Types Of Fishing Reels: The Easy Guide For Fisherman

Whether you’re just getting started in the sport of fishing or you’ve been loyal to one style of fishing reel for a while, it can be hard to determine which reel to buy next. It can even be difficult to understand the differences between the different types of fishing reels. There are four main types of fishing reels: spinning reels, baitcasting reels, spincast reels, fly reel. Our guide breaks down each of the main reel types and what application they’re best suited for.

4 Types of Fishing Reels

1. Spincast Reel

Spincast Reel

The spincast is the most basic modern fishing reel available. This gentleman is perfect for novices or budget anglers because of its simple style. Spincast reels aren't as popular as they once were, but they were popular a few decades ago.

Features and Design

Spincasters have a metal nose cone that conceals all of the reel's key components. There's a button on the back that toggles the line between free-spool and locked.

Spincast reels, last but not least, contain a drag adjustment mechanism. This system essentially allows you to control the amount of resistance a fish encounters when pulling on your line. The "drag" on a spincast is normally on the side of the reel or near the reel handle.


Casting with a spincast reel is a piece of cake. All you have to do is hit the spool control button, swing, and let go. The line will fly out to where your rod tip is pointing after you release the button. Simply push the button one more when you're ready to end the line. Easy-peasy.

Pros & Cons

The main benefits of utilizing a spincast reel are that they are extremely easy to use and rarely cause line tangles. Furthermore, they are the cheapest form of fishing reel available. A spincast reel can be purchased for as low as $20 nowadays.

Spincasters, too, have a certain "x-factor." These are most likely the reels with which your ordinary middle-aged angler began their fishing career, so you can bet they hold a special place in their hearts!

Spincast reels are inexpensive and simple to use, but they have a few drawbacks.

For starters, their closed-face construction traps water and dirt inside the reel, causing it to corrode over time. Second, most spincasters aren't particularly well-made, and they'll rarely survive more than a season. Three, and perhaps most importantly, spincasters have a limited casting range and are less exact than other types of reels.

2. Spinning Reel

Spinning Reel

The spinning reel is, without a doubt, the most common type of fishing reel. It's a little more difficult to use than the spincast, but it's a lot more efficient and long-lasting. It's simple to use for beginners, and a large number of expert fisherman refuse to fish without it.

Features and Design

The spinning reel, unlike the spincast reel, has an open-face construction with the drag adjustment on the top. It includes a metal bail that serves to secure the line and prevent it from unraveling. The bail is also crucial because it ensures that the line is appropriately wound back onto the spool. But I'll get to that in a minute.

Spinning reels are different from other types of reels in that they attach to the rod from below. This provides not only a natural holding position, but also a beautiful balance when casting. Casting with a spinning reel is also quite simple.


To throw with a spinning reel, just unhook the bail and squeeze the line against the rod with your index finger to keep it from unspooling. Swing your rod to the side or overhead after that. At about halfway through the motion, let go of your index finger. Aim the rod tip where you want the bait to land, and there you have it!

Reengaging the bail after the cast is something that a lot of people do incorrect with the spinning reel. When you start reeling, most spinning reels automatically close the bail. The problem is that the line typically misses the spool on the first spin, resulting in a tangle.When you throw the line out, always make sure to put the bail back in its starting position by hand.

Pros & Cons

The spinning reel is, without a doubt, the most popular fishing reel on the market. It's a little more difficult to operate than the spincast, but it's far more effective and long-lasting. It's simple to use for beginners, and it's required equipment for a large number of expert fisherman.

When you get the feel of spinning reels, you'll be able to cast long distances with ease. They are the golden middle for most fisherman, with prices ranging from $50 to $150 for a good model.

Spinners are a terrific all-around choice, but they aren't all rainbows and sunshine. You might easily create terrible line twists and tangles if you don't handle the bail carefully. Another disadvantage is that you are confined to lightweight equipment. And as you start loading spinners with heavier lures and lines, their performance begins to suffer.

3. Baitcasting Reel

Baitcasting Reel

The baitcaster is, without a doubt, the most advanced fishing reel. This reel is unequaled in both power and precision, and is frequently utilized by seasoned anglers and fishing pros.

Baitcasting reels have far more moving elements than spincast or spinning reels. As a result, they have a steep learning curve, but mastering them will elevate your fishing game to new heights.

Features and Design

The fact that a baitcaster sits on top of the rod handle is the first thing you'll notice. It has a semi-enclosed design and a significantly more durable construction. The baitcaster features two additional components, in addition to the drag mechanism, which is located adjacent to the reel handle, that allow for increased performance and customization.

The spool tension knob and the brake system are these. Both devices are employed to control the rate at which the line exits the reel.

What is the significance of this? First and foremost, you get to toss the line as far as you need to. Second, you can keep the spool from spinning faster than the line exits. If this happens, you'll end up with a bird's nest. And sure, it appears to be precisely as it sounds.


Because baitcasting reels lack a bail, you must push your thumb against the spool to prevent the line from spooling. If necessary, you can do this while the line is still in flight, allowing for more precise casting. You simply squeeze a clip to lock the line once the bait has reached the desired location, and you're ready to go.

Baitcaster rod guides are much smaller than those used on spinning rods. Because baitcasting reels discharge the line in a straight line, this is the case. The line on a spinning reel goes out in a circular fashion, which takes up more space.

Pros & Cons

Baitcasting reels are, without a doubt, the most powerful fishing reels. They can carry heavy lines and have a lot of pulling power, making them an excellent choice for larger fish. Baitcasters also allow you to feel the line as it is being cast, allowing you to stop it precisely when needed.

Last but not least, baitcasters can be customized to a great extent. This reel is capable of removing bottomfish from dense cover or performing dropshots for bass.

One of the most difficult aspects of utilizing the baitcaster is that different weights of lures necessitate varied spool tension and brake system settings. That means you'll have to modify the settings every time you switch lures. They require some getting accustomed to, so they're not the best choice if you're just getting started.

Another disadvantage is the cost. Baitcasters are the most expensive fishing reels, costing anything from $100 to $500 for a good setup. They make up for it in terms of performance; all you need to know is whether they're the appropriate fit for you.


4. Fly fishing reel

Fly fishing reel

Fly reels are designed to be able to cast lures that have very little weight. They are used to fish with artificial fly lures that weigh almost nothing. In order to cast this kind of weightless lure effectively, the weight of the fishing line is used for casting, instead of the weight of the lure. To be able to achieve this, fly fishing line is thick and strong, more like slender rope than fishing line.

Features and Design

The design of a fly reel is similar to that of a centerpin reel, which are a traditional type of fishing reel used by anglers in the past, but that are now hardly used anymore. Just like a centerpin reel, a fly reel consists of a single spool that rotates around a center pin, and is designed to handle thick fly fishing line effectively.

Traditionally, fly reels were built without a drag system, so the angler had to apply drag to the line by pressing his thumb on the spool, though nowadays most of them do include a drag system.


The old way (and the wrong way) to teach fly casting is to have a beginner move his arm like the arm of a metronome back and forth from the 10 o'clock position to the 2 o'clock position. This was quaint in the movie and book A River Runs Through It, but in real-life situations, your arm will need to move along different paths to deal with different situations.

Clock positions are not as important in fly casting as the timing and application of power to and from those positions. To be a good caster, you need to understand the physics behind casting, or the basic principles of fly casting, so you can make whatever cast you require: into the wind, with high bushes behind you, under an overhanging branch, or whatever.

Pros & Cons

Less reeling is what makes fly fishing reels so effective. Their high rate of retrieval is due to their bigger reels. These enlarged reels allow you to retrieve more line with each crank. How much more? Switching between conventional and fly fishing reels can yield up to a 500% faster retrieval rate.

Superior bait and bait presentation really set fly fishing apart from other types of fishing. Spinning fishing traditionally uses a heavy lure that imitates fish while fly fishing uses flies (emergers, streamers, nymphs, and dry flies) which imitate all forms of food that fish feed on. This expands the range and size of fish you can catch and with fly fishing the bait is presented more delicately and quietly as opposed to a spinning reel setup. Casting properly when fly fishing allows you to drop a fly directly on top of the fish gently without scaring them.

Traditionally performed on moving water meaning you are going to need extra gear to go fly fishing effectively. This typically requires more room and is largely considered a solo style of fishing which can be off-putting to some.

Fly fishing is more expensive than traditional spin style fishing. While flies are often cheaper than traditional lures that is about the only break you are going to get. You’ll need to fork over extra cash for decent line, a suitable rod, leaders, backing, strike indicators, and not to mention waders. These added costs can grow rather quickly.

Fishing reel is right for you

Contrary to popular belief there is no “best reel”, only the best reel for you. Finding the right fishing reel depends on a lot of factors from your fishing environment, your skill level, and of course the fish you are seeking.

The environment you are fishing in will play a critical role because there’s a significant difference between freshwater reels and saltwater reels.

Your level of angling experience will largely dictate the type of reel you will want to buy. Some are perfect for beginners while others take a real investment of time to master.

The type and size of the fish you are after will naturally play a role in the type of fishing reel you select. Some catfish naturally grow to be over 50 pounds which might make reeling one in particularly difficult with a push button spinning reel and rod combo. While that same rod and reel combo might be perfect for trout fishing in a local lake.

Any pro or experienced angler will tell you when it comes to fishing reels you get what you pay for. While there isn’t a best reel for every situation, it is unanimously agreed upon to forgo the sale aisle and instead buy something that will retain its value for years to come.

5. Conclusion

This concludes our discussion of the most important types of fishing reels used by anglers all over the world. Try to decide which reel to buy after identifying the kind of fishing for which you intend to use it. It’s essential to get the right model for the right type of reel fishing, as that will really improve your success rate, as well as making the experience a lot more fun.