What is a Fishing Reel?
The fishing reel is the part of the fishing rod which carries/stores the line. It is from the reel that the line is unraveled and chucked out in the water, and it is back in the reel that the line is later winded into. (See below. It’s the weird gun-like thing at the handle.)
There is a range of different types when it comes to fishing reels. Depending on the kind of fish you’re trying to catch (and also on your level of expertise/skill), a specific type of reel will be the ideal choice and will be better suited than the others.
Types of Reels: How are they different?
There are some reels that, while easy to use and great for beginners, are not very sturdy and physically capable e.g. the spincast reel. They cannot be used to catch larger fish nor can they be used with thicker and stronger lines.
Similarly, there are such reels that feature a complicated method of working and are not very simple to operate but they reciprocate by being hardy and durable. An example from this category is the conventional reel.
The above helps us appreciate the need for understanding the different types of reels and the situations in which each of them is the ideal option. If you are not very familiar with this stuff, don’t worry. That is what we are going to help you with in this post.
Here is the list of the different reel types:
- Spinning Reel
- Low Profile Baitcast Reel
- Conventional Reel
- Fly Fishing Reel
- Electric Reel
First up on our list, we have the spinning reel. This type is quite popular because it is affordable and good for beginners. It is slightly more complicated than the average spincast reel but it is still easy to get the hang of.
To cast with spinning reels, the angler has to unlock the line by removing the bail. The bail is the part that stops the line from unwinding when idle and guides it back in evenly on the spool when it's being withdrawn.
Spinning reels are fitted at the bottom of the handle, rather than on top or to the side. This gives the angler a more symmetrical and natural grip. An uncomfortable position can become cumbersome during long fights with large fish.
Low Profile Baitcast Reel
Next up, we have the low-profile baitcast reel. These reels have, as the name indicates, a compact design. They are fitted at the top of the rod, and like spinning reels, give a centered and symmetrical grip.
The difference in the working of low profile baitcast reels and the spinning reels pertains to the spool. In the latter, the spool remains fixed and stationary while the line unwinds and goes flying out. In the former, however, the spool also rotates.
Since the spool also moves when dispatching the line, these baitcast reels require a higher level of skill as compared to spinning reels. If the line goes out way too fast, or if it gets messed up during the wind-up, you can end up with what is called a ‘bird’s nest’.
(The term ‘bird’s nest’ refers to an almost unrepairable/undoable tangled mess of the fishing line.)
Image taken from Pennfishing.com
There is something that should be cleared up before we move on with this type. Conventional reels are the same as ‘baitcasters’. The one we discussed above was put under a separate heading due to the fact that it was ‘low profile’ and not a standard one.
Conventional reels are also fitted on the top of the rod, and they have the same ‘dynamic spool’ mechanism that we saw above. The spool does not remain static when the line is being let off. Rather, it rotates simultaneously with the unwinding motion.
These types of reels also come with a 'level wind'. The level wind is a part inside the reel that moves side to side when the line is being pulled in. It distributes the line equally on the spool. Conventional reels are durable and sturdy and are used with heavy rods.
Fly Fishing Reel
Image taken from Guiderecommended.com
The fly fishing reels are, in comparison to the other types, very simple and straightforward. They are bereft of the complicated gimmicks and mechanisms found in the others. For beginners, these reels are an excellent way to get started.
Fly fishing reels are, like spinning reels, fitted at the bottom of the rod. There are three arbor sizes that you can choose from when buying a fly fishing reel. In the picture above, the one on the extreme right is a large arbor, and as you can see, it’s quite bulky in size.
These two knobs on the outside of the reel include the spool release and the drag adjustment. By adjusting the drag, the angler basically sets the amount of resistance that the fish will experience when tugging at the line.
Image taken from PecheXtreme.com
While fly fishing reels are fully manual and hand-operated, electric reels work using an automatic system. Using an electric reel isn’t very easy for beginners due to the multifarious functions and the complicated working.
Electric reels are essentially meant for those anglers who have to earn a living catching fish. After spending a couple of hours on the water while casting, winding, and struggling, the angler can get exhausted. Electric reels are a solution for all that manual effort.
The motor in these reels pulls in the line with mechanical strength and precision. This saves the angler from the draining amount of physical exertion.
Now that we have looked at the different types of reels available, let’s cover the pros and cons of each. This is will help you gain a decisive impression, and make a definite choice about buying one.
- Spinning reels are relatively easy and simple to use. They are great for beginners. If you don’t have a lot of experience in fishing, you should start off with a spinning reel or a spincast reel.
- They are fitted at the bottom of the rod. This position gives a nice and natural grip while also keeping the rod balanced and symmetrical.
- They are affordable. Spinning reels won't make a large hole in your wallet but at the same time, they are quite efficient for catching small to medium-sized fish.
- Spinning reels are not as straightforward as spincast reels. The bail has to be manually managed when casting and recalling the line. This is something that requires a bit of getting used to.
- These reels, while good for small to medium-sized fish, are not suitable for larger ones.
Low Profile Baitcast Reel
- These reels have a small and compact design. They sit discreetly on the rod and don’t mess a lot with the overall balance.
- Like spinning reels, they have a centered position on the rod albeit on top rather than at the bottom.
- Baitcast reels in general are strong and sturdy. They can be used to catch large fish.
- Baitcast reels are not very beginner-friendly. Operating them requires skill and expertise.
- Conventional reels usually come with a ‘level wind’. This part helps in evenly accumulating the line when it is recalled.
- These reels are strong and durable. Combined with heavy rods, they are ideal for catching large fish.
- They also come with a moving spool that gives a faster line deployment.
- Like low-profile baitcast reels, conventional reels need some getting used to. You will need to up your skill a little before switching to a conventional reel.
Fly Fishing Reel
- Very simple to use. In my opinion, these are the most straightforward reels that you can opt for. To cast the line, all you need to do is pull it out by hand. To recall it, just wind the arbor using the knob on the side.
- There are different arbor sizes that you can choose from. This availability can help you find the right size for your rod. You will, in this way, find your ideal balance and weight.
- They come with an easy drag adjustment mechanism.
- These rods require more manual effort than the others.
- Electric reels save the angler from the effort of winding the line back in. At the press of a button, the motor takes over and recovers the line while you just have to stand and hold the rod.
- These reels will come with the precautions that are generally attached to electronics. They will also require batteries (or charge) to operate.
If you are a beginner, you will be best off with a spinning reel or a fly fishing reel. If, on the other hand, you are someone looking to catch some big fish, you can try out baitcast or conventional reels.
And there you have it, folks. These were some of the fishing reels that you can find in the market nowadays. Hopefully, after reading the pros and cons, you will have a better idea about which one to buy for your particular need and requirement.