Types of Spinning Reels: A Comprehensive Guide

By  //  October 9, 2023


In the world of fishing, choosing the right equipment is crucial for a successful and enjoyable experience. One of the most important pieces of gear for any angler is the spinning reel. With various types available, each designed for specific purposes, it’s essential to understand the differences between them. In this article, we will delve into the different types of spinning reels, their features, and the best applications for each.

Understanding Spinning Reels

Spinning reels, also known as fixed spool reels, are a popular choice among anglers due to their versatility and ease of use. They consist of several key components, including a spool, bail wire, handle, and drag system.

The spool is the part of the reel that holds the fishing line. When you cast, the line is released from the spool in a controlled manner. The bail wire is a metal arm that helps guide the line onto the spool. The handle is used for winding the line back onto the spool after casting, and the drag system controls the amount of resistance when a fish pulls on the line.

Fixed Spool Reels


Fixed spool reels, also known as open face spinning reels, are characterized by their exposed spool and bail wire. They are designed for versatility and can be used in a wide range of fishing environments.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Easy to use, making them suitable for beginners
  • Versatile and can handle various types of fishing
  • Less likely to experience backlash compared to baitcasting reels


  • May not provide the same level of casting distance as baitcasting reels
  • Can be less accurate in precise casting situations

Ideal Fishing Situations

Fixed spool reels excel in situations where casting distance and accuracy are important, such as casting lures for bass or targeting species like trout in streams and rivers.


Open Face Spinning Reels


Open face spinning reels, also known as open spool reels, are a popular choice for anglers of all skill levels. They are characterized by their exposed spool and lack of an enclosed cover. This design allows for easy access to the spool for line management.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Easy to cast and handle, making them suitable for beginners.
  • Versatile and can be used for various fishing techniques.
  • Generally more affordable compared to closed face reels.


  • Exposed spool may be prone to tangles with loose line.
  • Not as effective for casting heavy lures or baits.

Suitable Fishing Scenarios

Open face spinning reels are excellent for a wide range of fishing scenarios, including freshwater fishing for bass, trout, and panfish, as well as light saltwater fishing for species like redfish and snook.

Closed Face Spinning Reels


Closed face spinning reels, also known as spin-cast reels, are characterized by their enclosed design, which helps protect the spool and line from external elements. They are typically used for simple and hassle-free fishing experiences.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Easy to use and ideal for beginners, especially children.
  • Less likely to experience backlash or tangles.
  • Offers good control over casting distance.


  • May not offer the same level of casting distance as open face reels.
  • Less suitable for heavy-duty fishing applications.

When to Use

Closed face spinning reels are perfect for casual anglers, family outings, and teaching beginners how to fish. They are well-suited for fishing in calm waters, such as ponds and lakes.

Underspin Reels


Underspin reels, also known as triggerspin reels, are a variation of closed face reels. They have a trigger-like mechanism that releases the line, making them incredibly easy to use, especially for those with limited dexterity.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Extremely user-friendly, making them suitable for all ages.
  • Provides good control over casting distance.
  • Less likely to experience line tangles.


  • Not designed for heavy-duty fishing or large fish species.
  • Limited in terms of advanced casting techniques.

Saltwater Spinning Reels


Saltwater spinning reels are specifically designed to withstand the harsh conditions of saltwater environments. They are built with corrosion-resistant materials and advanced sealing to protect the inner components from saltwater exposure.

Features for Saltwater Fishing

  • Corrosion-resistant materials, such as stainless steel and anodized aluminum.
  • Sealed drag systems to prevent saltwater from entering crucial components.
  • Enhanced anti-reverse mechanisms for battling large, powerful fish.

Benefits and Drawbacks


  • Ideal for targeting a wide range of saltwater species, from redfish to offshore gamefish.
  • Durable construction for long-lasting performance in corrosive environments.


  • Generally more expensive than freshwater spinning reels due to advanced materials and construction.

Best Used For

Saltwater spinning reels are a must-have for any angler venturing into the ocean. They are perfect for offshore fishing, surfcasting, and targeting larger species like tarpon and marlin.

Freshwater Spinning Reels


Freshwater spinning reels are versatile and widely used in a variety of freshwater fishing scenarios. They are designed to handle the relatively calmer conditions found in lakes, rivers, and ponds.

Features for Freshwater Fishing

  • Lightweight construction for easy handling.
  • Smooth drag systems to handle a range of fish sizes.
  • Various gear ratios to suit different fishing techniques.

Ideal Fishing Conditions

Freshwater spinning reels excel in freshwater environments where precision casting and accuracy are key. They are ideal for bass fishing, trout fishing, and targeting panfish in calm waters.

Ultralight Spinning Reels


Ultralight spinning reels are designed for anglers who prefer a finesse approach to fishing. They are characterized by their small size, lightweight construction, and delicate handling.

Advantages and Disadvantages


  • Perfect for finesse techniques like drop shotting and ultralight lures.
  • Allows for more delicate presentations, which can be crucial in clear water conditions.


  • Not suitable for larger or more aggressive fish species.

Recommended Uses

Ultralight spinning reels are excellent for small game fishing, such as trout in streams or panfish in ponds. They are also favored for finesse bass fishing techniques.

Ice Fishing Spinning Reels


Ice fishing spinning reels are specialized for the unique challenges of fishing on frozen lakes and ponds. They are designed to handle extremely cold conditions and accommodate the specific needs of ice anglers.

Specialized Features

  • Larger handles for easy operation with gloves.
  • Freezing-resistant materials to prevent ice buildup.
  • Specially designed spools for managing lines in cold weather.

Ice Fishing Considerations

When choosing an ice fishing spinning reel, look for models with high line capacity and smooth drag systems. These features are essential for handling larger fish species commonly found in cold-water environments.


Baitcasting vs. Spinning Reels

Key Differences

Baitcasting reels and spinning reels are two of the most popular options for anglers, each with its own set of advantages and considerations.

Baitcasting Reels:

  • Greater Accuracy: Baitcasting reels allow for precise casting, making them ideal for targeting specific areas.
  • Heavier Lines and Lures: They can handle heavier lines and lures, making them suitable for larger fish species.
  • Learning Curve: They have a steeper learning curve, requiring practice to master casting techniques.

Spinning Reels:

  • Ease of Use: Spinning reels are more user-friendly, making them suitable for beginners.
  • Versatility: They can handle a wide range of fishing techniques and are less likely to experience backlash.
  • Lighter Lures: Spinning reels excel at casting lighter lures and baits.

Choosing the Right Reel for You

The choice between a baitcasting reel and a spinning reel ultimately depends on your level of experience, the type of fishing you plan to do, and your target species. Beginners may find spinning reels more forgiving, while experienced anglers might appreciate the precision of a Piscifun baitcasting reel..

Maintenance and Care

Cleaning and Lubrication

Regular maintenance is essential to ensure your spinning reel continues to perform optimally. After each fishing trip, rinse the reel with freshwater to remove any salt, sand, or debris. Use a soft brush or cloth to clean the exterior, and open the reel to inspect the interior for any signs of wear or damage. Apply a light lubricant to the moving parts to keep them operating smoothly.

Extending the Lifespan of Your Reel

To prolong the lifespan of your spinning reel, avoid exposing it to extreme temperatures and always store it in a dry, cool place. Avoid over-tightening the drag, as this can lead to premature wear. Additionally, periodically check for any signs of corrosion and address them promptly.


Choosing the right spinning reel is essential for a successful fishing expedition. By understanding the various types available and their specific applications, you can make an informed decision that enhances your fishing experience.


  • Can I use a freshwater spinning reel in saltwater environments?

    • It’s not recommended, as saltwater can corrode the reel’s components. It’s best to invest in a dedicated saltwater spinning reel.
  • How often should I clean and maintain my spinning reel?

    • Ideally, after every fishing trip. Regular maintenance ensures optimal performance and extends the lifespan of your reel.
  • What is the main advantage of an open face spinning reel?

    • Open face spinning reels are known for their versatility and ease of use, making them suitable for anglers of all skill levels.
  • Is an ultralight spinning reel suitable for larger fish species?

    • Ultralight spinning reels are designed for smaller fish. For larger species, consider a reel with higher capacity and strength.
  • Can I use a baitcasting reel if I’m a beginner?

    • While baitcasting reels offer benefits, they have a steeper learning curve. It’s recommended for beginners to start with a spinning reel for ease of use.