Magnetic Braking Systems

Saltwater Fishing - Helping you catch that fish of a lifetime

Magnetic Braking Systems

by Capt. Terry Rand

How does a magnetic braking system work on a baitcasting reel?

Baitcasting reels and conventional reels use spool braking systems to control the speed at which the spool of the reel spins when the reel is in free spool mode. This is how the angler can minimize the chance of getting backlashes during the casting process. Both baitcasting and conventional reels use a tension brake that applies pressure to the spools axis to slow down its rotation. This brake is adjusted with a knob located under the reel handle.

Due to anglers needs to be able to make fine tuning adjustments to their braking systems to maximize casting distance, manufacturers have incorporated secondary braking systems in most new baitcasting reels and conventional reels that are also designed for casting. These secondary systems are adjusted after the main tension brake setting has been made on the reel. These braking systems come in two varieties. One works magnetically and the other type incorporates centrifugal force to slow the speed of the spools rotations. Let's talk about magnetic braking systems.

The magnetic brake dial is located on the left side of this reel. Note the markings for various settings from Minimum to Maximum. This brake is set at 50%.
Photo by: Author

To begin with, a simple revisit to elementary science class. When two magnets of the opposite polarity are placed close to one another, their magnetic forces attract them to each other. Place them close enough together and stick to one another like glue. When magnets of the same polarity are placed close to one another, they physically repel each other. Try to force them together and the resistance becomes greater. Well, a magnetic brake system works on the magnets attracting force to slow down the spool. By rotating a dial on the side of the reel, the angler controls a magnet that is moved closer or further away from the side of the spool depending on the position of the dial. When the magnet is moved closer to the spool it exerts a magnetic pull on the spool which slows down the spools rotation speed. Let's get a better look at the internal mechanism itself to better understand exactly what we're talking about.

On the side of the reel you'll notice the brake adjustment dial. It rotates in a circular fashion, increasing or decreasing the magnetic tension. When we remove this side plate and look at what is going on underneath that adjustment dial, the picture becomes clearer. A series of small magnets that rotate into position with the dial are exposed. When the dial turns from the outside, the magnets on the inside move closer or further away from the spool. Manufacturers have been building on this concept for years and have developed brake systems that are of different sizes and configurations to tune the performance of these systems.

Note the the tension brake adjustment knob mounted on the side of the reel under the star drag. Set this brake first before setting the magnetic brake.
Photo by: Author

Setting the brake systems using the standard tension brake and the secondary magnetic brake should be completed by following these steps:

1) Make sure the magnetic brake system is in the Off position. Set your primary tension brake first as you     normally would for whatever size lure you are using and give it a couple of casts to get a feel for how the     brake is working.

2) Next, set the magnetic brake by turning the brake adjustment dial to 50%, about half way.

3) Make a few more casts and notice the difference in the spool braking caused by the magnetic brake. Play around with using different settings and by loosening your main tension brake just a hair. Then you can learn to really fine tune your reels casting abilities.

The magnetic brake is an excellent secondary braking system. Like a centrifugal brake system, it allows you to make incremental changes to the primary brake setting made with the tension brake. This will give you a wider range of braking adjustments which will assist in providing longer and more accurate casts than can be achieved with the tension brake alone.

We want your input: