Top 8 Types of Fishing Reels with Pictures

If you are just starting out fishing, you need to know and do a lot of things, and the first thing you need to do is get a fishing rod for yourself, however, the options and types of the fishing reels in these rods are so many that you might end up getting confused. But don’t worry, any professional or experienced angler would suggest to you that selecting the right fishing reel might be a tough choice but it gets a lot easier if you study each type in detail.

Types of Fishing Reels

But is selecting the right type of fishing reel is that important? Well, of course, it is! Each type of reel is made for different kinds of fishing and you need to know that before getting one so that you can have the one that fits your needs perfectly. You need to study the pros and cons of each type, and the purpose it serves. But don’t get into a panic, all of this might sound a lot but we have got you, here in this article we will be briefly discussing all different types of fishing reels out there in the market and telling everything you need to know about them. Let’s dive in; 

Three Main Types of Fishing Reels

Mainly there are three different types of fishing reels used all around the world:

All of them differ from each other in terms of design, properties, and purpose. 

While choosing one of these, many questions come to mind such as which one of them is best? How long do these reels last? What functions are they used for? And most importantly how much does all of these cost? Well, we are here to provide you with answers to all of these questions. We will be having brief discussions on all of these types in detail and we can guarantee you that by the time we reach the end, you will know exactly which one you need! 

1. Spincast Reel

Spincast reel is without a doubt the simplest type of reel out there. Even though you don’t see these at every hardware store nowadays, until a few years ago, they used to be the first choice of most anglers. Their basic design, easy-to-use mechanism, and low cost make them the ideal choice for all beginners and even there are many professional anglers who absolutely love them. So, if you find one of these spincast reels anywhere, go grab it before you regret it. 

spincast reel

If you take a deeper look into the design and structure of these spincast reels, you will know that they are very basic. The structure features a nose cone, in which all the important components of the reel are hidden. On the back, there’s a button that serves to switch the line between free-spool and locked.

Lastly, these reels come with a drag adjustment mechanism that basically lets you adjust the level of resistance a fish feels when caught on your line. This nose cone design is so secure that it makes tanging the line nearly impossible, and the button system can never go wrong. 

The process of casting using a spincast reel is very simple, all you have to do is press the button, throw your cast out, and release the button to allow the line to come out. Once the required amount of line is released press the button again to stop the line. We agree that with a spincast reel, you might not be able to cast as far as you like because of the limited size of the line, but the casting process is so simple and reliable that it’s justified. In fact, many anglers start off with spincast reels and keep using them alongside other reels even after they become professional. 

Let’s take a look into the strengths and weaknesses! 

What’s the most important thing you must know about something you want to buy, the advantages and disadvantages right? So here, let’s take a look at what good and bad things the spincast fishing reel has to offer. 

Let’s get into the good part first, two major advantages these reels have to offer are, first, they require zero effort to use, we mean literally, a kid can use them. And second, they work in such a way that they make tangling of the line nearly impossible. And of course, the low cost is just the cherry on top, these are so cheap that you can literally buy a brand new reel for just $20 on today’s date. 

Now we promised to deliver the correct information so we will not hide the bad things from you, alongside all the great things they do have some weaknesses you must know about; 

Number one, the closed-face design they use keeps the water and the debris inside the reel, which can cause damage as time passes, and you might know it until it fully destroys your reel. Number two, these spincast reels are poorly-made and will not last you any longer than a single season. Three, and probably the most important, spincast reels have limited casting range and does not provide as accurate results as other reel types. 

Now we know after learning about all these disadvantages that come along with all these spincast reels, you might not prefer them to be your first choice, and we totally get that. However, we suggest you weigh both advantages and disadvantages of the reel as per your needs and then decide if these are any good for you! 

2. Spinning Reel

The one we are about to discuss is the most common type of fishing reel out there, most people who have experienced fishing even once in their lifetime, know about the spinning fishing reels. These are a little more complicated to understand when compared to the spincast reel but at the same time a lot more durable and efficient. And when we say complicated we just mean it when compared with spincast. Otherwise, if you look at it separately it is very easy to operate. 

This reel is suitable for everyone wanting to go fishing, it brings a wonderful experience for beginners as they can learn using it easily and there is a huge number of professional anglers that would not let them go out of their hands. So what are you? A beginner or a professional? Well, that doesn’t really matter because a spinning reel will cater to all your needs. 

spinning reel

It is not just different from the spincast reel in terms of manual, but unlike spincast reels, this one uses an open-face design, with the drag adjustment on top of the rod. Remember how a spincast reel used a button to control the line? Well, when we talk about the spinning reels, the button is replaced by a metal bail, which is specially made to lock the line and stop it from unspooling. This bail is a very significant part of the reel because it is also used to take the line back uniformly onto the spool, and the best part is that it does that in just a few seconds.  That’s not all, the reason why most people find them most reliable is that these reels are attached to the rod from below, which not only provides a comfortable holding position for the angler but also provides him with a nice balance when casting the line. 

Talking about casting, we are pretty sure you must want to know how it works? Well,  it is extremely easy when it comes to spinning reels. It follows a very simple process, all you need to do is detach the metal bail and hold the line as opposed to the rod using one of your fingers to avoid unspooling. After that, swing the rod from your side or overhead. And while doing that, slowly let go of your finger around halfway through the movement. Set your goal, and move the tip of the rod in that direction, and that’s it, you are done with your first cast using a spinning reel! 

Even though this is a very simple process, many people end up making the same mistake and that is reengaging the bail after the cast. Well, you don’t need to do that because almost all the spinning reels close the bail automatically once you begin reeling. Well, there might be a reason why people make this mistake, see the thing is that the first spin can often cause the line to miss the spool, resulting in a tangle. So when you throw the line out, you need to make sure that you put the bail back in its starting position manually.  

Let’s take a look into the strengths and weaknesses! 

As we mentioned above, spinning reels are the most popular kind of fishing reels among everyone who does fishing and is extremely capable piece of fishing equipment. However, like every other thing, there are two sides to the story. 

The good side reveals that these reels work really well with lures and smaller baits, and are an ideal choice for a number of habitats, you can go use them in lakes, ponds, seas, etc. Combined with thin, powerful braided lines, they can produce some serious pulling power, too. Moreover, once you are a pro in using them these reels will help you attain highly impressive casting distances, something you can never get with the spincast reels. With all of these, the best part finishes with the cheap price tag attached to it. Its price range from $50 to $150 for different quality models, this is like the golden egg for anglers! 

All of this may sound like these spinning reels are just perfect, but well, nothing in this world is perfect, right? So, here come the drawbacks. The first problem you will face while using the spinning reels is that if you are not cautious while handling the bait, there’s a good chance you may end up with some terrible line tangles. Other than that, another drawback of using a spinning reel is that it limits your fishing to small lures and lines because once you start loading the reel with heavier gear, their functioning might not be as productive. 

3. Baitcasting Reel

Finally, the third and the most up-to-date kind of fishing reel is the Baitcasting fishing reel. These are very different from both Spincast and spinning reels as they are a little too complicated to operate, in fact, there is a good chance that if you are a beginner you might break one or two of these before actually learning how to use them. Hence, what a beginner does is start fishing on a spincast or spinning reel, and once he is good at the sport, they slowly and gradually move towards the baitcasting reels. And we can guarantee, once you get a hang of this one, there is no going back because this reel is incomparable when it comes to strength, performance, and accuracy. 

You might be wondering why these ones are difficult to operate, well, that is because they come with many more moving components than the other reels, hence, learning your way through each of them might take time and practice. But once you master the art of using a baitcasting reel, you can’t even imagine how much better your fishing experience will get! 

Now, let’s discuss the components it comes with, the first thing and the most important thing that makes it really different from the other two is that the reel is placed on the rod handle facing upwards. It uses a semi-enclosed design and a stronger build compared to others. Then, as spinning reels, this one also uses a drag mechanism which is placed right beside the reel handle, but here’s the twist, this reel comes up with two extra components placed on the top of the drag mechanism, and these components are the reason behind the extra strength and performance the reel offers. 

These are the spool tension knob and the braking system. Both of these mechanisms are used to regulate the speed of the line when it is going out of the reel. You might think is that really important? Well, yes absolutely! Firstly, you get control of your line and are allowed to throw it as far as you want, and secondly, by controlling the speed of your line you can avoid all the spooling. 

Now, let’s take a look at the complicated way to use a baitcasting reel, unlike other reels, a baitcasting reel does not use a bail, hence, there is no automatic way of preventing spooling, so for that, you need to use your thumb and press it against the spool which helps you get more accurate casts. Once the bait hits your aim, you just hold a clip to lock the line, and then you’re good to go. It doesn’t really sound complicated right? Yeah, but you really need to use one for that! 

Let’s take a look into the strengths and weaknesses! 

Among all three types of reels we just discussed, the baitcasting reel without a doubt is the most powerful fishing reel. Unlike the other two, the baitcasting reel can handle heavy lures and lines, and because of the high pulling power can be used for some serious fishing. Another thing we like about them is that with the Baitcasting reel you can feel the line going out of the reel so you can control when to stop it. Last but not least, baitcasting is highly customizable. Whether you’re pulling out bottom fish from heavy cover, or doing drop shots for Bass, this reel can do it all. All of this makes it an ideal reel for professional anglers. 

Other than the fact that it takes a while to learn how to use it, there is one other thing that you might not like about it. The thing is that every time you change your lure you need to change the settings of the reels because the different weights of lures demand a different setting of the braking system and spool tension. This can be time taking, and you might end up spending more time changing settings than fishing. 

One last drawback of these reels is the cost, they start from $100 and go upto $500 quality wise making them the most expensive fishing reels to exist. However, the performance it has to offer is worth the money, but make sure you learn well because if not, you might end up breaking the reel while practicing. 

Other Types of Fishing Reels

Until now, we discussed the three main types of fishing reels in detail, however, these are not the only types. There are a few more types of fishing reels and each one of them is specially designed for a special type of fishing. These types of fishing reels are made to serve a special purpose, and while many anglers think of them as a marketing tactic, we think that these are pretty useful, and those who have used them know exactly what we are talking about. 

Well, if you are a beginner and want to start with basic fishing, you might not be interested in this information, and starting off with a spinning or spincast reel is the right choice for you. However, if you are an experienced angler, this information might be very helpful for you to select your next step, you can specialize in a different type of fishing by using one of these. So without wasting any more time, let’s get right into it; 

1. Fly Fishing Reels 

Just by the name of it, you can pretty much guess that this fishing reel is specially made for fly fishing. Do you know what fly fishing is? Well, if not don’t worry we will explain, fly fishing is the type of fishing that uses different types of lures that usually looks like a fly or a bug. Originally, the purpose of this reel was to help anglers catch trout fishes mainly from streams and creeks, however, today, they are also used to catch all kinds of saltwater and freshwater fish.

fly fishing reel

The best part about these fly fishing reels is that they offer accuracy while making the cast, it offers precision and allows you to cast the line perfectly to your desired spot. The reel is designed in a very thoughtful way and focuses on the drag capabilities because well, a reel is as good as its drag right? It comes with a disc drag system, which is without a doubt the best form of drag system out there. Moreover, when casting, the fly fishing reels use the weight of the line instead of the fly which makes it very lightweight and allows you to cast at fairly larger distances. They are very easy to use, and anyone who is interested in fly fishing would not regret having one of these. 

2. Conventional/Trolling Reels

These reels are also commonly called the casting reels and as that name suggests it is all about providing the best casting. It is widely used for deep-sea as well as offshore fishing. You might think that baitcasting and spinning reels do as well, so why go for a conventional/trolling reel? Well, the difference is that the special design of these reels helps the angler to achieve a higher level of trolling which basically includes dropping a line behind a moving boat. 

These reels are further categorized into two types based on the style, level wind, and open style reels. The open style reels provide an excellent frame length and are highly suitable for huge and heavy-weighted fishing, while using these reels, the angler has complete control of the line and that is why it is not just a beginner’s game because controlling the line is an art which comes after experience. 

conventional reels

On the other hand, the level wind trolling reel is more versatile compared to the open style, and the reason behind it is that the reel comes with a moving line guide. This guide moves all the way from one side to the other as you cast with the line in an attempt to catch a fish. Also, alongside the heavy-weight fishing, the level wind feature of the reels also allows it to troll the smaller and light-weight fishes as well. 

A trolling fishing reel is as good as its structure, there are many different styles and designs of these reels out in the market but if you are looking for the best one, don’t forget to make sure that the reel is made from graphite, have large reel handles, include bait clicker alarms, and most importantly, has a tough drag system. Moreover, the best feature of a really good trolling reel is that it comes with a dual-speed system that allows you to switch from fishing the surface to fighting big fish from the deep seawater just by a simple, casual flick of the lever. Just like that!

3. Surf Fishing Reels

We can guarantee you that surf fishing reels are the perfect choice for you if you are looking for an incredible experience while saltwater fishing, why is that so? Well, it is the secret hidden in the making of the reel. These reels are specially coated with a corrosion-resistance substance, that protects them from getting affected by all the extra moisture, salt, and oxygen present in the oceans. 

surf fishing reel

These reels are mostly made with anodized aluminum or graphite and are known for being extremely lightweight, versatile, and providing high retrieval rates. If you buy one of these we are pretty sure they will not be ruined for a long time, firstly, because of the corrosion resistance, and secondly, because they offer sealed bearings that help in avoiding the buildup of salt and sand in the reel. Its versatility makes it the best choice for surf fishermen because if you know them, they prefer a reel that is not just limited to one style of fishing but allows them to catch different types of fish. Also, its easy-to-use mechanism is just the cherry on top! 

4. Offshore Fishing Reels

When you take a look at the design and features of an offshore fishing reel, you might feel that it is very similar to Baitcasting and Spinning reels and also works a lot like the surf fishing reels. Well, that is exactly what this is, this reel is designed by using the best features of all three of these which makes it the ideal choice for professional anglers who aim to catch all kinds of fishes, especially in saltwater. 

off-shore fishing reels

Offshore as the name suggests is far off the shore, so it is not your usual fishing rod you can take to the beach for fun, it is designed for serious fishing out in the water to go deep and catch the bigger fish. This is the reason why these reels can be a little heavier and come with a hefty price tag because of all the toughness and durability it has to offer. Well, we think that this price tag is justified because of the extinguishing ability of offshore reels to tolerate the saltwater splashes and battle with large-sized fishes and we are taking large like sharks!

5. Centerpin Fishing Reels

Just like the spinning and spincast reels, Centerpin fishing reels are also called the beginners’ reel as it uses the most basic kind of technology and a very simple design, which is not the only reason why it is very popular among the new anglers, it is also because it uses a free-spinning system without using any kind of drag approach. 

centerpin fishing reels

Even though it is very simple in terms of design and functioning but don’t expect to get the perfect shot in your first attempt of using it, it is a little tougher than that, and with a little practice you can learn it very fast, and why we suggest practicing before taking it out in the water is because they are a little complicated to cast as they require the anglers to do a little manual line maneuvering if they are to make a successful cast.

The Centerpin fishing reels are then divided into two main types based on the kinds of pins they are using; centerpins with bearings and the traditional true pins. In the traditional true pins design, 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 really helpful for anglers to adjust the end float of the spool. while on the other hand, the centerpin reels with bearings consist of frictionless ball racers that are contained within the spool. However, both of them are highly suitable for lightweight and freshwater fishing. 


Among the three main types of fishing reels, the spincast reel is the easiest one to operate and is very simple to learn. Because of the closed face design, the work pretty much happens itself, and you just need to control the button. And if we take a look at the other types, the centerpin fishing reels are the easiest and if you know how to cast with a spinning or spincast reel then using a centerpin fishing reel is a piece of cake for you. 

Yes, other than the three main types there are a few more types of fishing reels designed for a special kind of fishing, as we have mentioned in the above article.

Well, the answer to this question completely depends on what level of an angler is using them. Because if he is a beginner, the best and the most ideal choice for him is to start off with the spinning reel to get the hang of the sport. While on the other hand, if it is an experienced angler and a fishing pro, he would find baitcasting the best because of the performance and strength it offers.

Final Verdict

We are sure that we have pretty much provided you with all the information you would need about the types of fishing reels. All of them serve different purposes, hence, identifying which one is the best and which is the worst is not the right thing to do. However, if we consider the three main types of reels it goes like you start with a spincast or spinning and then eventually make the shift to the baitcasting. 

While, if we take a look at the other types there is no way you can choose the best out of them because all of them are made for different styles of fishing, you can expect a fly fishing reel to help you with the surf fishing and similarly, you can’t expect to do fly fishing with a surf fishing reel. Let us know if you find our information helpful and if you are planning to get yourself a new fishing reel let us know which one you chose!

Clinton Shannon

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