Spinning Reel vs Baitcast Reel: What’s the Difference ?

Disclosure: This article may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase after clicking on a link we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

There are various ways of fishing, and so there are casting methods. But among them all, baitcasting and spin casting are the most common ones. If you use a spinning reel, the casting method you will use is spincasting. If you use a baitcast reel, you will use the baitcasting method. 

There are several differences between the two ways of casting, but they both get the job done. Many anglers claim that baitcasting is a bit superior to spincasting, but there many who disagree. That said, I can’t certainly say that one casting method is better than the other. 

Attempting to answer this question is like answering, which is the greatest show of all time between Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad. What I will do is provide you with facts about these two casting techniques. Both techniques are quite great, and it is your fishing goals that will help you know the perfect type of fishing reel for you. Hopefully, the information in this article will help you make a better decision. 

The Differences : Spinning vs Casting Reels

A reel is simply a device on a fishing rod that collects the line through a rotating arm. While they do the same job, they are not built alike. 

The first and obvious difference between the two is the direction of the spool and the reel’s position on the rod. The spool on a spinning reel is perpendicular to the fishing rod while the reel is underneath it. The reel on a baitcast reel is usually on top of the fishing rod and the spool in line with it (rod). 

This means that the fishing line on a baitcast reel comes off the spool in line with the rod. On the other hand, the line from a spinning reel gets away from the rod before making a turn to follow the fishing rod’s length. 

 Read also : Spincast Reel vs Spinning Reel

More about Spinning Reels

To understand these two reels even better, I will discuss each thoroughly. Let’s begin with the spinning reel. 

Spincasting Defined

Spincasting is mostly used to refer to the casting technique used when one is using a spincast reel. However, the term can also refer to the casting technique used when one uses a spinning reel.

Both the spincast and spinning reels have their spools perpendicular to the fishing rod and the reel underneath it. The line on a spinning reel is usually wrapped around the spool via the line roller through the guides. The bail keeps the fishing line in the right lane and makes sure it stays over the roller. 

Spinning Reel Benefits

  • Spinning reels can throw lures over a long distance. In fact, a spinning reel will most probably throw a reel over a longer distance than a baitcast reel.
  • It’s easy to cast a spinning tackle even when there’s a lot of wind.
  • It’s easier to skip lures with spinning reels than with baitcast tackles. 
  • The lure sinks straight without facing resistance from the spool.
  • Spinning reels are fantastic for both right and left-handed anglers. With baitcasting, you have to buy a dedicated right hand or left-hand model. If you buy a dedicated right-hand model and are left-handed, there will be a problem.
  • It allows you to adjust the drag while fishing easily. This is essential during the “fight” with the fish.
  • Spinning reels are quite durable and can serve you for years if you take proper care of yours.
  • Easy to maintain
  • Relatively cheaper compared to baitcast tackles

Spinning Reels Drawbacks

  • The accuracy reduces when you use heavy lures
  • Flips easily compared to baitcast
  • Not great with heavier lures
  • It has less power when fighting big fish. Sometimes its power may not be enough for strong fish.
  • Not good enough when casting under bushes and places with minimum spaces. 

Casting the Spinning Reel

Casting a spinning reel will need a bit of practice, but it’s quite easy when you get used to it. I generally recommend a few hours of practice in the backyard before going out. Here’s how to go about it:

First Step

Hold the reel with your right hand if it’s the dominant one. Set the stem of your spinning reel about a foot between your ring and middle finger. By doing so, your index finger will move slightly above the bail allowing your thumb to wrap the top of the fishing rod. Be sure to try your other fingers too. If the rod feels better between other fingers, use them. However, some spinning reels are quite heavy, and you may need to use both hands.  

Second Step

Reel in your fishing line slowly to get at least seven inches of the line hanging off the rod. You can make it as long as 12 inches. The bail should be closed while you reel in the line. 

Third Step

Make sure that the lure does not touch the fishing rod tip to prevent any hindrance to the casting distance. Similarly, ensure that the lure is not too far (a few feet away) from the rod tip. I generally recommend a ten inches distance between the lure and the rod tip.  

Fourth Step

Pull the fishing line off the roller using your index finger. The line should come off the spool with ease. 

Fifth Step

Flip the bail up with your non-dominant hand, probably the left hand. Bring the fishing rod just above your head (vertically) and release the fishing line. The lure will guide the line into the water. Make sure that your arm angle is about 45 degrees. 

The most common problem beginners face during this stage is the lure failing to land where one wants. Well, the release point plays a significant role in where the lure lands. If you release too early, the lure will just fly too high but not go far. If you release too late, the lure will land just near your boat.

Ideally, make sure your release point is at least half the forward cast range. In most cases, the lure will land where you want it, and you can catch some fish. This video may make your practice even easier.

See also : How to cast a spinning reel perfectly

Spinning Reels Problems

Fishing reels are meant to last for a long time. However, it does not mean that you will not face a few problems now and then. Luckily, most of these issues can be prevented and fixed from home. Here are the common performance problems faced by anglers using spinning reels and how to fix them. 

Line Twist

This problem is probably the most common among anglers using spinning reels. It usually happens after long-term use. However, some beginners face the problem when trying to spool a new line by hand. Spooling a new line by hand can lead to loose and uneven distribution of the line. To fix this problem, cut off the twisted line and apply a new one with a machine. Using a machine ensures a uniform and tight wind.

Line Size

Many new anglers end up using the wrong size of the fishing line. If you use a line that doesn’t fit, it will affect your reel’s performance and cause casting issues. If you are faced with this problem, use the recommended line by the manufacturer. You can find this information printed on the spool. You can also check for product information on the official website where you bought the reel.

Bail Spring

A bail spring is a fairly common mechanical failure. If the bail won’t open, there is a high possibility the bail spring is damaged. In most cases, this happens as a result of long-term use, but can also happen due to impact.

However, it is important to note that the bail spring problem may be from the bail wire and not the bail spring itself. It is crucial to look out for any external bending of the wire before concluding the bail spring is the problem. 

If the bail spring is the problem, you will need to replace it. Bail springs are cheap and relatively easy to replace. However, if you have an older spinning reel model, spare parts may be a bit challenging to get. Ask for some advice from a reel repair expert, and you will get some great substitutes.

Braided Line Slippage

Braided lines have become quite popular in recent years. They can be used both on baitcast and spinning reels. They are extremely long-lasting but have no stretch. Because of that, tangles are quite common with them.  

Braided lines do not adhere effortlessly to the spool. They usually require some anchoring to get the best out of them. A beginner may not know about the braided line slippage.  To fix the problem, use electrical tape on the spool base before wrapping the braided line. Alternatively, you can use a few wraps of a monofilament line.   

Choosing a Spinning Reel

There are several models of spinning reels. These models are classified according to size, and it’s essential to buy the right size for the best fishing experience. The manufacturers label them in different numbers, such as 1000, 3000, up to 10,500. Other manufacturers mark them with two-digit numbers, such as 10, 15, and 20. Each brand has its way of sizing its reels. 

This can be confusing, but it should be easy to pick the right size when you get used to these numbers. Just keep it in mind that the smaller the number, the less size. For example, a spinning reel rated 1,500 is much smaller compared to another rated 10,500.

But does it mean a spinning reel marked ’10’ is much, much smaller? No, that’s the case. A reel marked 10 is usually almost the same size as the one marked 1,000. Be sure to check out the manufacturer’s sizing chart to understand better how small or big a reel is.

Reels are usually classified in small, medium, large, and extra-large sizes. The smaller the reel, the less the weight you should use on it. A small reel can take up to 7kg, medium up to 10kg, large up to 20kg, and extra-large 20+ kg.

When choosing a spinning reel to buy , there are a few things you should consider. These factors include:


The fishing reel should be compatible with your rod and line. If you already have a line, look for a reel that is compatible with it. Fishing reel manufacturers usually recommend the perfect fishing lines for their reels. 

Fishing location

One great thing about fishing is you are never restricted to one fishing location. You can fish practically anywhere from neighboring ponds to open sea. However, it is worth noting that different fishing reels are perfect for different locations. 

For example, if you will be fishing in freshwater lakes and rivers, a small to medium fishing reel is enough. This is because the sizes of fish in these water bodies are mostly small and average. Using a large or extra-large reel is a bit of overkill. On the other hand, if you are going to fish in the open sea, you will most probably require a large or extra-large reel. Similarly, a large spinning reel is necessary when rock fishing.

Target Fish

Generally, if you are targeting small fish, you should for smaller fishing reels. If you aim to catch some tunas and kingfish, you will need to buy yourself a large or extra-large reel.

Skill Level

It is worth noting that large spinning reels require some experience to cast. If you are a beginner, I would recommend going for smaller reels and graduate to medium, large, and extra-large with time. If you start with large spinning reels, you may end up getting disappointed.

More about Baitcast Reel

Most experienced anglers prefer baitcast reels, but that does not mean that they are actually the best. The decision is yours to make. Here is all you need to know about baitcast reels. 

You may also Like : How do I choose a baitcaster? 

What is a Baitcast Reel?

A baitcast reel is simply a reel that sits on top of a fishing rod and has a revolving spool. The position of a baitcast reel is the exact opposite of the spinning reel. Baitcasters come in both left and right-handed designs. Their handles are not swappable like spinning reels,’ and it is paramount to choose a reel perfect for your hand.  Most right-handed anglers use right handled baitcasters, and left-handed use left-handed baitcasters.  

Baitcasting Benefits 

Baitcasting has several benefits over spincasting. These benefits include:

Great Precision 

Baitcasters can cast over long distances, and they are accurate if you know how to use one. The casting distance between the two is almost the same, but baitcasters are more accurate. You can catch big fish even when standing ashore.

Higher Gear Ratio 

Baitcaster offers faster retrieval of the lure, thanks to its superior gear ratio. However, it is worth noting that this advantage may not apply to entry-level baitcasters. 

You Can Lure Almost Anything 

A baitcaster allows you to lure almost anything. A spinning reel is perfect with live baits and light lures, but poor with heavier lures. With a baitcast, you can lure live, light, and heavy lures.

Handy during a Fight with Big Fish 

Spinning reels do not offer a lot of help when it comes to landing big fish. So, if you plan to catch anything weighing 10+ pounds, the perfect choice would be a baitcaster. Baitcast reels handle large fish better, and the rod usually has some extra heft to its spine.

This combination allows you to retrieve the reel quickly, accurately, and with minimum injury to the fish. This is not to say that a spinning reel cannot get the job done. It only means that a baitcaster does a better job.

You Can Customize Your Fishing Approach with a Baitcaster 

Spinning reels allows you to use either hand since their handles are swappable, but a baitcaster allows you to buy a dedicated design. This means you can work in your comfort zone. When you get the set up is right, you can fish comfortably under any conditions.

Easy to Handle in Challenging Fishing Conditions 

Some fishing conditions are quite challenging, and they require precision that baitcasters offer. For example, imagine you are fishing in a lake where there are lily pads. Fish will be hiding underneath them, but you will need to cast with precision to get to them. You will face obstacles with a spinning reel under such circumstances, but not with a baitcaster.


Baitcasters may have many benefits, but that does not mean they are perfect. Here are a few drawbacks of baitcasting. 

You Need a Lot of Training to Master How to Cast

Learning how to cast a spinning reel may be a bit challenging for beginners, but after a few hours of training, one should be able to go out and catch some fish. Well, the same cannot be said for baitcasters. Even experienced anglers face casting problems with baitcasters. It will require you to invest a lot of time in practice. 


Baitcasters offer accuracy, but it comes at a higher price. If you train well enough with a spinning reel, you can get almost the same precision at a lower price. 

Baitcasters Don’t Tackle Wind As Good As Spinning Reels.

If the wind is an obstacle in your fishing location, you might want to consider a spinning reel.

Harder to Maintain

Compared to spinning reels, baitcasters are a bit harder to maintain. 

Casting a Baitcaster 

After buying your first baitcaster, you should not head directly to the water. Take your time and practice in your backyard. At least get comfortable with the reel before you go to the water. Here’s how to go about it. 

Step 1: Know Where the Braking System Is 

The braking system in the reel helps slow the spool rotation when you let the bait fly. I will assume your baitcaster is using a centrifugal braking system. To locate it, remove the side plate located on the opposite side of the handle. If your braking system is magnetic, just adjust the knob. 

Step 2: Adjust the Braking System 

To adjust, disengage the brakes by simply pushing the levers from the center. Alternatively, you can engage them by pushing the levers towards the center. Disengaging the breaks allows you to cast longer. However, it increases the risk of backlashing. If you are a beginner, I strongly suggest engaging the breaks. Yes, the casts will be shorter, but it will prevent backlashes.

Step 3: Adjust the Tension Knobs 

You can find the tension knobs on the same side as the handle. The knobs increase or decrease the tension going to the spool. To increase the tension, tighten the knob by adjusting it clockwise. To reduce the tension, turn it anticlockwise. The tension should be adjusted depending on the weight of the bait. 

Step 4: Test the Tension 

Hold the rod from its tip and disengage by clicking the spool release button. Adjust the tension knob gradually until the bait falls onto the ground without a backlash.  

Step 5: Grip the Baitcaster 

Wrap your right hand or left if it’s the dominant one around the handle on rod and the baitcaster reel. Your thumb should rest on the spool release button. When the thumb is on the spool button, you can disengage with ease, allowing proper casting.

Step 6: Release Your Line 

You should always ensure to release the right amount of line to make a good cast. For a beginner, between eight and twelve inches of the line should be enough. Measure the size of the line from the bait to the rod tip.

Step 7: Release the Spool and Cast 

Press the spool release button with your thumb and immediately place it (thumb) on the spool to ensure the line does not “run.” Use whichever casting technique you feel comfortable using. 

I know it may sound simple on paper but casting a baitcaster is not that simple. It will take you several days of practice to use it effectively. Some people have been using baitcasters for more than five years, and they still can’t call themselves experts. You can check out this video I found online to help you in your casting practice.

Baitcaster Problems 

Just like spincasting, baitcasting is also faced by several problems. Luckily, most of these problems have DIY solutions. They include:

Level Wind 

The level wind is usually exposed to sand, water, and dirt, which can clog some parts and prevent the ease of movement. This problem is especially common to anglers fishing from the banks.  

To fix the problem, clean the level wind. I usually recommend a wipe-down, but you can also disassemble the reel and clean every part thoroughly. If the problem does not get fixed, you may need to replace the level wind. The Level Wind is easy to replace, and the spare parts are readily available.   

Old Bearings 

Bearings wear out over time, and the only way to fix the problem is to replace them. The bearings are cheap and easy to replace. However, if you don’t want to buy new bearings, you can soak the old ones in a metal cleaner and degrease them to remove dirt. Low performing bearings affect your casting significantly.


Most people use baitcasters in saltwater, and we all know how salt accelerates rusting. Another thing that causes corrosion is leaving the rod on the ground. If left unclean for some time, the corrosion can permanently damage your equipment.

To fix the problem, use a toothbrush to clean the level wind and do it regularly. If you fish in saltwater, I recommend rinsing your reel after every fish trip with freshwater. Wipe down the knobs and pivot points with a light coat of oil regularly. If the corrosion and rust are too much, you may need to replace the reel. 

Interested in High-Performance Saltwater Baitcasting reel? Top Saltwater Baitcasting Reel in the Market

Over Lubrication 

Not lubricating your baitcaster is bad, and so is over lubricating. Wrong or too much lubrication clogs the bearing, which reduces the performance of your reel. If you have over lubricated your reel, the best solution is replacing the bearings. It is almost impossible to fix the problem without replacing the bearings. 

Luckily, the problem is easily preventable. Only use one drop of grease on the bearing. Additionally, use the right lubricant for steel and the proper one for ceramics. These lubricants are different, so you must always remain mindful. 

Paw Damage 

Debris or dirt in the worm gear assembly will likely affect the paw’s movement, causing the gear to lock up. This consequently leads to a pile-up of the fishing line on one side of the spool. If you are facing this problem, you will likely need to replace the paw. Due to its delicate nature, there is no fixing it. 

Choosing a Baitcaster 

There are two major types of baitcasters:

Low Profile Reels

Low profile reel

Low profile reels are designed in such a way that they allow the angler to palm the reel when retrieving. They are most common among Bass anglers.

Round Reels 

Round Reel

Round reels are mostly known for their capability to hold long lines. They are perfect for fish that love to make long runs.

When it comes to choosing the right baitcast reel, here are the things you should consider:

Gear Ratio

This simply refers to the times the spool will need to turn over when the handle is rotated. This factor is crucial as the gear ratio determines how fast you can retrieve a lure. Baitcast reels come with different gear ratios. 

A 3:1 gear ratio means that the gear will turn three times when you rotate the handle. A 4:1 ratio means the handle will turn four times. When choosing the gear ratio, consider the lure you will use. If you use large lures, go for smaller gear ratios, e.g., 3:1. If you use light lures, choose a gear ratio like 6:1. 

Spool Size 

Your target fish should be on your mind while choosing the spool size. If you plan to catch large fish, you should consider choosing a reel with a large spool and heavy line. Generally, the bigger the target fish, the larger your spool should be. 


This factor is probably the most important of them all. Even if you get the right spool size and gear ratio, the reel will be worthless if it does not feel comfortable. Choose a reel that has a perfect balance with its rod and can cast lures accurately. The grip should also be comfortable. 

Baitcaster vs Spinning Reel: Final Thoughts 

As you can see, there is no straight answer to the baitcasting reel vs. spinning reel debate. Each approach has its pros and cons. There are also several factors you need to consider before you conclude.

Both approaches face certain problems, but thankfully there are DIY solutions. I hope the above comparison will help you make an informed decision about what to choose between these two popular types of fishing reels.


How to Set Up a Fishing Rod for Lake Fishing- For Beginners

How to Cast a Baitcaster-Accurate Casting Guide


Leave a Comment