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At a Glance: Spinning Reels

Spinning reels, also referred to as “open-faced” or “fixed-spool” reels, mount to the underside of spinning rods that have either fixed reel seats or sliding rings on the handle. They feature a long stem to keep the moving parts of the reel away from the angler’s fingers. Spinning reels have a bail wire which rotates around the fixed spool to wrap the line onto the spool, so there is minimal chance of having a “bird’s nest” occur as with casting reels. The lack of a rotating spool also allows the reel to handle extremely lightweight lures and terminal tackle. The design of a spinning reel does cause line to twist and turn as it reeled in and wound onto the spool. Many anglers counter this effect by using snap swivels or ball bearing swivels to allow their lures to function as intended without interference from the line twist. Anti-reverse bearings allow an angler to set the hook on a strike without having the bail wire to turn backwards. By turning this feature off with a simple lever, an angler can back-reel. This allows the handle to be rotated backwards to feed line back off the spool in a controlled manner while fighting large fish without relying on the drag system. Internal gearing will make the bail spin around the spool faster than the handle is being turned, but the gear ratios are not quite as fast as casting reels. The line retrieval is comparable to many casting reels due to the diameter of spinning reel spools being much larger. Another advantage they have is that the spools are typically removable and allow an angler to have multiple spools for a single reel, making one spinning reel capable of use for multiple fishing tactics and species. Due to the open-design of the moving parts, anglers should only use spinning reels rated for saltwater in saltwater conditions.

The top brands of spinning reels at FishUSA include Daiwa, Mitchell, Okuma, Pflueger and Shimano.