3 Best Ways To Get Rid of a Backlash Bird’s Nest

One might think that a backlash bird's nest on your favorite baitcasting reel might be a thing of the past with today's excellent reel technology, but think again. The truth is every good fisherman must deal with a tangled mess in their fishing reel at some point. Even the most talented pro bass fishing anglers have this issue. Sometimes even in major tournaments with big money on the line, compounding the headache. Simply put, it's an annoying problem for fishing veterans and beginners alike.

We know many people are tempted just to stick to a spinning reel because of frustration with baitcasting tangles. However, you are really doing yourself a disservice by limiting yourself to one reel type. There are a lot of benefits to these reels that greatly outweigh the risks of a nasty baitcaster backlash. And it's not that hard to mitigate what causes backlash. Today we'll arm you with the know how to deal with these tangles and improve your angling experience.

Tighten the Tension Method

Backlash Bird's Nest

Travis Smola

The first thing we all should do is to slow down and assess the situation. While many backlashes are essentially the same thing, they do come in more than one form. In many cases, the problem may look a lot worse than it ends up being.

My first method of combating backlash is rather simple. Try tightening the spool tension knob in a way that would be far greater than if you were simply setting the tension for normal casting purposes. Once you have done that, you can now press the thumb bar to disengage the reel as if you were about to cast and begin to slowly pull the line off the spool.

The high spool tension will keep the line from getting locked up worse inside of the mess, and many times this is all you will need to make the bird's nest disappear.

What happens quite often is that the line you were steadily pulling off the spool will stop, letting you know that you aren't quite done yet. Now is the time to try another process that will seem counterintuitive: tighten the drag, place your thumb tightly on the line holding it down, and turn the reel handle once, but no more than twice.

You may have noticed that while holding your thumb tightly on the line that it causes a sort of reverse effect on the spool, gathering the line up just a bit in front of your thumb. Now begin slowly pulling on the line again until you get the nest completely out of the reel. At times I will do this process more than once, but it works virtually every time with a little patience.

When In Doubt, Pick It Out

I've had to resort to this method more than I would like to admit since sometimes a backlash wins on the water, but not on the kitchen table. Even at that, a backlash pick will win the day out on the boat or on the riverbank with time and a little patience. (a recurring theme here)

In truth, I also use my fishing pliers which have a split ring "tooth" to pick out a backlash, but it's not as easy as having a simple pick like the one shown above, or you can swipe a crochet pick out of your wife's sewing kit.

Here's where you really need to slow down and be careful so that you don't put a random knick in your line. It is easy for your line to cinch well down into the spool making a thin-wired pick your only choice to dig under it to loosen it up. The tendency now is to try to pull on the line a little harder to free it up and get back to fishing, but hold on.

As you begin to free things up and start to defeat the bird's nest, you will need to remind yourself not to scuff up mono or fluorocarbon, or let the pick get between the fibers of braided lines. Once you reach a certain point where the backlash is again moving, you can try the last part of the previous method by holding your thumb tightly on the line and winding the handle once or twice.

Take It Apart

Backlash Birds Nest

Travis Smola

This is a last resort scenario, and many anglers would rather simply cut their losses (no pun intended) and get out their knife to start cutting the line. While you can do it without losing all the line, you'll still likely lose a lot in process. And quality fishing line isn't cheap. Especially now with the price of everything going up.

This is where you may start hoping that you kept the brochure that came with your baitcaster when you bought it. If you happen to own one of the 13 Concept casting reels or one in the same category, then taking it apart is as easy as turning the reel over and unlocking the lever to open the case and pull out the spool.

You'll have to cut the line either way to pull it out of the reel, but now you work on it from all sides so to speak. In the event you own a reel that has a more difficult process to take the reel spool off, it's probably best to wait until you get home to your kitchen table or workshop to try this where there's less of a chance of losing some small parts.

More than anything, we advise having a little patience the next time you end up with a bird's nest in your fishing gear. Many backlashes are not as bad as the angler makes them. Rushing to clear them up will often only compound a problem that was otherwise easily solved. Give these methods a try next time and you just might save your fishing trip and some extra line in the process.

Please check out my book "The Hunter's Way" from HarperCollins. Be sure to follow my webpage, or on Facebook and YouTube.