Why Does My Fishing Line Get Tangled When I Cast?

Fishing is an art form. When you do it correctly, it is a gratifying and addictive sport.

However, when things do not go as planned, it can be a real downer.

One of the most frequently asked questions about casting is, “why does my line get tangled when I cast.”

There are a couple of reasons why line tangles up when you cast.

We call that a backlash, and oh, what a pain it is.

Wind knots also happen when you cast into the wind.

Keep reading as we go over a few of the reasons your line will tangle and what you can do to help prevent backlashes.

Along the way, we will throw in a few other tips and tricks too.


Why does my fishing line get tangled when I cast?

The top reason for backlashes when casting is that you have too much line on the reel.

What happens is when you cast, the extra line loops off the reel and tangles, especially on spinning reels.

Some reels have a manufacturer mark on the barrel that lets you know where the “full-line” is.

Some reels do not have that mark.

A good habit is leaving 1/8-1/4 of an inch of space from the line to the edge of the reel.

How do I keep my fishing line from getting tangled?

The first thing you can do to keep your line from getting tangled when casting is to make sure you don’t have too much line on the reel — See above on how to correct that.

The second thing you can do when to keep the fishing line from tangling on your reel is to make sure that there is no slack line when you reel in the line before casting.

Slackline or loose coils occur between the reel and the bottom eye.

If the line is loose, it will loop and knot when you reel it in.

The looped line will snag almost every time you cast.

What to do if your fishing line gets tangled?

The only thing you can do is untangle it.

To do so, set the reel to spin so that the line will come off the reel.

Then, gently unwind the line until the backlash is untangled.

Freeing the line can take some time. Be very careful not to nick the line.

Do not use pliers or knives to untangle knots.

If the line is overly tangled, it is easier to cut it and replace the line rather than spend too much time untangling it.

Should you soak the fishing line?

Yes, you should soak the fishing line before you spool it onto the reel.

Monofilament and fluorocarbon fishing lines have what we call “Memory.”

They tend to remember the circular profile of being on the spool.

Get yourself a bucket of warm water and drop the whole spool into it.

Leave there for at least 20-minutes.

Some folk leave it in the bucket overnight.

Generally, 20-minutes to an hour is fine.

You can leave the bucket of water in the sun to help keep it warm.

The warm water relaxes the line so that it will spool onto the reel nice and even.

How long should you soak the fishing line?

Soak the line in warm water for 20-minutes to an hour or longer.

It will not hurt it, but the key is warm water.

Letting it sit overnight means the water goes from warm to cold to warm again.

What Fishing Line Should You Soak?

Soaking monofilament and fluorocarbon fishing lines is essential. However, you don’t need to soak the braided line as it is made to lie flat when spooled.

How to soak the fishing line?

Soaking the fishing line is easy. Here is how to do that:

  1. Get a bucket and fill it with warm water. You want enough water to cover the entire spool of line.
  2. Drop the spool of line into the warm water.
  3. If the spool floats, weigh it down so that it remains under the warm water.
  4. Place the bucket in the sunshine to keep the water warm.
  5. After 20-minutes, you can remove the spool of line and begin to wind it onto the reel.

How to fix a tangled fishing reel?

Sometimes, the tangled line is so tangled you cannot untangle it. In that situation, cut the line and start over with a new line. Also, if there are nicks in the line, cut the line and start over. Here’s how to untangle the fishing line.

  1. Set the reel to free spin mode by flipping the release bar.
  2. Gently pull on the line to see if it will unspool.
  3. If the line will not unspool, try to grab the line where it is stuck, and forcing the free end back a little to see if the line will slide. Doing so can help release the tension that is pinning the line. If that works, you may be able to move the parts of the line that are pinning the free end and then unspool the line.
  4. If there are knots in the line, be sure to undo them. A knot can become a weak spot and snap when you have a fish on the other end. If you cannot get the knots out, cut the line and start again.

Tangle-free fishing line?

If you are looking for a type of fishing line that is tangle-free, try a braided fishing line.

It is made to lie flat and avoid fishing line tangles.

Why does my line unravel when I cast?

The most applicable answer to why you get a spool of line off the reel when casting is that you have too much line on the reel.

Aim to fill the barrel until it is between 1/8-1/4 inch from the outer edge of the barrel and the top portion of the reel.

Final thoughts

Learning to cast and tend your fishing line is all part of learning the art of fishing.

As you practice fishing more, there will be times when your line tangles.

It can be a downer when that happens, but it is also an opportunity to become a better fisherman.

We’ve all be there with a reel full of tangled line.

Sit down and see if you can undo the tangles.

If not, cut the line and start again.

A good tip is to always carry a spare line with you.