Perfecting Spinning with Braid - 27 August 2011

 2015-09-02 04:05 PM by

With today’s technology, if you are not spinning with braid, you are at a huge disadvantage.   Here are some “learnt the hard way”, solutions to the two casting problems you may encounter, the dreaded “FRRRT” and the “ZA-BA”.


This is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a wind-knot.  Wind knots are the knots associated with the tippet at the end of a fly-fisherman’s line.  Blaming the wind is the fly-fisherman’s excuse for not such good casts and the resultant granny-knots in his tippet.  For the spinnerman, it is simply a “frrrt”.  This is a little to large clump of braid that is pulled off the top of the spool during the cast and goes “frrrt” through the guides, if you are a bit lucky.  If it gets stuck in the guides it can turn into a “Za-Ba”.  There are only three possible causes of a “frrrt”.

Causes and Cures

  1. The cone angle on the spool of your reel is critical with braid.  It should be either parallel or very slightly tapered toward the top.  A reverse taper or an hour-glass shape will definitely result in the lower loops of braid pulling the ones above it off the spool.  The spiral motion of the braid going up through the guides helps to wind this loop onto the braid, pulling off even more loops off the spool, thus giving birth to a “frrrt”. 

The way to overcome this is to make sure that your reel is of a fairly recent model, good quality and reputable brand.  It must offer a “tapered lip” around the top of the spool and the ability to adjust the cone angle by using the additional washers supplied with the reel.  A good quality reel will also have an aero-wrap type of winding system which ensures a very accurate and trouble-free line lay.  Never over-fill the reel, but always make sure it is filled to the bottom of the lip on the spool. 

  1. A loop of braid passing over the top of the spool across the drag knob is the next most common cause for “frrrt”. This occurs when one is accustomed to using the auto-bale reset facility on the reel.  In layman’s terms, you turn the handle of the reel to flip the bale arm over.  This often causes the loose line after the cast to lie across the top of the spool.  The other way this can happen is in a drop-shotting or popping type situation where the action you are imparting generates slack braid every couple of turns on the reel.  On the next cast, this loop over the top of the spool will be pulled off by the spiraling braid coming off the spool, wound up into a nice little bundle, ripped off the spool and “frrrt” – wa-la.

Get into the habit of flipping the bail arm over manually yourself and always making sure that you are winding on a tightish line.  Also get into the habit of doing a visual inspection before the retrieve. 

  1. Some of the newest most expensive braids are extremely thin and on some spinning reels the roller on the bail arm has a tapered shoulder on each side leading to the valley in the middle of the roller that the line should be riding in. What sometimes happens, especially on very fast retrieve reels, is that the thin braid sits on top of the shoulder instead of where it should be, in the middle.  This causes the line to not lay all the way to the top of the spool and to overlay by the same distance at the bottom of the spool.  Once again, as the bottom layers of braid pull off during the cast, all those that have overshot the bottom of the spool slide up, forming loose braid and wa-la, “frrrt”!

A visual inspection is required at the beginning of the retrieve to make sure that the line is in the middle of the roller.  An inspection during the retrieve, especially if you have multiple colour braid (different colour every ten metres), will immediately show you that your braid is not winding to the top of the spool and that it is over-winding at the bottom.  


This is the sound that you hear from the person next to you as he lets go with an almighty cast, followed immediately by the most foul language.  “Za” is the beginning of the cast - “Ba” is the loud cracking noise that follows.  The rest is simply foul language. There are five things that cause a “Za-Ba”.

Causes and Cures

  1. A very large “frrrt” which becomes firmly lodged or wrapped in the guides.

See “frrrt” section above for the solution.

  1. A leader that is too long. As soon as a leader knot is wound onto the spool and in some cases, even if it is between the spool and the first guide, it has a whiplash effect when passing through the guides, which causes it to wrap and often knot itself quite firmly on a guide.  This results in an immediate “Za-Ba” and often a broken or ripped-out guide.

When spinning, any mono to braid joins such as a leader-knot, should be kept outside of the guides at all times, especially during the cast.  Consistent in and out of the guides can also lead to weakening of the joining knot.

  1. The auto-bale facility that is offered on most spinning reels can be problematic with an individual’s casting style. Depending on the reel and on the individual, it can affect others a lot more than most.  What happens is that during the cast the physical motion that the reel goes through causes the handle to turn, which flips over the bail arm – “Za-Ba”.

One can either wait to see whether it is a problem with you and your reel, or immediately upon purchase, you can ask a reputable tackle dealer to have this facility removed.  Most of your big top-end reels will not have the auto-bale facility.  It is good practice for you to flip the bail arm over manually anyway. 

  1. The tip-wrap is a very common cause for “Za-Ba”. The consequences are often quite devastating.  When the braid gets wrapped around either the tip or the second or third guide down, the result of the cast is often not just a “Za-Ba”, but a broken tip on the rod or guides broken or ripped out of their whipping. 

This situation develops when the rod is held in the vertical position for a few brief moments and the lure or the braid swings around the tip for a few wraps.  As a rule, try to never hold your rod in this position and if you do, immediately check to see that it is not tip-wrapped.  If a visual inspection is a little difficult for whatever reason, a quick “pulling the trigger” action with your casting finger will determine whether the line is flowing freely through the guides or not.  A good pull on the finger and the lure should move an inch or two. 

  1. Brute force, weak knots or weak braid can also be a cause for “Za-Ba’s”.

Ensure that your line and knots are in top condition at all times with no weak links in the chain.  Also know your physical ability and just how much pressure you really can put on the equipment.

If you get all of the above right, you will be guaranteed of no more “frrrting Frrrts” or “frrrting Za-Ba’s”. 

Happy Spinning!