’s reels that creates an extremely smooth cast off the spool, necessary for light lures.
  • Redesigned, super-lightweight A7075 aluminum spool – BINGO! This lightweight aluminum spool is the #1 reason this is the best reel for light lures
  • Enhanced Magforce braking system – Again, you need the extra braking system to work with light lures to prevent backlashes.
  • Zero Adjuster automatic spool alignment
  • Smooth 7+1 bearing system with instant anti-reverse – ball bearings are a completely made up stat that brands use to sell products
  • 90 mm Swept Handle – completely a matter of personal preference.


So if you’re looking to use a baitcaster with all your light lure applications, you should fork over the extra cash and get a Daiwa Tatula Elite. At $250, it’s a bit pricey but you need all the little extra performance it gives you if you’re going to force using light lures onto a baitcaster. Plus, you’ll find competitor reels at $300 and above, so the Tatula Elite is actually a good bang for the buck too.

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