When shopping for fishing gear, many new to angling make a common mistake.
They end up mismatching the rod and reel type.
They either buy a spinning reel and casting rod or a casting reel and spinning rod.
Then the big question arises:
Can you use a spinning reel on a casting rod and vice versa? Well, nothing is stopping you from using a spinning reel on a casting rod. However, there are downfalls to interchanging rod and reel, ranging from performance to gear damage.
In this post, I’ll give you the reasons why you shouldn’t mismatch your fishing rod and reel. I’ll also give you a simple way to find out if the rod you have is spinning or casting.
Before that, let’s take a look at some basics.
Spinning vs. Casting Setup: The Basics
Apart from the basic functionality, there is a lot of difference between spinning and a casting setup. However, we’ll only be discussing the ones that will help you understand why you shouldn’t swap the two.
On a spinning setup, the reel sits below the rod when fishing. The downward position of a spinning reel balances the setup.
The line guides on the rod are large and face towards the ground when reeling. This is because the line comes off the spool in big loops when casting and the big guides let the line pass easily. The line is spooled back onto the spool with the help of the bail arm.
To cast, you have to move the bail arm to the open position releasing the casting line. On a spinning reel, the spool doesn’t spin until the drag is in play, it just moves up and down when retrieving the line.
On a casting setup, on the other hand, the reel sits on top of the rod facing the sky. The guides are small, and they sit on top of the rod.
On a baitcasting reel, the spool rotates to wound the line onto the spool. The spool has a braking system that prevents it from spinning freely. A release lever disengages the brake to feed the line out freely while casting.
Lastly, a baitcasting rod has a trigger grip just below the reel, which helps balance the setup in the hand.
Now you know some of the differences between spinning and casting rod and reel combo. These differences will help us understand the problems associated with mismatching rod and reel.
Can you Use a Spinning Reel on a Casting Rod?
YES, you can mount a spinning reel on a casting rod.
But, doing so will not only get you a lot of mocking smiles, but you’ll also have your worst fishing experience.
Here are three reasons why I would avoid mounting a spinning reel on a casting rod.
Using Spinning Reel on a Casting Rod will Increase Casting Problems
To catch fish, you need to be able to cast your lure accurately out where the fish are. Pairing a spinning reel with a casting rod will reduce your casting accuracy and distance.
Spinning reels have large spools, which means the line coming out of the reel on a cast are big loops. Because the reel is mounted on a casting rod that has smaller line guides, the line collides with the line guides and slows down.
On the other hand, by pairing the wrong rod with the wrong reel type, you are technically altering the power and action of the rod.
This will not only affect your casting distance and accuracy but also compromise the rod’s ability to fight a fish.
Additionally, the uneven movement of the fishing line will result in other lines management issues like wind knots and bird’s nests. These will take away a lot of time on the water, which could have been easily avoided by using the right rod and reel.
Mismatched Rod and Reel will Increase the Odds of Rod Damage
Apart from the many reasons, mismatching a rod and a reel is one of the most common causes of fishing rod damage. Pairing the wrong rod and reel may result in your rod breaking or the guides failing.
Fishing rods are hollow tubes that are built by rolling a sheet of material (generally graphite or fiberglass). At the joint, the sheet overlaps, creating what is known as the spine or backbone of the rod.
Yes, every fishing rod has a spine, and the spine is generally thicker than other parts of the rod.
By nature, the spine supports the bend and load like our backbone. However, you’ll reverse the way the spine works, if you install a spinning reel on a casting rod or casting reel on a spinning rod.
And over time, microcracks will develop on the rod surface around the place the rod flexes when fishing. These cracks will develop until your rod fails altogether.
Secondly, the guides or eyelets of a spinning rod are designed to support the forces exerted on the rod when fighting a hard fighting fish. On the other hand, the guides on a baitcasting rod are designed to be the pathway for the fishing line.
That means a spinning reel mounted on a casting rod may damage and break away the eyelets if exposed to higher stress.
Spinning Reel on a Casting Rod will Reverse the Way to Reel
As we discussed earlier, casting reels sit on top, and spinning reels sit below the rod.
When you mount a spinning reel on a casting rod, it sits on top of the casting rod, upside down. This reverses the direction of retrieval of your spinning reel.
You now have to reel in your line backward, making line retrieval more so difficult.
Though, you can turn your rod so that the spinning reel faces the ground and get the retrieval to how it is intended. But this will bring the trigger grip of the casting rod up, which will dig and hurt your palm.
This will make using the rod difficult and sometimes impossible.
Additionally, once the reel is facing the ground, you now have the risk of damaging your line guides while reeling a fish.
Can I Use a Baitcaster on a Spinning Rod?
Yes, you can use a baitcasting reel on a spinning rod.
But, you should try avoiding mismatching the rod and reel for the same reasons we spoke about above.
Pairing your baitcaster with a spinning rod will simply increase the chances of gear damage, poor performance and give a terrible experience on the water.
Instead of pairing different types of rods and reels, get the one that matches your gear.
How to Tell if A Rod is Spinning or Casting?
Now that you know why you shouldn’t mismatch a rod and reel.
It’s time to take a look at how to determine the type of rod you have before you hit the store for a matching reel.
Unlike spinning and casting reels, rods are a bit complicated to distinguish between.
They all look the same.
However, here are two easy ways to tell if you have a spinning or a casting rod.
The most obvious way to determine if you have a spinning or a casting rod is to look at the line guides on the rod.
On a spinning reel, the first line guide or eye is very big and the size comes down progressively as you move towards the tip. The line guides on a baitcasting rod, however, are small and are of the same size from tip to butt.
Another key feature that distinguishes a baitcasting rod from a spinning rod is that a baitcasting rod has a trigger grip.
Because the baitcasting reel sits on top of the rod, you need this trigger grip to balance the setup. On a spinning rod, however, you don’t need/have a trigger grip as the reel hangs below the rod.
So, can you use a spinning reel on a casting rod?
YES, you can.
But, should you mismatch a rod and reel?
NO, you shouldn’t.
Find out the type of reel or rod you have, and get yourself the same type of rod and reel. Mismatching a rod and reel will only create problems that will deter new anglers from the sports.