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  Tackle Talk  Rods & Reels

BaitRunner Reels


Have you been out fishing and, out of the corner of your eye, seen a rod tip gracefully bend as a fish picks up the bait and starts to run ? Yes you have because the bail arm was closed and the drag had been set to the breaking strain of the line, no line releases from the spool so the rod quickly loads up putting strain on the whole rig.

The fish meanwhile senses there is something is very wrong and drops the bait. All this usually happens within a few seconds, before you have had time to grab the rod and, either release the bail arm, or loosen the drag. Even if you did have the drag set on a loose setting, how do you know how much to screw it down to accommodate the line class you are using, whilst trying to battle a fighting fish ?

This has long been a problem when fishing light baits or live baits, especially when the rod is left unattended. There is however, a solution. There are reels available that have a "baitfishing type" of threadline which allows a fish to pick up the bait and move off, feeling no resistance even with the bail arm closed. When the decision to strike is made, you simply wind the handle to engage your pre-set drag and fight the fish in the normal way.


The operation of these reels is very simple. By activating a small lever on the reel, it throws the line spool into "freespin". You are now in baitfishing mode. On some models there is a separate drag nut to control the amount of tension in free spin you want on the spool whilst the reel is in baitfishing mode. As per normal, keep the main drag at about one third of the breaking strain of the line. You now have a system which allows a fish to run with a bait without feeling any resistance at all, while the angler is still in total control. To set the hook you can either wind the handle to cancel the baitfishing system, or flick the small lever to return the line spool to the main pre-set drag calibration.

Silstar has a baitfishing threadline series and these are the RXB Baitfeeder series reels. There are four models in the range from the small RXB 40 to fish 4 kilo, right through to the RXB 80 to fish 10 kilo. Pricing starts from $135 for the small 4 kilo model, to $160 for the RXB 80.

The Silstar series comes with three ball bearings, infinite adjustment free spool control, oiled felt front drag washers, long cast spool and graphite body. The Silstar RXB series does, on close inspection, bear a close resemblance to Shimano's Baitrunner threadlines, but they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

As can be seen, I am partial to Silstar reels. I have had my RXB 80 for about 4 years now, have on numerous occasions totally stripped this reel and in the process have learned how the Baitrunner drag system works. After every fishing trip, I religiously strip, clean, grease and oil all of my reels, and must say that RXB 80 is one of my favourite reels to use.

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