What Is A Spinning Reel?

A spinning reel is a handy tool for fishing and is known for being easy to use. It’s different from other reels because it hangs under the fishing rod and has a spool that spins when you reel in the line.

This design makes it great for both new and experienced anglers. Unlike some other reels that can be tricky, the spinning reel is user-friendly, reducing the chances of line tangles.

These reels come in different sizes and are good for all kinds of fishing, whether in lakes or the ocean. They have a part called a bail system that helps with smooth casting and reeling. Spinning reels are perfect for catching different types of fish.

So, whether you’re fishing in a calm lake or trying to catch big fish in the sea, a spinning reel is a useful tool that makes fishing easier and more fun.

What Is A Spinning Reel?

In fishing, a spinning reel features an open face and an arm that rotates when the handle is turned, winding the line onto the spool. To cast, the lure or rig attached to the line is disengaged from the spool, allowing the line to be released during the casting process.

Spinning reels are meant to be connected to spinning rods, and they need to be set up on the rod handle, facing downward. Unlike baitcasting reels, which sit on top, spinning reels are used by anglers to cast their rods and are positioned underneath the rod handles.

Using spinning reels for fishing is incredibly versatile, making it one of the most flexible methods. It’s great for various purposes like casting artificial lures, fishing with live or dead bait, using rigs and bobbers, and even ice fishing.

Spinning reels have two main advantages: they’re easy to use, making them great for beginners, and they work well for lighter fishing activities.

Explore More About Spinning Reel: How To Use The Spinning Reel?

What Are The Features Of A Spinning Reel?

Spinning reels can significantly improve an angler’s introduction to fishing. They serve as a foundational open-face reel, and understanding their key components is crucial for any fishing enthusiast.

Choosing a fishing reel style can be made easier for anglers of all ages with the versatile option of a spinning reel. These open-face reels work especially well with lightweight setups, offering simplicity in use. Beginners, in particular, can find spinning reels handy, especially when dealing with live or light baits.

It’s essential to know about the following eight components of spinning reels:

  • It’s a drag
  • Bail
  • Anti-Reverse Switch
  • Spooling
  • Handles
  • Ball Bearings
  • Reel Foot

If your fishing gear gives you trouble, knowing about these parts can be useful. And if you understand how your reel works, you can adjust it to fit what you need for your fishing.

1. Drag

The spinning reel’s drag system, located at the top, is responsible for adding or removing tension from your fishing line.

There’s a knob on the top of the spool (or sometimes at the back) that you can turn to adjust the tension of the frictionless plate. This adjustability makes fishing easier and more convenient.


Imagine you catch a fish, and if the drag is lighter, it gives the fish more control. On the other hand, if the drag is tighter, the fish has less control, but the tension in the fishing line will increase.

2. Bail

The bail has two important jobs. It acts as a casting trigger, playing a crucial role when you cast your bait. To let the line spool off correctly, you need to open or activate the bail. When you want to bring in your catch, you have to close the bail for retrieval or reeling in.


To seal the container, turn the handle as if you were reeling it in. To use the automatic closing system, you need to activate it. Alternatively, you can manually close the bail by flipping it back to its original position.

It allows anglers to control how much fishing line comes off the spool. The bail of your spinning reel guides the fishing line as it unwinds from the reel and onto the spool, keeping it in check.

Without a bail on your fishing line, you might face issues like losing direction, potential knots forming, and limited performance. The bail arms play a crucial role in keeping everything in order, ensuring smooth casting and retrieval.

3. Anti-Reverse Switch 

The anti-reverse switch is the final part of your spinning reel that you should get to know.

Reels usually have a switch at the bottom that can be handy when you’re fighting a fish. You can use this switch to reel backward, which is called backreeling or reeling in reverse, instead of relying solely on your drag system.

The drag should work well for fish that are lighter than a bass, but it’s a good idea to use the drag when dealing with bigger fish.

Anti-Reverse Switch 

Using a spinning fishing setup can be a great way for beginners to start fishing.

4. Spool 

Below the drag adjustment knob, you’ll find a spool on each reel. This spool is where your fishing line is housed. As you reel, the line wraps around the spool, ensuring smooth casting and release without tangles.


Before adding line to your spinning reel, it’s important to check the spool’s capacity. Look for a note or mark on the spool’s face indicating its capacity. Following these tips will help you spool your spinning reel correctly.

5. Handle

While baitcasting reels can only be used with one hand, spinning reels can be used with either hand.


You can unscrew the knob on the opposite side of your handle to switch from right-hand retrieval to left-hand retrieval.

6. Gear Ratio

A reel’s gear ratio determines how fast or slow the retrieve will be. Choosing the right gear ratio depends on the type of fishing you want to do.

The gear ratio is determined by how many times the handle turns compared to how many times the bail rotates. For example, a 5:1 gear ratio means the bail rotates five times for every turn of the handle. A 5:1 gear ratio is a good choice for an all-around reel.

If you want to use your reel for chasing pelagic fish with fast-moving lures, you’ll prefer a high-speed spinning reel.

A gear ratio of less than 5:1 is considered low and is suitable for bait fishing. A ratio over 5:2:1 is better for situations where faster retrieval is needed.

7. Ball bearings

There’s a relationship between the number of ball bearings in a reel and how smoothly it retrieves. Reels with more ball bearings are typically smoother, but they tend to be more expensive.

Ball bearings

Many anglers find that a reel with a five-bearing retrieve is smooth enough and also affordable.

It’s important to note that cheap, non-reputable brands with a large inventory of bearings often have poor-quality ball bearings.

In life, the only certainty is that you get what you pay for. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.

8. Reel Foot

Spinning rods, like other fishing rods, use the reel foot to attach the reel to the rod. The reel is secured to the rod handle using two hoods and a threaded sleeve in the reel seat.

Reel Foot

How To Choose The Right Spinning Reel?

Spinning reels come in various sizes and types, depending on factors like your fishing environment, style, rod components, and existing gear. Here are some things to consider when choosing one.

1. Size

Having the right size reel (and overall outfit) is crucial if you want to catch fish regularly rather than just on special occasions.

Your outfit shouldn’t be too big, as this can hinder the action of your lure and make fishing uncomfortable and cumbersome. A smaller outfit can offer the same level of sensitivity, ensuring that you feel the fish when it bites.

When determining the size of your overall outfit, consider the line capacity of your reel.

Before making a purchase, check the reel manufacturer’s information on line capacity and weight. Researching and working backward from your target species can also help determine the recommended line rating. 

To help you get started, here are some general guidelines:

  • The range for spinning reel sizes is typically from 1000 to 3500 (10 to 35). Reels for small fish species are often paired with lightweight rods that are 6-7 feet long. These smaller reels can usually handle monofilament lines weighing 2-10 lbs and braid lines weighing 4-14 lbs.
  • In the 4000 to 5500 (40 to 55) range, these reels are likely meant for rods that are 6-7 feet long, designed for catching snapper or barramundi. They can typically handle line weights ranging from 8-14 lbs (4-7 kg) for monofilament or 8-25 lbs for braid.
  • In the range of 6000 to 9500 (60 to 95), large reels are designed to fit big rods, such as those used with boats or surf rods. They can accommodate monofilament and braided lines weighing between 12-25 lbs (6-12.5 kg).

2. Match Rods & Reels

It’s important to note that reels of the same size may not weigh the same due to differences in construction materials. When pairing a reel with a rod, make sure they are balanced for optimal performance.

A combo is balanced when it remains relatively horizontal on your index finger (closest to the rod handle grip) when you place it there.

An unbalanced rod and reel combination will feel either top-heavy or bottom-heavy, which can make fishing uncomfortable.

3. Materials

The materials used in constructing your reel will determine its weight, portability, and durability.

Reel bodies are typically made of aluminum, graphite, carbon fiber, or a combination of these materials. Their lightweight and rigid properties make them ideal for reel construction.

Aluminum is stronger than graphite and carbon fiber, but these materials are lighter in weight. If you’ll be holding the rod constantly, such as when lure fishing, lighter materials may be preferable. Graphite and carbon fiber also offer better corrosion resistance, making them more suitable for saltwater environments.

It’s highly recommended to clean your reel regularly, especially after saltwater fishing, regardless of the material it’s made from.

4. Fishing styles

As previously mentioned, a reel’s performance depends greatly on the type of fishing and the species you plan to target. A 1000-2500 reel loaded with a 2-10 lb line is suitable for smaller species in both freshwater and saltwater, such as trout and whiting.

On the other hand, if you’re targeting larger fish like giant trevally or other reef species, you’ll need a reel sized between 5000 and 10,000, capable of handling a 30-50 lb braid with an even bigger leader.

Do yourself a favor and invest in a reel with seals if you primarily fish in saltwater. While it may be more expensive initially, you’ll save money in the long run by not needing to upgrade every few years.

Weight shouldn’t be a concern if you’re bait fishing from a boat or the beach, but you’ll need a reel that can handle your target species.

Researching the species and environments you plan to target will help you determine the reel that will suit your fishing needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some of the most frequently asked questions about spinning reels are as follows:

Q1: Are Spinning Reels Easy To Use?

Many angling careers start with spinning reels because they are simple and easy to use. Unlike other types of fishing tackle, spinning rods manage the line, making casting and fishing easy once they are set up.

Q2: What Is a Spinning Reel Best For?

A spinning reel is best for several types of fishing, including freshwater and saltwater fishing. It’s versatile and can be used for a wide range of fish species, making it suitable for beginners and experienced anglers alike.

Spinning reels are particularly effective for casting light lures or bait, making them ideal for finesse techniques. They’re also great for fishing in areas with obstacles or where a longer cast is needed. Overall, spinning reels are known for their ease of use, reliability, and ability to handle a variety of fishing situations.

Q3: How to Service a Fishing Reel?

Maintaining your fishing reel is essential to ensure its longevity and optimal performance. After each use, wash your reel with fresh water to remove any salt, sand, or debris. Dry it thoroughly before storing it in a dry place, such as a closet, to prevent rust and corrosion.

Every six months, remove the handle and spool, clean them, and lubricate them with a reel lubricant to keep the reel running smoothly. This simple maintenance routine can help extend the life of your fishing reel and keep it performing at its best.

Q4: Should you change your fishing line every year?

Your line type will determine how much pressure you apply when fishing. For mono or fluoro lines, it’s recommended to replace them after consistent use for two years to prevent breakage.

If you’re using a braid line, check its strength every year for 3-5 years to ensure it doesn’t break. This maintenance routine will help you avoid line failures and improve your fishing experience.


In the end, the spinning reel is a versatile and user-friendly tool that suits anglers of all levels. Its straightforward design and smooth operation make it ideal for various fishing environments and a wide range of fish species.

With features like the bail system for easy casting and reeling, spinning reels offer an efficient and enjoyable fishing experience. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced angler, a spinning reel can be a valuable addition to your fishing gear.

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