Fishing Reel Types,

How we define them and what they are can be a confusing prospect for anyone. The bottom line is Fishing is such an important way of life for so many people that it can be easy to fall in to a comfort zone or even be terrified of trying a new type or method but the fact is Fishing Reel Types are not scary and each one has a specific purpose.

How we define a fishing reel, or the fishing reel type, is essentially the basic design of a specific reel. They all work somewhat the same and that is they all tend to spin and they all tend to wind in the fishing line in a pattern that lets the line move back out freely. After all, some fishing reel types are meant for that extra fun fish you love to catch that needs to have the line let out often when bringing in the winner so as to make the fish tired and less likely to come back on you and get under a rock or simply pull the line until it snaps.

So what are the main differences in fishing reels? 

SpinCasting Reel

BaitCasting Reel

Spinning Reel

First is the SpinCast fishing reel type. This is almost always a closed face fishing reel that works by pressing a button to release the bail and let the line out. It is incredibly easy to learn and offers the best opportunity for a young angler to get in to the sport but they are not just for children. The fishing line will leave out of a tiny hole on the top of the reel and it will pull the fishing line back in using an up and down motion that allows the retrieved fishing line to go onto the fishing line spool inside of the reel in a pattern that fits more line in to that space as well as discourages tangles and other problems we see with different kinds of fishing reels.

The SpinCast Reel is also a favorite for Bow-fishing. That is when a bow has an addition made to it that lets the SpinCast fishing reel sit in such a way that when you fire the bow you can retrieve the arrow. Most serious bow-fishing enthusiasts use a SpinCast type reel for a great many reasons but the basic of them all is they are simple and time tested. Of course there are other bow-fishing retrievers that are much cheaper but to date the best trophy bow-fishing winner are using a large body heavy duty SpinCast reel.

Spincast reel

The Baitcasting reel is a type of fishing reel that looks a lot similar to a Spincast reel but with some serious differences. As an experienced angler I can say this is my weapon of choice for many reasons but I will admit, I still manage to make mistakes with this setup. The Baitcasting reel is far superior when you are using heavy line and heavy lures. When you cast this type of fishing reel the spool where the line sits spins freely and that can mean a few mistake lead to a hot mess at the point where the reel lets the line out too fast and too much. Quick tip: when using a Baitcasting reel use your thumb and apply pressure to the line as you are tossing it out. Side arm tosses work better than over the head and you can, with practice, hit just ab out any target with this type of fishing reel. The line is also retried in a left to right fashion much like the Spincast reel’s up and down motion. It is a matter of perspective I suppose but the purpose is the same. This allows you to bring the line in and pack it all in to the fishing reel spool in an organized way making it easier to let line back out. These types of motions on a fishing reel are very important to getting all of your line on the reel. One thing I can say with absolute certainty is that when you even come close to mastering the Baitcasting reel you will be able to pin point target the fish and if you live in an area with the right water you will be able to use artificial bait in ways other anglers will be envious of.

Baitcast Reel

The Spinning Reel is by far the most popular and also really easy to use. A few tangles and you will know exactly what went wrong and why. Some people will say this reel type is not as good when used with heavy line but the fact is if you fish the ocean, this is the reel you are using unless you go Deep Sea and then you will be using something simila to a BaitCasting reel. The Spinning reel is by far the most economic and it holds a large amount of line. If you want pinpoint accuracy you will need to practice but with a medium to heavy rod you will find the whipping action with this type of reel to be second to none in getting out to where the fish are. This fishing reel type is one of the most popular and it operates very similar to other reels but the best benefit to this fishing reel type is that the internals do not get as mucked up and they are very easy to clean and maintain. They operate by you using an index finger to pinch the line to the rod with the bail off and when you reach the type side of your casting motion the line is un-pinched from the rod and then it moves freely off the spool with out need to be mechanicaly adjusted. When you finish the cast the Spinning Reel then sets the bail, often by turning the retriever handle, and when you reel your line in with the Spinning reel you will see an up and down motion that brings the line in from a mide circle back on to the spool. When done right this is almost fool proof but a tangle is always right around the next turn if you manage to snag on something or the line suddenly snaps. That one issue aside, the Spinning Reel is just a fantastic option and even the cheapest reels on the market can bring in really good fish. The best part for this writer is that a Spinning Reel has an amazingly simple way to adjust tension on the line. Sometimes you are bringing in a fish and you want it to run a little. By losing the tightness of the Spinning Reel spool you are able to let bigger fish run out and then quickly and easily dial the tension in just at the point you need to get that hook in because sometimes the fish barely have a bite on your bait and while this method is used for a great many reasons, I find it is the best option when going for ocean dwelling catfish.

Spinning Reel

Those are the three basic Fishing Reel Types. We will get into Flycasting and Flyfishing at another time but for the most part, these are the three Fishing Reel Types you are going to come across out there. It is important to remember, though, that not every reel is the best fishing reel type for every situation. I tend to only using Spinning reels in salt water and for lakes and narrow rivers I go with a SpinCast type reel. The Baitcast reel is my go to weapon of choice but only when I know there are not a ton of trees above me or a ton of rocks bellow me. You can use any reel for any reason but when it comes to cleaning a reel, I stick to my guns that a SpinCast reel is my best choice for small bodies of water and the Spinning Reel is the best for salt water. I should also mention that when I’m on a small boat I go with the Baitcaster because it gives you the accuracy you need to get up in to the weeds or cast just off shore where you see good indications of action.


Please check out our other resources on the three basic types of fishing reels!