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Fishing Reel Basics for Beginners - Spinning Vs Baitcasting Reels

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Fishing is not only just an adventure sport but also a great stress buster. And before you stuff your paraphernalia into your sack, you need to ensure that you have a good reel along with other equally important gears. In this article, we will talk about fishing reel basics of the two most popular types of fishing reels in the market, the Spinning Reel and the Baitcasting Reel.

The use of fishing reel dates back to 1195 AD when it was hand-wound. In days of yore, the reel was attached to a bamboo pole to house the fishing line. Until 1800s reels were more like a storage place for fishing lines. In 1820, George Snyder of Kentucky invented the first fishing reel in America. It was a baitcasting fishing reel that quickly gained popularity among American anglers.


However baitcasting fishing reel at that time had a problem that they were not great for casting light lures. Albert Holden Illingworth a British businessman and politician, invented the modern form of fixed-spool spinning reel in 1905. In this system as the line didn’t pull against a rotating spool, it allowed much lighter lures to be cast. Both these reels have now over a 100 years of design and technology behind them and are much more evolved than what they started off.

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Fishing Reel basics: Types of Reels

The market is flooded with different kinds of reels, but as we mentioned earlier, choose the reel depending on the species or type of fish you aim to target. Since this is an essential guide to fishing for beginners, we will stick to two primary and most commonly used reels–Spinning Reel and Bait Casting Reel.

Fishing Reel Basics: Spinning Reel

Also known as ‘Spinners’, ‘Thread lines’ or ‘Eggbeaters’, Spinning Reel is the most commonly used fishing reel. Being fitted underneath the rod makes it a clever combination suitable for lure casting and bait fishing. A spinning reel fishing rod is useful in targeting a broad range of fish species. Owing to their simple mechanism, spinning reels are often recommended to novice anglers as they eliminate tangle-producing backlashes.

Spinning Reel Parts

Spinning Reel Parts

  1. Handle: Handles on either side of the reel’s body allow the angler to swap sides for left- or right-handed operations to retrieve the line and the fish.
  2. Body: The reel body is made of plastic for the benefit of economics. However, graphite or aluminium may also be used.
  3. Anti-Reverse Switch: It is designed to prevent the reel from rotating backwards.
  4. Drag Adjustment Knob: It refers to a set of washers that hold the spool to the shaft. The adjustment knob increases or decreases the amount of friction or drag applied.
  5. Bail: The bail is a semi-circular section of wire attached to the body. It is flipped forward to release the line for casting. When the handle is rotated to retrieve the line, the bail is automatically flipped back to its starting point.
  6. Spool: The spool holds the line and is wrapped around its axis. The spool is rotated when the line is retrieved and freely rotates during the cast.
  7. Line Roller: The line will pass through the roller and then will go through the guides of the Rod.

Fishing Reel basics Choosing a Reel

Before investing in the reel, ask yourself two fundamental questions—where you are fishing and what you are fishing. Like rods, fishing reels also have various weight ranges. Thus, it is imperative to balance the weight of the reel to the weight of your rod. A balanced kit will make fishing a fun-filled and trouble-free leisure or a sporting event.

Spinning reels are numbered to distinguish between their different models. These sizes are presented in 1000’s, 100’s or double digits. Following is a guide to the Spinning reel sizes

  • 1000-3500 (or 10-35): These are small reels ideal for smaller target species and lighter rods.
  • 4000-5500 (or 40-55): These are medium-sized and suitable for a snapper or barramundi-style rod.
  • 6000-9500 (or 65-90): These are larger sized reels and are suitable for a variety of rod sizes. They are even suitable for heavy and surf/rock fishing rods.
  • 10,000-20,000 : These are the largest hand held reels and are only meant for very heaving fishing esp. in offshore fishing. When fish go over 1okg plus, are are diving for the reefs, this is what will stop them in their run.

Fishing Reel Basics: Baitcasting Reel

Bait casting reel is designed exclusively for a baitcasting rod. Like spinning reels, they are also quite versatile but are recommended for experienced anglers. Once mastered, they offer excellent control when handling a fish and increased accuracy while casting the line.

baitcasting reel parts

Baitcasting Reel Parts

  1. Spool: It is where the line is stored. Though it does not perform any particular function, all the parts of the reel are related to the spool.
  2. Brake: It is used to control the speed of the spool. Without it, angling will become difficult, as brake settings stop the reel from spinning when your lure touches the bottom.
  3. Drag Set: It is a small wheel located on the side of the spool that monitors how quickly the line is pulled from the spool. The key function of a drag is to provide flexibility of increasing the drag while fighting the fish.
  4. Line Guide: The line guide places the line evenly across the spool while reeling in.
  5. Spool tensioner: This is to control the speed at which the spool will rotate
  6. Spool Release button: When pressed down it will allow the spool to rotate freely, releasing the line. Rotating the reel handle will make it snap back into its original position, locking the spool.

There are two types of reel designs:

Round Profile : These hold more line, thus making it ideal for species that try to wriggle out by swimming distances and for casting longer lures.

Baitcasting reel Round profile

Low profile : These are ideal for sports fishing as they allow the angler to cast and retrieve while palming the reel. They are light and comfortable for casting for long periods. The spool tensioning knob in such reels allow the angler to loosen or tighten the spool’s rotation. This avoids backlash, a.k.a., ‘bird’s nest’ .

Baitcasting Reel Low profile

Fishing Reel Basics: Maintaining Your Reel

Reel maintenance is critical. Without regular maintenance, the moving parts of the reel will get damaged, and the bearings might begin to wear out. To avoid this, here are a few ways in which anglers can maintain their reels:

  • Reels can corrode if left on the rod for too long. Therefore, they should be taken off and not be attached to the rod for more extended periods.
  • While cleaning, don’t fully immerse the reel into the water. You need to prevent the water from getting into the drag mechanism by making sure the drag on the reel is tightened.
  • Use a rag and warm soapy water to wipe the reel dry. This will get the impurities, like salt or bait remains, off the reel.
  • Spray the reel with a moisture repellent. Specifically, the handle, the lever, the bait arm and any other moveable part. If the reel seat is made of metal, spray that as well. This will get rid of any impurities that may have gotten into the reel.

It’s crucial to choose the right reel as per your fishing type. Some prefer Baitcasting whereas others prefer Spinning reel. Whichever you choose, the skills will defer and so make sure you master that type. Post that, depending on the kind Here, your fishing type includes the kind of fish you’re targeting and the type of rod that you will use. All the three factors are equally important. A good reel helps you handle the fish better and in turn, will let you land many.

Related: Also read about Fishing Line Basics for Beginners to understand all about the different types of fishing lines.


Happy Fishing!

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