The 4 Different Types of Fishing Reels [The Ultimate Guide]

The weather is excellent; hence the water conditions are perfect as well. So it’s perfect to go fishing, right? Not so fast. For the ideal fishing excursion, you also need to have the right fishing gear. Besides, how can you go fishing without the equipment?

Carrying tools for work is easy, but having the right equipment is a challenge. Not any fishing equipment will work for your needs. Some tools are perfect for beginners while others are ideal for experienced anglers. Above all the tools, a fishing reel stands out! Why so?

What Is A Fishing Reel?

It is merely a device that you attach to the handle towards the end of the fishing rod. The fishing reel’s function is to hold a large amount of fishing line well-arranged to avoid tangling. Moreover, a fishing reel has different fittings to help the angler cast and retrieve the line accurately and adequately.

Just like most tools, the different types of fishing reels suit different levels of experience. It’ll be hard for a beginner to handle a reel that is for experts. Apart from handling, even fixing the reel will be a challenge. Using the wrong fishing reel will ruin your much-anticipated fishing spree. And if people are expecting some dinner from you, then most probably they will sleep hungry.

Therefore, to help you choose the perfect reel, look below the different types, uses, and benefits for your level and style.

Types of Fishing Reels

Because they are many, fishing reels can be confusing, especially for the newcomers. They differ in function, characteristics, and features. Apart from the level of experience determining your choice, also your style of fishing is crucial. For instance;

1- Spinning Reel

Spinning Reel

Without a doubt, the spinning reel is among the most popular fishing reel. A spinning reel entails an open face design, which is very efficient and durable, making it an excellent tool for beginners and experienced anglers. The bail arm makes it effortless to use in casting lures. With the bail arm guiding the line in the spool, you can quickly release and retrieve back the line when you want to launch. What’s more?

A distinctive feature of the spinning reel is that it attaches underneath the rod. The spinning reel becomes motionless in that position, providing a natural holding position and outstanding balance when casting. It achieves a superb balance because of the spool’s permanent place, which lets the line run freely and easily.

Furthermore, using a spinning reel gives you tremendous versatility. This means you will hardly encounter any challenges since it’s very straightforward in casting and the best in holding a fishing line. To cast with a spinning reel, you need to;

  • To avoid unspooling, unfasten the bail and, using your index finger, squeeze the fishing line against the rod.  
  • Swing your rod from overhead or the side. Let go of your finger in the middle of the motion.
  • Aim the rod tip wherever you want your bait or lure to land.

NOTE: Do not engage the bail again after casting since spinning reels automatically shut down when you start reeling. Once you throw, place the bail back in its original position using your hand.

Lastly, spinning reels are a perfect match for most baits and lures. As a result, they are ideal for fishing a wide species of fish. For robust pulling power, combine the spinning reel with braided lines. Spinning reels are also of fair prices, making them not hard to obtain.

2- Spincast Reel

Spincast Reel

This is by far the most famous fishing reel for both beginners and experts on a budget. Apart from being cost-effective, it’s also easy to use, making it convenient for everyone who wants to try out fishing.

It has a nose cone’s shape on its closed face, which makes it a unique feature. Being closed is vital since all the essential parts are safe inside. When casting,

  • Push the button on the back of the reel.
  • Then on top of the reel cover, there’s a tiny hole that jets out the line when you press the button.
  • The line and the button work simultaneously, meaning the line will not come out if you don’t press the button. So when you are through, do not press the button.  

Read on.

A spincast reel has a drag adjustment mechanism. This mechanism allows you to control the resistance of the fish when pulling the line. You will find this ‘drag’ on the side or next to the handle of the reel. Moreover, the plastic cover prevents the line from tangling. Being lightweight, it becomes straightforward to use all the styles you would think of catching the fish.

However, being closed-face means, it can hold water and debris in the casing. Also, it’s not appropriate for fatty and large fish because of its lightweight. Spincast reels are not durable to last you more than a season of fishing.

3- Baitcasting Reel

Baitcasting Reel

For pros and experienced anglers, the baitcasting reel is the real deal. It is more advanced because of its unmatched precision and power. Unlike the spinning and spincast reels, the baitcasting has several movable parts that need adaptation to master. But once you understand the drill of how it works, your fishing game will be on another level.

What’s more?

It also derives its reputation from the fact that it does not have a line twist when casting. This fact enables the angler to release from a great distance with much power. A baitcasting reel relies on a lure’s weight to successfully push the line from the air into the water. This makes it perfect for catching fatty and large fish.

When it comes to position, the baitcaster rests on top of the rod handle. It also comprises a robust construction of a semi-enclosed face. On top of the drag mechanism next to the handle rests two components. They enhance the performance and customization of the baitcaster. These components are the braking system and the tension knob. They also control how fast or slow the line runs out of the reel.

When using the baitcasting reel, you should;

  • Press your thumb against the line to avoid it from spooling since it doesn’t have a bail.
  • When the bail lands on the desired spot, press the click to lock the line in position, and voila!

Note: the rod guides in a baitcaster are small compared to those in a spinning reel. This is because the line releases in a straight line, unlike in spinners where it discharges in a circular motion hence needing much space.

On the downside, baitcasting reels require regular adjusting whenever you use different lures. This is because a baitcaster relies on the weight of a lure to catch fish. As advanced, baitcasting reels are the most expensive reels in the market.

4- Fly Reels

Fly Reels

Just as its name, fly reels are for fly fishing. This is because fly reels use fly or bug lures to catch both freshwater and saltwater fish. It requires the angler to be very precise when casting the line on the ideal spot. The perfect combination will be using a flying reel on a flying rod to achieve maximum balance.

Because it requires a drag system, the fly fishing reel uses the modern type, which is the disc drag system. An angler can also cast the line from a great distance even if the fly lure is exceptionally lightweight. How so? The fly reel relies on the line’s weight rather than the fly lure hence makes this possible.

Check also: The 5 Best Spinning Reels for Bass in 2022

Read on.

To position the fly fishing rod, attach it on the downside at the end of the rod. This makes it effortless and comfortable to wind for beginners and small fish.

What to Consider When Buying Fishing Reel

There are various things you should bear in mind to make shopping for a fishing reel straightforward. For instance;

Type of fish: not any fishing reel can catch all fish species. There are fishing reels suitable for large and small fish. What’s your fish target? When buying a fishing reel, consider the type of fish you will be catching to get a reel that matches and gives you an easy time when reeling. This way, you are sure to deliver outstanding results.

Also, the type of fish is reliant on the kind of water. There are freshwater fish and saltwater fish. Freshwater fish is safe for your reel since no corrosion effects. Either way, make sure to gather all necessary information before the purchase.

Price: with a variety of fishing reels in the market, they also differ in costs. Mostly, cheap reels are those for beginners since they don’t have advanced features and problematic usage. But it would be best to invest in a reel that has advanced features to learn more. That is if you have someone glad to teach you through the processes. Do not compromise on the quality in terms of saving money.

Styles and fishing habits: every angler has preferred styles and traditions of fishing. Look for a fishing reel that accommodates your style to accomplish great results. Also, the location will determine fishing habits. Fishing on a shoreline requires a fast reel and can handle the high chances of the fish escaping. Conversely, fishing from a boat means you have increased mobility; hence you need a reel that is not so strong.


Finding the best fishing reel is crucial as it will determine your fishing experience. Even though it sounds complicated, the above review of the different types and a buying guide is sure to help you land on your perfect match. When you combine your perfect reel and the other fishing gear on a perfect day, you are good to go!

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