What Are the Different Types of Fishing Reels. Explained?

Riley Peterson

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types of fishing reels
Photo by Sail Magzine.

types of fishing reels

Do you have a fishing rod but don’t know where to start as you look for a fishing reel to fit it? When you already have a fishing rod that is one-step closer to having an idea of which types of fishing reels you could pair with it. Fishing has been in practice since time immemorial. In the past ages, the purpose of a fishing reel was only to store the fishing line. Over the years, technology and designs have improved, and, a fishing reel is an essential gear, for fishing. It gives you control of your fishing line as you cast and retrieve it.

It also has an effect on the type of lure that you can use as you fish and even your choice fishing line. Though there are different makes and types of fishing reels in the market today, they all have standard features that I will tackle later on, in this tutorial on How to choose the ideal fishing reel.

Understanding the Features of Types of Fishing Reels

The Body

Each fishing reel has a body. The material used to make up its body will determine how dear or expensive, the fishing reel will be. For a novice angler who wouldn’t want to spend an enormous amount of money on a fishing reel, there are plastic fishing reels that are less costly than other types of fishing reels.

The highly priced fishing reels are made of metal, i.e. , cast aluminum or graphite.

Crank or Handle of the Fishing Reel

The crank is the part of the reel that allows you to spool back your fishing line as you retrieve your catch, and let out the line as you cast. Many anglers prefer a fishing reel that has a movable handle. Such a handle is easy to use by any individual irrespective of which hand they are comfortable using, left or right handed.

Gears and Bearings

Gears and bearing are vital components of a fishing reel. The gears are what connect your spool, and the handle of your fishing reel whereas bearings are what ensure that reeling in the catch is smooth.

Different Types of Fishing Reels in the Market

Fly Fishing Reel

Piscifun Aoka Aluminium Fly Fishing Reel With Cork Disc Drag System

The fly fishing reels exist in three main types, the Standard, Medium to Large Arbor. The standard arbor reels are not a favorite to many as they do not have the attractive features of a good fly fishing reel. It is not efficient and requires regular reloading.

Most fly fishing enthusiasts settle for the medium arbor reel as its picks the line comfortably. The heavy arbor reel is great though its con is that it adds weight to the gear. However, it easily allows you to line the reel. You should always consider the drag of the reel, how easy it is to retrieve using it amongst many other preferable properties.​

Conventional Reel

Daiwa SGT50H Seagate Saltwater Conventional Reel Types of Fishing Reels

Conventional reels exist in different varieties that include some of the compact baitcasting models of fishing reels. One has to master their technique when using a bait casting reel. It isn’t as simple as using a spin cast reel.

The reels work by revolving its spool of line on an axis. However, you may get backlash from this action which will lead to tangling.

Ultralight Spinning Reel

Abu Garcia Max Pro Spinning Reel

An Ultralight Spinning Reel is a spinning reel that weighs 8 ounces or lower. If you are looking for a lightweight reel, then this is the reel for you. It is flexible and lasts longer due to the use of materials of high quality in its making.

The durability of this reel makes it an ideal reel when fishing saltwater as the materials used offer it resistance to corrosion. It works well with light lures, for accuracy in casting. Also, it allows the angler to retrieve it with ease.

As it is lightweight and flexible, transporting it is easy.

Musky Reel

Shimano TRANX 200HG Baitcasting reel

Do you love chasing the muskies in the water? Well, you know that muskies don’t give up without a fight. There are different rods on the market that have been produced specifically to target musky fish. For them to operate efficiently, they have to be paired with an ideal reel for fishing muskies.

Look for a reel that is suitable for use in the water that you are fishing, whether brackish or fresh. If you have a particular rod to use, then how well do the two integrate i.e. the rod and reel? Also, the bearings of that particular reel will determine your ease of retrieval.

Inshore Spinning Reel

Daiwa BG Spinning Reel

Inshore spinning reels are suitable for fishing saltwater. It implies that your choice of fishing reel should have high resistance to corrosion. The material used to make the fishing reel determines how it reacts to corrosion, therefore, consider the material used in making it.

Look at the line capacity of the fishing reel. How many lines can you use with it and of what weight? You will need a higher line capacity when targeting big fish and the opposite applies to small fish. Ensure that the drag of the reel is efficient and makes retrievals smooth.

Check the frame of the fishing reel and ensure that it is strong to be able to catch much more fish with it.

Ice Fishing Reel

Abu Garcia Max Ice Fishing Spinning Reel

Every avid ice fishing angler would like to have a fishing reel that would last them longer than one winter season. So what should you look for in a good ice fishing reel? Check its durability which you can estimate using its resistance to corrosion.

You will also need a reel that doesn’t weigh down your gear since you may want to spend a few more long hours on the ice. Test the drag system of the reel to help you gauge its ease of retrieval. A smooth drag system ensures that your fishing expedition isn’t tiresome.

Baitcasting Reel

Abu Garcia Revo Rocket Low Profile Baitcasting Reel type of fishing reels

If you are looking for an excellent fishing reel, you should try the bait casting reel. It is a preference of the experienced anglers. Bait casting reels are suitable for anglers with experience who would like to use big baits and thick lines.

They may prove to be a challenge to a novice angler as the reels operate manually. You, therefore, have to how and when to apply pressure on the spool. Sometimes, you may get backlash from using this reel that will, in turn, lead to knotting of your fishing line.

They offer high strength and durability as compared to the other reels.

Crappie Reel

Shimano Sedona Crappie Spinning Reel

You can use a variety of reels to catch crappie, be it the spinning, bait casting or spin cast reel. The three have been in use by different anglers to chase and successfully land crappie. Choose one that suits your needs and one that you are comfortable using.

Having a fishing rod that you will work with will make the decision making easier, as you only have to ensure that the two match correctly. Depending on the frequency of your fishing expeditions, choose a reel that will last you.

Spinning Reel

PENN Battle III Spinning Fishing Reel

If you are getting started on fishing, it is recommendable that you start with a spinning reel. It is easy to operate even for a novice angler with ease in casting. You can also apply different fishing techniques depending on the species you are fishing that day, with it.

Spinning reels are not suitable for fishing brackish water but if you are adamant in using it, then choose a reel that’s strong. In such a reel, the quality of the bearing has a significant effect on your fishing as opposed to the number of the bearings. Go for quality bearings and not quantity.

Spin Cast Reel

Abu Garcia Abumatic STX & Max Pro Spincast Fishing Reel type of fishing reels

Spin cast reels have been in use for a long time. Some anglers regard it as cheap, shoddy, etc. However, it also has its attractive features. It operates at the push of a button, and perhaps you may have heard people refer to them as “push buttons”.

You have to press and release the button depending on the effect that you want. When you push the button, it lets out the line. You then have to release the button to allow your fishing line to fly. Once you have reached the length of line that you needed to let out, you can use the button once again to stop it.


Every component that you use in your fishing gear will determine or rather have an impact on whether your fishing expedition turns out a success or a failure. With this in mind, you should apply immense importance on what you choose for a fishing line, reel, and rod.

Do they operate together flawlessly or did you just bundle together different pieces of gear with little or no idea of how they work together? Before you pick out any particular fishing reel, you should consider the species of fish that you will be targeting, and most importantly their size.

Another aspect to consider is the bait that you are going to use. Having all these elements in mind will help you make an informed choice for your ideal fishing reel.

types of fishing reels

Different types of fishing reels are reviewed in this article

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