What is a Spinning Reel (Everything You Need to Know?)

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.

Anglers, especially newbies, have difficulty choosing between the different types of reels available. Today we will be looking at spinning reels. Spinning reels are the most popular and widely used reels for bait fishing.

Anglers who are more accustomed to spinning reels will not go for any other reel. They are easy to use and work perfectly for every level angler. To find out more about spinning reels, keep on reading.

What is a Spinning Reel?

A spinning reel is a fishing reel with a non-moving spool, and the rotor or line guide revolves around it. It comes in five main parts: the bail, handle, spool, drag, and anti-reverse spool. The reel is mounted below the rod so that you will have one hand holding the rod when casting, and the other hand will be turning the reel’s crank.

You may also like : What are the Top Rated Spinning Reels on the market ? 

How Does a Spinning Reel Work?

To understand how a spinning reel works, you need to understand every part of it. Although there are different manufacturers and designs for spinning reels, the basic parts are the same for all.

  • The spinning reel got its name from the rotation of the bail arm and bail wire that goes around the spool. Its spool does not rotate, but it moves up and down to allow for the line to wind up evenly.  Place your finger onto the line and pop the bail open when casting. After casting, close your bail by flipping it over or cranking your handle to retrieve the line, and the automatic bail opener will close the bail.
  • The neck is essential in the working of a spinning reel.  It provides enough space for the bail to spin without interfering with your fingers or handle. On the other hand, the handle is easily interchangeable to fit every angler’s hand orientation. It gives you leverage to deal with different species. However, once in a while, it is tangled during transportation. To avoid this, you can collapse your handle and crash it to the body. To do this, unscrew the bolt that holds the handle until it’s loose.

The anti-reverse switch located above the rod or on the hull of the rod helps you crank the handle in one direction to retrieve the line. However, the handle can spin in any direction once you switch it off. For beginners, always keep the anti-reverse switch on to avoid backlash. H with experience, you can switch it off and pry for larger species.

The drag system comes either with a front or rear drag. It controls the tension of the line. When the drag is increased, it makes it harder to pull off the reel. In contrast, you make it easier to pull off the reel when you reduce the drag.

What is a Spinning Reel Used For?

As we have seen previously, spinning reels are the best all-around reels and most versatile fishing reels. They come in different sizes, making them ideal for a wide variety of applications. Whether you are setting out for ultralight saltwater applications or heavy saltwater applications, you can be sure of their outstanding performance. Although they are better suited for lighter applications, you can use them for applications meant for casting reels. Spinning reels will excel In the following applications.

  • Live Lining
  • Bobber Fishing
  • Fishing with bottom rigs
  • Ice Fishing
  •  Fishing with dead or live baits
  • Spin fishing with artificial lures

However, some applications require more powerful gears.  So, spinning reels will not give good results in these applications. 

  • Heavy casting
  • Heavy Trolling
  • Deep-sea fishing
  • Fly fishing

Except for fly fishing, the other applications require a reel with a large spool and one that can handle heavier lines. Fly fishing, however, requires a different type of type.

Advantages of a Spinning Reel

For years, spinning reels have remained an angler’s favorite choice. Some anglers will not use any other reels for their applications. Their advantages include,

  • They are easy to use
  • Spinning reels excel in light and finesse applications
  • Less Prone to backlashes
  • Easy to maintain
  • They can be used for almost all techniques

Cons of a Spinning Reel

  • Spinning reels limit you mostly to lightweight applications. They cannot be used for applications like heavy casting and heavy trolling.
  • They cannot handle heavier tackle and line since their spool is smaller.
  • Spinning reels are also not as accurate as casting reels.

Spinning Reel Sizes

Spinning reels come in different sizes. The different sizes are made for different applications. When choosing a spinning reel, first understand your application and decide from there. These sizes can be confusing since manufacturers classify the different sizes as 1000, 2000, 3000, and so on while others classify them in sizes 10,20, 30, etc. These classifications should not confuse you since a 1000 reel corresponds with a 10 size reel.

Smaller-sized spinning reels are perfect for smaller rods and smaller species up to 15pounds; they range from 1000 to 3500. They are ideal for lighter applications and freshwater fishing. These reels work best with  2-10lb monofilament and 4-14 braid.

On the other hand, medium-sized spinning reels fall in the range of 4000 to 5500. They are ideal for medium-sized spinning rods measuring 7 to 8 feet. You can use them for medium-sized species up to 30 pounds and work best with 8-14lb monofilament or 10-25lb braid. You can use them for heavier freshwater applications and inshore saltwater fishing.

The largest-sized spinning reels are the 6000 to 30000 reels. They are perfect for heavy rods and heavy fishing applications. You can use them for offshore boat fishing, surfcasting, and rock fishing. With these rods, you can target large species of up to 150 pounds. When using a monofilament line, 12 to 60lb of line is ideal, and a 24 to 100lb braid is perfect for braid.

Parts of a Spinning Reel

To understand how the spinning reel works, you need to understand the different parts. One thing that remains constant for all spinning reels is the parts. Whether you are getting the most recent spinning reel or the oldest reel, it doesn’t matter.

The difference is mainly in the design and make; manufacturers have the spinning reels designed differently to appeal to their users. Understanding the different parts and their location will make it easier for you to use the spinning reel. You will be able to set the reel better and make better casts. Even as a beginner, you need to have a rough idea of the different parts of the reels. The different parts of a spinning reel include,

  • Spool
  • Neck
  • Drag
  • Anti-reverse switch
  • Bail
  • Handle

Line Capacity of a Spinning Reel

When using a spinning reel, you choose between monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braid. The size of the line depends on the size of the spinning reel. However, since spinning reels are meant for lighter applications, the line size will be smaller compared to other reels. When using smaller spinning reels in the range of 1000 to 3500, a 2-10lb monofilament line and 4-14lb braided line will be perfect.

For medium-sized spinning reels ranging between 4000 to 5500, go for an 8-14 monofilament line or a 10-25lb braided line. For large-sized spinning reels in the range of 6000 to 30,000, 12-60lbs monofilament lines are perfect, and 24-100lb braids also give excellent results.

What Bait to Use on a Spinning Reel

As we have seen earlier, spinning rods are perfect for light applications and tackle. So, even when choosing the best lure, you need to ensure that you consider the weight. 

Lures weighing 1/4oz and less are ideal for spinning rods. Otherwise, your catch or casting may compromise if you use a bigger lure. You can go with finesse lures, soft plastic lures, or finesse rigs on the lures choice. Below are some of the best lures for spinning rods.

Finesse Lures

  • Micro jigs
  • Ultra-light poppers
  • Ultra-light swimbaits
  • Small tubes
  • Small spoons

Small Plastic Lures

  • Wacky worms
  • Shaky heads
  • Finesse worms
  • Ribbon tail worms
  • Soft plastic swimbaits
  • Plastic stick baits
  • Soft Plastic craws

Do Pros Use Spinning Reels?

Most pros use baitcasting reels because they are more accurate. However, once in a while, they switch to spinning reels, especially when going for finesse applications. Spinning gear is the best for light applications, so even pro anglers cannot avoid them when eying species like walleye and other light applications.

Spinning Reel vs. Casting Reel

Some people find choosing between a spinning reel and a casting reel hard. You can’t say a casting reel is better or a spinning reel is better. They all thrive in different applications. So, here are their differences.

  • The first difference is in their applications. Spinning reels are meant for finesse or light applications. On the other hand, casting reels are meant for heavy applications.
  • Secondly, the spool on the spinning reel is fixed, while in the baitcasting reel, the spool is revolving.
  • Spinning reels are ideal for beginners or recreational anglers, while baitcasting reels are better for pro and tournament-level anglers.
  • Spinning reels are mounted hanging below the rod, while baitcasting reels are mounted on top.
Spinning or Casting Reel : Which is Better 

Spinning Reel vs. Conventional Reel

Anglers are often confused between choosing a spinning reel or a conventional reel. Both have their advantages and perform excellently in different applications. So, what are their differences?

  • Firstly, a spinning reel has a fixed spool, releasing the line by opening the bail and allowing it to slip past the spool. In contrast, conventional reels disengage the spool enabling it to spin freely and release the line.
  • Spinning reels are mounted at the bottom of the rod with the guides facing downwards, while conventional reels sit on the rod with the guides facing on top.

Most conventional reel comes with a level wind that helps you lay the line. However, you use your thumb to lay the line in a spinning reel.

Final Thoughts

Spinning reels are the most common reels.  In addition to being very easy to use, they are also affordable. So, if you are looking for a reel for light applications and tackle, the spinning reel is the perfect companion. You do not have to be experienced to use this reel; even beginners will have utmost success.


Medium vs Medium Heavy Rod: What’re the Differences

What is a Conventional Reel? (And How does It work)


Leave a Comment