Different fishing reels are needed for different waters and fishing styles.

The three main types of fishing reels

Fishing reels are an essential component of fishing gear. However, there are so many manufacturers and so many different types of fishing reels, how do you know which one is best for you.

  • Casting
  • Baitcasting
  • Spinning

They all have their pros and cons. The type you reel you need might depend on what kind of fishing you do. 

Using a fishing reel for the first time can be frustrating, especially if they style of reel is new to you. Beginners often start with a closed-face reel which helps keep the line from tangling. The most popular style is probably the spinning reel. The reel hangs under the rod and the line is held on an open spool. The line is controlled by a bail for casting and tension knobs for drag and adjusting for more control. 

A baitcasting reel takes a fair bit of practice in order to become accurate and avoid line tangles. You are in control of the line tension to allow you fish with added sensitivity. In order to balance your rod, you need to match the weight of the lure to the tension on the line.  

Learning to use all three types of fishing reels will give you an enormous advantage when you go fishing. By matching your reel and other fishing gear to your type of fishing will greatly benefit in tripling the fun. 

Spinning Fishing Reels

A spinning reel is the most common type of fishing reel among fisherman because they can be used for small to large-sized fish like bass, walleye, and carp. Spinning reels are easy to use and don't have the learning curve of casting and fly fishing reels.

Important factors to consider when buying a Spinning Reel:


Look for a spinning reel that has no to as little backward motion on the handle. 


The drag system puts pressure on fish and allows you to give out line when needed. A smooth, high-quality drag system is essential for a good spinning reel. The drag system should let out line smoothly, without pulls and jerks as the line drags out. Most recommend in getting a front drag system, as it is closer to the spool thus giving you the feel of the line sensitivity when you are raising or lowering the tension of the line.


Find fishing reels with the most ball bearings because you will get plenty of smoothness when reeling your line in. However, the more the ball bearing the more it will cost you. Generally, I prefer getting a 5 ball bearing reel as it is a bit easy on the wallet and yet performs to its fullest.


Selecting the best gear ratio will depend on the type of fishing you want to do. A gear ratio is a number of times the bail rotates around the spool during one rotation of the handle. So a 5:1 gear ratio means the bail goes around five times during one full rotation of the handle. If you are using fishing bait or lures that need fast retrieval, a higher gear ratio is recommended. A gear ratio of 5 to 1 (5:1) is considered slow, while a 7:1 ratio is considered fast.

For a good all-around spinning fishing reel, a 6:1 ratio reel would be the best choice.

Casting and Baitcasting fishing reels

Casting or baitcasting reels are mainly used for flipping or pitching and working heavy cover. Baitcasting reels have a revolving spool and sit on top of a casting rod with a thumb trigger handle. Unlike a spinning reel, that sits underneath the rod and with the line guides facing down.

Baitcasting reels are often used with heavier fishing lines and mainly used to target large fish and cast oversized lures, however, a quality spinning reel will do the same.

The main difference in spinning and baitcasting reels is that a baitcasting reel will often come in several different gear ratios as we kinda talked about it above. For instance, many fishermen use faster gear ratio reels for topwater lures, while some may use a slower gear speed for finesse fishing. 

Additional benefits of the baitcasting reel include: 

Variable gearing and anti-reverse system which permits the spool to turn in reverse. This feature can be disabled by flipping a small switch on your reel. Also, baitcasting reels have more variable drag settings to be explored with.

Fly fishing reels

 A fly reel could be a single-action, multiplying or automatic. Usually operated by husking the fly line off the reel with one hand whereas casting the rod with the opposite hand.

The main purpose of a fly reel is to store line, give smooth uninterrupted tension and counterbalance the load of your fishing rod when casting.

Modern fly reels have additional refined disc-type drag systems and are manufactured from composite materials. Some feature large arbor spools designed to cut back on line memory, maintain consistent drag and assist the fast retrieval of the slack line.


There are three types of fly reels used for different applications.

Single action:

Distinguished by a reel spool that creates one revolution for every complete flip of the reel handle.

Pros: Single action fly reels are lighter. It is the "traditional" fly reel.
Cons: line retrieval rate is inadequate for the very largest, strongest-running fish.


These reels have a spool that turns multiple times (1 1/2 to 2 1/2 times depending on the gear ratio) for every revolution of the reel handle.

Pros: The fishing line recovers faster than single action reels, typically heaviest duty reel that is durable.
Cons: Higher price and heavier weight.


This is a style of a reel that uses spring tension that's activated by a lever to mechanically retrieve line back onto the reel.

Pros: Smooth reeling, the line does not tangle, smooth drag system, durable, easy casting.
Cons: Construction cover over the spool could be better, usually plastic.