The Different Reel Types

There are three basic reel types: spinning, casting (bait-casting), and spin casting. In this article I will mainly cover the two most popular ones and the only two that I use. There are some other types of reels but these are specialized reels for trolling or for fly fishing.

Spinning Reel

A spinning reel is your most basic reel. When people think of a fishing reel 99 times out of a hundred they are thinking of a spinning reel. Here is an image of one.

Spinning Reel

There are many benefits to using this type of reel and many different uses for it. If you are new to fishing this is the reel you want to use. It is plain and simple and very easy to learn how to operate. All that you have to do to use this reel is pull your line up with your finger to your rod, release the bail (just flip the thin metal half ring around the spool of line), and then cast. Once your bait is out there all you have to do is give your reel a turn with the handle and the bail will re-engage and will be ready to pull in your fish. It is a great reel to use when fishing with a bobber or when vertical jigging for fish that are sitting in deep water. In another article I will go into more depth about how to use this reel.

A major benefit of this type of reel is that it can be used whether you are left handed or right handed. The handle on these types of reels can easily be switched by simply unscrewing it and flipping it to the either side. Personally I like to retrieve with my left hand as I find it a more natural way to hold it. Here’s a quick video showing how quick and easy it is to flip the handle.

Casting (bait-basting) Reel

This style of reel is the one I most often use, but be warned if you are new to fishing or don’t fish too often then get yourself a spinning reel. This style of reel is the one most pros use when trying to catch bass as it can be more precise and is used in many different ways. It is completely different than a spinning reel as it does not sit on the bottom of your rod. This reel needs a totally different rod for it to work as it is attached to the top of your rod and the guides (the rings where your line goes through) are also on top of your rod with this style reel. Here’s a picture of one so you can get an idea of what it looks like.

Casting Reel

A casting reel works in a completely different method than the spinning reel. It takes more control and you have to be a little more engaged with it in order to use it properly. It involves calibrating the reel every time you put on a different lure and when you cast it out you actually have to stop the line from spooling out with your thumb. These reels tend to be a little more expensive than a spinning reel as they have more gears and better bearings in them but if you plan on really getting into fishing then this style of reel is where you want to be headed. One drawback from casting reels is that they are not interchangeable like spinning reels are. What I mean by this is that they are either for left hand retrieve or right hand retrieve so you have to make sure what you feel more comfortable with before you buy one. Just like spinning reels I prefer to have a left hand casting reel as well.

Spin Casting Reel

This style of reel is a combination of a spinning reel and a bait casting reel. It sits on top of your rod just like a casting reel but it casts more like a regular spinning reel. The line on these reels is completely enclosed in a cover, but in order to spool your line on the cover comes off for easy access. Personally I have used this style of reel only a few times and was not too happy with it. If you line gets a knot in it or comes off the spool then you have a big mess on your hands. These reels are usually quite cheap and it is reflected in their build quality. Many people get this style of reels especially when they are new to fishing but it quickly becomes more frustrating than it’s worth. My suggestion, simply speaking from personal experience, is to stay away from these reels. Get yourself a good quality spinning reel and you will keep your problems at a minimum. It is very easy to use and will give you years of good service, even if you don’t take super care of it.