baitcasters vs. spinning reels

Baitcast vs Spinning Reel – Which One For You and Why

Among both novices and pros alike, the debate between which reel is BEST, rages on as strong as ever. But before you put on your game face and get ready for a royal rumble to the death, let cooler heads prevail for a bit. This post on baitcast vs spinning reels is just what the Dr. ordered.

We’re here to drop the bias and provide a straight-forward, informational overview of the pros and cons of each reel type and what to consider when deciding which of these reel styles is right for you.

Decisions, Decisions…

Whenever you walk into any fishing outlet and head to the reel section, you’re bound to be surrounded in every direction by various types of fishing reels. The shelves are littered with spinning reels, spincast reels, and baitcasting reels in an assortment of different brands and models.

Baitcaster Versus Spinning Reel: the Pros and Cons

Most experienced anglers can grab any reel and feel generally comfortable with the features and operation. That said, newer anglers or those who have only used a single type of reel throughout their entire fishing career may find this experience rather overwhelming.

baitcaster vs spinning
baitcaster vs spinning

It’s akin to being bombarded with dodgeballs except that instead of balls being thrown at you, it’s hundreds of different reels that you need to choose from. Fishing should always be a fun activity but it’s much easier to enjoy yourself when you’re armed with the right equipment. In the olden days, people would just need a hook and line to catch fish.

In our modern world that’s all changed. With increasingly sophisticated tools and accessories available to anglers around the world, fishing has become easier and far more enjoyable. That said, there are still heated debates on whether one should go for a baitcast reel or a spinning reel.

There are diehard fans who’ll stand on both sides which can make it rather hard for a novice to find an unbiased overview of the two types of reels. Choosing the right equipment for you can be extremely hard when you’re faced with a plethora of different reels.

Before making your decision, you must first understand the benefits that each option has to offer along with their respective drawbacks. When it comes to bass fishing, spinning reels and baitcaster reels are really the top two.

You won’t find anything more effective and suited to your needs. They are also the top choice for angling techniques due to their versatility and the wide range of features that both options have.

This brief guide will show you the difference between baitcasters and spinning reels and give you an unbiased view of the various advantages and challenges that come with each reel type. To ensure that you can make an educated purchase, read our guide all the way through to get all the basic information down before shelling out your hard-earned cash.

Baitcast Reels – the Low Down

There are many experienced anglers who prefer to use baitcast reels — also known as baitcasters — over spinning reels due to the fact that they offer unparalleled precision and control and therefore demand a high skill level to generate just enough power of inertia to move the rotating spool.

modern baitcasting reel
modern baitcasting reel

Even the most experienced anglers need to practice a fair bit to get accustomed to using this reel.

At a Glance:

  • Ease of use: moderate to difficult
  • Spool Type: Inline
  • Skill Level Required: Advanced
  • Accuracy: High
  • Casting Distance: High
  • Great for: Heavy lines or heavy lures

Pros

One of the most important things when it comes to fishing is accuracy and that’s exactly what the baitcast reels will offer you. Even the slightest of errors can end with you going home empty-handed or with an amount of fish that’s hardly worth it for all your time and effort.

To really refine your fishing skills, you need a reel that will be unforgiving, a reel that will teach you to place your bait at the perfect spot and avoid hitting a snag with your lure at all costs.

Baitcasters are also generally more durable than their spinning reel counterparts making it easier for you to use them over a long period of time without compromising on performance due to wear and tear.

Cons

The accuracy and durability that baitcasting reels offer you don’t come cheap. Most quality reels don’t go a cent below $100. When trying to increase your accuracy with baitcasters, you’ll need to be extremely focused and have a lot of patience.

Many anglers become frustrated when using this type of reel. More experienced anglers may not be as susceptible as they have already learned all the tricks such as the fact that you need to halt the spool as soon as you drop the bait.

Without this knowledge, you could end up spending a whole day trying to make the right cast since the line will continue to roll out and tangle itself up. Another thing worth noting is that you won’t be able to use anything but heavier lures when trying to fish with baitcasters.

It’s this limitation that makes spinning reels more preferable in the eyes of others. It may not be a good idea for beginners to use baitcasters as it takes time to learn how to use your thumb to control the line speed. Failing to do this will run the risk of backlash occurring. Backlash causes the line to tangle if it moves too fast or is cast in an awkward manner.

Spinning Reel

Virtually every angler you’ll talk to will say that they’ve used a spinning reel at one point or another and most will even say that they use spinning reels on their main rods.

It’s a great choice for trying to catch redfish, bass, crappie, and other species of small or medium-sized fish. It has a fixed spool under the rood. You’ll need to use the weight of the bait, tackle, or lure to pull out the line.

modern spinning fishing reel
modern spinning fishing reel

At a Glance:

  • Ease of use: Easy to moderate
  • Spool Type: Open / Fixed Upright
  • Skill Level Required: Beginner to intermediate
  • Accuracy: Moderate
  • Casting Distance: Moderate
  • Great for: lighter lines, lures, and rigs

Pros

Unlike baitcasters, the spinning reel is highly compatible which makes it a popular choice amongst inexperienced anglers. You can use spinning reels to cast a wide range of tackles. Most anglers use live bait and artificial lures with spinning reels.

It’s rather simple to use a spinning reel and has a decent casting distance. Spinning reels can hold more line than their baitcasting counterparts and you can change the spool with very little effort to replace the line.

Cons

It doesn’t take quite as much effort reeling in with a spinner than when you’re using a baitcaster. This may make it hard to pace reeling in lures due to overly sensitive and light action.

You can use spinning reels to cast virtually anything that you have with you. That said, you’ll quickly find that spinning reels are only suitable for light tackling and bait due to the fact that it has a rather light construction. If you use spinning reels to catch fish that are on the heavier side of the scale — say 10 pounds or more — it could result in a snapped rod.

Rod’s designed for spinners tend to be less rigid and more prone to damage from tension. They are also far less precise when compared to the baitcast reels that you’d find at the same price point.

No Real (not reel) Clear Winner….Yet

With all these factors, it’s easy to see that there is no clear winner between the two types of reels. Both the baitcaster and spinning reels are dependent on the skill and experience of the angler wielding them along with the type of fish you’re trying to catch and even personal preferences. Spinning reels are more appropriate for beginners if you enjoy finesse fishing and have enough patience.

That said, even anglers with minimal experience can find the baitcast reels suitable for use after a little practice time with one. Ultimately, the choice is yours. All you have to do is choose a reel that suits your fishing style and is most appropriate for the situation that you’re in. Whether that’s a spinning reel or a baitcaster remains to be seen.

Differences in Action

Baitcasting reels can provide great advantages over spinning reels after you’ve learned the technique needed to wield them. The drag system functions far better due to the fact that the line never turns and instead comes straight off of the spool.

Spinning reels without premium drag can tighten on their own or even slip and catch at the bail making it much more likely that your line will break. Spinning reels have a learning curve that’s less steep than that of the baitcasters and they’re easier to cast which makes them more suited to beginners who want to pick up fishing as a hobby.

That’s not to say that spinning reels don’t have their own sets of drawbacks and challenges.

Challenges Faced With Each Reel Type:

Backlash

Baitcasting reels are notorious for forming bird’s nest knots whenever the spool travels faster than the release of the line. Whenever such an event occurs, there are two things that can happen.

The entire wrap of the line could come loose from the spool or the line might wrap over itself until it catches, tightens, and forms knots in your spool. Obviously, neither case is very desirable.

baitcaster with a backlash
baitcaster with a backlash

The Wind Knot

Remember when we told you that spinning reels make casting easy? Yeah, that’s until this happens. The issue comes along due to the way in which the line comes off the spool in spinning reels.

Rather than having line rolled off the spool in a controlled and uniform matter, it instead flies off the top lip of the spool which releases the line far too quickly. Any twists in the line will run the risk of it curling during the cast and forming knots in the air.

A knot in the line can cause your line to snap when you’re trying to reel in a large fish. With each reel having its own set of pros and cons, it becomes a choice of personal preference. The baitcaster is harder to learn especially for beginner anglers but has obvious advantages whereas the spinning reel can also be very effective once you learn what to keep a lookout for.

Closing Thoughts

There’s a lot going on in the minds of new anglers who are trying to choose their first set of gear. Picking out a rod, reel, and line isn’t as easy as it may initially seem. Everything becomes even more complicated when you start to factor in all the water conditions like the tide, current, among other variables.

Try to choose a reel style that’s appropriate for your skill set and experience level, at least until you master all the other aspects of fishing. There are a wide range of manufacturers, models, and types to choose from. Luckily, with the internet era, you can easily look up specs on each reel and see if it suits your needs.

Use a combination of independent reviews and company specifications to ensure that you get the whole, unbiased picture of that specific reel and all its features. While the company site may say that it can handle X task, an independent review may say that it falls short on its promise to cover X task but makes up for it with its ability to perform well with task Y.

Try to get familiar with technique and handling as well as the preventative measures you can take to avoid the various problems associated with both of the reels. All of these are important aspects that should be considered with every purchase.

All you can do is conduct due research and make an educated purchase to ensure that your first set is decent enough to help you grow as an angler. Try to spend some time learning one reel before switching over to the other so that you can get a good idea of how a certain reel can perform once you become familiar with it.

That’s all for today, happy fishing!