Types of Fishing Reels

Types of Fishing Reels

There are different types of fishing reels on the market and most anglers are quite aware. However, the most frequently asked question is – what are the different fishing reel types and does the type you choose really matter? The answer to both of these questions is a resounding yes!

Different types of fishing reels have different distinctive features best suited for different fishing types. For instance, you can’t use a fly reel for deep sea fishing and neither can you use a troll fishing reel for fine spinning techniques. This article will give you a detailed overview of some of the best models available on the market and how to use them.

Different Types of Fishing Reels

There are four different types of reels which are further divided to sub-categories. They include:

  • Fly fishing reel
  • Bait casting reel
  • Spin casting reel
  • Spinning reel

Bait casting reels have a basic build almost similar to that of big game reels and surf casting reels that’s why they are classified as variations of the bait caster. In this article, we are reviewing them separately since they are usually used for different purposes. On the other hand, offshore reels are extra-large spinning reels best suited for heavy-duty applications.

A Comparison of Different Types of Fishing Reels

  1. Spinning Reels


Spinning fishing reels are the most popular. They are quite dependable, highly versatile and easy to use and that’s why most anglers prefer using them for general purposes and other fishing applications. Most professional anglers usually bring along four spinner reels during the fishing adventure.

When going for a fishing adventure, ensure you include spinning reels in different sizes to prepare for any possible scenario. The spool doesn’t rotate unlike other spinning fishing reels. Instead, the reel’s bail arm usually rotates around the spool wrapping the line to it. The only drawback is that spooling the line onto the spinning reels calls for a lot of precision to ensure you are doing it correctly.

If you don’t spool the line onto the spinning reel correctly, it can result in twists and other unforeseeable problems when you hit the waters. Operating this type of spinning reel is quite easy. What’s more, it comes in other different variations and they fall on the lower side of the pricing spectrum. If you are scouting for the best type of fishing reel that’s relatively affordable then this is your best bet.

In addition, understanding the functions and different parts of the spinning reel is equally easy which makes it ideal for the novice.

Open Face Spinning Reel

The most frequently asked question when it comes to different types of fishing reels is – What’s the difference between open face spinning reels and regular spinning reels? And the answer is that these two spinning reels are the same. Spinning reels were originally known as the open face fishing reel since they initially had a closed face reel like that of an advanced spin casting reel. It was modified to an open face spinning reel over the years.

Generally, most anglers love using this type of fishing reel since it’s easy to use, highly dependable and versatile. The best thing about them is that they work remarkably well for professional anglers and the novice alike. If you are looking for a budget-friendly option then spinning reels would be an excellent choice.

In addition, you can always go for ultralight spinning reels for lightweight fishing applications.

  1. Bait Casting Reel

Bait Casting Reel


Most professional anglers prefer using bait casting reels since they are packed with a couple of impressive features. Plus, bait casters are quite advantageous. First, the spool rotates when you release the fishing line as you cast. What’s more, the rotating spool allows for a great casting distance unlike other types of fishing reels. Besides, the line will not twist during the entire casting process.

Most fishers love the bait caster as it casts a greater distance. Bait casting reel is equally accurate and precise when it comes to casting. This makes it an excellent choice for casting lures closer to cover. In addition, there’s a wide variety to choose from since bait casters usually come in a range of sizes.

You can choose from the different sizes available on the market depending on your fishing style ranging from heavy saltwater fishing to lightweight fishing applications. The low-profile bait caster is the most common variant in this category. It’s relatively small owing to its reduced size and ultra-compact oval spool which makes it perfect for lighter spin fishing. Plus, you can use it for an extended period since its lightweight and features a user-friendly design.

Just like other types of fishing reels, bait casting reels also have their own disadvantages. The main drawback is that bait casting reels are a bit difficult to use as compared to its counterparts. This is especially hard for beginners since using it inappropriately can result in bait caster birds nest during the casting process. However, you can perfect the art with a little practice. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

You’ll be able to utilize the bait casting reel without issues once you are conversant with different parts and how to use them.

Generally, bait casting reels provide great control and power during the casting process as compared to other types of fishing reel. Plus, bait casters are equally lightweight. However, the angler needs to have more skills than that required when using a spinning reel. This means that they are not best suited for beginners.

  1. Spin Casting Reel


Spin casting reels are ideal for beginners since they are easy to use. The best thing about spin casters is that they fall on the lower side of the pricing spectrum making it an excellent choice for casual fishers. A spin cast reel is one of the greatest ways of starting out your kid on fishing as a hobby. The spool cover of a spin caster is usually closed, covering the fishing line. You’ll need to use the release mechanism with a push of a button to cast the lure.

The release mechanism typically handles the most complicated tasks with ease without compromising on its performance. However, spin casting reels are usually relatively small and this tends to limit the field of fishing applications. They work perfectly well for light fresh water fishing as opposed to handling bigger fish and other saltwater applications.

The closed spool cover causes friction during the cast. This means that you can’t the lure very far with a spin caster. Generally, spin casting reels are best suited for those looking to begin their angling career. Spin casters are not only user-friendly but also convenient ideal for catching smaller fish species. You can always switch to other advanced types of fishing reels once you take your fishing passion a notch higher.

  1. Fly Fishing Reel


Fly fishing reels are uniquely designed to allow the user to cast lightweight lures. Just as the name suggests, fly reels are usually used for fishing along with paper light artificial fly lures. To cast this weightless lure perfectly well, you’ll need to use the fishing line’s weight for casting as opposed to the lure’s weight. To make all this possible, the fly line is strong and thick more like a slender rope as compared to the fishing line.

The fly reel design is almost identical to that of the center pin reel. The center pin reels were used in the past but are not currently available on the market. A fly fishing reel comes with a rotating spool that usually rotates around the center pin. Plus, it handles thick fly fishing lines quite well thanks to its unique design.

In the past, fly fishing reels didn’t have a drag system. This means that the user had to press their thumb onto the spool to apply the drag which is not the case with the advanced one. Currently, most fly fishing reels usually come a drag system.

Fly fishing reels are available in a range of strengths and sizes specially designed for different types of fish. Fly reels can comfortably handle different sizes of fish ranging from salmon to brook trout. By now, you already know there are different types of fishing but this particular one was reserved for salmonid species in the past. However, it was adapted to other scenarios such as saltwater fishing for an array of species including trevally and mackerel.

  1. Offshore Reel


An offshore reel is a powerful large spinning reel with long-lasting durability. These reels thrive even in the harshest of conditions that would normally wreck other types of fishing reels. It includes battling strong fish like sailfish and tuna. The best thing about offshore reels is that they are usually rust proof and corrosion resistant which makes them ideal for saltwater fishing.

Offshore reels are quite expensive since they are designed to handle most heavy-duty fishing applications without wrecking. If you are looking for a high-quality fishing reel available on the market and the price tag is no object then an offshore reel is your best bet. You’ll have this reel to thank especially if you are looking to catch bigger fish species on the ocean. It’s not only high performing but also quite effective and efficient.

  1. Trolling Fishing Reel – Conventional Reel

Trolling Fishing Reel – Conventional Reel


The trolling fishing reel is also known as a big game reel or conventional reel. It’s best suited for deep sea fishing and offshore trolling for larger fish species such as sailfish and marlin. You can use it for heavy-duty freshwater trolling for muskie and salmon.

The trolling fishing reel features a simple design and a rotating spool. It’s typically built for strength and size with the ability to hold a robust braided line. Most anglers love the smooth yet powerful drag system that handles extended battles effortlessly with strong and large fish. What’s more, it has a larger capacity for heavier pound braid save for the sturdy brake system that you can adjust easily using a star system or lever.

In addition, the trolling reel is packed with some impressive features including the dual speed system. This allows you to switch to lower speed when battling strong fish and high speed when retrieving the lure rapidly.

  1. Surf Casting Reel


A surf casting reel is not quite distinct but a variant of types of reels made for surf fishing. Surf casting reels are also known as saltwater casting reels. This means that they can either be a modified bait caster or a spinning reel with a greater casting performance. Most surf casting reels with a bait caster design usually have a large round spool to hold a significant amount of line. This makes it perfect for long distance casting.

Surf casting reels can handle heavier line strength and overcome the toughest of conditions in a saltwater environment. Those made of graphite are usually corrosion resistant. You can also opt for the anodized aluminum variant with corrosive and rust-proof properties. Ensure you wipe it off and spray after use.

Save for withstanding corrosion, a surf casting reel should provide a long casting ability and high line capacity. When it comes to a surf fishing bait caster, you can achieve this with a larger round spool that can hold the length of the fishing line effortlessly. Use a surf fishing line along with a rod specially designed for surf casting for best results.

A surf fishing reel should be relatively heavy to handle strong fish species like striped bass, sharks and rays.

Which is the Best Type of Fishing Reel?

As earlier mentioned, there are different types of fishing reels and each one of them serves different purposes. This means that the best one depends on a number of things including the type of fishing and other personal specifications. Plus they all have their own strengths and weaknesses.

However, you need to know which type of fishing you plan on doing since it plays a significant role when it comes to choosing the best type of fishing reel. For instance, a medium or small sized spinner reel or a bait casting reel in the same size will come in handy if you are doing bass spin fishing. Choose a reel with the right line capacity and strength for best results.

Comparison between a Spinning Reel and Bait Caster

Which type of fishing reel is better between the bait caster and spinning reel? This question doesn’t have a definite answer since both work remarkably well and are designed to serve different purposes. Besides, each of them has their own advantages and disadvantages. For instance, spinning reels are heavier than bait casters. The latter, on the other hand, are more accurate and precise when it comes to casting. Plus, they cover a greater casting distance.

Spinning reels are not only easy to use but also highly versatile and equally affordable.

Types of Reels for Saltwater Fishing

Different types of fishing reels are used for different purposes but the most common ones for saltwater include:

  • Surf casting reels
  • Offshore reels
  • Conventional reels

Offshore reels are usually larger spinning reels with corrosive properties to withstand the harshest of saltwater conditions. Conventional reels, on the other hand, are big round bait casters. However, you can use any type of fishing reel for saltwater fishing and that includes small spinning reels, spin cast reels and low-profile bait casters. You need to take proper care of them since they are not designed for fishing in this type of environment.

In addition, you can use a fly fishing reel for different saltwater applications since some anglers use fly fishing to catch tarpon and redfish. You can also use it to catch other related fish species that usually feed along the shores and in shallow waters.

However, you should always go for a fishing reel with corrosive properties when saltwater fishing. These features are sealed reel frame, sealed ball bearings and stainless steel parts. Premium quality fishing reels are corrosion resistant to withstand a full immersion in the water without spoiling. A traditional fishing reel will seize up under the same circumstances.


The type of fishing will help you decide on the best type of fishing reel to suit your needs. Getting the right unit for the type of reel fishing you plan on doing is equally important as it plays a significant role in your success. Plus, you’ll not only have fun but also a better fishing experience.

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