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Fishing Basics: Fishing Reels

Back in the early 80s, you just had to have your very own Zebco 404 push button reel. They were not the easiest on the eye, but they sure made it easy for us to ease into fishing. I am sure most of the 80s kids all went through this rite of passage when it comes to fishing.

With technology and time, the fishing reels have obviously evolved exponentially, but most still make use of the same basic designs from the beginning. Fishing reels are grouped into two general categories: spinning and baitcasting. Each design of course has its own pros and cons.


Spinning Reels

Spinners were definitely created with the beginner in mind as they are appreciated for their easy operability making them perfect for someone new to fishing. All you need to do is flip the bail, put a finger on the line and cast, close the bail, and afterwards turn the handle to reel it back in. Be careful not to hold the reel upside down, and maintain a clockwise motion with the handle.

Spinning reels come in very handy especially when using lighter baits like soft plastics and live baits. This is because ideally you can only cast as far as the hardest bait you have. The spinner’s line flows off the spool easily with no drag or friction restricting it thus ensuring light lures launch as far as possible. There is also no backlash expected with a spinning reel, allowing you to enjoy your fishing experience.

Penn Spinning Reel

What does a good spinning reel look like?

While shopping for a worthy fishing reel, consider:

  • Smooth, easily adjustable drag that lets out line in a smooth, seamless manner, without pulls and jerks as the line goes to make the experience less effortful. Most recommended is a front-drag system on a spinning lure, since it is closer to the spool and also easier to access and adjust after a catch.
  • Instant anti-reverse handles to ensure fishing success as you don’t have to worry about a weak and inaccurate hook set which is what happens if the handle can move backwards
  • Gear ratio, depending on the kind of fishing you are planning for. For lures that need fast retrievers, a high gear ration makes better sense. Overall, a good all-rounded reel will work well with a 5:1 ration.
  • Amount of ball bearings, starting from five onwards for maximum smooth retrieve in your spinning reel.

A perfectly picked spinning reel definitely makes your experience not only enjoyable but rewarding as it might be the difference between a successful session and a barren one.




The baitcaster is on the opposite end of things from the spinning reel. Baitcasting reels are designed to allow for casting lures like jigs, spinner baits and crankbaits. They are comparably more accurate but come with a dialed in drag resistance. Baitcasters are definitely not made for more skilled hands in order to be able to thumb the spool as the line flows off. Without keen knowledge of this trick, you will definitely miss the sweet spot of thumb pressure, and that guarantees a backlash bird’s nest of tangled line.

Bait Caster fishing reel

The baitcaster also allows you to launch a lure further afield because the line flows directly straight off the spool and not in a circular motion as it does with a spinning reel. However, to get to a level of comfort using a baitcaster takes quite some time; you will need lots of practice in between. You need to master the art of balancing accuracy and distance in order to smoothly reign in your catch.


The choice of fishing reel is your prerogative, but I would definitely vouch for the spinning reel for the inexperienced angler and also for basically all-around usage. If you are skilled enough, the baitcaster will stand you in good stead when you are in a challenging environment such as lily pads and dock pilings which require more focus and precision.


Having the right fishing reel will definitely take you a long way into great catches, but you know what completes the set? Appropriate fishing gear! Any serious angling experience is best crowned with the right fishing gear. At Reel Sportswear, we appreciate your need for a comfortable angling experience no matter the weather or the amount of time you spend outside. Our gear is not only comfortable for the wear but is also durable and protects you from the sun and elements no matter how tough the conditions may be.

Check out our website for a wide array of options for you to make your next angling experience your best!