There is one question that puzzles beginner anglers when choosing a fishing reel:
Should I get a spinning reel or a baitcasting reel?
Well, both baitcasting and spinning reel serve the same purpose; they help you catch fish. However, there are certain things a spinning reel does better compared to a baitcaster and vice versa.
In this post, I’ll talk about the pros and cons of both spinning and baitcasting reels so you can make an educated choice.
You’ll also learn about the main differences between baitcasting and a spinning reel that will help you find the perfect reel as a beginner.
But first, let’s look at some basics.
Spinning Reel for Beginners
A spinning reel (also called an open-faced reel) hangs below the spinning rod, creating a naturally balanced outfit. The spool on the reel doesn’t rotate; it just moves up and down, helping lay the line evenly.
With the bail arm in the open position, the line is free to cast, and with the closed position, the line wraps around the spool. Because the spool doesn’t rotate, the line faces very little resistance when casting out.
You can easily change the orientation of the handle from left to right to meet your needs.
Casting Reel for Beginners
A baitcasting reel (also known as a baitcaster) sits very low on top of a casting rod. The spool on a casting reel rotates to bring in and feed out line while casting or retrieval.
The line faces some degree of resistance when casting as it has to rotate the spool. That is why baitcasters are commonly used with heavier lines and lures.
A baitcaster comes with a fixed handle orientation and cannot swap sides.
Baitcasting Or Spinning Reel: Which is Best for Beginners?
Although both spinner and baitcasters serve the same purpose of storing and retrieving fishing lines, most beginners opt for a spinning reel due to its ease of use.
However, many also go for a baitcasting reel because of the precision and speed it offers.
Nonetheless, both types of reels come with their set of advantages and disadvantages, and you can’t call one better than the other. The decision entirely depends on an angler’s needs and preferences.
Moving forward, I’ll give you a list of things to consider before making a purchase decision.
Spinning vs Baitcasting Reel: What do I Need as A Beginner?
Well, both spinning and casting reels do an excellent job at what they are designed for.
i.e. catching fish.
However, both have their purpose and do a specific task better than the other.
In this section, we’ll take an in-depth look at the advantages and disadvantages of a spinning vs baitcasting reel to help make your decision easier.
01. Ease of Use
For beginners, spinning reels are easy to use and learn compared to a baitcasting reel. This is because baitcasting reels are prone to backlashes or bird’s nests which worry even experienced anglers.
On a baitcasting reel, the spool rotates to feed out the line on a cast. The weight of the lure and the strength of the cast decide how fast the spool rotates.
However, the problem arises if the lure slows down mid-flight while the spool keeps feeding the line, resulting in an overrun. For example, when you cast into a headwind or your lure hits a tree on a strong cast.
You don’t have to worry about backlashes on a spinning reel as the spool is fixed and doesn’t rotate. But spinning reels are prone to line twists but are less common compared to backlashes.
Moreover, you can easily swap sides of the cranking handle on a spinning reel, which isn’t possible with a baitcasting reel.
02. Casting Distance & Accuracy
In terms of casting distance, both spinning reel, and casting reel do a good job. But they differ in the type of lure and line they can cast far.
Because spinning reels have a fixed spool, the lure doesn’t have to pull the weight of the spool on a cast. This makes the spinning outfit an excellent option for casting a light line (under 8-10 pounds test) and lures far.
Meanwhile, the lure on a baitcaster has to pull the weight of the spool on a cast. That means, casting outfits can cast heavy lines (over 8-10 pounds test) and lures deeper into the water.
In terms of casting accuracy, the baitcaster gets a slight advantage over a spinning reel.
On a baitcasting reel, you can thumb the rotating spool on a cast to fine-tune where your lure lands. You can feather the line on a spinning reel too, but the precision control offered by a baitcaster is far greater.
However, learning to control the spool speed using the thumb method needs practice and can be difficult for beginners.
03. Line Retrieval Speed
The line retrieval speed of a fishing reel is determined by its gear ratio.
A reel with a gear ratio of 6.3:1 means the spool will turn 6.3 times for every turn of the handle. That means a high gear ratio translates to quicker line retrieval, and a low gear ratio gives more cranking power.
Generally, baitcasters are known to offer a wide range of gear ratios compared to spinning reels. Most brands of casting reels offer gear ratios between 5.0:1 to 9.1:1, giving you a lot of room to choose between power and speed.
While the majority of the spinning reels on the market today offer a gear ratio between 5.2:1 to 6.2:1. So you have a narrow gap between power and speed to select from.
A spinning or a casting reel with a gear ratio of 6 is generally considered a good starting point for beginners. This is a middle ground that offers the benefits of both power and speed while retrieving line.
But, if your fishing technique and situation call for super-fast line retrievals, then a casting reel with a high gear ratio is your option.
04. Stopping Power
When a fish takes your bait and makes a run, the drag system of your fishing reel helps fight the eloping fish. The drag system on a fishing reel is like the brakes on your vehicle.
Both spinning reel and baitcasting reel come with a specific drag power depending on the size and model of the reel. Reels with smaller drag power are designed for smaller species, whereas, bigger drag numbers are for monsters.
However, between spinning and a baitcasting reel, baitcasters are designed for large fish species and longer fights. That is why a baitcasting rod comes with a stronger backbone compared to a spinning rod.
Spinning reel drag systems are designed to fight small to medium size fish species. Spinning reels designed for large fresh and saltwater species are pretty bulky for the same size baitcasting reel.
In terms of drag adjustment, a spinning reel offers more flexibility due to the location of the drag lever. You can increase or decrease the drag tension on the fly which is a bit difficult with a casting reel.
Additionally, some models of spinning reels come with a secondary drag lever which allows you to fine-tune the tension when using live bait.
Lastly, the drag on a spinning reel is audible which alerts you when a fish runs with your line. On the other hand, the drag on a baitcaster is silent and you have to keep an eye on the reel.
Make sure you know the type and size of fish you’ll be fishing the most. Fighting a large fish with small drag power will damage the reel.
The weight of a fishing reel can affect how much you can cast on a long fishing day with the minimum arm fatigue. A heavy fishing outfit can tire you out quickly, thus shortening your fishing trip.
The weight difference in the smaller models of both spinning and casting reels is pretty small. But as you go to the bigger models is when you feel the weight difference.
As you climb up the ladder, spinning reels get pretty bulk in comparison to baitcasting reels in the same size range. That is, baitcasting reels designed to catch monsters are lighter compared to spinning reels designed for big fish.
You can go with either a baitcasting or a spinning reel if you are targeting small to medium-sized fish. However, if you’re planning to catch monster catfish or sharks, then a baitcaster will be lighter.
06. Line Capacity
The line capacity of a fishing reel determines the maximum amount of line the spool of a reel can hold without over spooling the reel.
The line capacity of a fishing reel is printed on the reel and is denoted by the length and strength of the line.
Generally, the increase in strength of the fishing line increases the diameter, which means higher test lines take up more space on the spool and vice versa.
Having a reel with a higher line capacity enables you to catch and fight fish that are known to put up a big fight. You have enough line to tire out the fish and don’t have to worry about running out of line.
Baitcasting reels can hold more of a higher test line. While spinning reels can hold more of a lower test line.
The price of a product is the direct indicator of its quality. Generally, the higher the price, the higher is its quality.
However, as a beginner angler, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars to get a quality fishing reel. You can start with a fishing reel that is in the price range of $50-$100.
Keep in mind that a spinning reel is more affordable compared to a baitcasting reel in the same size range.
When to Use a Spinning Vs Baitcasting Reel?
Both spinning and baitcasting reels are good at reeling in your catch. But there are specific situations where each can be used to its maximum potential.
Spinning reels are known as the most versatile among the two as they work wonders in various situations. Firstly, a spinning reel is loved for its ability to cast light lines and lure.
The ability to use a light line allows you to fish with live bait, fishing with bobbers to ice fishing.
A baitcaster, on the other hand, is more geared towards fishing with heavier lines and lures. It provides a higher degree of casting accuracy and can be used to target fish hiding in deeper covers.
Baitcaster Vs Spinning Reel for Beginners: The Pros and Cons
To settle the burning question, spinning or baitcasting reel, which is best for beginners, we need to weigh the pros and cons of each reel type.
Here is a birds-eye view of the pros and cons of spinning vs casting reels.
Here are some reasons why you should choose a baitcasting reel as a beginner:
- Wide range of gear ratios offering cranking power to superfast retrieval.
- It is designed to handle heavier lines and has a higher line capacity.
- You can fine-tune a cast to drop the lure exactly where you want.
- Low profile and lightweight making casting all day less tiring.
Here are some disadvantages of baitcasting reel for beginners:
- Learning to cast takes time which results in a lot of backlashes in the initial days.
- They are relatively expensive compared to other types of reels.
Spinning Reel Pros
Here are some reasons why you should choose a spinning reel as a beginner:
- Very versatile and extremely use by a beginner.
- You get excellent casting distance when using light line and lure.
- Unlike casting reels, the handles can easily be swapped from left to right to meet your needs.
- The reels are relatively cheaper.
Spinning Reel Cons
Here are some disadvantages of a spinning reel for beginners:
- Line twist is common because of the way line spools onto the reel.
- They are heavier compared to baitcasting reels in the same class.
With that, we come to the end of our comparison between spinning and a baitcasting reel.
All in all, a spinning setup is for casual anglers who like to have a relaxing day out on the water, reeling in some fish and enjoy the time. On the other hand, a casting reel is more geared towards serious anglers who need the ability to fine-tune every cast to ensure a maximum success rate.
So, my advice for you is to go through the distinctions we spoke about above carefully and chose the fishing reel that fits your needs.