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Why Would Anyone Want A Baitfeeder For Surf Fishing?

A spinning reel equipped with a baitfeeder feature (AKA a baitrunner) has two drag systems. There’s a primary drag on the end of the spool and a secondary drag built into the back of the reel body. The secondary drag is activated by a lever which changes the drag to a very light setting almost free spooling but as soon as you begin to crank, it immediately switches to the primary drag.

So Why Would Anyone Want A Spinning Reel With With Two Drag Systems?

The secondary drag system is great for free lining bait out through with a rip current or just carried out with the undertow. The baitfeeder drag allows the bait to flow out through the rip where predator fish are staged up waiting to feed.

When a fish picks it up the primary drag takes over as soon as you start to turn the crank. This is a very effective way to fish. See the diagram below.
Freelining Bait

Even if your not free lining bait, let’s just say you have your surf rod sitting in the sand spike waiting for a strike. Your bait could be picked up by a fish large enough to pull the sand spike over and take your rod with it.

I’ve personally seen this happen to a friend. He was able to recover the rod before the surf took it but he did lose the sand spike. The sand spike just washed into the surf and disappeared. This would have never happened if he was using a baitfeeder and had it turned on.

I know you might be thinking, ” just make sure the sand spike is in deep enough”. That’s not always the case if the surf is washing up around it. You would be surprised how easily it can be loosened up without you realizing it.

When fishing for sharks you shouldn’t try to set the hook right away. Let them pick up your bait and move off with it before setting the hook. This is another situation where a baitfeeder is ideal. A fish can pick up your bait and take out line without feeling any tension on the line.

You might also choose to use the baitfeeder while fighting a large fish that decides to take a run. It’s easy to flip it on, use it until the fish turns or slows down then start cranking again.

I’ve used it as a quick release while it’s in the sand spike to lower my rig for a bait change. I just flip it on, let it drop and flip it off. Once you own one you’ll find yourself using it often.

I own two Okuma baitfeeder reels, an Avenger ABF-65 and a Coronado CD-80a. I bought the 65 first but in retrospect I should have gone for the ABF-90 because the 65 and the 90 physically look like the same size except the 90 holds more line. So when I decided to get the Coronado I got the biggest size.

You’ll probably want to take a look at these reels and read the reviews on Amazon. Here’s a link for the Okuma Avenger ABF and a link for the Okuma Coronado Baitfeeder. These reels are an excellent value for the money. As a matter of fact when I bought the 80a on Amazon it was actually priced $10 less than the 65a. Go figure.

Baitfeeder Reels

Reel Comp Chart

The Coronado is the next level up in price from the Avenger. Notice the difference in the thickness of the bail. It also has a stronger drag rating. Even though it  has less bearings than the ABF, don’t let that dissuade you from buying it. The number of bearings in a reel is more of a marketing ploy that an indicator of the quality.

The chart above shows ABF-90 has a 22 lb. drag rating and the Coronado 80a has a 33 lb. drag. Strangely enough though the ABF-90 actually has more line capacity at 590 yds. of 20 lb. mono versus the Coronado 80a at 350 yds. of 20 lb. mono.

When I decided to spool my 80a with 65# braid, it just about held 300 yds. (65# PowerPro braid measures .016 and 20# mono measures .017 ). According to the chart above it should hold 350 yards easy. Overall my experience when spooling Okuma reels with braid is that their line capacities seem to be a bit overstated. I have three of them for surf fishing and although they’re all spooled with braid I couldn’t get the anticipated line that I thought should fit on any of them.

I hope this article was helpful. If you you don’t have a baitfeeder reel in your arsenal think about adding one the next time your out shopping for a new addition to your collection. You won’t be disappointed.

18 Responses to Why Would Anyone Want A Baitfeeder For Surf Fishing?

  • Great information, please keep it coming!!!

  • Hi Randy, and thanks for sharing your knowledge again. I will definitely look into this concept, as it does have it’s appeal, and makes a lot of sense. Why not have an additional advantage if it’s available. The technology has come a long way since my first Garcia Mitchell 300.

    • Paul, yes I had a Mitchell 300 as well. Back in the day most of us either had the Mitchell or the Zebco to fish with. I’m sure you remember the Zebco reels too.

  • Thx Randy. Very helpful. While not currently in the market for a new reel, I’ll definitely get a bait runner next.
    Tight lines, Lorne

  • Love your articles keep them coming.

  • 30.07.15
    Thanks randy. You gave a piece of good Candy to the growing Kids at the right time. The veteran knows better, has more knowledge than the novice.

    I have tried so many things in surf fishing with wrong advice, wrong preaching, wasted a lot of time & money without any good dividend.

    Right now I am fishing with Fin Nor Lethal 100 & Shimano 12ft 2 pc rod. The result is not so lucrative. I will buy the Coronado 8 a & put it to task, shall get back to U with the results. Thank U.

    (Reviews say that Okuma spinning reels has combination of many plastic parts & metal, & breaks down in a short while). Pl give me Ur feed back before go for a buy. Than U.

  • Awsome info Randy, summer is just around the corner here in New Zealand so I will definately be looking at purchasing a baitrunner reel. Cheers

  • How long have you had yours Randy? I had considered those awhile back but wasn’t to comfortable with the reviews and breakdowns. Thanks

    • Lee, I’ve had my ABF-65 for about four years without any problems. it’s been dunked twice while kayak fishing for tarpon.

      Not to long ago I stopped to talked to another guy surf fishing. He had two ABF-50’s. I asked him how he liked them. He told me he would not use anything else. He added to that that he had not had any trouble but if he did would just buy another one because they’re so inexpensive.

      Both the reels he had were older than mine. I don’t think you can go wrong for the money.

  • a wealth of knowledge about surf fishing in a short amount of time thanks .

  • Thanks for the tip Randy—I just might go for the Coronado when I head
    for Cocoa Beach next March!!!!

  • Yup. Everything you said has been true for me as well.

  • Thanks for another informative article. I have three Okuma baitfeeders, two small ones and a 65 for surf fishing. So far they have held up well in saltwater. I particularly liked your tip on using the the secondary drag when free lining to let the undertow take the bait to the predators. My other comment is that over the years I have concluded that for recreational fishermen quality reels incorporating a low bearing count as opposed to a high bearing count models are more than adequate and will present fewer problem$.

  • Now teach me to make a beach cart like yours….Where can I find some tires like that?

    • Hey Dan! If you’re referring to the beach cart in my earlier video, I bought it on Amazon. You can get wheels like that from Harbor Freight

      However, be on the look out for an upcoming post on a surf cart I just built out of PVC.

  • just found out about these reels,shopping for one now!!i love fluke fishing with live snappers on the beach,this setup is just what i need!!

  • I bought the Okuma ABF-90 new in the box from a reputable dealer.
    Within the first 6 casts the bail wire assembly fell off the reel.

    I was fishing a cattle boat out of Newport Beach California. The yellowtail were swarming the boat and the group was killing it. Everyone except me and a few other fisherman that were using Okuma spinning reels.

    I then purchased a Shimano Baitrunner 12000D and have not looked back.
    The Shimano has never failed me and I have since purchased the 6000D and 8000D. Next purchase is the 4000D.

    The Shimano reels cost twice as much, but are bulletproof performers.

    Do not be the one that I say, “I told you so”, to.