Fishing Reel Types: Key Features, Pros & Cons and More

Fishing Reel Types


Many people who engage in recreational fishing are aware of what a reel is and the basics of its working. However, do you know what are the different types of fishing reels? Now, you may wonder, what difference would it make as to which reel you use from the different types of reels for fishing available, but you know what? It does make a significant difference. The different types of fishing reels are designed to keep in view a specific experience or use in mind. After all, you cannot just carry along an offshore reel if you have to catch a panfish or go marlin fishing with your spin cast reel. With this article, we aspire to tell you about the different types of fishing reels and what makes them ideal for the particular fishing style or angler.


But before we answer the big question – ‘what are the different types of fishing reels,’ what is a fishing reel?  A fishing reel is a cylindrical device that is annexed to the fishing rod you employ in stowing and winding lines. The best type of fishing reels are the modern ones which help you in casting for accuracy & distance and the retrieving line.


It is vital to match the right fishing rod with the right reel because different fishing reels perform different functions and require different skill levels.


So, what are the different types of fishing reels? Primarily the main fishing reel types include – spinning, baitcasting, and spin cast. Of course, there are several other fishing reel types that we have clubbed under the other category.


What Are The Different Types Of Fishing Reels?

  1. Spinning
  2. Baitcasting
  3. Spincast
  4. Others


Reel Type How it Differs from other Reels? Advantages Disadvantages
  • Hangs below the rod
  • Line envelopes the moving spool and passes via the roller before continuing to rod
  • No backlash
  • Easy to cast
  • Works effortlessly with lures and light lines
Line twist
Spincast There is a button present on the reel, which enables the line to unspool without restrictions
– a button on the reel is pressed which allows the line to unspool freely
  • No backlash
  • Easy to control and use
  • No line twist
  • Line capacity is low
  • Tends to tear up line
  • Not very durable
  • Spool is nestled perpendicularly to the rod.
  • Spool spins during casts
  • Able to handle heavy fishing line.
  • Has a strong drag system.
  • Suitable for heavy fishing lures and lines
  • Backlashes happen frequently
  • Hard to cast
  • Works great with light lures


Now, let us take a look at the different types of reels for fishing one by one.


1. Spinning Reels

Spinning Reels


Answering your question on ‘what are the different types of fishing reels,’ we present to you the first type of reel which is the spinning reel. It happens to be the second-easiest type of reel to use. These fishing reel types come with an open-faced design where the bail and rotor turn around a fixed spool, and the spool oscillates backward and forward as you crank the reel. This movement is exactly how the reel lays line on the spool, which takes place in even wraps along the spool’s length.


Of the different kinds of fishing reels, this one is hugely appreciated because, in this, the spinning reel is mounted on the rod’s underside, and the casting procedure is relatively more uncomplicated.


Of the different kinds of fishing reels, this one is an ultra-light reel and has a massive demand. You, too, can get this reel. When you team it with a short, whip-shaped spinning rod, it will cast the lightest lures in the tackle box. If truth be told, these fishing reel types can cast lighter lures, which makes it so popular.


These are one of the best types of fishing reels as they are perfect for lighter finishing scenes. Of the different types available, these are the best type of fishing reel to use in the saltwater. You can find spinning reels, which are big enough to handle offshore fishing or surf fishing for massive saltwater species.


From the different types of reels for fishing, these reels are also considered significant because they are easy to use. However, the downside of these fishing reel types is that they are vulnerable to line twist. Hence, when you go out there searching for the different types of fishing reels, we recommend you pick the durable one. You should also know how to put the line on your spinning reel properly before getting these fishing reel types.


Pros and Cons of Spinning Reels


  • Highly versatile
  • Impeccably easy to use
  • Easy to change the spool
  • Cheaper than other different fishing reels
  • Low maintenance
  • Superb for casting ultralight lures
  • No backlash during casting



  • Not ideal for the big fish
  • Not as good as the heavy lures
  • Low accuracy
  • Poor casting distance
  • Not as durable
  • Heavier than comparable baitcasters


What is a spinning reel used for?

Amongst the different kinds of fishing reels, when should you use the spinning reels? These fishing reel types are ideal when dealing with lighter baits, such as the live baits and soft plastic, as the furthest cast is limited by how hard you wish to cast the bait. The line will go off the spool without any drag restriction. It allows the light lures to launch as far as possible. They are nice because then there is no need to worry about the backlash. Here are some of the best spinning reels under 100



2. Spincast Fishing Reel

Spincast Fishing Reel


Taking the ultimate question of what are the different types of fishing reels forward, let us now move on to the second type of fishing reel, which is a spinoff of the spinning reel. It is known as the spin cast reel. This is one of the most acceptable fishing reel types, and it comes with a plastic cover or closed face. It thus tends to reduce the tangled lines, thereby making these fishing reel types relatively more comfortable to use as opposed to a spinning reel. Amidst the different kinds of fishing reels, these are suited for line control. The best spincast reels also come with a button on the reel.
. So, when you press on the button, it lets the line to unspool independently.


These fishing reel types’ popularity is higher amidst the different types of fishing reels because these are the simplest and the cheapest to operate. Moreover, from different types of reels, these ones are also popular for their closed-faced appearance. They come with the fishing line, which is wound around the spool inside.


The line escapes the reel via a hole in the cover. There is a push-button at the back of the reel, which lets the users disengage the spool. Holding the push button downwards will keep the fishing line stay put, and now when you release this button at the cast’s top, the line will come off the reel as your bait files in the direction of the target.


From the different types of reels, these ones are particularly famous for their ease of usage. It makes the spin cast reel somewhat easier to use and ideal for the fishermen who are just starting with their love for fishing. However, all the different types of reels come with certain limitations; this one does have a few major ones.


These reels do not hold much line, and the design of these fishing reel types is such that there is adequate resistance when the line is coming off the spool. This accentuates the short and inaccurate casting.


When you drown the worms under a bobber to fill a cooler with panfish, these fishing reel types work great, but you will need different types of fishing reels than this one for any serious fishing. So, what are the different types of fishing reels? Keep reading below.


Spincast Reel Pros & Cons

These are the best type of fishing reel because they are way more affordable than the baitcasting and spinning reels. Hence, this best type of fishing reel is great when you wish to eliminate the tangled lines, fatigue, and backlash.


Unlike in baitcasting reels, in these fishing reel types, the spin cast’s learning curve is almost non-existent. Do you know why amongst the different kinds of fishing reels, you will appreciate this one? Because this one is lightweight and very easy to use. All of this makes it an excellent tool for the beginning anglers. This is also the best type of fishing reel for when you need some fishing practice.



  • More affordable to buy
  • Very easy to use
  • Suitable for lightweight lures and line
  • No backlash
  • Easy to cash near the shoreline or beneath the overhanging trees with a sidearm cast
  • Can add further line capacity by including an additional reel
  • Perfect to switch the left and right hand orientations



  • Bulkier and heavier design
  • Not as durable or strong as it should be
  • Line tends to tear, twist, or tangle
  • Lower drag ability
  • No distance control


What is a spincast reel used for?

Now, of the different types of fishing reels, when is it apt to use a spin cast reel? From the different types of reels, it is advised to use this reel in situations:


  1. Wherein your target is a small or a standard-sized fish species.
  2. When your tackle and lures are lightweight
  3. When you are on a budget and cannot afford the high-cost bait caster
  4. When you are placing your rod in a holder, and need to look for something that you can set and forget without worrying about the technical hassles.
  5. When you have to loan your rod to an amateur who wants something effortless to work on.
  6. When you have to provide gear to a chartered group or class and wish to switch easily between the right and left orientations



3. Baitcasting Reels: Is It Really the Best type of Fishing Reel?

Baitcasting Reels


Taking your ‘what are the different types of fishing reels’ question forward, we have now come to the third fishing reel type, the baitcasting reel. It is a reel that nestles above the rod. In this type of reel, the rod is parallel to the reel and not perpendicular, like in the spin cast reel.


So, how is it distinct from the other different fishing reels? A primary difference between the two different kinds of fishing reels i.e. spin cast and the best baitcasting reel is that the reel, rod, and rings of the rod are larger in the latter. They are also positioned over the rod. We do not recommend the bait caster reel amongst the different types of reels to tell you the truth.


These fishing reel types work great with braid, fluorocarbon, and monofilament line types. So, while you are baitcasting, the spool moves along with the line’s casting. Thus, it will need a more experienced angler to ensure that things are always in control. If, for instance, you fail to keep things under control, your spool moves at a much faster pace than the casting line is flying, and this line then bunches up in a knotty mess. It is known as a bird’s nest or a backlash. Even though it can be prevented or reduced with practice, it makes the whole thing so complicated.


Baitcasting Reel Pros & Cons


  • Lightweight
  • Can hold heavier line
  • Durable
  • Low-profile
  • Can hold more line
  • Longer casts
  • More distance control and precision
  • Can handle heavier fish
  • Can handle heavier fishing lines and lures
  • Stronger drag capabilities



  • Higher learning curve
  • More expensive
  • Will need more experience
  • Difficult to switch between the right and left orientations
  • Backlashes


What is a Baitcast reel used for?

Amongst the different fishing reels, you should go with the bait caster reel in a couple of different situations. These include:


  1. While you are fishing for a fatty fish
  2. When you can invest at a higher price, this one is perfect
  3. When you are an experienced angler
  4. It is great for when the conditions are harsh, and the weather is tough
  5. When you desire to cast frequently and appreciate a lightweight device
  6. If you are not using a rod holder



Primarily the baitcasting reels are of two types

  1. Low-Profile Baitcasting ReelIt is an excessively popular baitcasting reel type. These fishing reel types are known for their lightweight, ergonomic design, and ease of handling. With these, you can easily catch hold of a variety of gamefish. More so, this reel significantly reduces the line twist.
  2. Round Baitcasting ReelThese fishing reel types come with a larger spool. This makes it perfect for holding more lines. They are perfect when you have to cast a line as far as you would want. There are not many things as satiating as the long-distance fishing cast for a person who enjoys fishing. Moreover, only a few things can be as disappointing as a cast, which is curtailed because of a shortage of lines.


The Advantages and Limitations of Different Kinds of Fishing Reels

The Spinning Reel: Advantages

Next best type of fishing reel available in the market is the spinning reel. It is a type of reel that depends mostly on the weight of what follows on the line’s end to enable you to draw the line forward while casting. This does give it a sort of advantage. The prime benefits that you get with these fishing reel types is versatility and adaptability. With a spinning reel, it is easier for you to switch between the different bait types without worrying about the cast’s implications.


Furthermore, it stands out as a winner in the forever debate between the spin cast reel and the spinning reel on the casting distance aspect. The reel’s reliance on the tackle weight provides it an opportunity for a much further casting than what you get with a spin cast reel. Of the different fishing reels, this one is a lot more durable.


The Spinning Reel: Limitations

From the different fishing reels, this reel is predominantly known for their learning curve drawback. It has a steep curve. If you compare the immediate ease of use, you will know that with this reel, the learning curve is a clear disadvantage amidst the spinning reel vs spincast debate. Moreover, using this reel will need a significant degree of practice to enable you to understand the right trick to cast with the spinning reel.


Next major disadvantage of these fishing reel types is that it tends to twist up the line. Amongst these reels, this is more like a common occurrence as opposed to the other spinning reels. Further, it is noteworthy that these reels are built and designed to be very light. So, there is a limitation to the lure weight with this reel.


The Spincast Reel: Advantages

When the fisherman explores the different types of reels for fishing, the first one that he will typically encounter will be the spincast reel. These are incredibly popular reels because they are easy to maintain and effortless to use. It is a hooded reel that comes with a button that you can press on to when you cast a fishing line and then release the button when the line is at the distance you want it to be.


As such, the reel does not have any complicated features. So, of the different types of fishing reels, this is preferred because there is no steep learning curve that comes with it. Hence, as such, there are no obvious initial drawbacks that you may see as a beginner.


Further, another great thing about this reel is that it allows you to have more line control while you cast. On the whole, there is very little chance of line twisting to take place. Another advantage that you may experience with this reel is that it is a lot more affordable than the other reels.


The Spincast Reel: Limitations

You can make the most fishing, only if you are aware of the limitations of the gear. The primary drawback that you will experience with this reel is that they lack the durability. Amongst different kinds of fishing reels, these reels happen to break easily, and they do not pass the test of the time. More so from the different fishing reel types, this one lacks a bit of a versatility. There are certain limitations to what you can tackle with this spincast reel, what fish this reel allows you to catch, how far you can cast via the reel, and also where you fish with this reel. It is for this reason why this is the best type of fishing reel for beginners. Most experienced fisherman will not appreciate this reel much. However, unfortunately, these fishing reel types do not give you enough room for growth. Further, we will also want to point out to you that these reels are unable to hold as much line as is possible with a spinning reel.


Baitcaster: Advantages

Baitcast reels are indeed very popular, amongst the different fishing reels because of their angling techniques, and for the many features that they offer. However, to date there has been a debate ongoing between spinning and baitcast fishing reel types. In all honesty, there are diehard standard loyalists of both of these fishing reel types. But in all fairness, the best type of fishing reel does not have to be the most expensive one.


A lot of experienced angler shop for the baitcasters or the baitcast reels because of the phenomenal control and precision they offer. This also means that this type of reel will need a certain skill level to enable you to generate the right inertia power, which may be needed to twist the rotating spool. However, using this reel from the different types of reels available means even the most experienced anglers will require a lot of practice to get the hang and to get used to this reel.


This precision and accuracy are exactly what you get with these baitcasters. An important thing to know about these reels is that if you make even a slightest error, you will have to go back home empty handed or perhaps very little fish as compared to the effort and time you put in. The undeniable truth is that the baitcasters are surely more durable than the spinning reels. This is what makes it one of the best types of fishing reel.


Baitcast Reel: Limitations

Amongst the different types of reels, you will quite like the baitcast reel because with this reel, you get the accuracy for the price you pay. You can find a decent reel for somewhere even below $100. For increasing the accuracy, you should be a lot more focussed and patient. Using this reel will be good for the experienced anglers as they might have well figured that they need to stop the spool as and what the bait drops. If you do not learn it in time, you might end up spending your entire day trying to achieve a perfect cast as the line tends to continually roll out.


As a result, it gets all tangled up. Furthermore, with these reels, you cannot use any other thing beyond the heavier lure. It is one aspect that makes spincast reels more preferable amongst the users. Beginners will not like this reel as it is important to learn the proper use of thumb for controlling the line speed. If you are unable to do so, you may experience a backlash, which may cause the tangling of the line when it moves fast or without any awkward cast.



Other Classification of Fishing Reel Types

Surf Fishing Reels

The primary difference between the other different fishing reels and the surf fishing reel is possibly the most obvious thing. These reels are designed for use in the saltwater, solely ideal for saltwater.


Owing to the saltwater’s corrosive nature, it comes with a combination of moisture, salt, and oxygen, ocean setting, and is not the best to keep your gear in the right shape. These reels come coated with a durable corrosion-resistant substance, which keeps them from weakening over time with saltwater exposure.


Surf fishing reels also have sealed elements, such as the sealed ball bearings. This helps prevent the salt and sand buildup from making an entry into the surf fishing reel’s inner-working.


You can employ different fishing reel types for surf fishing. More so, even the most typical ones also come under the spinning reel category, which helps you cast long distance baits with a minimal effort, which is excellent when you are casting from the shore.


They also have a stricter drag system, which is vital in the face of the ocean currents and tumultuous seas.


Offshore Reels

These fishing reel types usually belong to a similar category as the surfcasting reels for a variety of reasons, mostly because they are super saltwater resistant. Even though you do not deal with a lot of sand in offshore fishing, your reel will still be exposed to corrosion.


The key difference between offshore and inshore fishing, just like surf fishing, is the water’s depth. Offshore fishing takes you far from the beaches, somewhere between 10-100 miles from the coast. This means that you will deal with different water types and bigger fish when you jump in the open water. Thus, amidst different types of reels, these happen to be a lot more durable.


The offshore reel needs to have a lot more drag power than the freshwater reel. Almost all the tremendous offshore reels have a power capacity within a 20-50-pound range. The higher-end is more effective in catching aggressive and larger fishes like tuna or marlin.


Baitcasting reels are relatively famous for offshore fishing as opposed to the spinning-style. This is an amalgam of baitcasting reels’ accuracy and the offshore anglers’ skill level.


Center Pin Reels

These fishing reel types employ the simplest and most basic technology. These were the foremost reels to be used. They come with a straightforward design and utilize a free-spinning system without a drag. This makes them incredibly popular amongst some anglers.


However, you need to know that these reels are expensive and challenging and will take a while to figure out. So, you should know that for beginners, this may not be the ideal pick. The working method is quite the same as the baitcasting reel as this one does require a bit of manual line maneuvering for you to achieve a successful cast. The reels’ unique design needs an extra room as opposed to the traditional reels. So, they will work well on the long poles, maybe something that is about 10 to 12 feet long.


Even though these fishing reel types are not as famous as they once used to be, there are quite a few center pin reel enthusiasts who still swear by these. The reels’ free spinning action makes it relatively easy to maintain line without the loops. It can be quite challenging for the anglers who have always had it easy and never invested in anything beyond the spinning reels. It lacks the drag system. Thus, it is you and the fish, and therefore, your catch will seem like quite a significant achievement.


Fly Fishing Reels

Fly reels are a vital aspect of the fly fishing gear. They can work as a pivotal aspect of balancing a fly rod. These fishing reel types will always come in either of the two ways, machined and precast. Though neither one is a clear winner in terms of effectiveness, the precast of these reels is heavier and less durable. However, one good thing about these reels is that they are very affordable.


The machined reels are carved from a solid metal piece. This means a lighter design and a more robust finish that will last you many years. Most of the fly reels are composed of anodized aluminum, a good material that works well in saltwater and freshwater.


These reels also emphasize the drag ability, as it is a vital function in fly fishing. These reels will come with a pawl and click system. Though they are not very effective, from the price point, they are cheap.


Trolling Reels

There is a bit of a difference between the baitcasting or the traditional spinning and the trolling reel. The primary distinction between the two is that the trolling reel is designed and created for trolling. So, these fishing reel types are not created for casting. These are made for dropping lines behind the moving boat. Such reels are usually made from graphite, and they have large feet and reel handles, bait clicker alarms, and tough drag systems compared to the other reels.

Moreover, because of the lack of casting associated with these, they are larger and usually have more room for the additional line. This rod style will need a specific rod for it to work to the best of its potential. The design with the large reel feet tends to make it hard to complement the traditional rod. Thus, if you shop for the trolling reel, you should opt for the trolling rod to complete it. Some of the trolling reels come with new and improved features, such as a depth counter.



Spincast Reel Vs. Baitcaster Reel – Which Is Better?

The fact that the spin cast reels are more affordable and easy to use than the different fishing reels adds to their popularity. It is mainly a good pick for the scenarios, which do not need specific bait caster strength. Several anglers employ the spinner reel as the ideal general-purpose reel. Hence, from the different fishing reels, these are the favorite of the beginners.


Moreover, spinner reels are hugely versatile. This means that they are adaptable for almost every type of fishing. You can employ the same reel model for a myriad of uses, such as bottom fishing, spin fishing, live bait fishing, bottom fishing, and several different purposes.


On the flipside, the casting qualities of different fishing reels are different, and those of the spinner reels are not as good as the bait casters. Hence the experienced anglers opt for the spinning vs. casting reel for various applications. Further, it is crucial to know how to spool the spinning reel in the right manner to prevent fouls up and twisting while casting. Lastly, if you opt for the spinner reels from the different fishing reels, you need to familiarise yourself with the correct spinning reel sizes for your stated purpose. Further, you should be aware of the other reel parts to be able to use them right.



Tips to Shop for The Fishing Reel

Here are some consideration factors that you need to bear in mind when you are choosing from the available different types of fishing reels.


Rod compatibility

When choosing from the different fishing reels, the first and the foremost thing you need to bear in mind while shopping for a reel is the rod. Honestly, finding a good reel is not hard. However, your chosen reel (even if of the best quality) will not be worth it if it is not compatible with the fishing pole. Thus, when you shop for the best type of fishing real, you need to bear in mind the line that you will be using along with it, as that would be an essential factor of consideration. However, the most vital thing is to ensure that your reel balances the rod. You can do this by matching the weight for both the pieces. The first step in catching the fish is owning an adequately balanced rod.


Shop for the durable variant

As is true for every fishing gear, even from the different types of reels, you should pick one that is made of top-quality and durable material. In the beginning, while you shop, you may find it tempting to go with the reel that is the cheapest. However, please know that in most cases, the price you pay will be well worth it. So, it is okay to splurge if your budget allows. However, it, in no way, means that the durable reels will be the pricey ones. A lot of brands have highly affordable reels that are durable. So, keep your eyes on the reviews and shop for the reels that balance the quality and affordability.


Should suit your skill level

When you pick a reel for yourself from the different types of reels, you should choose one that is the best match for your skill level. So, naturally, the beginners’ fishing reel types would be different from the choice made by experienced and pro anglers. Thus, you need to ensure that you pick well. Newbies new to the fishing world will like the spin cast and spinning reels more as they are easy to figure out over the baitcasting reels. On the other hand, the pro users will want to go with the baitcasting reels. So, after you have the necessary practice, do not shy away from picking the baitcasting reel.



With a myriad of different types of fishing reels, it can be a bit overwhelming to find an equipment that fits your needs. Thus, in addition to asking the dealer about ‘what are the different types of fishing reels’, you also need to ask him what each of these offers before making your decision. Once you are aware of the different types of fishing reels,’ the best thing to do is find the one that works well for you. Regardless of whether you are a pro or just a new entrant into the fishing world, be wise in your choice, and you might find the right catch. That is all from us, enjoy your fishing love.