Let’s Get Reel: The Different Types of Fishing Reels

Types of Fishing Reels used by Anglers

On a quest to replace my fishing gear, I started looking into the different types of fishing reels available and what their functions are. In doing the research I found four types of reels: Spincasters, Spinning, Baitcasters, and Fly reels. And with this information, I created a post on my findings.

Typically rods and reels are sold as combos, however, if you want to build your own outfit you need to realize that each type of reel is designed specifically for varying types of fish.

A reel, its the cylindrical device attached to a rod, used to contain the line on a spool. The reel allows for casting and retrieving the line after the cast was made.

No reel can be used for any type of fishing as they are designed with a specific use. You wouldn’t want to use a spincast reel to go deep-sea fishing, it’s just not designed for that kind of extreme fishing.
I will explain to you the four different types of reels available as well as the other variations, it’s really not as difficult as you may think.

But first, knowing the species of fish available in the area you want to explore helps to decide the reel for the job. What sort of bait or lures will you be using? Typically, bait casters pair up well with heavier lures, while spinning reels work best with small lures and bait.

The Different Types of Fishing Reels

Baitcasting Reels

Baitcasting reels (conventional reels) are used more by experienced or seasonal pro anglers wanting better control and accuracy. They require a lot of experience and skill, and without practice, you may write off the sport of fishing forever. One day soon I will venture out of my comfort zone and try my hand at a baitcasting rod & reel combo. That should be interesting!

Experienced anglers love the strength, durability and accuracy baitcasters offer allowing them to target the larger, powerful species of fish most desired.

Baitcasters do require a lot of patience, operating these types of reels is more of a manual process. You control the release of the line with your thumb using the right amount of pressure on the spool.

The risk of backlashing and knotting (birds nest) is eminent if the reel is not controlled effectively. The Shakespeare Ez Casting Rod & Reel Combo features a revolutionary anti-backlash system to take the fear out of baitcasting for beginners.

The Different Types of Fishing ReelsSpincasting Reels

When I was a young girl, I remember having a fishing pole. I didn’t know what type it was because I was just interested in catching a fish.  Now I know it was a spincast reel. They are still popular with little kids today with cute character designs such as Mickey Mouse, or Buzz Lightyear making them a must-have for your little fisher(man/gal). The spin casters are easy to use and inexpensive for first-time anglers getting started in the sport of fishing.

However, a disadvantage of a spin caster reel is that they are really small when it comes to the amount of line it can hold. They are not sturdy enough to catch the larger species of fish such as bass or tuna. The test line compacity is small in weight, only allowing to catch smaller fish.


The Different Types of Fishing Reels

Spinning Reels

Not to be confused with the Spincast reels which are close-faced, the spinning reel is an open-faced reel with a stationary spool. The benefit to a stationary reel stops the line from uncoiling once the cast is completed. This prevents birds’ nests and backlashes that can happen with a bait caster. This is a favorite among beginners of all ages, as it is much easier to handle.

Aside from the Spincaster reels, I used as a child, the one I use mainly now as an adult is a spinning reel. I love how easy it is for me to use and how versatile it is for either lake or beach fishing. It’s a reel that is used most often by beginners or by anglers who want to change it up sometimes.


These reels can be affordable depending on the type you purchase. For instance, KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels is a very inexpensive option for the novice angler paired up with a KastKing Blackhawk II Telescopic Fishing Rod. You can create this outfit under $100 on Amazon.

I know from experience with using a spinning reel that when you cast out your line, your index finger holds the line up against the underside of the rod, then releases the metal bail upwards. As you cast overhead, you release your finger at the right moment (a little before the rod is over top of your head) for the line to cast out. By flipping the bail down it locks the line in place, allowing the line to be reeled back in.

A variation of a spinning reel is an offshore spinning reel. These are primarily used for deep-sea fishing for the large saltwater species like amberjacks, marlins, tuna, dolphin, and tarpon. Once when only (conventional) bait casters were used for fishing the deep blue sea, these offshore spinning reels can take the beating just like its counterparts.




The Different Types of Fishing Reels

FlyFishing Reels

The main purpose of a fly reel is to store and retrieve the fly line and backing. They can be used in both saltwater and freshwater. There are three types of fly reels; single-action, multiplying, and automatic.

Single action Fly reels make one revolution for each complete turn of the handle. They are lighter than the other style reels and have interchangeable spools. The downsize is the retrieval rate is poor when bringing in large, and very strong-swimming fish.

Multiplying type of reel has a spool that turns multiple times for each revolution. The line recovery is quicker than the single-action reels. The downside is the cost and there is not much of a selection to choose from.

Automatic is a style of the reel that is activated by a lever, it uses a spring tension devise to retrieve the line back into the reel. This type can retrieve the line back into the reel much quicker than its counterparts. This one has been known to have a reputation for being beginners gear. The bad part about these types of reels is that they are bulky and heavy and lack an adjustable outgoing drag.

When pursuing fly fishing you will want to be sure that you have a reel that is made to protect against the saltwater. Such as fully sealed carbon-to-stainless drag that is impenetrable against water, sand, and grit. Purchasing a reel under $50 is just setting you up for a disaster if you plan on fly fishing a lot. Generally, if you are wanting to make fly fishing your passion, investing in a premium reel will give you years of life with your reel. The Piscifun Crest Large Arbor Fly Fishing Reel would be a great option as it comes highly rated and is a top pick as seen in the reviews. Paired with the Pascifun Sword Graphite Fly Fishing Rod, your sure to have a great experience. For those who don’t need a high-quality fly reel, there is the Piscifun Sword Fly Fishing Reel that can also pair up with the same Sword Graphite Fly Rod previously listed. Piscifun offers a lifetime warranty for all Crest Fly Reels.



Centerpin Reel

A variation of the Fly Reel is a Centrepin, or (centerpin). Manufactured in the early 1800’s they were more of an adaptation of the fly reel called Nottingham Winches. They are simply a spool to hold the line on a shaft and have absolutely no drag. system. More details about the centerpin can be found here.








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