No matter how much talent and experience you have, good performance requires good equipment. That’s why a clever angler would look for the best spinning reel before setting out to fish.
An important question to ask before you pick your fishing reel is what kind of fishing will you be doing with it?
The main types of fishing reels are the spin cast, the baitcasting, and the spinning one.
In this article, we’ll be focusing on the latter, and will give you all the tips and tricks you need to pick the best one for you.
What Is a Spinning Reel?
Spinning reels are generally the most popular type of fishing reels. They come with an open-faced design, so they’re easier to use than a baitcasting reel and are more accurate than a spin cast reel.
They’re quite versatile. They also have a great line capacity so you can add a good amount of line on them.
You can also buy one with an extra spool in order to facilitate changing lines while you’re fishing.
The only drawback is that spinning reels can’t handle very heavy weights, so when you require heavier line (20 pounds or more), it may underperform compared to a baitcasting reel.
Spinning reels are also known as open-face reels. They’re mounted to the underside of the fishing rod which makes them excellent for beginners as their line is less likely to get tangled up.
A spinning reel consists of mainly 8 parts: the foot, the handle, the body, the anti-reverse switch, the bail, the line spool, the spool release, the drag adjustment, and line roller.
What to Look For in a Spinning Reel
The Size of The Reel
If you want to pick the optimum reel size, choose it based upon the size of the fishing line you’re going to use most often. The lighter the line, the smaller the reel should be.
A simple way to put it is that if your average line strength is 8-pound test fishing line, a medium-size reel that’s rated for 6, 8, and a 10-pound line would be the optimum choice.
Check the spool of the reel for the numbers to make sure you’re getting the right one (or the product chart if you’re looking online).
The number you’ll find would typically be the middle line capacity. So if it has a “6 LB/ 90 YDS” rating, it would be best suited for 4-pound and 8-pound lines.
Reels are usually classified into 3 categories: small, medium, and large-sized reels.
- Small-sized reels range from 1000 (or 10) to 3500 (or 35). They can handle 2 to 10 pounds of mono and 4 to 14 pounds of braid. They’re best suited to fish for smaller fish such as bream, bass, and flathead as well as light fishing in harbors, rivers, and lakes.
- Medium-sized reels range from 4000 (or 40) to 5500 (or 55). They can handle 8 to 14 pounds of mono and 8 to 25 pounds of braid. They’re best-suited for lakes, bays, and light off-shore boat fishing and for catching fish like Dummer, Snapper, Morwong, Cod, Bone Fish, Barramundi, and Mulloway.
- Large-sized reels range from 6000 (or 60) to 10,500. They can handle mono line from 12 pounds to over 44 pounds and braid from 12 pounds to over 50 pounds. They’re best-suited for beach or rock fishing and boat fishing. They’re great for catching Mulloway, Samson, Kingfish, tuna, Aust Salmon, and Trout.
Body and Weight
The body of the reel (also referred to as the housing) can be made of aluminum or graphite –sometimes a combination of both.
As you’d expect, aluminum housings are stronger than graphite ones and don’t flex as often as graphite ones do.
On the other hand, graphite bodies are lighter.
This makes it a matter of your choice or preference between a stronger reel or a lighter reel.
Freshwater reels of the highest quality typically have aluminum bodies. However, if you’re planning to fish in saltwater, a graphite reel would be better-suited for a saltwater reel and would serve you better because it would be corrosion-resistant.
Whether you’re getting an aluminum or a graphite housing, make sure the body is constructed well.
This means no loose parts and that all mechanical parts should move smoothly and have no back play.
The importance of weight when it comes to picking your spinning reel is because of the fatigue.
Obviously, the less weight you put on your arm when fishing with a lighter reel, the less strain you’ll face. This is a favorable option for people who spend a lot of time fishing.
Make sure that when you’re comparing reel weights, you’re comparing reels of the same size.
The Gear Ratio
The spool on the spinning reel is fixed –unlike the one on casting reels-, and the bail wraps the line onto the spool as you turn the handle.
The gear ratio means the number of times the bail rotates around the spool with each turn of the reel handle.
In essence, a reel with a 4:1 gear ratio will have the bail rotate 4 times around the spool for every single turn of the handle.
A 4:1 is typically a slow-speed reel as the line that is picked up during the crank is not that much. This provides the reel with more torque to handle larger fish.
On the other hand, a 6:1 ratio is a high-speed retrieve reel which is better suited for medium or small-sized fish.
If you’ve got the budget to buy multiple reels with different gear ratios, that would be a better way to cover all situations optimally.
However, if you’re on a tighter budget and can only buy one reel, go for a medium speed model (5:1 gear ratio).
Well-known brands like Shimano will usually offer you reels of different gear ratios to be as convenient as possible.
The Drag System
The drag system of the spinning reel is a very important factor to pay attention to. The drag is responsible for applying pressure to a hooked fish and the releasing of line during the battle.
If your drag system isn’t of high-quality and smooth performance, the chance of getting broken lines increases.
When you’re buying a reel, make sure that it has a smooth drag. In essence, the line should be pulled out uniformly without hesitation regardless of the tension you set the drag at.
Generally, you get two types of drag system on a spinning reel: a front and a rear drag.
Simply put, these refer to the location of the drag controls. Although there are some differences between the two styles.
Front-drag systems usually have multiple, large drag washers that provide the reel with extended durability and performance that’s superior to rear-drag systems.
On the other hand, rear-drag controls are easier to access –especially during fights. However, they’re inferior when it comes to fighting larger and more stubborn fish.
The Anti-Reverse Handles of The Reel
Anti-reverse handles are a very important feature on a spinning reel.
These handles work on preventing the handle from spinning backward so that your hook sets are accurate and solid.
Skip any reel with backward motion and look for a different model.
You should also look for reels with larger arms and knobs. This allows you to find the handle quicker and gives you a firmer grip on it.
The Ball Bearings of The Reel
Spinning reels come with ball bearings (also called bushings) that are placed within the body to provide the reel with support, stability, and smoothness.
Generally the more the bearings found on a reel, the smoother its performance will be. Sealed stainless steel bearings are also favored over bushings for their extended durability and control.
You should get the reel with the most ball bearings you can afford. The bare minimum should be 4 ball bearings.
The budget shouldn’t be your main concern when it comes to this particular aspect as the smoothness the bearings provide is of utmost importance, so you should invest well in them.
The Spools on The Reel
The spool of the reel has three important functions: holding the line, controlling the casting distance, and providing smoothness.
Usually, they’re made of aluminum or graphite, and as aforementioned, if you’re looking for an ultralight spinning reel, you should go for the graphite spool.
Whereas if you’re looking for strength and rigidity, opt for an aluminum spool.
The two spool styles you’ll find are internal or skitted.
Internal ones are a little out-dated but you’ll still find them on some models for the committed anglers. Their drawback is how often they can get entangled within the body of the reel.
Skirted spools, on the other hand, spare you this issue, and that’s why they’ve become more popular.
There’s also a variation of the skirted spool called the “long cast” spool which features a design with helpful benefits. It’s shallower and longer than the regular style, so it reduces the friction of the line.
Thereby, it enables you to cast for great distances which is a great advantage in clear-water or sight-fishing applications.
The newest innovation is the Mag Spool Technology which gives you the benefits of the long cast spool but with a different approach.
These Mag Spools are wider and flatter than regular ones. This design enables the angler to cast longer and retrieve faster. It also reduces line twists and increases the line pickup with each crank of the handle.
The Final Word
Even though choosing a spinning reel may seem a bit difficult at first learning the components and their functions will make the job a lot easier for you.