Types Of Fishing Reels – How Well Do You Know Your Reels?

Every angler is familiar with the details of the tackle they use. Most of us only fish two or three types of fishing rods, if we are working in hard water or casting flies.

Do you really know all of them? Are you able to tell the difference between a fly reel and a center pin? What would you do if you had to choose the best fishing reel for your needs?

Different types of fishing reels

Spincasting Reels

The easiest design of all spin casting reels to use is the Zebco 33, which is great for beginners. Many fishermen started their fishing careers with the Zebco 33 spincast reel. There are many other great options if you want to outfit someone else on the water.

Spincast reels were traditionally positioned above the rod, like a casting reel. Using spin-cast reels is as simple as pressing a thumb button to allow the line flow.

A few spin-cast reels have a trigger casting system that allows you to cast below the rod, much like a spinning reel. The basic design is the same, but the difference is that you cast by pulling your finger level and releasing it. This allows you to control the line’s speed, just like you would with the thumb buttons.

The spool is perpendicular to the direction of the fishing rod and has a series of pins that hold and release the line. These pins can be worn, so spincast reels may not be the best choice.

You’ll also find that every model has a cover to protect your line from water, wind, and UV damage. This is a great feature for a tackle that doesn’t need to be treated. These fishing reels, while not the most durable for spin casters, are extremely easy to use, inexpensive, and last a long time.

Drag adjustment is usually a dial on top of the reel. However, it can sometimes be a star-shaped knob under the reel handle.


  • Novice anglers
  • Budget-friendly options

Spinning Reels

The most common choice for water sports is the spinning reel. They are strong, durable, and easy to use. They are best suited for use with lines less than 10 pounds (diameter). Most light action rods will have a spinning reel. For surfcasting, larger spinning reels (called surfcasting reels) are available. Their strength and effectiveness are unquestionable. Surf fishing is known for producing large fish, so the surf fishing reels are usually a bit larger than regular spinning reels.

The spinning reels are located below the rod and have a spool which, like spin casting, orients the line perpendicularly in the direction it is traveling. This can lead to memory problems, so these fishing reels may not be the best choice for line with elephantine memories or for jigging where coiled lines will make your lure dance wild.

First, catch the line using your forefinger. Then, open the bail to cast a spinning reel. The line will then flow freely. The reel handle will do its job by simply closing the bail after casting.

The drag adjustment is usually located at the tip of your spool. Usually, the drag setting will be at the lighter end.

Spinners can last many seasons without any problems if they are well maintained. This is why they are a popular choice for anglers across the country.


  • Novice anglers
  • Budget-friendly options
  • Casting in the Wind
  • Ultralight fishing

Baitcasting Reels

Casting reels, also known as baitcasting reels, are the most durable and strong option available. They are popular among salt-water fishermen and bass fishermen. However, they can be difficult to use and may not be as hassle-free as spinning options.

They shine with a line that is heavier than 10 pounds (diameter), offer great control, and the best drag systems among all reel options.

Baitcasting reels are designed to ride above your rod and feature a spool that moves in the same direction as the line’s movement. This reduces memory and can be used to provide excellent casting.

Casting a bait caster reel is as easy as holding the spool in your thumb. This allows the spool to spin freely, making it easy to cast by simply lifting your thumb. For the inexperienced, this is where the trouble begins!

Diagram of a baitcasting reel

Two problems can arise right from the start. The lure will slow down as it flies through the air. However, the speed of the spool may not match the lure’s flight. A terrible tangle could occur if the line becomes too long. This is the worst thing about baitcasting.

How to cast a casting reel for baitcasting

The best baitcasters have adjustable magnetic brakes and spool tension settings. They work great once you get a few hours of practice.

Baitcasting reels have drag systems that are precise and powerful, but they can also be used for heavier weights than spinning ones.

The best baitcasting reels are durable, strong, and silky smooth. They can take fishing for real beasts to the next level.


  • Experienced anglers
  • Heavy line
  • Ultimate control

Trolling and Conventional Reels

These reels are used for saltwater fishing or deep-sea fishing. They may be called “conventional reels” (or “trolling reels”) depending on their intended use. They are almost identical to the baitcasting rods, but they will often have a lever to control drag.

They are, as you would expect, built to handle large fish and are not designed for precision casting like a big game reel.

You can choose between a trolling or conventional reel for:

  • Heavy saltwater applications

Ice Reels

The ice fishing reels are a close relative of fly fishing reels. They’re made to ride under the ultralight sticks that ice anglers use for pulling crappie, perch, and other panfish out of the hard water.

They are designed with rod-in-line spools, which help anglers fish with lighter lines and decrease memory issues. They also have a large diameter, which reduces the coils that can derail jigs

Casting is not done on hard water. Instead, lines are dropped through an ice hole. The 13 Fishing Black Betty FreeFall, one of the top-end reels, has a trigger that releases the spool and allows the line to drop as fast gravity will allow.

A drag knob, which is often star-shaped but not always, will be found behind the reel handle. These drag systems are made to handle light lines smoothly and offer smooth resistance at very low weights.

These reel feet will often be specially designed to accept a “pistol grasp”, which reduces strain on your wrist when you’re jigging all day.

You can use an ice reel to:

  • Ice fishing
  • Ultralight applications

Fly Fishing Reels

Fly fishing reels are similar to ice fishing reels. They have a central-pin design with a large spool. They are mechanically simple and designed to hold the line, provide drag and do little else.

Fly reels are located below the fly rod at the back of your handle. They have a spool release knob, and sometimes a drag knob that is designed for very light weights. As you would expect, they orient the line parallel to the rod.

Casting flies is a skill that depends more on the angler than the reel. You keep a small length of a line in your hand and move it forward and back rhythmically. Then, slowly, you use your other hand to feed more of it, zipping it over your head.

Although it looks easy, try it! It takes some practice to master it.

Fly reels are available for:

  • Casting dry or wet flies

Centerpin Reels

Fly fishing reels that use normal lines are called centrepin reels. They are often used in conjunction with a floating line, making them a great tackle for experienced anglers. The spool’s free-spinning allows floats to drift until they are manually stopped, giving them incredible results similar to fly fishing rods.

They are positioned below the rod, much like a spinning reel. These spools have large diameters which greatly reduce memory and provide high casting accuracy.

Centerpin reels are more popular in Europe and the United States than they are in America. This is partly due to their superior construction and materials but also because of their mechanical simplicity.

They are very difficult to cast and I will leave it to the professionals to explain how they work!


  • Experienced anglers
  • Casting floats in the most natural way
  • Ultra-durability

Last Thoughts

Anglers today have the most up-to-date technology, but it won’t help if they don’t know what it is or how to use it.

Now you are familiar with all types of fishing reels. We hope you found this article informative. Please leave a comment below if it has helped!

See our article on different types of fishing rods.

Most Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the four types of fishing reels available?
    There are four types of fishing reels: spinning reels (baitcasting reels), spinning reels (spin cast reels), and fly reels.
  2. What type of fishing reel do you prefer?
    There is no best fishing reel. The type of fishing you do will determine the best fishing reel.
  3. What’s the difference between a Baitcast reel and a spinning reel?
    The baitcasting reel is placed on top of the fishing rod. It has an inline spinning spool that rotates with line dispensing. A spinning reel is placed on the rod’s bottom and has no rotating spool. As you cast, the line will come off the spool easily.
  4. What is a BFS reel and what does it do?
    Bait finesse is a typical fishing reel that can comfortably cast light lures.
Lewis Mark is a vastly experienced fly fisher. His encyclopedic knowledge of fly tying has led to start blog on fishing. He also review Fishing equipment based on his knowledge and experience.