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Using Spinning Rod and Reel: Fishing for Beginners

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Have you decided to learn the art of fishing? Great, you have come to the right post! To become the best angler, you need to make fishing rod and reel a part of your hands! In angling, using spinning rod and reel the right way are important for casting the bait, attracting fish, and pulling the fish once it has fallen for the bait.

Now, you might be worrying about the expenses and the necessary costs of buying the best fishing rods. But actually, less expensive, medium-price range rods will serve your purpose all the same! You may find the process of setting up and using spinning rod and reel a bit complex in the beginning, but as you learn the tactics, you’ll get confident about fishing more than ever! In this article, we’ll discuss everything about a spinning rod and reel, how to set up a spinning reel, and how to use the spinning setup.

Quick introduction to Types of Fishing Rods and Reel

There are different types of fishing rods built to suit your needs and the kind of fish you want to catch. These include, Spinning Rods, Fly Rods, Casting Rods, Sea Fishing Rods, Ice Fishing Rods, Surf Rods, Telescopic Rods, Trolling Rods, and Jigging Rods.

Spinning Rods are small, light, and easy to use, best-suited for amateur anglers. Casting Rods are similar to Spinning Rods, differing in the size of the eye. Fly Rods are flexible and thin, with specialized eyes and mainly used for fly fishing.

While Ice Fishing Rods are used for ice fishing, Sea Fishing Rods are for fishing in the ocean. Telescopic and Pen Rods are compact ones, for easy transportation and unexpected fishing opportunities. Lastly, Trolling Rods are heavily built, mainly used for dragging the lure on a moving boat, for fishing larger species.

When it come to reels there are basically two types – Overhead reels and Fixed spool reels. Common type of overhead reels are baitcasting reels, Multiplier reels, Trolling Reels etc. The fixed spool reels is also popularly known as the spinning reel. As the name suggests the Overhead reel is placed over the rod and the line runs above the rod. Whereas the fixed spool reel is placed below the rod and the line runs under the rod. Both have their own pros and cons.

The most popular and easy combination for beginners is the spinning rod and reel. We will talk more about these now.

The Spinning Rod

spinning rod for fishing
A spinning rod is basically a type of fishing rod, made from graphite or fiberglass with a cork or PVC foam handle. It has around 5 to 8 guides to assist in controlling the line and the guides have to face downwards to the ground. There are different properties of rods like length, power and action which come into use in different situations.

If you want to understand all about the properties of fishing rods, we have a detailed article on Fishing Rod for Beginners – Basics to Know Before Starting

The Spinning Reel

spinning reels, how to use spinning rod,
A spinning reel is also called as a fixed-spool reel. Unlike a baitcasting fishing reel, a spinning reel is usually placed below the rod. The position of the reel conforms to gravity and enables the angler to maintain the reel in position, without any wrist strength.

Another important feature in the spinning reel that would make your fish activity smooth and easy is the ball bearings. Instead on focusing of how many bearings are required for the reel, look out for the quality of the bearings, that is check for impeccable tolerance factor with high performance.

Now that you know about spinning reel, then how about reading on Spinning Reels Vs Baitcasting Reels

Using Spinning Rod and Reel – Setting it up

Let’s move forward to setting them a spinning rod and reel. Here are the steps –

how to set up a spinning reel
Setting spinning reel Source

Connecting the Reel to Rod

The first step involved in this process is to connect the rod and the reel. First, the reel seat must be loosened so much so that the reel foot can fit into it. The reel seat can be found just above the handle of the rod. Once you place the reel foot in the seat, tighten the loosened reel seat until it’s fixed firmly.

Reel Spooling

spinning reel

After connecting the reel and the rod comes one of the most crucial steps- putting the line on, or spooling. If it’s not done properly, not only will you have trouble reeling, but you may also end up losing your prey.

  • To do this, first open the bail and then wind the line around the reel, just one time (you will now have two pieces of the line).
  • Then tie a standard knot with the two pieces and another knot from the resulting pieces. Now cut off the line’s loose piece at about ¼ inches away from the reel.
  • After that, you need to close the bail, hold the line at least one foot away from the reel (to prevent tangling), and keep turning the reel until the required length of the line is on the reel.

Line setup – Stringing the Rod

fishing line setup
String the fishing reel Source

After spooling comes another important part i.e; setting up the line.

  • First, grab the line’s tip with one hand and open the bail with your other hand and let the line pass behind the roller.
  • Then, make sure the line goes through each rod guide starting from the bottom and working your way to the tip top. Be careful not to let go of the line because it can easily slip back through the guides.
  • Ensure you don’t miss any guide on the way to the top. Once through the tip top guide, pull out around 3 feet of extra line and then tie a hook or a lure to the end of the line


fishing knots
Fishing knot Source

Tying a knot is a vital skill that largely dictates the rate of success with your prized catch. Over a period of time you will settle on a few favourite knots which you can tie expertly and also give you confidence of not coming off. While it might seem complicated, but it is extremely important that you master this skill as it will come in very handy.

There are a variety of knots to learn over a period of time and this is because its application is in different situations like – Line to hook or lure, line to line, line to leader, line to snaps and split rings etc. Some of the popular knots are the Palomar knot, Uni knot, Improved Clinch knot.


We have compiled the simplest knots for beginners in this article – Best fishing knots: 5 Simple Knots for Beginners

Drag Knob Set-Up

The final part of the procedure is setting the drag knob. Start by turning the knob clockwise to tighten (or anti-clockwise to loosen). While doing so, you can pull the line manually to determine the effect of the drag. This has to be repeated until you’ve reached the intensity of drag that you require.

Setting the drag knob on a spinning reel

The right intensity depends on the fish being targeted. For example if you are targeting fish which tend to jump out of the water and thrash around a lot, you would want to set the drag a bit loose, if you are looking to target fish which like going for a long run then you would want to set the drag right. There are factors like the proximity of reefs or structures under water where the fish can hide and cut off the line, in which case you would want the drag to be tight so as not to allow the fish to reach that place.

At times you have to consider how thick or thin is the the lip/mouth of the fish, as the hook could come off by tearing the membrane with a tight drag if the area is very thin and if the area is very hard and bony then you will need a tight drag to get a good hookset. Find out the drag intensity from an experienced angler or simply set the drag a little loose to prevent line breakage or hook coming off and slowly tighten it during the fight. Managing the drag is another skill that you will master over a period of time.

Using Spinning Rod and Reel – Casting, Reeling and Fighting

We just learned all about reel and rod. Now it’s time to expertise on how to use spinning rod and reel.


Cast a spell on your fish by learning how to cast!

While casting the bait with a spinning rod, make sure that you allow about 1 or 1.5 feet of the line to hang freely from the tip. Also, make sure that the rod is held some inches above the base of the reel and the line that’s parallel to the rod.

casting a spinning rod
Casting bait Source

Using the index finger of the hand holding the rod, pull the line so that it is gets support. Open the bail arm with the other hand and position the rod leaning backwards over your head with the bait dangling behind you. Be careful about who is behind you before taking that position. You don’t want to accidentally hook anyone around you.

Then swing your rod quickly towards the target and let go of your index finger halfway through the cast. Practice this a few times to get the direction, distance and release timing right. You will know you are getting better as you get close to your target area with each cast. Once the lure lands on the water, first you’ll have to close the bail and then start reeling it in. If you don’t close the bail, the reeling will have no effect and your lure will remain at the same place.

Reeling and Imparting Lure Action

Choosing the right lure for the target fish is important because the main purpose of the lure is to deceive the fish, by imitating movements of its natural prey. Hence, there are a wide range of lure action available for different types of fish. The type, size, and species of your prey also play a vital role in choosing the lure.

The technique for reeling (to deceive the fish with the bait) is different for different types of lures. You have to turn the reel handle with jerks and pauses in the middle (a useful tactic to give erratic action to the lure) to impart action to the lure. Some of the popular techniques are – the Straight retrieve, Walk the Dog, Twitching, Jerking and Jigging.

We have covered this topic in-depth in the article – Lure Action – Retrieval Technique Basics to Increase Your Catch Rate

Hook Setting, Fighting and Landing Fish

As easy as it may sound, setting the hook is probably one of the most crucial steps involved in fishing. If you manage to get it right, then you can brag about ‘how you caught that big fish’. However, if you somehow get it wrong, then you will have to remember your own ‘how you lost the big fish’ story.

Hook setting is all about feeling the bites, timing, managing slack line and the right rod action. While fighting is all about knowing when to let the fish run and when to reel it in. Reeling in a fish also requires a right technique called ‘Pumping’.

You can still lose the fish while landing even after successfully hooking and fighting it. When the fish is near your feet it will give it last fight thrashing and jumping around, this is when you have to be most careful as the rod and the line can also break. A great way to land a fish safely is to use a landing net.

Learn all about this part in the article – Setting the Hook, Fighting and Landing – Fishing Basics

You now know how to use a fishing rod, how to set up a spinning reel, and the basics of using spinning rod and reel. You’ll now be much more confident about angling and the various notations used, isn’t it? Once you master the above steps, we assure you, you will be a pro at fishing!

So there’s nothing to hold you back. Drop all your worries, set up your fishing kit, and gear up for a wonderful fishing experience.

To know all about different fishing techniques in the ocean, read Saltwater Fishing 101 – Spinning, Bait Fishing, Surf Fishing, Popping, Jigging, Trolling

Did you find the article useful? Please give your feedback in the comments below and we would love to hear what your first fishing experience was like.

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