9 Different Types of Fishing Reels

A collection of different types of fishing reels.

Fishing is truly one of the most fun, exciting, and adventurous water-based activities for most people including both kids and adults. The ideal kind of fishing trip or fishing excursion is one where you have the perfect weather and water conditions because these two factors can really make or break any outdoor fishing trip.

As important as it is to have calm and stable waters along with perfectly pleasant weather, it is equally vital for you to carry all the essential fishing gear with you because the right kind of fishing equipment can ensure great success in terms of making that perfect catch.

One of the most basic and necessary fishing accessories is the fishing reel without which you are not likely to be able to make the most of your fishing trip.

What are Fishing Reels?

A fishing reel is basically a device that is attached to the handle towards the end of the fishing rod. it is often referred to as a mechanical device whose main purpose is to hold or contain a large amount of fishing line in a proper manner and prevent it from getting all tangled up.

Fishing reels allow anglers to cast their lure or bait at fairly large distances and even fish in deeper waters. Another main use of fishing reels is they let the fish reel in once you make your catch and then the reel lets the anglers successfully retrieve their lures at the end.

When buying a fishing reel for your fishing excursion, you must keep in mind your level of experience as well as your preferred fishing style. This is also important because there are various different types of fishing reels, some of which are ideal for beginners and others for experienced anglers. Using the wrong kind of fishing reel will simply ruin your entire experience and might not even land you with your target catch.

Different Types of Fishing Reels

There is a whole variety of types of fishing reels, each of which contains unique features, characteristics, and uses. Anglers typically choose their fishing reel on the basis of what fishing style they are going for as well as where they stand in terms of their fishing experience.

These are some of the most common and popular types of fishing reels used by anglers and fishermen all around the world.

Spincast Fishing Reels

A man using a fishing rod with a Spincast Fishing Reel.

Most beginners and first-timers begin their fishing endeavors with the Spincast fishing reels. The primary reason behind that is how easy and convenient to use this reel is, especially for those who are new to the sport. It is also quite an inexpensive type of reel and requires a minimal investment which is what makes it quite popular among casual anglers as well as children.

The most prominent feature of the Spincast fishing reel is its closed face that is shaped like a nose cone. This helps you keep all the important components inside the closed space. The back of the reel has a push button that you are supposed to push when you are casting forward.

There is a small hole on the top of the reel cover so when you press the button at the back during casting, the line is pushed outwards. As soon as you stop pressing the button, the line also stops moving.

The plastic cover that shields the fishing line is extremely useful since it helps prevent the line from getting all tangled. Another great feature of this fishing reel is that it is very light in weight. This makes it extremely easy to use and handle the reel. It further helps the angler control the fishing pole when they are using the reel.

The Spincast reel is an ideal option for catching small salmon, trout, channel catfish, and bass. The only possible downside of this reel is that it is not effective for targeting heavy fish or for long-term usage.

Spinning Fishing Reels

A close look at the Spinning Fishing Reel on a rock.

After Spincast reels, the spinning fishing reel is probably the second most popular type of fishing reel among most anglers. One of the main reasons behind its popularity is that it uses a bail arm in order to make it super easy and convenient for you to cast your lures with great efficiency. The bail arm can be released or flipped back whenever you wish to cast or engage the line, respectively.

The spinning fishing reel comes with an open face design which gives it greater accuracy in terms of casting, as compared to the Spincast reel. This makes it another great option for beginners and also for seasoned professionals.

A distinctive feature of the spinning reel that sets it apart from other types of fishing reels is the spool is attached to the rod’s underside in a parallel and it remains motionless even when the angler is making a cast. The fixed position of the spool allows the line to flow easily and freely and the reel remains hanging underneath the rod which provides it the perfect kind of balance.

One of the biggest advantages offered by this type of reel is great versatility which means there are barely any backlashes, it is super easy to cast and it also has one of the largest capacities to hold a fishing line. Another plus point is that the spinning fishing reel isn’t as expensive as other types of fishing reels such as the bait cast reel.

However, it is also not as cheap as the Spincast reel. This places the spinning reel somewhere in the mid-price range which is quite a good deal.

Fly fishing Reels

A man using a fishing rod with Fly fishing Reel.

As the name clearly suggests, the fly fishing reel is one of the most vital gears for fly fishing. It gets this unique name due to the fact that the lures used in this type of fishing often look like a bug or a fly. Although these reels were originally designed to catch trout fish mainly from streams and creeks, they are now used to catch all types of freshwater and saltwater fish.

Fly fishing reel offers great accuracy when making a cast and is perfectly suited for fly fishing because this type of fishing requires the angler to be extremely precise when casting the line to their desired spot. Also, the art or technique with fly fishing is being able to use a flying rod, and fly reels play a very important part in helping your balance the fly rod.

This type of reel is heavily focused on drag capabilities and you can expect a typical fly fishing reel to include a disc drag system which is often described as one of the popular and modern drag systems. A great advantage of this reel is that it allows anglers to cast the fly at fairly larger distances even if the fly is super lightweight. This is possible because the fly fishing reel uses the weight of the line instead of the fly when making a cast.

There is a common misconception when it comes to using a fly fishing reel. Many people believe that fly fishing is a very limited or narrowed down style of fishing this type of reel is only suited for that fishing style. However, this is far from the truth because these fly reels can also be used during saltwater and freshwater fishing.

Trolling/ Conventional Fishing Reels

A fishing rod with trolling fishing reel.

Also less commonly referred to as casting reel, conventional or trolling reels are popularly used in offshore fishing as well as deep-sea fishing. The main difference between them and a traditional Baitcasting reel or spinning reel is that they have been specially designed for the purpose of trolling which includes dropping a line behind a boat that is moving.

There are two main types of trolling or conventional reels found on the market; level wind and open style. The open style type of reel comes with amazing frame strength and is perfect for large and heavy-weighted fish. They also let the anglers completely control the lines on their own. The level wind trolling reel, on the other hand, is more versatile than the former type of reel.

The main reason behind its versatility is that it comes with a moving line guide. This guide moves from one side to the other as you make a cast with the line and try to catch a fish. As the name suggests, this reel has a unique level wind feature which makes it possible to troll the smaller species of fish as well.

The best kind of trolling fishing reel is made from graphite, consists of bait clicker alarms, large reel handles, and also features tough drag systems. Other features to look for in this type of reel include a dual-speed reel that allows you to make that switch from fishing the surface to fighting big fish from the bottom of the water with a simple, casual flick of the lever.

Surf Fishing Reels

Best known for their lightweight, versatility, and high retrieval rates, surf fishing reels are exceptionally incredible for saltwater fishing.  The main reason for that is these reels are coated with a corrosion-resistant substance that protects them from getting ruined by the presence of oxygen, salt, and moisture in the oceans.

Most surf fishing reels are made either from graphite or anodized aluminum. They also consist of bearings made from stainless steel that help promote maximum corrosion resistance. The sealed bearings further prevent the buildup of sand and salt inside the real which ensures great durability and a long-lasting function.

The best kind of surf fishing reel should be extremely versatile because surf fishermen prefer a kind of reel that can be used in different fishing styles and be able to catch a variety of different types of fish.

Offshore Fishing Reels

A close look at the Offshore Fishing Reel of a fishing rod.

This type of fishing reel can range from Baitcasting to spinning reels and they also fall in the same category as surf fishing reels. This is because there is an equal risk of the reel being exposed to corrosion in offshore fishing so it needs to be saltwater resistant to a great extent.

Offshore fishing is typically far away from beaches which means that you are likely to deal with bigger types of fish in the open water as well as different kinds of water. This is why these fishing reels are quite heavy-duty as compared to the spinning reel and Spincast reel.

These reels are a little towards the pricier end given how they are made so tough and durable which allows them to withstand harsh water conditions. They also have quite an impressive ability to tolerate saltwater splashes as well as successfully battle large-sized fish.

Another noteworthy fact about offshore fishing reels is that traditionally they were bait casters.  Soon enough, they were almost completely replaced by spinning reels so you will probably find them in abundance if you head to the market today and ask for an offshore fishing reel.

Centerpin Fishing Reels

A man using a Centerpin Fishing Reel.

Like Spincast reels and spinning reels, the Centerpin reels also belong to that category that was the first ever to be used by most anglers. These were designed with the most basic kind of technology and contain an extremely simple design. The reason why they are popular among the majority of anglers is that they make use of a free-spinning system without the drag approach.

Despite the simple design, the Centerpin fishing reel is not an ideal choice for beginners primarily because they are a little tough to start with and figure. They are also quite difficult to cast since they require the anglers to do some manual line maneuvering if they are to make a successful cast.

These fishing reels are available in two main types; centerpins with bearings and the traditional true pins. The latter has a spool that directly rotates on the pin and there is also a screw towards the hub of the reel that makes it easy for anglers to adjust the end float of the spool. The former Centerpin reel, on the other hand, consists of frictionless ball racers that are contained within the spool.

Baitcasting Fishing Reel

A man using a Baitcasting Fishing Reel.

This has quite the reputation for being one of the most difficult and complex types of reels to master. This is because the spool of this reel is not fixed and it keeps moving during casting. This requires all anglers to really control the spool efficiently otherwise the fishing line can turn into a messy and tangled nest.

Despite that, the baitcaster reel is still a favorite among the most experienced anglers. Its popularity stems from the fact that there is no line twist in this type of reel during the release of the cast. This also allows the angler to attain greater distance casting with extra power which makes the Baitcasting reel a great reel option in itself.

Most advanced anglers prefer fishing with the baitcaster because they are excellent for catching large and heavy types of fish. This is largely due to the fact that this reel greatly relies on the weight of a lure in order to efficiently push the fishing line through the air and into the water.

Compared to the spinning reel, the baitcaster reel is positioned towards the top of the rod rather than the bottom side which gives the anglers a greater amount of control especially when making a cast. It is also a staple of fishing tournaments all over the world particularly because of its drag system. The drag system is basically a method or approach that includes a brake pad which prevents the fishing line from snapping or breaking into two. This system makes it possible to land bigger fish since the line comes directly from the spool, unlike in the spinning reel.

Overhead Fishing Reels

These are commonly used in lure or bait fishing and are typically used from boats. They have quite a similar appearance and design to Baitcasting reels since the spool on this reel is also attached towards the top of the rod instead of at the bottom. The spools also come with great line capacity which is a must when fishing in deep waters or for those times when you want the bait to go to the very bottom.

Overhead fishing reels are called so because they are perfect to be used off boats and you don’t even require a cast. All you have to do is drop the line down from the boat beneath you.

Like many other different types of fishing reels, the overhead reel also contains a very robust and properly designed drag system. It has two types of drag levers which are star drag and single thumb lever. The latter is typically found on large-sized overhead reels and is positioned locate d on the same side of the handle. On the other hand, the former drag lever is right behind the handle and is often a 4-point lever.


The next time you plan a fun fishing trip with your friends and family, make sure to invest in a nice fishing reel in order to make a successful catch!

This is a close look at a brown horse equipped with a saddle.

24 Different Types of Saddles

The Complete Guide to Front Crawl Swimming