Most Common Fishing Reels: The Complete Guide

Most Common Fishing Reels: The Complete Guide

If you are new to fishing, the various types of fishing reels on offer can be confusing. Equipping your rod with the right reel is important, as each type of reel requires a different skill level and function. In general, there are 4 types of reels: Spinning Cast, Lure Casting, Spinning, and Flying Reels. To help you choose the right reel, we’ve listed each type and its functional benefits for your fishing style and skill level.

Types of Fishing Reels

Spinning Reels

Spinning Reel

Spinning reels are probably the most popular type of reel in the industry. Combined with efficiency and durability, you can fish a spinning reel in a number of ways. Whether you like jigging or casting, spinning reels give you the versatility you need to finish fishing reels one at a time. The spinning reels sit under your rod for a balanced feel, and they feature an open design and metal shackle to keep your line from unhooking. Using your fingers to hold the line against your rod, you can loosen the shackle and either throw the line out or throw it to the bottom for a shake.

  • Features 

Most people think of them as open spinning reels because they have the same design as spin casts, except for the cone that covers the spool. The spinning reel has a spool in the middle, a drag knob on top, and a metal ring that you can use to lock and unlock the cord.

The lift arm is also important because it will guide the line back onto the spool valve rather than through the small hole in the top of the pickup pan.

Another big difference with spinning reels is that they are operated from the bottom of the rod and the eyelets are also on the bottom. Spincast and baitcasting reels are placed on top of the stick.

  • Pros & Cons

Spinning reels are powerful fishing equipment. They are equally effective on baits and smaller ones and are a good choice for many species and habitats. Combined with the thin but strong braided wire, they also create some strong pulls.

Once you get the hang of it, spinning the reels can give you impressive pitching distances. High-quality fish tanks cost anywhere from $50 to $150 and are the golden choice for most anglers.

Spinners can be a great all-around option, but they’re not all sunshine and rainbows. If you’re not careful when handling your bail, you can easily get into trouble. Another downside is that you can only use the lighter gear. Once you start loading spinners with heavier baits and lines, their performance drops significantly.

  • Should I Use a Spinning Reel?

The short answer is yes, most anglers should have at least one spinning reel. Throwing with a spinning reel provides more control than spinning a casting reel, and anglers of all skill levels can learn to throw with distance and accuracy more easily with a spinning reel than with other throwing reels, although this still requires some practice. You can use a spinning reel from light jigs for pan fishing to heavy baits for throwing musk, so it’s likely to be a staple in your collection. If you’re using a spinning reel for the first time, it’s important to make sure your line is properly wound onto the spinning reel, as incorrect winding can become a real headache. Luckily, if you’re not quite comfortable with your own line, many spinning reels and spinning combinations come pre-wound.

Spincast Reels

Spincast Reels

Spincast reels are another great casting option. The spincast reel is probably the easiest to control, making it a favorite among young people and beginners. Many anglers learn to fish with a spinning reel and continue to use it even after they have mastered it. The closed-cone design makes it nearly impossible to tangle your lines, and the push-button controls are nearly foolproof. Just press the button, cast your cast, and release the button to let the wire come out. Once you have released the number of lines you want, simply press the button again to stop the release. While you may not be able to cast as far as you can with other reels, the spincast reel is so easy to operate that you hardly have to worry about any reel mechanics.

  • Features 

Most of us recognize that a spin casting reel is a reel with a closed surface and a metal cone on top. This hides everything inside the reel, including the fishing line, gear, and spool. This helps keep water, dirt, and anything else out of the spool. As such, these types of reels tend to last a while and don’t require much maintenance over time.

The spin casting reel also comes with a simple drag mechanism that is controlled using a slider knob. You can increase or decrease the pressure, depending on the tackle you’re using and the fish you’re targeting.

  • Pros & Cons

The two main advantages of using a spincast reel are that it is very easy to operate and rarely causes tangles in the line. Other than that, they are the cheapest way to fish out there. Right now, you can get a spincast reel for just $20.

Swivel casters also have some “x-factor”. These reels may be the starting point for the average middle-aged angler to start a fishing career, so you can bet it has a big place in their hearts!

Spincast reels may be cheap and easy to operate, but they do have some drawbacks.

First, their closed-face design tends to trap water and debris inside the roll, potentially damaging it over time. Second, most swivel casters don’t do very well and hardly last more than a season. Third, and probably most important, rotary casters have a limited casting range and are not as precise as other types of reels.

  • Should I Use a Spincast Reel?

Beginners, youth, and weekend warriors turn to the spincast reel for quick and easy action while targeting smaller fish. They’re also one of the most affordable options if you’re not a frequent angler. As you get more serious or start searching for trophy game fish, other reel types will suit you better, but the spincast reel is never a bad option to have on hand for casual fishing.

Baitcast Reels

Baitcast Reel

The Baitcast reel sits on top of your rod and requires thumb guidance to keep the line from unhooking. One of the key features of a baitcast reel is that the spool spins at the same time the wire is released, so there is less chance of the wire twisting than when casting a spinning reel. The rotation of the spool helps to increase the casting distance, allowing the baitcast reel to cast farther and more accurately than other casting reels available. With more control over casting distance and location, baitcast reels are an excellent choice for casting near weeds and shorelines.

  • Features 

From the foundation, a casting reel sits on top of the rod with eyelets running on top. It is semi-enclosed with a limited area where water and debris can enter. This is because many people use baitcasters for saltwater fishing, so it’s best to keep sand and salt from getting inside.

The drag mechanism is on top, but most bait reels come with two extra knobs or adjustments that you won’t find on other reels.

They come with a spool tension knob and brake controls as well.

The spool tension knob is one of the most challenging aspects to learn.

It prevents the spool from turning faster than the line can fly off it.

  • Pros & Cons

Bait reels are the most powerful fishing reels out there. They can handle heavier lines and produce a lot of traction, making them a great choice for chasing big fish. The bait launcher also lets you feel the rope as it stretches out, so you can stop it exactly when you need to.

Last but not least, decoy launchers are highly customizable. Whether you’re pulling bottom fish out of heavy coverings or casting shots for bass, this reel will do it.

A tricky issue with using a bait launcher is that different weight lures require different spool tension and brake system settings. This means that the settings have to be adjusted every time the bait is changed. They take a little getting used to, so if you’re just starting out, they’re not the best option.

Another downside is the price. With high-quality setups ranging from $100 to $500, bait launchers are the most expensive fishing reels you can find. They make up for that in performance, though—you just need to know if they’re right for you.

  • Should I Use a Baitcast Reel?

If casting will be your primary method of fishing, you should be familiar with baitcast reels. Baitcast reels come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the most common and popular type is the low-profile Baitcast reel, which is lightweight and easy to use for a variety of casting applications. Baitcast reels take more time to master than other reels, but once you become familiar with how to operate them, they may become your favorite reels for long shots.


Fishing reels come in all shapes and sizes. Each of the three reel types we explored offers its own set of models and designs that will leave you pretty much spoiled. However, one reel cannot catch all the fish in the sea.

Depending on what type of angler you are, what kind of fishing you like, and your budget, choosing the right fishing reel is up to you. Hopefully, this guide has made the decision a little easier.