How To Untangle A Fishing Reel

Overfilling the spool is one of the causes of tangles. Here's a look at the causes of unwanted knots and how to untangle a reel.

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Why does my fishing reel keep getting tangled? That is the question both up-and-coming anglers as well as veteran anglers keep asking as they wonder what makes their reel to form something like a bird’s nest.

The truth is backsplashes when fishing using a line and rod happens. When it comes to fishing, we all want to strike that trophy creature. And that sometimes means we have to get as much yardage on the spool as we can. Overfilling the spool is one of the causes of tangles. Here’s a look at the causes of unwanted knots and how to untangle a reel.

Table of Contents

Common causes of tangling on your fishing reel

As already mentioned, overfilling the spool in an attempt to get more line off it is the number one cause of tangles. This is because spinning reel, unlike baitcasting, does not have inertia to keep the line from peeling off the spool. So, in case of too much line on the spool, the line peels off easily into messy twists and loops.

Carelessly Filling The Spool

Carelessly filling the spool is also another cause of loops on your fishing line. If you feel the spool incorrectly, then the line won’t come up neat when you start fishing. For example, if during filling, the fishing line twists and you don’t correct this, then you are going to end up with tangles.

For expert advice when it comes to reeling, the recommendation is to reel steadily while maintaining constant pressure using your index finger at the lip of the spool to reduce slack in the line. Remember to set the spool of your new fishing line down such that the label is facing up and make sure the line comes off the spool counter-clockwise. And when filling the spool, thread through the line guides present on the rod then place an anchor knot to your spool.

Not The Best Lines

Another cause of tangles is the wrong fishing lines. Monofilament and fluorocarbon lines do not perform well on spinning reels. They have a larger diameter and tend to develop curls due to their line memory. Larger diameters mean they do not sit well on the spool. Try out small diameter lines such as braided lines. See the best fishing line here.

Loose brake on the spinning reel.

If the drag is not set correctly, the line comes out too easily, leading to twists. The best drag setting is supposed to be at 25 percent breaking strength of the line.

The take-home is that it doesn’t matter if you are a new or veteran angler; everyone gets backsplashes now and then. You may have followed the above guide to the latter but still get tangles. Shit happens, for example, you may get a bird’s nest-like structure on your spool just because your lure hit something mid-air. Learning how to untangle a reel is, therefore, essential.

How to untangle a reel

1. Untangling a bait-caster reel

You want the spool to be accessible, so hold your reel from the bottom side and push down the release button so that the spindle can rotate freely. The next step is to start from the mainline, the one that runs out of the spool, pull it tight to identify which lines are wrapped around it.

The next step is to arm yourself with needle-nose pliers to grab the knot that is surrounded by the loose lines. Just make sure not to clinch the pliers too hard lest you break the line.

Once you know, the knots and tangled lines start to pull the knot out of the spool. Pull until the mainline comes out, and there’s no loose line left. Repeat the step for the remaining knots.

After you’ve untangled the spool, reel the line back in; remember to keep the pressure on the primary line, so it coils tightly around the spool.

2. Untangling a spinning reel by cutting out the tangled mess

Start by loosening the drag up until it comes off the reel so that you can get into the gear, and you can get the line out from underneath. After the drag is off the reel, get a knife and start cutting the string connected to the spool. Set the spool aside and start pulling away from the tangled mess from the reel. Cut the mess off the spool too. But make sure not to throw good line away, just the twisted mess. After eliminating the tangled mess, you have to fit the spool back onto the reel.

3. Untangling a backlash using the thumb trick

Some techniques of dealing with tangles involve cutting the mess away, and these may cause you to lose so much expensive line creating the need for replacement. Therefore, let’s look at how to clear a backlash without the need to cut the line.

Start by just pulling the line out till you get to the point where the line is stuck because there is too much tangle. Next, engage the reel, then press down firmly on the spool with your thumb and turn the handle a little bit until it spins the spool. Try pulling the line out again. If the first attempt doesn’t work, repeat the process until the tangle is freed. You have to keep doing it until it frees up the knot. Sometimes it’s going to take one attempt sometimes two or even more to free a tangle. After one tangle is free, repeat the process to free the next until all the mess is over.

To use the thumb trick, make sure the drag is locked down. Also, avoid pulling too hard on the braid lest you tighten the knots and then its game over for you. The thumb trick is a smooth technique that doesn’t require you to get into the reel and pick it with your fingers and pull the line. Try it before going for the other messier methods. Lastly, the take-home is that learning to avoid backsplashes is essential, but at the same time, whether you are a pro or beginner angler, you are not spared from the mess; learning tricks to untangle your reel will spare you from headaches, and you can enjoy the fishing outing.

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