Different Types of Fishing Reels

Different Types of Fishing Reels

types of fishing reels

With the endless variety of brands, styles, and quality of fishing gear that has developed over the past few decades, things can get a little complicated especially if you are new to the sport. One of the most fundamental pieces of knowledge is understanding the different types of fishing reels and the specific applications of each. If these are still unclear to you, you’re in luck! We’re going to go over each and every one, Scalz style.

Shimano Sahara 2500FESpinning Reel

The spinning reel is one of the most popular, user-friendly reels that has a countless amount of applications. Depending on the size of the spinning reel, it can be used for any size of game fish whether it be a little crappie or massive tuna.

Spinning Reel Benefits

  1. Easy Casting – The spinning reel is able to cast line freely and with little effort. There is no need to exert any pressure on the line mid-cast and light line such as 2-4lb test handles very easily with a spinning reel.
  2. Faster Retrieve – Spinning reels offer a much faster retrieve speed compared to baitcasting, conventional, fly, and other reel types. This is especially beneficial when fishing the surf or working fast-moving lures where you need to pick up slack line quickly.
  3. Available in “Baitrunner” Option – Spinning reels are available in a “baitrunner” option, meaning there is a lever that engages the reel into “free spool” mode. This is perfect when fishing bait because it allows the fish to take off with the bait without feeling any pressure. A simple turn of the handle re-engages the reel into full drag.

Push Button ReelPush Button Reel

Definitely one for the kids and beginners. The push button reel lives up to it’s promise – you literally push the button down and make a cast! This reel is perfect for kids who want to fish but find it too difficult to cast a traditional spinning reel.

Push Button Reel Benefits

  1. Ease of Use – Once again, it can’t really get simpler than this. Push down the button and hold it down until you want the lure to be released. After that, simply crank the handle and it re-engages back to full drag.
  2. Kid Friendly – Kids are able to cast and retrieve this reel with barely any issues. The closed-face design eliminates most backlashes and keeps kids fishing happy. Plus these rods are always available in many different themes! Disney, Marvel, and other characters are just a few designs these reels offer.

Shimano Citica 201HGLow Profile Baitcaster

The baitcaster is an absolute necessity when targeting largemouth bass, but can be used for hundreds of other species as well, both in fresh and saltwater. Baitcasters offer a huge variety of benefits over spinning reels, and allow the angler to use a broader array of lures.

Baitcaster Reel Benefits

  1. Controlled Casting – The baitcaster is known for being deadly accurate. Different casting styles such as flipping, pitching, and skipping are all capable of putting bait or lure exactly where the angler wants to target. Since the thumb is exerting constant pressure on the line at all times, the angler is able to stop the cast at any time, placing a cast wherever he or she desires.
  2. Handles Heavier Line – Baitcasters are also meant to cast heavier line much smoother and farther than spinning reels can. Low profile baitcasters usually throw line sizes anywhere from 10-25lb test, allowing the angler to use a larger variety of lures.
  3. More Torque – Since a baitcasting reel sits on top of the rod instead of underneath like a spinning reel, the angler gains an immense amount of lift power, making it ideal for fishing heavier tackle.

Daiwa Lexa 300HDLevel Wind (Round) Reel

Level wind reels (aside from low profile baitcasters) are meant for heavier applications that a low profile baitcaster can’t handle. The level wind reel is pretty much the same as a low profile baitcaster except with greater line capacity and usually a more powerful drag system. These types of reels are commonly used when fishing bigger swimbaits for largemouth, trolling, and bait fishing.

Level Wind Round Reel Benefits

  1. Ease of Use – Compared to a conventional reel which doesn’t provide a level-wind option, the round reel offers effortless reeling since you won’t have to worry about the line laying on the spool evenly.
  2. Heavier Tackle – Round reels are designed to hold heavier line and more of it. If you need to use 25lb+ line or heavy 65-100lb braid these reels can hold plenty of it.

Shimano ToriumConventional (Open Face) Reel

Conventional casting reels are primarily meant for saltwater applications. The level-wind feature is completely removed, making this reel more durable. Why? Because the level-wind feature means more moving parts on the reel, and more moving parts means more parts that can fail. By eliminating the level-wind system the conventional reel becomes more reliable, with the only hassle being that you have to physically guide the line evenly back onto the spool. This, however, can be easily learned and turns into natural habit after awhile.

Conventional Reel Benefits

  1. More Reliable – Once again, the absence of the level-wind system makes this reel more durable, especially in saltwater as compared to a level wind reel or low profile baitcaster.
  2. 2-Speed Option – Certain brands of conventional reels over a “2-Speed” option, meaning the reel can literally switch to a lower gear ratio on the fly. Think of it as going uphill with a bicycle on low gear – the lower the gear, the more torque you gain. The same concept allows the angler to gain torque on bigger game fish such as tuna.

    Fly ReelFly Reel

    The fly reel is fairly self-explanatory – it’s meant for fly fishing. These reels feature a lot less moving parts and they’re also able to be fully submerged underwater with no issues. Available in a variety of sizes for both freshwater and saltwater applications.

    Fly Reel Benefits

    1. Controlled Casting – Once you learn how to cast a fly setup, the accuracy is incredible. Promising structure along rivers and streams are now fully reachable with a precise cast.
    2. Different Applications – Fly reels are able to throw flies, which spinning reels almost completely fail at doing. Since the majority of the weight is from the line, an extremely light fly is able to be casted with ease.


  1. Great Article! I’m surprised by the amount of people I see using the wrong reel when fishing. Having a variety is essential to being a successful angler. I’ve found different reels make it easier to catch specific fish such as Trout and Bass.

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