Fishing reels have been around for centuries and have been critical elements in angling since their crude beginnings in China’s Song Dynasty. Since those days, a lot has happened, including the emergence of newer and more streamlined versions of pioneering fishing reels. These products have become so diverse that they’re now classified into four different types.

Getting a reel that matches your rod to a T is critical to success in the water. That’s why we’ll be giving you a rundown on the four reel types, including their differences and the kinds of fishing they’re good for.

Before we get started, we’d like to remind you of the importance of maintaining the performance of fishing reels. Getting the right one won’t matter if it’s only good for the first couple of angling trips.

Fishing Reel Types

Finding the ideal fishing reel for your needs requires looking at today’s available standards. Basically, reels should be shaped like a cylinder and structured to be mounted on the rod’s top or bottom. They also share a function of a winding and stowing line, which is cast out into the water.

Drags, reel handles, and reel feet are some common reel features to look into, as well. A reel could also have other features, depending on its type. These additions are determined by whether a reel is for baitcasting, spincasting, spinning, and fly fishing.

Baitcasting Reels

As its name suggests, you should match these reels with baitcasting rods. Unlike spin casting rods with their bottom-mounted guides, baitcasting ones have theirs mounted on top and are used mainly for bass fishing. Their increased control and sensitivity make them more inclined for these types of angling activities.

Another feature that sets a baitcasting reel apart from a spincasting type is the revolving spool. It’s a feature that requires you to pin the line down by placing your thumb on a button or a bar, a different mechanism from the one used in spincasting reels. This system also grants you more control.

The edge in power also goes to the baitcasting reel, with the extra bit of strength it offers for reeling in fish. This can be attributed to a mechanism in the inner gear, where one revolution equals several in a different type of reel.

Spin Casting Reels

If it’s a closed-face reel, it’s likely a spin casting reel. This is one major distinction of this reel type. Other reels usually have their spools near the fishing line area unexposed.

A spin casting reel also has a button you can press while casting. This is something you release at the same time you release your wrist, so the fishing line casts freely. It also works with a fixed spool, which controls the length of the line going in and out of the water while hauling fish or recasting.

Reels usually spin with every turn of the reel handle, which isn’t the case for this reel. Its spool is situated parallel to the rod axis and prevents it from rotating. This kind of structure means it’s typically more effective for lighter lures and baits.

Spinning Reels

Closely similar to spin casting reels are spinning reels mounted at the bottom of the rod and share all but two features with the spin casting reel. One spin-casting feature missing from this reel is the spool cover, which means all its pieces are exposed. Then, there’s the fact that this item has a rotating spool instead of a fixed one.

Measuring the reel’s capabilities against the baitcasting reel, you’ll find the major difference to be the presence of a power roller. This is a wheel that ensures a smooth-running line throughout its route from the guide to the rod’s underside. It’s also matched with a bail movement that helps keep the line in place, such as Shimano spinning reels.

Fly Reels

Plan on going fly fishing? You would be right to get this type of reel for your rod.

Today’s fly reels have reemerged with narrower spools to boost retrieve rate, a feature that pioneering fly reel models didn’t quite get right. That makes this reel quicker at reeling the line back, making it more efficient for fly angling in general.


But let’s go back to this reel’s speed. It’s a good five times quicker than its predecessors, which can save you from so much frustration in the water. In particular, this helps with the super-technical aspects surrounding fly fishing, which relies on a casting process focusing on weightless lines and lures.

The Right Reel Can Make a Difference

So much of the experiences surrounding a fishing trip depend on getting the right type of equipment. These days, fishing gear is classified according to the kind of angling it’s best for. For example, if you want to try slow pitch jigging, you must try slow pitch jigging rod, especially designed for the purpose.

Thus, when picking a reel, identify first what type of fishing you’re into and what rod type you plan to use. Aligning these three perfectly should take you several steps closer to that dream fishing experience.