What Are The Types Of Fishing Reels?

  • Author: John Miller
  • Date: February 10, 2024

What are the types of fishing reels.

In this article, we will guide you through the different types of fishing reels, their advantages and disadvantages. Helping you make an informed decision for your next fishing adventure.

Fishing is an art that requires not just skill and patience but also the right equipment.

Among the most crucial pieces of gear is the fishing reel, which can significantly affect your success and enjoyment on the water.


What Are The Different Types Of Fishing Reels?

We will cover each type of fishing reel in more details below, but here are the main types. Please note: Some reels designs can be similar to others.

  • Spinning Reels
  • Baitcaster Reels
  • Fly Fishing Reels
  • Electric Reels
  • Sidecast Reels
  • Trolling Reels
  • Spincast Reels
  • Centerpin Reels

With various types of fishing reels available, each suited to different fishing conditions and species, choosing the right one can be a game-changer.

See also – How To Choose a Spinning Reel

Spinning Reels

Spinning reel


Spinning reels, or open-face reels, are among the most popular and versatile fishing reels. They hang beneath the rod and are excellent for casting light to medium lures, soft plastics and baits.

Spinning reels can also be called eggbeater reels.


  • Ease of Use: Ideal for beginners due to their straightforward operation.
  • Versatility: Can be used in various fishing environments, from freshwater lakes to inshore saltwater.


  • Casting Distance: May not achieve the distance of baitcasters with heavier lures.
  • Heavy Tackle Limitations: Not the best choice for very heavy line or large game fish.


Baitcaster Reels

Baitcaster reels


Baitcasting reels, also known as baitcasters or overhead reels, sit atop the rod and offer precise control over casting and lure placement.


  • Accuracy: Superior casting accuracy, especially around obstacles.
  • Control: Enhanced control for lure retrieval and fighting fish.


  • Learning Curve: Can be challenging for novices due to the risk of backlash.
  • Maintenance: Requires more care and understanding to maintain optimal performance.


Fly Fishing Reels

Fly fishing reel


Specifically designed for fly fishing, these reels are simple in design but crucial for managing the lightweight fly line and achieving the delicate presentations required.


  • Simplicity: Easy maintenance and operation.
  • Drag System: Smooth drag essential for protecting light tippets against large fish.


  • Specialization: Limited use outside fly fishing.
  • Cost: High-quality models can be expensive.


Electric Reels

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Electric reels are designed for deep-sea fishing, automating the retrieval process and reducing the physical strain on the angler.


  • Efficiency: Excellent for pulling up large catches from deep waters.
  • Ease of Use: Reduces the physical effort required, making it ideal for those with limited strength.


  • Cost: Generally more expensive than manual reels.
  • Power Source: Requires batteries or a boat’s power system.


Sidecast Reels

Sidecast fishing reel


Unique to Australia and New Zealand, sidecast reels allow the spool to rotate sideways for casting. They are then rotated back for winding in.

The reels look like fishing handlines attached to a rod.

Sidecast reels are popular for beach and surf fishing and they are also known as surf reels.


  • Ease of Casting: Simple casting mechanism suitable for beginners.
  • Versatility: Good for long-distance casting in surf fishing.


  • Limited Applications: Not as versatile for other fishing techniques.
  • Control: Offers less precision and control compared to other reel types.


Trolling Reels

Trolling reels


Also known as conventional reels, or an overhead reel. Trolling reels are built for offshore fishing and trolling, designed to handle large fish and heavy lines. (They look similar to a bigger version of a baitcasting reel.)


  • Durability: Constructed to withstand the rigors of deep-sea fishing.
  • Capacity: High line capacity for deep water and big game fishing.


  • Weight: Heavier and bulkier, making them less suitable for light tackle.
  • Complexity: May be intimidating for beginners due to their size and capabilities.
  • Price: The better quality trolling reels are very expensive. This is due to the quality and heavy duty build for big game fish like sharks and marlin.


Spincast Reels

Spincast fishing reel


Spincasting reels, or push-button reels, are considered the most user-friendly, especially for children and novice anglers.


  • Simplicity: Spincast are easy to use with a minimal learning curve.
  • Affordability: Generally less expensive than other types of reels.


  • Durability: Not as robust or long-lasting as more advanced reels.
  • Performance: Limited casting distance and line capacity.


Centerpin Reels

Centerpin fishing reel


Centerpin reels, are traditional reels that rely on the force of the current to pull line off the spool, ideal for float fishing. They look similar to fly fishing reels.

Some ice fishing reels could also be included in this category.


  • Drag System: Provides a very smooth and natural drag for fighting fish.
  • Precision: Excellent for presenting baits and lures naturally with the current.


  • Skill Level: Requires practice and skill to master.
  • Versatility: Not as versatile for other fishing methods.


FAQs: Understanding the Different Types of Fishing Reels

Types of fishing reels

What is the most common fishing reel?

The most common fishing reel is the spinning reel. Its ease of use, versatility, and suitability for a wide range of fishing conditions make it a popular choice among both beginners and experienced anglers.


What reels are best for fishing?

The best reel for fishing depends on the type of fishing you plan to do.

Spinning reels are great for versatility, baitcasting reels offer precision and control for lure fishing, and fly reels are best for fly fishing. Choose based on your target species, environment, and technique.


What is the best reel for a beginner?

The best reel for a beginner is a spinning reel. Its straightforward mechanics, ease of use, and versatility make it an ideal choice for those new to fishing.


What is the easiest fishing reel to use?

The easiest fishing reel to use is the spincast reel. With its push-button operation and enclosed design, it minimizes the likelihood of line tangles and is very user-friendly, especially for children and novice anglers.


What is the hardest fishing reel to use?

The hardest fishing reel to use is generally considered to be the baitcaster reel. Its mechanism requires precise thumb control to avoid backlash or “bird’s nests,” making it more challenging for beginners.


How do I choose a fishing reel?

To choose a fishing reel, consider the following factors:

  • Type of Fishing: Freshwater, saltwater, fly fishing, etc.
  • Target Species: Size and type of fish you’re aiming to catch.
  • Experience Level: Beginner reels are different from those suited for experienced anglers.
  • Budget: Reels can range from affordable to quite expensive.
  • Compatibility: Ensure the reel matches your rod in terms of size and weight.

What is a 3000 reel good for?

A 3000-size reel is versatile and good for medium-light to medium fishing applications, such as bass, trout, and smaller saltwater species. It balances well with a medium rod and can handle a variety of fishing techniques.


Is Daiwa better than Shimano?

Both Daiwa and Shimano are highly respected brands in the fishing industry, known for their quality and innovation.

The choice between Daiwa and Shimano often comes down to personal preference, specific reel models, and the specific features that best meet an angler’s needs.


What size fishing reel is best?

The best size fishing reel depends on your fishing method and target species. Smaller reels (1000-2500) are great for light tackle and freshwater species, while larger reels (4000 and up) are better for larger fish and saltwater environments.


What size rod is best for beginners?

A medium-sized rod around 6-7 feet in length is best for beginners. This size offers a good balance of casting ability and control, making it versatile for various fishing situations.


What fishing rod should a beginner use?

A beginner should use a medium power, medium action rod. This type of rod is versatile enough to handle a variety of fishing techniques and species, making it an excellent choice for those just starting out.


How do I choose a fishing pole and reel for beginners?

When choosing a fishing pole and reel for beginners, look for a balanced combo that offers ease of use and versatility.

A medium power, medium action rod paired with a 2500 to 3000 size spinning reel is a great starting point. Consider combos specifically designed for beginners, as they often come pre-spooled with line and are ready to fish.


How do you match a reel to a rod?

To match a reel to a rod:

  • Check the Rod’s Specifications: Look for the recommended line and lure weight.
  • Match the Reel Size: Choose a reel that balances well with the rod in terms of weight and size. For example, a 2000-3000 size reel pairs well with a medium-light rod.
  • Consider the Fishing Technique: Make sure the reel’s features align with the type of fishing you plan to do.

What can a 4000 reel catch?

A 4000-size reel is suitable for larger freshwater fish like bass, pike, and walleye, as well as inshore saltwater species such as redfish, snook, and smaller tarpon. It offers a good balance of line capacity, drag strength, and casting ability for medium to heavy applications.



Choosing the right fishing reel is essential to match your fishing style, target species, and level of experience.

Whether you prefer the ease of a spinning reel, the precision of a baitcaster, or the tradition of a centerpin, there’s a reel type that meets your needs.

Experimenting with different reels can enhance your fishing experience and increase your success rate on the water.

Remember, the best reel is the one that feels right in your hands and brings you the most enjoyment and success in your fishing endeavors.


Resources and Reading

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