Guide to Fishing Reels: 6 Types of Fishing Reels

guide to fishing reels

A fishing reel is a crucial piece of equipment for amateur and professional fishers alike.

There are different types of fishing reels and each type can vary in terms of cost and function. When purchasing a fishing reel, take into account your budget, the fishing style you seek to engage in, where you want to fish, the durability of the reel, and its ease of operation.

Doing this will help you identify and utilize a reel that is best suited for the fishing activities in which you wish to partake. It will also help you determine how many seasons a particular kind of reel will last. Here is some information about the vast array of fishing reels currently on the market.

Spincast Reels

spincast reelThe spincast fishing reel has a very simple design, and it is ideal for fishers who are beginners or who are on a tight budget.

This reel has a metal nose cone that conceals its vital parts. There is a button located in its rear that works to toggle the line as you free-spool and lock. Spincast reels also come with a drag adjustment function. This function allows you to alter the amount of resistance felt by a caught fish as you tug the line.

Casting using a spincast fishing reel is fairly straightforward; simply press the spool control button to release the line and press it again to stop the line. All in all, spincast reels are effective for inshore angling and wading; they also work well with small baits and lures.


  • easy to use.
  • great for beginners.
  • relatively inexpensive.
  • A sgreat for small lures and baits.
  • great for inshore angling and wading.


  • has a limited range for casting.
  • does not yield high casting accuracy.
  • does not have a great deal of durability.

Spinning Reels

spinning reelSpinning reels are widely used. These reels are more complex than their spincast counterparts, but they also last longer and are more efficient.

Many beginner and expert level fishers prefer this type of reel. It has an open-face design and its drag adjustment feature is located in its upper area. There is a metal bail that locks the line, stops it from unspooling, and steadily directs it back to the spool. Note that this type of reel is attached near the bottom of the rod, creating a fair amount of balance when the line is cast.

Casting with this rod involves disengaging the bail, pressing the line with your finger, swinging the rod, releasing your finger, and pointing the rod’s tip at your targeted area. Overall, casting with this type of reel is pretty straightforward.

A spinning reel can be used in fresh and saltwater environments and works well with smaller lures and baits.


  • Great for smaller lures and baits.
  • Yields more power with braided lines.
  • Can be used for fresh and saltwater fishing.
  • Is a suitable option for beginner and expert level fishers.


  • Not suitable for tackling large fish.
  • If handled improperly, could cause tangles and knots in the line.

Baitcasting Reels

baitcast reelBaitcasting reels are equipped with advanced technology and are often used by expert-level fishers. These reels are more complex than spincast reels and spinning fishing reels. Moreover, it often requires a tremendous amount of time to master these reels. These reels have a semi-enclosed design and are very durable.

The baitcasting reel is positioned on top of a rod’s handle and its drag mechanism is positioned adjacent to the reel’s handle. The reel also has a braking system and a spool tension knob. These parts serve to control the speed with which the line exits the reel. They also increase the range and accuracy of each casting.

To cast with this type of reel, use your thumb to prevent the line from spooling and press a clip that locks the line as soon as the bait reaches your desired target. Note that a baitcasting reel can be used to catch all sizes and species of freshwater and saltwater fish.


  •  sturdy and long-lasting.
  •  has a high level of pulling power.
  • works well for large lures and baits.
  • yields high-levels of casting range and accuracy.


  • can be costly.
  • is not suitable for beginner-level fishers.

Fly Reels

fly fishing reelFly reels are used for fly fishing.

Fly fishing involves the use of a fly rod and a reel with a uniquely weighted fishing line. The fishing line is unique because it can transport the hook and lure through the air. The philosophy of fly fishing differs greatly from that of bait and spin fishing, which involve casting weighted by a hook and lure.

Fly reels can be used when fishing in fresh and saltwater. Moreover, they are effective for capturing numerous species of fish such as salmon and carp. Nonetheless, they are not quite as effective for catching fish species that reside in deep waters.


  • does not require much reeling.
  • can use high-quality bait and yield excellent bait presentation.


  •  is best suited for fishing over moving water; some may find fishing over moving water unappealing.
  •  can be costly.

Star Drag Reels

star drag fishing reelIt is best to use a star drag reel when fishing near sand or rocks. This type of reel contains a disk that is not part of the spool and does not rotate during casting; this disk lessens rotational mass and increases casting efficiency.

This reel unlinks the gear train during free spooling, increasing casting distance as well as drop speed. You can set the strike settings when using this reel, but note that it will prove difficult to return to a prior strike setting once you have changed it.

Overall, this reel offers fishers plenty of precision and drag control.


  • is fairly easy to use.
  • provides reel stability.
  • is relatively inexpensive.
  • is suitable for beginner-level fishers.


  •  cannot readily shift through free-spool and into a strike.
  •  cannot easily and quickly shift from a low weight of pressure to a high weight of pressure

Trolling Reels

trolling fishing reelTrolling reels are used for, you guessed it, trolling. Trolling involves dragging a line with a hook and lure behind a boat to attract and catch fish.

The trolling fishing reel features a line-out-alarm, a line braking system, and an on/off release lever.

This reel is effective for presenting many lures as well as for deep water fishing. It is used to catch both fresh and saltwater species. And it is often used for offshore fishing over great distances.

This reel has a very high line and drag capacities.

Moreover, some trolling fishing reels have counter capabilities that help fishers release a specific amount of line when trolling. Note that this reel can also work with various types of fishing lines.


  • allows for deep water fishing.
  • is able to hold a lot of fishing line.
  • can be used to fish over large areas of water.
  • can help fishers find the strike zone for large and game fish.


  •  can be expensive.
  •  not suitable for inexperienced fishers.


In conclusion, there are a number of different fishing reels that are each good in their own way. Which one you choose depends on the type of fishing you are doing, what you fishing for, and where you are located. If you are fishing for trout, you may want to use a spinning reel while if you are fishing for grouper in saltwater, you want to use a baitcast reel.

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