Types Of Fishing Reels

As you gear up for your upcoming fishing escapade, ensuring you have the right equipment is crucial. Among the array of angling gear, there’s one item that stands out – the fishing reel. You might be wondering, “Do I really need a fishing reel?” Well, imagine this scenario: You’re out on the water, and suddenly, you hook a massive salmon. Without a proper fishing reel, that prized catch might slip away. So, if you want to maximize your angling success, it’s imperative to familiarize yourself with the diverse types of fishing reels available.

All About Fishing Reels

With over a decade of experience in fly fishing, we’re here to share our angling expertise. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the following key aspects:

  1. The Basics of Fishing Reels
  2. An In-Depth Look at Four Different Fishing Reel Types
  3. Recommendations for Top-notch Fishing Reels
  4. Choosing the Perfect Reel for Your Needs
All types of fishing reels

The Foundation: Understanding Fishing Reels

At its core, a fishing reel is a cylindrical device attached to your fishing rod, designed to hold and release the fishing line. It plays a crucial role in casting, reeling in fish, and controlling the tension on the line during a fight with a fish. Fishing reels come in various types, each catering to different fishing styles and scenarios.

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Types of Fishing Reels

There’s a multitude of fishing reel varieties, but we’ll focus on the four most common ones:

1. Spinning Reels

Recommended for Beginners

Spinning reels are a go-to choice for many anglers due to their versatility and ease of use. These reels are mounted beneath the fishing rod and feature an immovable spool. To wind the line, you simply rotate a metal arm on the side. Spinning reels offer great value, are well-balanced on most rods, and are suitable for a wide range of fishing conditions. However, they can pose line-twisting challenges during casting, which can be overcome with practice.

Penn Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel review

Example: Penn Battle II & III Spinning Fishing Reel


  • Ideal for freshwater use
  • User-friendly and affordable
  • Low maintenance requirements


  • Not suitable for larger fish
  • Slightly compromised durability

2. Baitcasting Reels

Recommended for Experienced Anglers

Experienced anglers favor baitcasting reels for their precise casting abilities. They excel in preventing line twisting during casting but demand more practice to master. These reels are not recommended for beginners due to their learning curve.

Abu Garcia Revo Rocket Baitcasting Reel review

Example: Abu Garcia Revo Rocket Baitcasting Reel


  • Suitable for sea and big rivers
  • Long-distance casting capabilities
  • Generally lightweight


  • Require expertise to use effectively
  • Often come at a higher cost

3. Spincast Reels

Perfect for Learning

Spincast reels, also known as closed-face reels, are excellent choices for beginners. They feature a covered spool and a button that toggles between free-wheeling and locked spool. These reels are easy to use and are commonly used for practice and learning the basics of fishing reel operation.

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Zebco Bullet Spincast Fishing Reel review

Example: Zebco Bullet Spincast Fishing Reel


  • Ideal for small freshwater bodies
  • Beginner-friendly with no risk of backlash
  • Operable with one hand


  • Limited drag strength for larger fish
  • Restricted line capacity

4. Fly Fishing Reels

For the Avid Fly Fisher

Fly fishing reels are distinct in that they’re designed for weightless fly lures and thicker fly lines. These reels have a rotating spool that accommodates the fly line. They’re equipped with a drag system for controlling fish during fights.

 Ross Evolution R Salt Fly Reel review

Example: Ross Evolution R Salt Fly Reel


  • Versatile for both freshwater and saltwater use
  • Suitable for casting lightweight flies
  • Quieter casting to avoid startling fish


  • Requires practice for accurate casting
  • Generally higher investment in fly fishing gear

How to Choose the Perfect Fishing Reel

Selecting the right fishing reel hinges on several factors, including your angling preferences and the type of fish you’re targeting. Let’s delve into some essential considerations:

1. Construction & Materials

Fishing reels come in two main types based on their construction:

Die-Cast Reels

Die-cast reels are manufactured by pouring molten metal into molds. While cost-effective, they tend to be fragile. Technological advancements have improved their durability over time.

Redington Behemoth Fly Reel review

Example: Redington Behemoth Fly Reel

CNC Machined Reels

CNC-machined reels are cut from solid metal bars, making them robust and precise. However, they are pricier due to the advanced machining process.

Sage Spectrum C Fly Reel review

Example: Sage Spectrum C Fly Reel

2. Arbor Size

The arbor size refers to the spool’s center portion’s distance to the edge. Different arbor sizes have varying advantages:

Standard Arbor

Standard arbors are the smallest, resulting in line memory due to tight coiling.

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Example: Abel 3N Fly Reel

Mid-Range Arbor

Balancing size and memory, mid-range arbors are versatile and popular.

Orvis Battenkill Fly Reel

Example: Orvis Battenkill Fly Reel

Large-Range Arbor

Large arbors minimize line memory and offer quick line retrieval, suitable for bigger fish.

Orvis Clearwater Fly Reel review

Example: Orvis Clearwater Fly Reel

3. Drag Mechanism

Two primary drag mechanisms are prevalent in fishing reels:

Click-And-Pawl Drag

Simplicity defines this drag, involving a clicking mechanism. It’s lightweight and easy to maintain but lacks adjustable drag force.

Ross Colorado Fly Reel review

Example: Ross Colorado Fly Reel

Disc Drag

More complex, disc drags offer adjustable and smoother drag. They rely on friction between washers.

 Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Reel review

Example: Waterworks-Lamson Liquid Fly Reel

Consider your target fish and fishing environment when selecting a drag mechanism.


As you embark on your angling journey, understanding the nuances of fishing reels is paramount. From spinning reels for beginners to baitcasting reels for the more seasoned, each type offers unique advantages. By aligning your preferences with the right fishing reel, you’ll enhance your fishing experience and increase your chances of reeling in the catch of a lifetime.

Remember, the world of fishing reels is as diverse as the fish themselves. Equip yourself with knowledge, choose wisely, and cast your way to angling success.

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