Fishing reel selection can be quite confusing if you are new to the fishing sport, as they come in all shapes, sizes, configurations, and prices. Some basic knowledge of the types of fishing reels available and the uses for which they are designed can be quite helpful before setting out to buy a new fishing rig. Forearming yourself with a bit of knowledge will not only reward you with the confidence that you are buying the right reel, but is likely to save you a bunch of money.
So, let's take a look at the basics of fishing reels. First, there are four basic types of fishing reels: the spincasting reel, the spinning reel, the casting or baitcasting reel, and the fly fishing reel. The aim of each type is the same (to catch fish), but the techniques for casting and using each type is quite different. Let's take a slightly deeper look at each type.
The Spincasting Reel
The spincasting reel is the most basic type of fishing reel, and is the type that most young fishermen start with. This reel is completely enclosed in a housing with a small hole at the end of it, from which the line plays out. There is a spindle inside the housing that holds the line, and there is a trigger on the backside of the reel that looses the line for casting. This type of reel is a favorite for beginners because it doesn't tangle easily, and it casts very easily. The one major drawback of the spincasting reel is that it does not cast as far as some of the other fishing reel designs.
The Spinning Reel
The Spinning Reel is the most same type of reel you will encounter. This reel has a visible, exposed, spool with a wire loop called a bail that moves around the spool as you crank the line back in. The bail guides the fishing line back onto the spool. These types of reels usually have some kind of drag adjustment, as well as an anti-reverse mechanism that stops the line from playing back out should you decide to stop cranking. These reels usually hang below the rod, as opposed to a spincasting reel, which usually is mounted on top of the rod. The major drawback to the spinning reel is that it tangles much easier than a spincasting reel. This is offset by the fact that a spinning reel can cast much further.
The Baitcasting Reel
This type of reel is mounted on top of the rod, like the spincasting reel, and looks for all the world like a miniature winch. The spool is arranged perpendicular to the plane of the rod, with a crank on either the right or left side, depending on the preference of the fisherman. The baitcasting reel is popular for use in open water saltwater fishing. To properly use a cheap baitcasting reel, you should practice a lot before heading out to the ocean, as it is far easier to tangle the line on this type of reel than any other type.
The Fly Fishing Reel
The fly fishing reel is the simplest design of all the fishing reels, and consists of a drum-like spool with a hole in it to play the line out. Casting a fly line is quite tricky and has become a bit of an art form over the years. Fly reels have no gear reduction, so the line is cranked back in on a 1:1 turn ratio, meaning that all the fight with the fish is entirely up to the fisherman.
Now that you know the types of reels available and the ways in which each are used, you can safely decide which type of fishing reel is right for you. If you need more detailed information on a particular type of fishing reel, be sure to check out the other pages on this site. Good luck, and have fun fishing!
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