Reeling It In: Exploring Different Types of Fishing Reels

Maya Brown

March 20, 2023

Reels and Rods

Choosing among different types of fishing reels is an age-old dilemma, and the task is only getting more complicated as the available options grow in numbers and features. Knowing the ins and outs of each type is crucial in setting up a successful fishing experience. So, to clear the air and make it easier for you, here’s a compiled overview of different fishing reels and their optimal use.

There are three basic types of fishing reels – spincast, spinning, and baitcast reels. The first two can serve well as beginner gear, but that doesn’t mean more experienced enthusiasts shy away from using them. Besides these, there are a few more reel types that are designed for specific fishing styles and circumstances. These are the fly fishing reel, the offshore reel, the trolling or conventional reel, the surfcasting, and the centrepin reel.

It’s Simple – There Are Many Different Types of Fishing Reels Because There Are Many Different Styles of Fishing

Any beginner fisherman can be easily overwhelmed by just how much there is to learn about this outdoor activity. There are so many different types and so-fish-ticated styles of fishing, and the situation doesn’t get much simpler when it comes to the equipment. Each part of the gear comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, and the fishing reel is no different.

There’s No One-Size-Fits-All Fishing Reel – Here Are the Most Important Questions to Ask While Choosing the Right Type

No matter if you’re just starting to dip your toes into the fishing waters or if you’re a seasoned veteran, it can be difficult to figure out which fishing reel to get next. There’s just no ultimate option that will catch you all the fish in the sea.

So, to help you get closer to your final decision, here are a few important questions you need to think about when looking through options:

  • What style of fishing are you interested in?
  • What is your level of experience in handling fishing equipment?
  • What other equipment are you interested in or already have?
  • How long do you want to use your fishing reel?
  • How much are you willing to spend on it?

The Spincast Reel Has a Simple Design, Which Makes It Perfect for Beginners of the Sport

With its simple and basic design, as well as low cost, the spincast reel is ideal for anyone that is just getting into the sport. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not used by more experienced fishers – many of them learn the craft by using the spincast reel and continue to do so for a long time.

The Simple Design of the Spincast Reel Makes It Easy to Handle and Cast

The spincast reel has the most basic design out of all of the available options. With a metal nose cone and a button on the back used for controlling the line, angling doesn’t get easier than this. You need to simply push the button when throwing your cast and release it until you’ve got the desired length out.

Last but not least, on the side of the spincast reel, there is a drag adjustment mechanism, which allows you to adjust the resistance the fish feels once it’s caught on your fish hook. So, the simple design consists of only a few parts that are very easy to use. The only downside would be that the spincast reel has a limited casting range, which makes it not suitable for all fishing styles, and it’s also not as precise as other, more-advanced reels.

Reeling It In Exploring Different Types Of Fishing Reels
Spincast reels are a perfect choice for beginners

The Spinning Reel Is by Far the Most Popular Option Out There

The spinning reel is a bit more difficult to handle than the spincast reel, but it’s much more durable and efficient. Because of that, it’s probably the most popular option among all of the different types. Suitable for the more committed beginners and the reel of choice for many fishing enthusiasts who swear by it, there are many reasons why the spinning reel is a fan favorite.

The Spinning Reel Is a Very Efficient and Durable Choice

Spinning reels are easy to recognize because they are attached to the bottom of the fishing rod. With an open-face design and a metal bail used to lock the fishing line, the overall design offers great balance while angling, all while holding the equipment in a natural position.

The spinning reel is not only an efficient and durable choice – it also gives you the versatility you need if you like to switch things up once in a while. Using your finger to hold the fishing line, you can simply cast it out or even drop it all the way to the bottom for some jigging. With some commitment and a little bit of patience, any beginner can master handling the spinning reel.

It’s a Very Capable Piece of Fishing Equipment, and That’s Why It’s So Popular

As mentioned, spinning reels are very versatile – they work great both with smaller baits and lures, as well as with bigger catches and a number of different habitats. That’s because they can produce serious pulling power when combined with a strong, thin line, and they also have impressive casting range. Add their reasonable pricing, that’s somewhere between $50 and $150, to the mix, and you’ll easily understand why spinning reels are so popular.

Person holding a spinning reel
Spinning reels are the most popular type because they are durable and versatile

Baitcasting Reels Are an Efficient Choice Suitable for the More Experienced Enthusiasts

Out of the three basic types of fishing reels, the baitcaster is the most advanced and difficult to get the hang of. There are more moving parts than with the spincast or spinning reel, and that’s why it can be almost impossible for beginners to figure out. However, mastering the baitcasting reel comes with many rewards, as it’s unmatched in both precision and power.

The Baitcasting Reel Has a Durable Design Made From Many Advanced Mechanisms

The baitcast reel sits on top of the fishing rod, and it has a semi-enclosed design which provides a more durable design. There’s the drag mechanism, the spool tension knob, and the braking system. This smart design increases casting distance and betters the accuracy, and with it, you’ll surely end up with a lot of fishy surprises, even when you’re angling near shorelines or in weeds.

There’s No Such Thing as the Perfect Fishing Reel – The Baitcaster Comes With a Few Drawbacks

All those advanced mechanisms and a variety of options come with a few drawbacks. First things first, it’s the price – the baitcasting reel is the most expensive choice, ranging from $100 to $500 for quality equipment. Secondly, with so many ways to use it, mastering all the techniques can be difficult. But, for those that are dedicated and stick to the craft, the baitcast reel might turn out to be your one true love. Just prepare yourself to do lots of detangling until you’re there.

Man holding a baitcasting reel
Baitcast reels are very popular among the more experienced enthusiasts

Pros and Cons of the Three Basic Types of Fishing Reels

Before we get into the more specific types of fishing reels, here’s a brief overview of the pros and cons of the three basic types I’ve just discussed:

Type of Fishing Reel Pros Cons
Spincast Budget-friendly and very easy to cast Limited casting range and prone to fast wear-and-tear
Spinning Quality design and easy to cast Limited weight of other fishing gear
Baitcast Strong, durable, and works in most circumstances Expensive and difficult to master

There Are a Few More Options Suitable for Specific Locations and Styles of Fishing

Now that you o-fish-ally know all of the ins and outs of the three basic types of fishing reels, let’s take a look at some of the more specific equipment:

Angling With Fly Fishing Reels Is a Very Interesting Experience

Fly fishing is such an interesting way of landing a catch that some even consider it an art form. It’s a relaxing and peaceful activity in the great outdoors that’s all about creating an impression of a fly and its natural movements. That’s why the fly fishing reel is designed to handle both the lightweight lure and thick fishing line, as well as the leader and tippet.

There’s a wide variety of fly fishing reels when it comes to size and strength, but also when it comes to the circumstances you’re planning to angle in. That’s why it’s important to figure out your intention with this piece of equipment beforehand – for example, are you planning to do saltwater fly fishing or maybe even try out a special technique called nymph fly fishing?

Offshore Reels Are Perfect for Deep-Sea Fishing

Offshore reels are designed basically in the same way as spinning reels, but larger and more powerful. That makes them perfect for angling in the wide-open ocean or sea, far away from the shore. As they must perform well in tough conditions that would wreck other types of reels, they need to be extremely durable, and that obviously comes with a price.

Offshore reels are some of the priciest on the market, but anyone interested in deep-sea fishing just can’t miss out on this impressive piece of gear. Similar to fly fishing reels, they are categorized according to different weights and sizes, so it’s important to know what your plans are before going ahead and making the final purchase.

Trolling Fishing Reel Is Also Fit for Open-Ocean Catches

If you’re interested in a deep-fishing adventure, a trolling reel is also an excellent choice, especially for larger sea creatures such as tuna. Sometimes referred to as simply the conventional fishing reel, this type of equipment is impressively strong and durable in order to withstand even the largest of catches fighting back.

When it comes to trolling reels, there’s a wide range of choices and customization options depending on what exactly you want to use it for. As the name suggests, they are specially designed for trolling or bottom deep-sea fishing. However, they work great in many different circumstances, such as freshwater trolling for muskies or salmon.

Surfcasting Fishing Reels Also Work Great for Saltwater Angling

Technically speaking, surfcasting fishing reels are not a distinct type but rather a modified version of the spinning or baitcast fishing reels. They are designed for harsh conditions and extreme temperatures, and with their impressive long-distance casting range, surfcasting reels are perfect for saltwater fishing in the open sea.

Centerpin Reels Are Designed Specifically for Float Fishing

While they can be compared to the ones used for fly fishing, centrepin reels are much larger in size, which makes them the perfect choice for those interested in float fishing. They can cast long-distance and provide a drag-free presentation perfect for this style of fishing. There is a wide range of options, and you can customize yours according to specific circumstances.

Knowing What You Plan to Use the Fishing Reel for Will Help You Find the Best Choice for You

By now, it’s pretty clear that there are several different types of fishing reels available. Knowing exactly what you want to do with it will be the biggest help in narrowing down the selection. A beginner fisher should opt for an easy-to-handle spincast or spinning reel, while a true professional will always have a couple on hand. With the right equipment, you’re bound to end up with a fishy surprise!