Baitcast vs Spinning Reels – Which To Buy

Let’s say you walk into a tackle shop or you are looking for a reel online for your casting rod. You arrive at the reel section and you are inundated with options. It is hard to know which type of reel to go for especially when you need one for casting as there are quite a lot of options. The main decision you have to make it whether to get a baitcast or spinning reel. So which is best for what and why?

Baitcast V’s Spinning Reels, The Differences

The main difference between a baitcast and spinning reel is the spool’s placement and direction. On a baitcast reel, the spool is in line with the rod, allowing the line to come off directly. On a spinning reel, the spool is perpendicular to the rod. This means the line first heads away from the rod and then turns at the bail arm to then come in line with the rod. These factors create all the differences between the two, from how you use them to their benefits.

Baitcast Reels

Baitcast reels are a little different because the spool is directly in line with the rod. To cast a baitcast reel, turn off the drag and put your thumb on the spool. At this point you cast but while thumbing the spool, this is the tricky part. If you completely remove your thumb, the line will be let to run free off the spool and will cause a huge tangle or ‘birds nest’. If you hold your thumb down too hard, the cast will have no distance as you will be stopping the line coming off the spool. You are looking for somewhere in the middle here, the sweet spot. To do this, you need to apply enough but not too much pressure when thumbing the spool. The sweet spot will change depending on how heavy what you are casting is.

  • Baitcast reels have a better drag system due to the line coming directly off the spool in line with the rod.
  • These reels cast further and have far more accuracy once you are good at it.
  • Baitcast reels have a higher gear ratio than spinning reels so you can wind faster.
  • It can handle a heavier load and are designed for bigger fish.
  • Good with heavy line and not with light line.
  • They are very durable.
  • Less line twist.
  • Lighter in weight.
  • They are hard to use and will require some practice before you start getting it right.
  • You will experience backlash with these reels. The entire wrap of line can come off or the line can wrap over itself until it catches, tightens and forms a bunch of knots in your spool. You never want this to happen.
  • Baitcast reels are more expensive.
  • Every time you change your lure you have to adjust your spool tension.
  • These are much more complicated to maintain.

Spinning Reels

Spinning reels are very simple to use. Once rigged you just hold the line with your finger, open the bail arm, keep tension and cast. Once the bait lands, close the bail arm and wind, that is it. You don’t need to worry about any tangles because the spool angle causes enough drag on the line to stop them.

  • These are very easy to use and are perfect for beginners.
  • Spinning reels are very affordable.
  • There a no backlash issues.
  • They are better when finesse fishing and casting lighter lures.
  • You can easily just switch out the spools on a spinning reel to change line type or size.
  • Better than baitcast reels when using light line.
  • Spinning reels are easy to maintain.
  • The drag can slip or tighten by themselves.
  • Spinning reels can form wind knots. This is due to the way the line comes of the spool; as it twists it has a chance to go over itself and create a knot.
  • Spinning reels hold less line than a baitcast.
  • Smaller casting distance and less accuracy.
  • These are less durable than baitcast reels.

When To Use Them

A crucial part when it comes to picking the right reel is ensuring that you have the right reel for the right situation.

Spinning Reels

When fishing lighter lures or lighter lines, a spinning reel is recommended and for a good reason. When fishing with a line lighter than 10 pounds, a limber rod that flexes and bends is needed or you might break your line when you hook a fish. When a baitcast rod bends, the line will rub against the rod blank and cause the line to develop a weak spot and snap. The guides on a spinning rod are below the rod, the rod can bend as much as it likes but the line will not touch it. Also, spinning reels are the best option when it comes to lighter lures since the lure will only pull the weight of the line and not the entire spool.

Baitcast Reels

Just like any other reel, a baitcasting reel has situations where it is the best option. When using heavier lures and lines for bigger fish, the baitcast reel provides greater accuracy and control than spinning reels. It has a higher gear ratio and therefore works a bait that needs speed better than a spinning reel. Other anglers choose baitcast reels simply because they want a challenge of learning to cast in a new way.

So Which Is The Best One For You

If you are a beginner then a spinning reel is the one for you. It is easy to use and it will get you fishing quickly and confidently. You’ll end up catching fish and enjoying your time on the water rather than fighting with a reel you are not ready for.

If you are an experienced fisherman and, or, are willing to put in the time and frustration of learning to use a baitcast reel properly, then you will be rewarded with longer accurate casts and the ability to wind your bait in faster, which is very handy when fishing lures that work better quickly. Be prepared for a lot of backlashes and bird’s nests.

If you are into fishing, you are going to end up owning both anyhow. Every baitcast fisherman most probably started with a spinning reel and still uses them for particular situations.

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