The two most popular fishing reels are the Spinning and the Bait caster. A lot of fisherman learn on the spinning reel first and never try a bait caster. Everybody can identify the two by looking at them, but we’ll talk about the differences while fishing.
Spinning reels are easy to use and don’t take very much practice for beginners. The spool spins while being reeled and stays still while casting. Basically the line comes off the reel in hoops and when the lure hits the water, the line stops. One of the problems with these hoops is line rubs on the eyes of your pole and slows it down. Another is memory. Those hoops can remain after casting which leaves slack in the line. It allows casting into the wind and is very forgiving with tangles. The spool itself is larger than a bait caster which allows for more line. The bigger spool and more line creates a faster retrieval speed. Gears play a big part of this, but the spool size and amount of line is usually overlooked.
Bait casters function completely different. When casting, the spool actually spins releasing the fishing line in a straight line. This helps the line go evenly through the eyes of the pole. The line will release as fast as the weight on the end will pull it. This means a large weight can be thrown very far with little resistance. The problem is stopping that spool from turning. As anybody that has used a bait caster knows, when your lure hits the water or any other object the spool keeps turning and the line binds up. This is called a bird’s nest and can be very irritating. A lot of anglers become discouraged with it and stop using them completely, but learning the reel’s braking system is key to casting.
Now for the advantages and disadvantages of both. Bait casters are superior for pulling big fish out of thick cover. Spinning reels are better for light tackle and sensitivity. They are more accurate for long casts, but bait casters are more accurate in short flipping situations. Getting precise casts in heavy cover or under obstructions the bait caster wins. They also win for long casts with baits over 1/4 ounce. Newer spinning reels with one finger trigger systems have made them the easiest and most popular for all around fishing, but the newer braking systems on bait casters have helped anglers add them to their fishing arsenal. Whichever one you prefer, adding the other technique can help catch more fish in certain situations. I suggest practicing with both on land first and stick with it.
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