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Choosing the right type of reel can be confusing and a touch on the overwhelming side for the average fisherman. In reality, if you keep a few simple thoughts top of mind when choosing a fishing reel, it makes your decision easy and will make you more successful at your favorite fishing spot.

Our experts at No Trace Outdoor Gear are going to walk you through the basic purpose of a spincast, spinning and baitcast reel so that you can make a great decision and enjoy your time outdoors.

Reels are simple devices that have been around for more than 1500 years, and make the life of an angler much simpler and more enjoyable.  The fishing reel was invented to help fisherman access water that was difficult to access near the shore or from a boat. As technology developed, this invention gave anglers the ability to catch more skittish species of fish and perfect techniques that more accurately simulate natural prey. 

Skilled freshwater fisherman can now cast lures more than 120 feet, giving them access to fish over a huge radius. Also, due in part to longer rods meant for beach fishing, saltwater fisherman can cast 600 feet or more and get past the waves where fish live. 

The three most popular rods used by our team at No Trace Outdoor Gear, and by fishermen all over the world are the Baitcast, Spinning and Spincast style reels. Each of these reels have their own strengths and weaknesses for different types of fishing and conditions, but you can always use whatever style you prefer and get comfortable using.


The spinning reel is the most common type to see on fishing equipment today. The spinning reel is designed to be mounted on the bottom of the rod when in use. It is fitted to the spool and then the line runs around a small wheel called the power roller before going through the guides on the rod. The metal arm is called a bail and it keeps the line in place.

To cast a spinning reel the fisherman must “open the bail” or move the bail into the “up” position. This allows the line to come off the power roller and freely unspool with the weight of the lure. To prevent the line from falling to the ground when the angler “opens the bail,” the fisherman holds the line with a finger throughout the backswing of their cast and releases during the forward motion. The weight of the lure will pull the line from spool until the bail is closed.

Most fishermen find spinning reels easy to use, but can sometimes run into problems with twisted line. Twisted line can be a hassle to repair as the angler must unspool many feet of line until it lies flat and then carefully put it back on the spool before continuing. 

A great resource for teaching children to fish and to use can be found here made by our friends at Salt Strong Fishing, but before you go check out this great tutorial they made on casting a spinning reel here.



The spincast reel has seen a fall in popularity over the last several decades, but still provide a lot of upside for fishermen.  A spincast is spinning reel with a plastic cover that has a small hole where the line comes out when it unspools when casting. Like a spinning reel, the spincast spool does not move and the line unspools with the weight of the lure. 

Differing from a spinning reel, a spincast typically has a small button at the back the angler pushes to release the bail so the lure can be cast. The plastic cover helps prevent the line from tangling making the spincast reel ideal for children or inexperienced fisherman. However, many fisherman of all skill levels continue to use a spincast reels because of their reliability and ease.

A quality spincast will be a reliable addition to your equipment and will make for a day of good fishing and less fiddling with equipment.

For more information on spincast reels, click here for a great video from the team at Shakespeare Fishing.


Baitcasting is the most advanced of the three reels featured in this blog and differ from the spinning and spincast reels in a couple important features.

The most noticeable difference is that the spool runs perpendicular with the rod which differs from the spinning and spincast rods that run parallel to the rod. The reason for the difference is that baitcasters are designed so that the spool spins when casted giving the fisherman greater control over accuracy and distance.  Unfortunately, the added accuracy and distance comes at a price.  To use a baitcaster, it must be adjusted and fine-tuned to ensure that you don’t get a rat’s nest in your line from “backlash” that can be difficult to untangle and ruin your day.

Backlash happens when the lure abruptly slows down when it hits the water or other object and the spool continues to spin and unspool line creating a tangled mess call a “bird’s nest” or “rat’s nest.” Baitcast reels give you the ability to quickly stop the spinning spool with your thumb. This provides precise accuracy with practice.

The additional accuracy and distance make baitcast reels a great option for an experienced and committed fisherman.  Just be aware, that additional practice and patience is needed but will eventually pay off when you get the hang of it.  

For a tutorial on Baitcasting and to help you decide if this is the right reel for you check out a video here from our friends at Salty Scales, who specialize in great performance fishing gear.




There are a few other things to keep in mind when choosing the type of reel that best suits you. Each of the reels we have outlined shine in different situations.

Type of Tackle 

Most fishermen use a baitcasting reel when they are using heavy line and lures. The heavy lures help keep the line taught and prevent “backlash.” Lighter tackle can make a baitcasting reel difficult to handle for an inexperienced angler. 

Pro-tip: the definition of lightweight tackle can vary but a general rule is to consider a 10# test line and ¼ oz. lures. Tackle heavier than this is great for a baitcaster, lighter tackle and the fisherman should consider spinning reels.

Fishing Experience

Folks that are new to fishing or don’t have the time to practice the different casting techniques should consider using a spincast reel.  The spincast reel is going to provide less accuracy and distance, but it will help the you from spending your day untangling line and ultimately missing out on the fish.

More experienced fishermen are going to find the additional control and distance of the baitcaster well worth the extra practice and effort.

Size of Fish 

The size of the fish you are chasing matters when choosing a reel. As we described above, lightweight tackle is better suited for a spinning reel. When fishing for trout for example, lightweight tackle is essential to success and therefore we would suggest a spinning reel for trout fishing.

If you are chasing that once in a lifetime bass, it would be recommended to use a baitcaster for the extra control and heavier line.


The best and sometimes worst part about fishing is that there are no finite rules, but the guide above will give you a great start when picking out your next reel.

Be sure to check out our great selection of reels, reel and rod combos and fishing equipment at and if you use the promo code “REELBLOG” by April 10, 2021 you will receive 10% off your order!

Gear Up & Get Out!

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