Ultimate Guide of Fishing Reels Types: Understanding Pros And Cons

Fishing reels are cylindrical devices attached to a fishing rod utilized for stowing lines and winding.

Traditionally, fishing reels are used in angling and casting recreational sport. Users typically attach the reels to the fishing rod. However, specialized reels are now mounted directly on the boat transoms or gunwales. Indeed, modern reels have fittings that aid in retrieving the line and casting for accuracy and distance.

This article will discuss the different types of Fishing Reels, the pros and cons of each class, and the recommended product to use.

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History of the Fishing Reels

Fishing reels have come a long way, and research suggests that fishing reels started as early as 1195 A.D., as seen in a Chinese painting. The reels are attached to twine in a bamboo pole during that time. Its appearance is similar to the ‘fly reel’ today, and it features a manual or hand-wound movement when moving.

Back then, fishing is a means to provide food for the family. With the help of the reel, catching a fish becomes easier.

Studies show that fishing reels were used in the Western region in 1651. In the 1820s, George Snyder of Kentucky, USA, manufactured the commercial version of fishing reels. Snyder’s designs are the basis of the majority of fishing reels nowadays.

Nowadays, recreational fishing has become a hit since it gives an opportunity for people to relax, bond with their loved ones, be free from the chaotic city life, and be one with nature.

Meanwhile, the fishing reels are created to enable the usage of lures that are too light to cast using the baitcasting reels. Lighter lures can be cast since there is no need to pull the line using the rotating spool.

There is no backlash through the fishing reel, although there are times that the line can be trapped under the spool.

The line can be detached in loose loops of line. Through the years, several level-wind mechanisms have been created to try to solve the issue. However, most of the fishermen would manually reposition the bail after casting to minimize the line twist.

Bait Casting Reels

Ultimate Guide of Fishing Reels Types: Understanding Pros And Cons

Advantages of Using a Bait Casting Reel

Okuma Komodo 463 Bait Cast Reel

Using the baitcasting reel takes a lot of patience, experience, and skill. Thus, these are commonly used by the most experienced anglers and fishers.

The baitcasting reel provides better control and accuracy. With this type of reel, the spool rotates as you cast. It allows the user to feather the spool for the precise placement of lures. Furthermore, it also has small dimensions with no bail arm or handles, which makes it manageable.

With the baitcasting reel, you can simply slow the spool more, and it can drop to the exact distance you want. Regardless of how far your initial cast is, this is how amazing the baitcasting reel is.

Other benefits of using this reel are flicking lures, as these reels have more control, better balance, and better one-hand operation.

When using it for live baiting, you can have more confidence in power and control. This reel type is strong and can handle heavy and more oversized prey like large catfish and freshwater fish such as the alligator gar.

Issues in Using a Bait Casting Reel

The only problem with this fishing reel is users can experience a lot of backlashes. A lot of part-time anglers do not have the patience that most expert fishers have. So, make sure you have more extended patience in practicing before buying a baitcasting reel.

For more information about the best Best Bait Casting Reels in the market, check these articles:

Electric Fishing Reels

Ultimate Guide of Fishing Reels Types: Understanding Pros And Cons

Features of Electric Fishing Reels

Daiwa TANACOM1000 Dendoh Fishing Reel

They say electric fishing reels are the bomb for the deep, and these reels are changing the way anglers fish. As for most anglers, it makes deep fishing much more fun!

Electric reels are electric-assist fishing reels. In this type of fishing reel, you have two mode settings. One setting selects a speed mode, and the other is the power factor which you can adjust and alter to maintain speed and the load.

Most fishers decide to switch to electric reels due to the frustration of winding in if the baits get picked off. This could result in losing time between drops while trying to stay over a narrow structure.

So, if you plan on catching large aquatic fishes that roam and live on deep waters like swordfish and tuna, then electric fishing reels are the best reel for you.

The advantage of an electric reel is that it has an electric motor to help you retrieve the rig or jig back and not to winch big fish up. What is also impressive with this type of fishing reel is that the reel can change automatically when you catch a big fish.

Cons and Recommendations in Using Electric Fishing Reels

However, problems also happen with this type of reel. Sometimes the reel changes down a gear when pulling in your sinker and big baits, but you can usually solve this by hitting the button, and it will just switch back into high gear.

In buying this type of fishing reel, keep in mind that handling and taking care of the electric reel takes a lot of effort to last long. You have to keep them as clean and dry as possible.

Also, electric reels are all “Power Assisted” reels, which means it operates with batteries. You must have a suitable voltage supply wherever you use it.

Moreover, direct spraying while traveling is going to damage your reel. Always clean it with an excellent water-repelling lubricant or protectant. And lastly, be mindful of the speed and your load, especially when the spool is getting near total capacity.

Lever Drag Fishing Reels

Ultimate Guide of Fishing Reels Types: Understanding Pros And Cons

Features of Lever Drag Fishing Reels

Penn Reels

All types of fishing reels have a drag system. You may think of it as a clutch or a line braking system.

The idea of using a drag is letting the line unwind in a controlled manner off the reel when a fish fights and pulls so hard that the line is in danger of breaking.

A lever drag allows more precise drag manipulation when fighting a large fish. Also, there is a lot more drag surface on lever drags, which can be seen in the smoothness, durability, and power of drag that this reel has.

This is an advantage as it gives better control over drag settings. And this is the reason why all high-end big game reels are now level drag and not star drag.

A remarkable feature with lever drags is its strike setting, like a total drag setting. Using this, you can vary the drag and adjust to your need. Then you can come back to a previous setting and know what the drag value is. And what’s more, once you set it for the pound test, you need not adjust it again. All of this can be done quickly and accurately with the lever drag reel.

The Disadvantage of Using Lever Drag Fishing Reels

Meanwhile, the disadvantage with lever drags is that it only takes the pressure off the drag with the gear train still turning with the spool.

The lever drag reel also spins the drag disc along with the spool. This increases the mass of the spool and inhibits casting efficiency. Furthermore, this means that you have to move the lever farther.

If you are not that confident in casting, but you want to get more distance with no backlash and control fish in the heavy ocean current, this type of fishing reel is definitely for you.

Saltwater Spinning Reel

Ultimate Guide of Fishing Reels Types: Understanding Pros And Cons

Saltwater spinning reels can be classified as either high-speed or low-speed. High-speed saltwater spinning reels have a gear ratio greater than 6:1. This is good to retrieve baits at breakneck speed. At the same time, Low-speed reels use a gear ratio of less than 4:1, which offers more power for fighting big fish.

Spinning reels may have almost the same landing power as do the saltwater spinning reel. Still, the difference is the internal gearing of the saltwater spinning reels, which is often most definitely made of special alloys.

These alloys are corrosion resistant, making this type of reel best to use during harsh conditions like fishing in saltwater.

Benefits of Using Saltwater Spinning Reels

This type of reel is designed to handle the saltwater environment. It is made with a drag knob supported with a stainless steel shaft to avoid damage by the saltwater.

It also has a balanced rotor that reduces the fatigue the fishermen experience, for it prevents the reel from wobbling. Thus, the saltwater spinning reel will make you struggle less and exert less energy.

Check out other articles and product reviews for Saltwater Spinning Reels here:

Spincast Fishing Reels

Ultimate Guide of Fishing Reels Types: Understanding Pros And Cons

Daiwa Goldcast Spincast Fishing Reel

Spincast fishing reels’ design is modeled after the spinning reels. Generally, they contain the same essential parts. However, a compact nose cone encases the mechanism.

The amount of released line during casting depends upon how far the lure travels plus its weight. You cannot over-spin the spool because of its fixed position on the reel. The line will stop feeding once the bait hits the water. To retrieve the line, you just have to push a button. Meanwhile, to maintain the tension, turn the crank handle and pin inside the reel or pop up accordingly so you can control the line feed.

Spincast reels are smaller than other reels, and they have a lower line capacity. Moreover, the lines of spin-cast reels are less sturdy. Thus, these are not recommended for catching hefty fish. Despite this, spin-cast reels are still good for children and first-timers!

Benefits of Using Spincast Reels

The Spincast reels are affordable than spinning and baitcasting reels. It can eliminate fatigue, backlash, and tangled lines.

Unlike baitcasting reels, the learning curve of the spin-cast reels is almost nonexistent. It is easy to use, lightweight, and a great tool for beginning anglers. This is indeed an ideal product for practice fishing. If you wish to catch a small fish in one spot, then a spin cast reel would work best. This product can be used by children and adults starting to learn how to fish.

Spinning Reel

Ultimate Guide of Fishing Reels Types: Understanding Pros And Cons

Features of a Spinning Reel

You might probably hear about spinning reels as “sissy sticks” and “fairy wands.” Most newbies and entry-level in fishing use this type of reel. The younger generation of fishers and anglers are brought up to fishing, starting with spinning reels. Indeed, many still prefer buying spinning reels to baitcasting reels.

It is probably the most common type of fishing reel, and the experience of these anglers using this reel is simply satisfying.

This type of fishing reel has a fixed spool underneath the rod, and its line is drawn out by the weight of the lure or bait and tackle.

Advantages of using a Spinning Reel

Anglers use a spinning reel because it is versatile. You can use it to cast different tackle designs, artificial lures, and even live baits.

The lure sinks faster and prevents the ‘pendulum effect.’ In addition, spinning reels can be used in saltwater, and they can keep resistance against a big fish on a light line.

Moreover, spinning reels are indeed a big help for bait and light tackle, and you pull the weight of the fishing line. Unlike other kinds of reels, the spinning reels do not get any tangles. If there are wind issues, you can still use the spinning reel.

If you are just starting your fishing journey, the spinning reel is the best reel since it is easier to use than other reels. You can throw the lighter lures faster, and this is indeed amazing.

Right-handed or left-handed users can also use the spinning reel. There are reels available in the market with interchangeable handles which will custom fit the users’ needs.

Lastly, the drag can be easily adjusted amidst the fight with any size of fish through a spinning reel. Whether the drag is on the rear or front of the reel, the drags of the spinning reel are easily accessible. Thus, this can give you a full range of adjustments, especially in battles.

Setbacks in using the Spinning Reel

The only setback to a spinning reel is that when you cast to a target, instead of the lure dropping straight down, the lure will swing away from the target in a pendulum motion. The solution is not to close the bail until the lure settles down to where your target is.

Another problem with the spinning reel is that it is susceptible to wear under harsh conditions. But with regards to accuracy, the spinning reel can place a lure of any size and weight into a certain target from at least twenty yards away. On the other hand, it sends a lure quite far for distance and rarely ever gets a backlash.

Remembering the spinning reel is that it cannot be used for a heavy or larger catch. It cannot handle line weights above ten pounds. If you are fishing heavy cover or areas with rocks, use a heavier line or use a baitcasting reel instead.

Check this article for more information and products about the Spinning Reel:

Star Drag Reels

Ultimate Guide of Fishing Reels Types: Understanding Pros And Cons

Shimano Torium SW Saltwater Stardrag Multiplier Reel

Star drag reels always work well when fishing from the rocks or sand. This type of reel provides precision and control over the drag, which is why other avid fishers prefer using star drag reels.

Star drag reels have a slight edge on casting ability. This type of fishing reel has a disc that is separate from the spool and does not rotate during casting, which minimizes rotational mass increasing casting efficiency.

The majority of star drag reels disconnect the gear train when put in a free spool. Thus, it will cast farther or drop faster.

With the star drag, you can set the strike settings. But once you change it, it becomes difficult to know the previous strike setting. Since there are no reference points on a star drag and you need to add some drag pressure while fighting a fish, you won’t know how much more drag you are giving the reel.

Pros of Using the Star Drag Fishing Reels

For example, the star drag fishing reels are affordable than the drag reels. Second, it is impossible to move a star drag by mistake; thus, it offers a steady position when used. Third, a star drag is so simple, and you could just forget it and leave it.

This is also a good reel for starters and inexperienced anglers.

Cons of Using the Star Drag Fishing Reels

Unlike the lever drag fishing reels, the star drag fishing reels can have a problem shifting from five pounds of pressure to 15 pounds of force within seconds. The star drag cannot smoothly and slowly shift straight through the free-spool and into the strike.

Trolling Fishing Reels

Ultimate Guide of Fishing Reels Types: Understanding Pros And Cons

Proberos Trolling Reel

The last type of fishing reel is the Trolling Reel. Trolling is a form of angling where lines with hook-rigged lures are dragged behind a boat to entice fish to bite.

There are three essential features of a trolling reel that cannot be found in some reels: a line braking system, an on-and-off release lever, and a line out an alarm. This type of fishing reel offers the most versatility when it comes to fishing line options. It is most useful when presenting multiple lures covering a lot of water.

A trolling reel is designed to be heavy-duty. It takes a lot of effort and amount of drag, around twenty-five pounds and higher. This type of fishing reel also has lugs to strap into a harness. They are built to resolve line capacity, frame strength, and sometimes effective gearing.

It has very little concern around free spool priority. Most trolling reels have heavy solid spools. These heavy solid spools have more kinetic energy than lighter spools. And this will only mean it will be difficult to control since it will take more force to get the spool spinning, and it will take more “opposing force” to slow or stop the spool.

Benefits of a Trolling Fishing Reel

A Trolling fishing reel will allow you to quickly fish at various depths and in a larger area. This will enable you to find the strike zone for large freshwater fish and bigger game fish.

Cons of Using a Trolling Fishing Reel

The trolling fishing reels are recommended for more experienced anglers with an increased point, like the baitcasting reels.

Reel’s Parts

The reel’s parts vary depending on its type. But generally, each reel will have the following inclusions on it:

  • Line Pickup-This will rewind the line to the spool
  • Drag System-This will let the line slide back off the reel. The pressure from the fish, it keeps the line from breaking.
  • A way to unfasten the line pickup for letting line back off the spool and casting.
  • SpoolThis will hold the line. It will provide a handle to reel the line back in the spool.

As you advance into the baitcasting reels, you will need to have braking systems. With this, you can control the speed of the spool as it spins at the cast’s end. Also, you can make tension knobs to control the speed as you start the cast. You can create the line guides to wind the line evenly on the spool. Finally, you can have more features that will aid you in improving the functions of the reel.

Tips in Choosing the Fishing Reel

  • Choosing the reel-style: You can have the free spool, fixed spool, closed face, or the center pin.
  • Know the Drag systems if its either front or rear drag
  • Determine the bearings: The reel’s bearings inside will determine the smoothness of the reel.
  • Know the line lay. If the line lays flat on the spool, the reel will perform better as you cast it.
  • A line clip will help you ensure that you will consistently catch more fish even if you cast feeders on the same spot.
  • To know how fast the reel will retrieve the line, always see the retrieve ratio.
  • Choosing the reel handle will depend upon your taste.

Knowing the Drag Systems

All of the fixed spool reels feature a drag system. Some are located on the front of the reel, which is known as the front drag reel. While for some, it is adjustable on the rear or known as the rear drag reels.

The most common among pleasure anglers are the rear drag reels. Meanwhile, for match anglers, the front drag reels are popular.

These two types of drag have the same function. They are used to loosen or tighten the spool’s movement. When the drag is set as loose, the spool can rotate easily. With this, the fish will pull the line from the reel smoothly. Whereas, if the drag is set tightly, the spool will now lock. Then, the line will snap before the spool can provide any line.

To adjust a drag system, tighten it so that the spool will let out a line before it snaps. As such, the fish caught will fight hard and eventually become tired. After that, you can get it without any problems. With this technique, you will control the fish and ensure that it will not gain sanctuary in the snags.

The question now is: which is the best drag system to choose? The front drag system has the edge versus the rear drag system in terms of performance. Since the front drag is located directly at the spool’s end, the drag’s mechanics do not have to run through the entire length of the reel’s body. Such is the reason why most of the top-of-the-range match reels choose the front drag.

Bearings: Its Importance for the Reel

The number of bearings inside the reel will let you know how smooth the reel will be. Also, the bearings will help prolong the lifespan of the reel. This is because the bearings absorb most of the wear and tear of the reel’s moving parts.

Line Lay

As you cast the reel, it will perform better if the line lay is positioned flat on the spool. Also, you can cast further and effortless with it. Furthermore, this technique will let you cast with more accuracy.

If the line lay is flat, it will help ensure that the line will peel off the spool consistently. There will be less resistance with an untidy and uneven line lay with this.

Line clips

If you are constantly casting feeders at the exact location each time you catch fish, a line clip will ensure you can achieve more.

Line clips are easy to use. First, it will cast your rig and feeder to your desired distance. Then, it will pop the line in the line clip and on the spool. As you retrieve the rig, you can aim towards your spot and then slightly overcast. The line will now peel from the spool until it gets in the line clip. As it stops, drop everything as with the flight of the cast. Do it on the desired spot. In the long run, indeed, you will master this technique. Then, every cast you make will be accurate, and you can land on the excellent catch!

Retrieve Ratio

To know how fast the reel can retrieve the line, see the retrieve ratio of the reel. The majority of the fixed spools reel can have a retrieve ratio of 5.2:1. With this, the rotor assembly will spin around the spool 5.2 times. This is for everyone’s full turn of the handle. This is the average speed of a general-purpose spool reel. The standard fishing reels have a retrieve ratio of between 4.8:1 and 5.4:1.

Meanwhile, there are more powerful specialist reels like the big pit reels in the market today. However, they have a slower retrieve ratio which is around 4:1 compared to the standard ones. With this, the reel will have more cranking power, enabling the angler to control the more enormous and robust fish with ease.

Reel Handles

Choosing the reel handle depends upon your taste. Nowadays, the reels are available in various lengths and shape handles. Some of the reels with higher specifications feature double handles. With this, the angler can have better balance, especially when retrieved.


In sum, there are various types of reels that are available in the market. They come in different designs, prices, and purposes. Before spending your money on buying a fishing reel, keep in mind that picking the right reel will depend on the type of fish and the location of your fishing expedition.

It also takes a lot of skills and experience for each reel to be used appropriately. Fishing is a beautiful hobby; thus, whatever reel you choose to have, and you think it makes you feel comfortable, then grab it, and you’ll indeed have a better fishing experience and a great catch!

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