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Reel Basics

There are four basic types of reels on the market today. They come in all sizes and are listed below.

Baitcast (also called casting)

Reel BasicsHow the reel works: the weight of the bait or lure pulls on the line causing the spool to turn thus releasing more line. The fisherman uses his thumb or a thumb bar to regulate the flow of line. The heavier the lure the more distance the line will travel. Baitcast reels set on top of the fishing rod.

Why use baitcasting? After developing a good casting technique, angler find they cast farther and with more accuracy using a baitcast reel. Proper adjustment of the drag is very important.


What is drag? Most modern baitcast reels have a mechanism to adjust the resistance or drag on the spool to control the amount of force needed to pull line off the reel. The drag system comes in several types. Star drags or a simple drag knob is common.


Drawbacks to baitcasting: For the beginner, baitcast reels can present some real challenges. While you are developing your technique expect to see plenty of "bird nests." That's what we call the backlash of tangled line caused by the spool moving faster than the line can be dragged off by the lure. Patience, timing and practice are a new baitcast users best friend.


Why bother if it's so hard to learn? Once you develop your technique, you may never use any other type reel. You'll be able to lay your line exactly where the fish are biting, under docks and piers, under trees and brush. You cannot get this accuracy with other styles of reels.


Reel BasicsSpincasting (also called close-faced)

How the reel works: Spincast reels are a combination of spinning and casting. The spool remains stationary, like a spinning reel, but the line covered by a cone.  A thumb button is used to cast the line forward. Step 1: Press the button down while bringing your rod back to shoulder height. Step 2: Quickly move your arm forward, release the button and the line with cast forward. Keep/correct: The reel is mounted on top of the rod. They come in sizes from ultra light to medium freshwater.


Why use spincasting? Most folks feel that spincasting is the easiest type of reel to use. All the guess work is taken out. For this reason most kids and new anglers start with a spincast reel.


Drawbacks to spincasting: You do not have as much control with spincasting as you will have with casting or spinning reels.


Advantages: Spincast reels have less features. This lets you concentrate on fishing and the environment while you learn the sport.

Reel BasicsSpinning (also called open-faced)

How the reel works: Line is released from a stationary spool by flipping a bail wire. The weight of your lure propels the line forward.  Spinning reels hang below the rod and come in sizes from ultra light to monster size for deep sea fishing.


Why use spinning? Using a spinning reel is much easier to learn than a baitcast and has more control features than a spincast model. You can develop techniques in accuracy and distance that rival the baitcast users. Because the spool does not move during a cast you are able to use lighter lure than baitcast reels. Most spinning reels are either left or right hand retrieve.


What's the deal about anti-reverse? All good spinning reels have an anti-reverse feature. This feature stops the rotor from reversing directions. Without the anti-reverse your line would automatically spool off the reel if you got a nibble or while the reel was unattended. Always set the anti-reverse after a cast to be ready for that first strike.



Reel BasicsHow the reel works: Fly reels have the simplest design of the four types. Basic fly reels are single action (one turn of the handle equals one spool revolution). The main function is to store line. Features such as drag systems are less important than with other types of reels because fly anglers manage most of the casting using their hands. Fly reels attach under the rod.


Why fly fish? Certain species of fish are top feeders. To catch these fish you must present the right type of bait, usually a flying insect, on the water surface in a realistic way. Fly fishing provides this capability. For many years, the art of fly fishing was thought to be restricted to babbling brooks and trout ponds but now fly fisherman can even be spotted in saltwater.

When entering or exiting boats and automobiles, or bushwhacking through brush and trees, be extremely careful with your rod. The tip can be snapped by snags, overhangs, doorjambs, oarlocks, you name it. It's best to disassemble your rod completely until you reach your destination. One-piece rods should be carried with the handle facing forward.

Courtesy of Shakespeare

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