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Types of Fishing Reels – Which One is the Best

Most anglers are well aware of the types of fishing reels. They also know which reel is suitable for them. However, newbies find it hard to search for appropriate options and there’s also a chance that they might not know about the types. We were all newbies once and there’s no shame in admitting that. Nobody learns everything from the start. 

Types of Fishing Reels

Beginners always ask lots of questions but the most common and important ones are “what are the different types of reels, which one should I buy, and does choosing reels really matter?” In order to clear all your queries and provide more info, we’ve created different sections to answer all three of these questions. Without wasting more time, let’s get into it. 

How many types of reels exist and what are these called?

Our modern world of innovations and advanced technology offers many types of fishing reels but there are only four main types. The rest of all is just the subcategories of these four types. Our article contains the details of all four main types of fishing reels plus a few subcategories. Let’s just start reading about the types and their functions.

  • Spinning reels
  • Baitcasting reels
  • Spincast reels
  • Fly reels
  • Centerpin reels (Fly reel subcategory)
  • Offshore reels (Subcategory of both baitcasting and spinning reels)
  • Trolling reels (Baitcasting reel’s Subcategory)

A Closer look at Reel Types and their Functions:

As mentioned earlier, there are four main types of fishing reels. We added the three most commonly used subcategories to provide you more information. Let’s begin with the details.

1. Spinning reels

Spinning reels

The most common and popular fishing reels are spinning reels. Anglers use this reel type for a wide variety of applications, for example targeting tuna, bass fishing, offshore fishing, and saltwater actions. Spinning reels are also called open-faced reels. These reels provide comfort and versatility.

Some anglers, like myself, take four or five spinning reels on fishing trips because these reels are the most versatile type of fishing reels. Taking four or five spinning reels allows anglers to fish in almost all the fishing conditions. 

The spinning reels work differently than spincasting and baitcasting reels. The bail arm of the reel rotates around the spool. The spool in the spinning reels does not rotate. The bail arm of the reel rotates to wrap the line on spools. This difference makes this reel easier and user-friendly. 

The disadvantage of this reel is that you have to spool the line very carefully and correctly. Otherwise, it won’t allow you a problem-free fishing experience. 

Suitable environments: 

Spinning reels are well suited for both freshwater and saltwater. However, if you’re fishing in saltwater, then my advice is to buy heavier models. The heavier models will work flawlessly and will offer more durability. 

We know that saltwater is more corrosive than freshwater, and also, saltwater fishes are bigger than freshwater’s. These fishes require more power to catch. Standard spinning reels will never handle larger species’ fish power, plus they’ll not have a long-lasting life. That’s why you should buy heavier and more durable models of spinning reels for saltwater applications. Some of my favorite spinning reels are,

  1. Penn Pursuit III Spinning Reel
  2. Shimano Sedona Fi Spinning Reel
  3. Daiwa BG Spinning Reel
  4. Plusinno Fishing Reel
  5. Piscifun Carbon X Spinning Reel
  6. Abu Garcia Max X Spinning Reel

Unsuitable environments: 

As previously described, spinning reels offer more versatility than all other types of fishing reels. But still, they’re able to perform in some fishing applications. These applications are, 

  1. Deep-sea fishing
  2. Heavy trolling
  3. Fly fishing
  4. Heavy casting

Deep-sea fishing, heavy trolling, and heavy casting require a reel with a large spool to handle heavy lines. Spinning reels offer smaller spools than baitcasting reels. So, we can say that spinning reels are unqualified for these three jobs.

Fly fishing is a totally different style of fishing and requires completely different types of equipment. Spinning reels are not suitable for fly fishing.

Why should you buy Spinning reels: 

Spinning reels provide value to its users in every way possible. These reels offer lots of advantages that make spinning reels the most popular and every angler’s favorite. Few great reasons to buy this reel type are,

  • Spinning reels are easily available to everyone. Whether you live in a big city or a small town, your nearby market will offer spinning reels. These reels are available in every corner of the world. 
  • The spinning reels are easy to use. Everyone loves spinning reels because they’re very user-friendly. Operating a spinning reel is like playing the bowl. You just have to throw the line and then retrieve. 
  • Spinning reels are well suited for lightweight lures. In other words, manufacturers create it for lightweight lures. 

2. Baitcasting reels

Baitcasting reels

We are all fans of baitcasting reels. Everyone who loves fishing loves baitcasting reels.

A baitcasting reel sits on top of the rod, so the spool is parallel to the rod and the rings are larger and positioned on top of the baitcasting rod. The working of this reel type is different from spinning reels. The spool moves with the casting of the line making it hard to control. 

What happens if a beginner tries a  baitcasting reel? Well, it’s hard for a beginner to control the line. The spool will end up moving faster than casting line and the line will bunch up into a mess. This mess is usually called the bird’s nest or backlash. Untangling the line from the bird’s nest is challenging and time-consuming. Experienced anglers use their thumbs to control the line. 

While using the baitcasting reels, experienced anglers hold the rod with the dominant hand to cast, then switch hands to reel in the cast. So basically, they use their dominant hand for pretty much everything. 

Suitable environments: 

Baitcasting reels, just like spinning reels, are used for various applications. These reels are well suited for light spin fishing, surf casting and most importantly, big game fishing. Bass fishing is also one of its specialties. Besides, best baitcasting reels for the money are worth every penny.

Baitcasting reels allow you to target heavy fishes. This means these reels are capable of pulling big fighting fish out of water. The baitcasters can launch lures further than spinning reels because the line flows directly straight off the spool. 

Baitcasters are well suited for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. These reels are specially designed for withstanding harsh environments. So, if you fish in a hard environment, then buy a baitcaster for your comfort. Here is a list of the best baitcasting reels. 

  1. Piscifun Torrent Baitcasting Reel
  2. KastKing Royale Legend GT
  3. Abu Garcia Revo SX
  4. Penn Squall Lever Drag Reel
  5. Piscifun Phantom Carbon Baitcasting Reel 
  6. Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile Baitcasting Reel

Unsuitable environments:

We now know that baitcasting reels also offer versatility. These reels are capable of almost everything. As mentioned earlier, these reels are designed to withstand heavy abuse and are suitable for most environments. 

However, it is not good to try cheap baitcasters in very tough environments. Our market offers a variety of baitcasting reels. Some of them are cheap and not very durable. Pro advice is, Do not use cheap products to target large species in rough environments. 

Why should you buy Baitcasting reels: 

Baitcasting reel has been an angler’s source of happiness for a long time. These reels make someone’s fishing trip full of memories. These reels provide value to their owners in every way possible. Let’s have a look at some of the main reasons to buy baitcasting reels,

  • Baitcasters are the best for bass fishing. These reels provide excellent power and accuracy.
  • The baitcasting reels are the preferred choice for heavier lures like spoons and spinnerbaits.
  • You can stop a cast instantly by putting your thumb on the reel. It will stop the lure immediately, and, as a result, you’ll stop the cast right on time. 
  • Baitcasters provide a great degree of casting control and great power. With the right amount of power and accuracy, you can flawlessly catch every species. 
  • These reels are suitable for excellent saltwater abuse. Without a doubt, baitcasters offer more durability than spinning reels.

3. Spincast reels

Spincast reels

I’m sure a lot of us used the spincast reel as our first reel. Many of us started fishing with the help of this closed face reel. Why? Because it is the best for beginners. And why is it best for beginners? Because it’s effortless to operate. You won’t catch big fishes with it, but who in the world will target large species while learning. Spincast reels do not cost you much and you can easily find the best spin caster for the money. That’s another reason for beginners to choose spincasting reels over spinning reels.

The spincasting reels are not popular in the modern world. It is believed that spinning reels can do everything better than closed face reels. That may be true, but spincast reels cost half of spinning reels, and they’re also easier to operate. If you’re a casual angler, then this is your type of reel. 

The spin casting reel’s working mechanism is simple. It has a closed spool for covering the line and a push-button for release. Also, the plastic housing covers the line. As a result, the spincast reels do not become tangled easily. 

Since there’s less chance of facing a technical issue with spincast fishing reels, it is best for beginners, children, and casual anglers. 

Suitable environments:

The spincast fishing reels have low line capacity. This means you can fish small species with it. Spin casting reels are also not very durable. Their body is not strong like baitcasting and spinning reels. So, you can just use it in good fishing conditions. 

Spincasting reels are best for casting near the shoreline. The limited line capacity only allows you to target small fishes rather than big fishes. But catching small fishes is very easy with spincast fishing reels. 

This reel is best designed for freshwater. On the contrary, people tried it in saltwater and succeeded. But of course, for saltwater fishing, you will require some best spincasting reels. Few of them are,

  1. Zebco 33 Micro Spincast Fishing Reel
  2. Pflueger President Spincast Reel
  3. Kastking Brutus Spincast Reel
  4. Zebco Omega Pro Spincast Reel
  5. Pflueger Trion Spincast Reel

Unsuitable environments:

Until now, you’ll have an idea about the limits of the spincast fishing reels. Let me explain some more.

The spincasting reels do not offer much durability. So, if you fish in rough conditions, spincasting reels are disqualified for the job. Some models are indeed successful in saltwater, but still, a wide variety of spin casting models can not withstand saltwater abuse. 

Why should you buy Spincast fishing reels:

Spincast reels are used for various purposes. Just like any other type of reel, spincasting reels have their advantages. We all know that these reels are best for beginners. But the advantages do not stop here. The list goes a bit long.

  • The spincast fishing reels are the easiest to use. This reel is the most user-friendly. You can learn its working mechanism in a day. With just a bit of practice, you can cast like a pro.
  • The best thing about this reel is that there is NO BACKLASH in spincasters. The plastic housing makes it nearly impossible.
  • Catching small fishes is more straightforward with spincast reels. As mentioned earlier, these reels have limited lines. You can not target big fishes with this reel, but you can catch small ones with no technical issue. 

4. Fly reels

Fly reels

Fly reels are totally different from any other kind of reels. That is because fly fishing is a separate and distinct way. This technique involves a bait (looking like a fly) presented on top of the water or slightly below. 

Most of the anglers love fly reels because operating them is not child’s play. Using fly reels is nearly impossible for beginners and casual anglers. That is because the bait connected to the line has no weight at all, and the line itself is so thin that it almost flies in the air. 

Suitable environments: 

There’s nothing to debate about suitable environments. That is because fly fishing is an entirely different technique of fishing. The fair territory of fly reels is the steady water with lots of fish. Because all you can do is wait for a fish to jump in the trap. The bait is floating on the water or just below the water level, so it doesn’t matter what type of water it is. Some most popular fly reels of today’s modern era are,

  1. Lamson Guru S Series Fly Reel
  2. Piscifun Sword Fly Reel
  3. Redington Behemoth Fly Reel
  4. Ross Animas Fly Reel

Unsuitable environments: 

You can only use your fly reels in the steady water. Everything else is unsuitable for fly reels. In other words, fly reels are not versatile. These are designed for fly fishing only.

Why should you buy fly reels:

Fly reels allow you to do so much within the limits of fly fishing. These reels are simple, reliable, robust, and durable. Unfortunately, fly reels are expensive but to be honest, these reels are worth every penny. Fly reels offer many advantages like,  

  • These reels are the most durable fishing reels. Some companies provide a lifetime guarantee for their fly reels.
  • Without a doubt, fly reels are strong. They are capable of pulling large species out of the water. Fighting big fish power is very easy for a fly reel.
  • Fly reels are simple. These reels have a large arbor, and only these reels can throw a line with almost no weight attached to them.  

5. Centerpin reels

Centerpin reels

Centerpin or Centrepin reels are used for float fishing, usually to target steelhead. These reels look like Fly fishing reels. However, they’re different in many ways. Float fishing reels are expensive, and these reels are one of the first fishing equipment. Lots of experienced anglers love using centrepin reels because these reels never disappoint. 

The manufacturers create float fishing reels for a specific purpose. The reel sits perpendicular to the fishing rod, allowing anglers to cast further. The most unique thing about this reel is that it doesn’t have a drag system. Instead of having a mechanical drag, the angler’s thumb is responsible for controlling the line. However, some models offer a drag system but most of the models follow the no drag tradition.

Centerpin reels are most common in Australia, Europe, U.S, and Canada. These reels are powerful enough to target big game fishes and provide a lot of control over fish. 

Suitable environments: 

Centerpin or Centrepin reels are designed for float fishing only. These reels won’t offer versatility. However, the Centerpin still has a lot to offer. You just have to find a perfect spot for you. You’ll discover the true power of this reel when you’ll be fighting large species. This reel will allow you to win the fight with great comfort and ease.

The market is loaded with many great Centerpin reels. Some of the best models are,

  1. Okuma Raw II Centrepin Reel
  2. Saion Float Centerpin Reel
  3. Okuma Aventa Centerpin Reel

Unsuitable environments: 

This reel type is only suitable for float fishing. Other than that, these reels are of no use at all. Float fishing reels are best for float fishing only. There’s no other type of reel that can challenge centrepin reels in float fishing. 

6. Offshore reels

Offshore reels

It’s time to tell you something about one of the toughest reel types in the world. These are the most challenging and powerful. The offshore reel is a subcategory of spinning or baitcasting reels. Well actually, this type is the upgrade of spinning and baitcasting reels, designed to pull the heavy fishes out of the water.

Offshore fishing reels are made with solid materials and designed for heavy-duty fishing but these are more expensive than normal baitcasting or spinning reels. 

Suitable environments: 

As the name indicates, these reels are for offshore fishing. These can withstand the most demanding saltwater action. Even more, these can easily resist the frequent saltwater splashes. 

We can call them the better versions of spinning or baitcasting reels designed for specific functions. In other words, these could be spinning or baitcasting reels. So, they are capable of fishing in every suitable environment. The market is offering hundreds of offshore fishing reels. Let’s name the few bests,

  1. PENN Fishing SQL30LW Squall LevelWind
  2. Shimano TLD 2-Speed
  3. AVET MXJ 6/4 MC Raptor Lever Drag Reel

Unsuitable environments:

Offshore reels can be used in every suitable environment of spinning or baitcasting reels. However, almost all models are designed for catching heavy species. They might not be the perfect choice for targeting small and medium fishes. 

7. Trolling reels

Trolling reels

Conventional reels or trolling reels are only suitable for deep-sea fishing or deep lake fishing. The term trolling refers to the style of fishing where the anglers drag the lines behind the boat. 

The trolling reels look like baitcasting reels, but these are different in some ways. Conventional reels have more spool line capacity than any of the baitcast fishing reels. These reels are strong, powerful, and durable. 

Just like offshore reels, trolling reel’s purpose is to pull out large species. These reels pull heavy species out of the depth of water to your dinner plate. Anglers love these reels because these fishing reels never let them down. 

Suitable environments:

As mentioned earlier, these reels have a specific purpose, trolling. These reels are built for catching big fishes from the depth of the sea or lake. Conventional reels have more line capacity than other types of fishing reels. 

The market is offering more and more trolling reels every day. Few of the best trolling reels are,

  1. Shimano Tekota Levelwind Reel
  2. Shakespeare ATS Trolling Reel
  3. Okuma Magda Pro Line Counter Levelwind Trolling Reel

Unsuitable environments:

Trolling reel is one of the types of fishing reels that are only suitable for one task. These reels do not provide versatility. They are only suitable for deep-sea fishing. In other words, the trolling reels are only ideal for fighting big game fish in the deep sea or lake. 

Does choosing reels really matter?

Many people believe that choosing the reel type doesn’t really matter, but they’re wrong. It does matter a lot. Until now, you must’ve noticed that every reel is ideal for specific fishing environments and conditions. One type of reel can not perform the other’s task. You can not use spinning reels for fly fishing. Neither can you fish in deep water with a spincast fishing reel. 

In order to choose the perfect reels for yourself, you must know about the types of fishing reels and their purposes. 


As you know, there are many types of fishing reels. The fishing equipment market is evolving day by day. Inventors introduce new types of fishing reels every once in a while. These new types are built for specific environments and conditions. With the help of our article, choose a reel that is suitable for your fishing conditions. We’ve tried to answer some questions that every beginner asks. I hope it helped you to choose a perfect one for yourself. Bring some fish home and invite your loved ones for a nice dinner. Goodbye.