Best Spinning Reels For Fishing

Spinning reels are possibly the most common type of reel used for both freshwater and saltwater fishing. A good spinning reel is incredibly versatile, able to handle all types of tackle as well as live bait and lures. Many fishermen just love the spinning reel, especially with casting as you only need to throw the weight of the line, no gearing or moving the spool to add friction to your cast, meaning with practice longer and more accurate casts.

Spinning reels are relatively easy to learn how to use and don’t take that long to master casting with these types of reel. Often the first reel a beginner comes into contact with is a spinning reel, this does not by any means, mean that they are only for beginners. This being said there is a multitude of spinning reels on the market, and whether you are a beginner or a seasoned fisherman or angler buying the right spinning reel is important. This guide takes away the pain and worry of buying the wrong spinning reel. What to look for, gear ratios, body types, and drag systems. What you need for the type of fishing and type of fisherman you are. Tale a look at the best fresh water or salt water and sometimes both spinning reels.

Spinning reels are easy to learn and limitless in their uses for catching fish of nearly any type. Fishing is a fabulous sport, and a great way to enjoy beautiful natural settings. It is a passion that often lasts a lifetime. Enjoying fishing means having the right equipment, and the best spinning reel is an ideal choice.

Skills, knowledge and great equipment add to the enjoyment of fishing. This article describes the types of reels, the features that make the best reels and a step-by-step approach to selecting the best spinning reel. This article provides facts and information for new or experienced buyers complete with a total spinning reel review. We have gathered the essential information to help buyers make the best selections for their budgets and sporting goals.

Shimano Sustain FG
  • Shimano Sustain FG
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Lightweight
  • Good saltwater reel
  • Price: See Here
Pflueger Supreme
  • Pflueger Supreme
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Reversible handle
  • Lightweight
  • Price: See Here
Okuma Makaira
  • Okuma Makaira
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Very strong
  • Corrosion resistant
  • Price: See Here

6 Best Spinning Reels


Shimano Sustain FG SA5000FG

Shimano Sustain FG SA5000FG
Material: Aluminium
Weight: 10.6 oz
Barrings: 8
Gear ratio: 6.2:1
Salt or fresh water: Salt
Maximum drag pressure: 20lb
Front or Rear drag: Front
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Shimano Sustain family of reels offer excellent performance throughout the 7 models in the range. All are suitable for salt water, although the SA1000FG model maybe more suitable for smaller rods.
The reel is incredibly lightweight but powerful and rigid from it X-Ship which supports the pinion gear on both ends with bearings, which enables the pinion gear to remain in alignment with the drive gear, this will enable better and longer casting. The bearings themselves are shielded on both sides of the bearing, which shields them from salt, sand or any other foreign bodies from inhibiting the rotation of the bearing. The reel stand is a nice feature allowing the reel to be rested on the ground without the possibility of damaging the reel.
  • Good salt water reel

  • Lightweight

  • Fast ratio and 30 to 41 IPR

  • Bit large for free water fishing

Pflueger Supreme 40XT

Pflueger Supreme 40XT
Material: Magnesium
Weight: 8.7 grams
Barrings: 10
Gear ratio: 6.2:1
Salt or fresh water: Both Salt and fresh water
Maximum drag pressure: 6.3kg
Front or Rear drag: Front
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The Pfueger Supreme is the lightest spinning reel from Pfueger. It achieves this from the manufacturing materials but does not lose any strength, The main body and rotor are made from Magnesium, which is incredibly light with a strength similar to steel, the rotor is aluminium and the crank handle is carbon fibre. This means that Pfueger have used the lightest and strongest materials available in the construction on this reel. The inner workings of the reel are also of equal if not higher quality. The bearing system is a 10 stainless steel sealed and corrosion resisting unit, which will enable a smooth and even retrieval of the line on to the spool. The spool is suitable for braided lines as well as standard line, great if you are looking to hook some big fish or small sharks from the beach. The Front drag system is a seal carbon drag washer system. Washer drag systems use washer discs in a stack on the spool shaft, then pressure is applied to the washers or discs to increase and decrease the drag. The crank handle can be reversed to be left or right handed.
The look of the reel is good in black with orange details, although I’m sure the colour of a reel is not forefront in your mind.
  • Both salt and fresh water

  • Lightweight

  • Reversible handle of left or right handed

  • Sealed carbon fiber front drag

  • 38-inch IPR

  • Instant anti reverse

  • Magnesium not the best for salt water

Okuma Makaira MK-20000LS

Okuma Makaira MK-20000LS
Material: Aluminium
Weight: 32.5oz
Barrings: 9
Gear ratio: 5.8:1
Salt or fresh water: Salt
Maximum drag pressure: 66lbs
Front or Rear drag: Front
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This reel is for giant fish, Amberjack, Yellowtail, Marlin, Bluefin and Yellowfin Tuna. Is is definitely not for fishing in a lake, although it would work. The main body is machine cut forged aluminium with an aluminium flow rotor and stainless steel gearing. The main spool shaft is also stainless steel for added strength. The Spool shaft is supported by nine ball bearings and a roller baring enabling smooth line retrieval no matter what the pull on the line. The front drag system is a Dual force drag system, meaning that instead of applying drag to just one surface area of the spool, this drag system has been designed to apply drag to all surface areas of the spool therefore maximizing drag and heat dissipation. The whole reel is sealed to prevent salt water ingress, with 23 different oil retaining O-rings and gaskets making all the internal mechanical parts are water tight. The body is forged aluminium and then machine cut, this is how they make a car engine, so imagine the strength of the body over a pressed aluminium body. The handle is non reversible but reel is available with either right handed or left handed.
  • Forged machine cut aluminum body

  • Front dual drag system

  • 9+1 bearing stainless steel baring system

  • Corrosion resistant coating

  • Heavy-duty aluminum bail wire

  • Very strong

  • Heavy

  • Too large for freshwater

Penn Pursuit II

Penn Pursuit II
Material: Graphite
Weight: 11.9 grams
Barrings: 5
Gear ratio: 5.2:1
Salt or fresh water: Both Salt or Fresh water
Maximum drag pressure: 4.5kg
Front or Rear drag: Front
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The Penn Pursuit II 3000 is an excellent all round reel. It has a graphite body and rotor to reduce the weight and enable superior balance, matched with a machined and anodized to reduce corrosion spool. The spool is supported with 5 shielded stainless steel ball bearings. The drag system is an oiled felt disc system, being felt reduces heat and allows a more smooth pull through the line. The handle is reversible to right or left handed. This reel is great value for money for anyone wanting an excellent quality reel for salt water fishing or fresh water course but without breaking the bank. The design and construction will give many years of trouble free angling, from a reel manufacturer with years of experience in reels and fishing.
  • Graphite corrosion proof body

  • Front drag system

  • Reversible right or left handed handle
  • Value for money

  • Felt disc drag

Abu Garcia Revo SX

Abu Garcia Revo SX
Material: Aluminium
Weight: 7.2 grams
Barrings: 9
Gear ratio: 6.2:1
Salt or fresh water: fresh
Maximum drag pressure: 4.5kg
Front or Rear drag: Front
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This reel just looks great, its matt black with red and silver details, but is it as great as it looks. So first this reel is designed for fresh water so it doesn’t need to stand up the corrosive conditions of a salt water reel. This enables Abu Garcia to use different materials which reduce the weight while making the performance tailored to fresh water. The body is carbon with an aluminum gear box, which is incredibly light, and offers good feel through the handle, giving confidence to the angler and reel. The spool is supported with 9 stainless steel bearing for smooth line retrieval. The front drag system uses carbon matrix discs, which gives a smooth and reliable performance. The handle is reversible for right or left handed positions. This reel is small but do let that fool you into thinking it can catch good fish, large Bass should be no problem with this reel.
  • Lightweight

  • Aluminium body and gears

  • Machined aluminium braid ready spool

  • Stainless steel main shaft

  • 9 ball bearing system

  • Only fresh water. Not really a con.


Material: Aluminium
Weight: 23.5oz
Barrings: 3
Gear ratio: 4.9:1
Salt or fresh water: Fresh
Maximum drag pressure: 14lb
Front or Rear drag: Front
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Daiwa Crosscast is a great reel for a beginner in fresh water fishing whether you are going to fish on lakes, course fishing, river bank or canal fishing or even in the middle of a lake in a row boat. It doesn’t matter what type of fish you are trying to catch, Carp, Perch, Pike, or even Bass, this reel will be able to catch them. When you decide that you really want to catch for example Carp then you may choose a different reel for that fish, and even if you do I guarantee that you will still have the crosscast with you on your spare rod, because you know it will always perform. Why am I saying this, well it is a reasonable priced reel and it doesn’t have all the features other reel have, but it has everything you need. The body and reversible right and left handed handle are both aluminium, the spool is aluminium and designed for long accurate casting, if you are able to of course. The spool shaft is supported with 3 ball bearings, which is a lot lower than the other reels I have reviewed here but it is enough for a smooth line return. The drag is front drag. The bail has to be returned to position manually after casting, but this is no great hardship. The reel also includes a spare spool which is always handy to have.
  • Reasonable priced

  • Reversible right and left handed handle
  • Aluminium body and handle

  • Front drag system
  • Only fresh water

  • 3 ball bearings

  • Manual bail return

Here’s What We Looked For

Body types

The body of the reel is just as important as everything else. The Body gives the reel strength. Most good quality reels are made from either, Aluminium, Graphite, Magnesium and sometimes steel. You will see spinning reels with plastic bodies, these are to be avoided, they are made mainly for beginners and children’s fishing rod and reel combos, however even if I was buying for a child under  10 I would still buy equipment that the child will have success with. Just imagine you have bought an 8 year their first rod and reel and on the first trip, they get a bite and then their reel falls apart before the fight has even begun. Aluminium and graphite are all very good materials for reel bodies, Stainless steel is strong but heavy and rarely seen in the whole body but rather components inside the body. If you are planning to fish in salt water, graphite will be more durable against the harshness of salt water, but on the whole, Graphite bodies are not as strong as Aluminium.

Aluminum is OK for salt water and definitely strong enough, but over time the body will show fatigue due to the exposure to the salt water and to prolong the usable life you should always clear your reel after a trip. If you are only going to be fishing fresh water, lakes and rivers then I would recommend aluminum body as they are strong and often slightly less expensive than graphite. Magnesium is expensive but has as strong as aluminum but a lot lighter. I have not used a magnesium reel, but due to the weight, I feel they might take a bit of getting used to with regards to rod balance. I believe that they would be great for freshwater fishing, but I am concerned about salt water. Magnesium as a metal corrodes readily with salt water, and the magnesium reels sold as saltwater reels all need a thick epoxy coating. If you do use a magnesium reel for salt water I would check the coating and paint on the body for signs of chips or scratches. If anyone wants to send me a magnesium reel to test to destruction I am happy to do so.

Reel size

The reel size needs to suit the size of rod or pole you are using. Although a large reel on a small rod will not cause a major problem but may feel unbalanced, where as a small reel on a long large pole is not a good idea as the reel may be placed under more strain than it is designed for.

Ball Barrings

This is simple the more ball barring then better the reel and the smoother the action. The minimum amount is 3 and up to 10 ball barrings. The ball barrings should be made from stainless steel.

Gear ratios

A gear ratio is a number of turns of the crank handle compared to the number of times the spool turns. You will see gear ratios with numbers such as 6.2:1 this means that the spool will turn 6.2 times for ever 1 turn of the crank handle. The higher the ratio the faster the spool reels in line. Most spinning reels have a gear ratio between 5.0:1 to 7.0:1. But just because you have a gear ratio of 7.0:1 does not necessary mean that it will reel in line quicker than s 6.0:1, you have to factor in the diameter of the reel. A large diameter reel will pull in more line per turn than a small diameter reel. Another set of numbers you might see are IPT (inches per turn) this is a number of inches reeled in per one turn of the handle. I have never found that gear ratio makes a huge difference in the actual job of catching fish, but others swear by a specific ratio for specific fish and waters.

Drag Systems

Drag is important. The drag on a reel will enable you to land bigger fish than the line strength suggests is possible. Fish put up a fight and will pull, most of this strain is taken in the rod bend and flex, but you don’t want the line to break, for one you lose the fish, but also the fish swims away with the hook still in its jaw, which is not good for the fish, and your tackle. The drag system helps to stop this happening. The drag system is a mechanical system which allows pressure to be applied to the line spool, via the use of fiction plates inside the reel to brake the spool. The idea is to give even and constant pressure without jerkiness. As the fish pulls the reel will allow the line to spool instead of braking. This along with good technique can land you some big fish, and big fish is what it is all about.

There are two types of drag systems for spinning reels. Rear or Front drag systems. Front drag systems have the drag adjustment on the front of the spool, they are simpler mechanically and produce a constant drag and usually with higher drag forces. They are easy to set, but not as easy to adjust whilst mid fight. Rear drag systems the adjustment is at the rear of the reel. They have a more complicated mechanically, and not as consistent or smooth a drag as front drag systems, but they are a lot easier to adjust mid-fight. I prefer front drag systems and I  would recommend beginners to use front drag systems, set the drag strength before casting based on your line strength and then just leave it alone.

Most front drag systems use a washer drag systems where washer discs are stacked on the spool shaft, then the pressure is applied to the washers or discs to increase and decrease the drag by the screw on the front of the reel. If you are fishing for big fish which will have a greater pulling power will generate quite a lot of heat in the drag washers. For this reason, drag washers are made from Teflon and Carbon fiber. Steel is sometimes used in reels designed with lower drags.  

How to set up drag

This really depends on the condition, line strength and type of fish you are trying to catch. But as a rule of thumb set the drag to 1/3 the breaking strength of the line, no more than half then the breaking strength. For example, if you have a 10kg line, set the drag to 3kg to 5 kg.


Other Important Factors Worth Considering

Fishing is a great sport and the most popular sport in terms of participants worldwide. But fishing is not just fishing and no two fishermen or anglers are the same. You can’t really even just divide it into salt water and fresh water, as both have multiple disciplines and different types of fish the angler is trying to catch.

The Water factor
Daiwa Saltist Black Gold Conventional Reel - STT20H/30H/40H
Daiwa Saltist

Saltwater fishing differs from freshwater for the corrosion effects that salt water has on metals and other surfaces. Saltwater species are different than freshwater types, and some of the largest fish on the planet are saltwater species. The oceans are vast and deep and offer many types of fish environments not found in freshwaters such as coral reefs and thermal vents. The salty or brackish water affects fishing equipment and reels in particular. Reels must be strong to handle severe shocks and strong forces from powerful fish.

They must operate with precision gears and prove durable for many years of reliable service. Metals work best for these conditions, and manufacturers must protect the metals from the effects of salt water and salt spray. The most important comment in saltwater spinning reels reviews tells whether it holds up to large fish and heavy use. The best saltwater spinning reel offers lasting value and reliable performance with the angler’s budget.

For example a  fresh water course Angler might want to catch Carp and is not interested in catching Perch or Pike, and so the Angler will set up their rod and reel to be best for that fish, whereas the Angler in the next swim just want to enjoy catching anything and a more general setup  is used. If you are thinking of competing then Freshwater Bass is the most popular and again you will be looking to set up your rod and reel for this. Whatever your setup it doesn’t mean that you will only catch the fish you are aiming for but just gives you a better chance of landing that type of fish when one bites the hook. And as always you never know what you have caught until you land it.

It’s the same with salt water fishing. If you are fishing off a pier or jetty or off the beach in the surf, or out in the ocean on a boat. Each of these you would definitely use different rods or poles. For example if you are fishing from a pier or jetty you may have a 7ft or 2m pole or rod as you don’t need to cast as far, but if you are on the beach, standing at the edge of the surf you will want a 10ft or 3m pole or rod to give you the leverage to throw the line way out past the breakers.  Then add to this what you want to catch, is any fish OK, or are you looking for snapper, or mackerel or even shark.

Few reels are suitable for everything, but some exceptional reels although designed for one type of fishing be it salt water or fresh water, are able to cross over and be used in the other environment with success. The reels I have reviewed in this best of review, I have tried to find the best all-round spinning reels that will be great for whatever fish you want to catch and where ever you want to catch it. If you are just starting at angling or fishing, don’t let all the choices scare you.

If you know that you are only ever going to fish in fresh water, then the Abu Garcia Revo SX REVO2SX10 and Daiwa Crosscast QDA CC5500QDA are the best choices. If you are only going to fish salt water and are not sure if surf/beach casting or pier/jetty then Penn Pursuit II Spinning PURII3000 or Shimano Sustain FG SA5000FG are both good choices.

If you might fish fresh water and sea water and you want to use the same set up on both then the nest reel is either the Pfueger Supreme 40XT or the Penn Pursuit II Spinning PURII3000 both are excellent all round reels.


Spinning reels are devices that hold, release, retrieve, have a handle attached to a spool, engage a braking line which slows a fish from taking all the spool line, and has a bracket for attaching the reel to a rod.

The operation of a spinning reel is easy to learn, and the versatility allows the spinning reel rod to be used throughout a wide range of conditions for all sorts of fish.

The Pflueger Patriarch Spinning Reel is hands down the best spinning reel out there. Spinning reel reviews come in handy when evaluating the product by helping you gain knowledge allowing you to formulate your buying decision. This reel also maintains the best value award.

Review of the reel finds the highest 5-star rating on Quality. The reel is lightweight, operates smoothly including smooth drag, and comes with a braid ready spool. Another positive fact on the reel is slippage has never been an issue. The reel comes with a handy reel cover along with a spare aluminum spool, and the quality of both is excellent.


Pflueger takes weight reduction seriously, and it is demonstrated in this reel. Not only does the frame, sideplate, and rotor feature lightweight magnesium construction, the reel makes use of carbon fiber in a number of areas. The carbon in this reel is high quality, not a chintzy painted prototype, but actual carbon based material.

The carbon based material is used in both the spool and handle and is designed to be very solid and durable without the weight of normal aluminum alloy.

The Patriarch makes use of a carbon drag system that is sealed inside the spool. The only way to access this system is by four screws that release the entire spool assembly. The drag system looks very advanced but sheer stopping power is far from full potential.

The range of settings is limited. The reel contains three main settings, wide open, medium and full lockdown. To gain any significant amount of counter pressure you need to wind the drag knob down. Although the drag was effective, and while very smooth, it did not exhibit much stopping power.

Even with the few shortcomings noted, overall the Pflueger is well worth the investment.

An important reminder and handy tip to maintaining the Pflueger Patriarch Spinning reel is to oil, grease and keep the reel tightened with a simple screwdriver adjustment or two.

Targeted Species

Selecting the best trout reel is not an easy chore; freshwater trout vary in size from a few pounds for brown and golden trout to lake trout in the range of 15 to 40 pounds. Saltwater or Steelhead Trout range from a few pounds to upward of 50 pounds. To pick one reel as the best spinning reel for trout would have to be a medium to heavy reel with a large line capacity to accommodate tough line in the range or 14 to 20 pounds test. The reel would be a saltwater rated reel to find trout in estuaries and ocean shore areas.

The best approach for spinning reels for trout would be to have more than one combo. A light to medium reel and rod combo would be an excellent choice for smaller trout species such as brown trout, rainbow trout, and golden trout. Anglers pursue these species in small rivers and streams.

In the Western US in places like Montana and Colorado, major rivers are legendary for holding large trout, and they would test the power of light to medium rod and reel combos.

A medium combo would be the best selection for large steelhead and lake trout. These lunkers can hold in deep cool waters and provide a thrilling fight for the angler using medium weight tackle.

The best fly fishing reels are those that can match the top rated poles. In fly fishing, the poles are just as important as the reels that hold line and tippets. Fly reels keep the line in order for casting and organize it during the retrieve. After a strike, the reel plays a vital role in letting the fish run then landing the fish after the fight.

In saltwater environments like the flats, fly reels have an important role for drag, letting fish run, retrieving with a smooth operation, and keeping the line in order. When casting the reel releases line. After casting, the angler moves the bait by reeling, and moving the tip of the pole to swim the fly or bait. After a strike, the angler moves line by stripping it down the pole and into a pile at his or her feet. The reel must pick up this pile and keep it neat and ready for the next cast.

Construction of The Reel

Spinning reel attached to a fishing rodSpinning reels must be strong enough to handle heavy loads and strong shocks. In some large saltwater and freshwater species, fish weigh more than 100 pounds. Bluewater species like Marlin run above 500 pounds.

Fishing reels must withstand the sudden shocks of the strike on the baits and then handle the load of landing the large fish. The average species are much smaller, and the reels are sized to the lower weight ranges. The spinning reels must handle the loads and forces the small and medium fish exert.

The strength of a spinning reel comes from the metal shaft and gears inside the housing. These precision metal pieces fit together exactly and move in unison to pull the line in towards the angler and land the fish. The case or housing keeps the shaft and gears in the perfect alignment so that the shaft and gears turn and pull the line back onto the spool.

The important construction values are high-strength materials, precision engineering, corrosion resistance, internal seals, and high-quality components.

Fishing reel with bail mechanism

The bail is a thin curved wire part that sits on top of the rotor. As the rotor moves with the turn of the handle, the bail goes round and round near the top of the spool. The bail does three things: it stops the line from moving off the spool, it lets line off the spool, and guides the line back on the spool.

The bail operates in one of two positions. The open position lets line come off the spool, and the bail does not turn. The closed position lets line off the spool if the anti-reverse is not locked. The closed position keeps the line from going off the spool when the anti-reverse is locked, and the rotor and bail will not spin.


Photograph of stationed fishing equipmentManufacturers design Fishing gear to get the most from the fishing experience. Some do far more to make the operation of the reel convenient for the angler. One frequent issue of convenience is the position of the drag control. Most fishing movements suggest that a rear drag is more convenient than a front drag. The front drag requires a downward glance and an awkward reach to the front of the spool skirt to adjust the drag.

One must remember the direction and the last setting to make an effective adjustment on the fly. One can reach the read drag position without looking down because it is a knob at the back of the reel. The adjustment is an intuitive clockwise movement. Front drag is more effective and durable than rear mounted drag, and in this way convenience has a price.

Surf fishing provides another example of convenience. Easy maintenance is an important factor when selecting the best reel for surf fishing. Surf fishing involves salt spray, salt water, the wind, dirt, and sand. The rod butt end will be planted in soft sand, and the reel will often get immersed in or thoroughly sprayed by saltwater.

Weight – The Weight of a Spinning Combo

Photograph of a caught bassThe weight of a spinning combo has two meanings, and they can be confusing. The physical weight in pounds and ounces describes how heavy the combo is and how much weight one carries around when using it. The other and more important definition has to do with the action of the combo and the amount of weight it can hold in forces from the fish.

In this regard, ultralight combos are small, thin poles and small reels meant to take small fish like panfish or for fishing where the combo must be extremely sensitive. This phrase tells the angler what to expect from the fish.

For largemouth or smallmouth bass that can go easily from 6 to 12 pounds depending on the region, one needs a light or medium light combo. Some tournament anglers would use heavy combos for working in weeds and around dense structures. These weight classes will allow for the force of a strike, which can be quite strong and the fight to pull the fish out of the water or in some cases water and thick mats of foliage.

The best light spinning reel offers strength, power, and durability in a package that is easy on the hands and arms. Fishing when done with lures, imitation baits, and live baits requires a lot of repetitive motion. For example, when fishing for largemouth bass in an area not known to the angler, the best practice is to cover the water. This involves a lure such as a spinner bait that one can cast long or short distances and retrieve rapidly. Using this technique one can discover where fish are holding and the nature of the underwater environment such as structure and fallen logs.

The weight of a rod and reel combination can add an enjoyable dimension to fishing the and the best ultralight fishing combo can transform a fishing experience. By selecting an ultralight spinning reel combo, the angler creates a balance between the targeted species and the power of the equipment. For example, a technique like using live minnows to catch crappie, the lightest rod and spinning reel allows the angler to sense the motion of the bait and the precise moment of the strike.



Spinning reel in medicre conditionSeveral points on how to maintain spinning reels and why it is important.

Regular maintenance is important for spinning reel care; it is important for long life and for top performance. The inner workings of a spinning reel involve metal and composite parts that must work in close contact and in connections.

These moving parts build up heat from friction. Heat from friction can damage parts if not protected by oils and lubricants. Dirt can build up in the parts form the fishing environments which involve vegetation, mud, sand, and salt water.

After every use one should inspect the rel for signs of excessive dirt, sand, or foreign material from the day of fishing and traveling. One can wipe the reel down with clear water to remove surface grime. In the off season, one should follow the directions for the reel and disassemble it for a thorough cleaning and oiling of all recommended areas.

This related video is a good example of detailed steps to take to clean and maintain a spinning reel. These steps should be followed with small periodic cleanings in the season and a complete breakdown at least once per season.


How to use a spinning reel

Photograph of girls fishingThe spinning reel is simple and easy to learn. With as few outings, one can master the basics and cast with confidence. One can memorize this line: reach back, aim, throw and let go. Assuming the reel has properly threaded fishing line through the pole guides and a lure or bait, the task is to launch the bait out into the water and catch fish.

The first step is to hold the pole and reel correctly. If right-handed, hold the pole with left hand on the lower handle and right hand above on the pole. The stem of the reel should be between the middle and ring fingers of the right hand. Put the index finger of the right hand on the line curling it in the joint of the fingertip.

Then use the left hand to open the bail so that the line sits across the index finger. Return the left hand to the handle. Looking out over the water to the area where the bait should land, one must reach back, aim, throw and let go of the string.

The bait will fly out over the water and plop into the surface and sink. Holding the pole in the right hand, one should immediately turn the handle of the reel and tighten the line. This motion will start the bait moving toward the pole. The retrieve gives action to the lure. If bait fishing, one must tighten the line and wait for a strike. Fishing with lures tends to be more active and interesting than the bait and wait routine. The lure engages the angler in a match of wits with the fish to entice a strike. The art of fishing with lures involves making the lure move in a way that triggers the fish to strike it. Most of the time that means making the lure swim like something the fish recognizes as food or prey.


A Few Techniques

Hitting the waters with a spinning reel offers you a variation of fishing techniques, depending on what you are fishing for, where you are fishing, and what equipment you have. The most commonly used spinning reel fishing techniques are discussed below, with information on how to use them most effectively when putting them to use.

Still Fishing

fishing techniques

As evident in its name, still fishing is a simple spinning reel fishing technique. It is the most basic, requiring the least amount of skill and tactics, yet requiring the most patience. If you are not well known for your patience, you may find yourself enjoying another technique better.

Still fishing, as it describes, is absent of much movement and manipulation and is great for beginners or kids. Once your line is in the water, ninety-five percent of the work is complete. The preplanning and preparation is the most difficult aspect of this technique. Setting up your line correctly, which you can learn more about here, will be the most sophisticated endeavor you undergo using this technique.

Once you prepare your line, you simply cast your line out to where you want it, let it sit, and wait for the fish to find it. No additional work is necessary.

While being the simplest, still fishing can also be the most versatile. You can adequately fish using this technique in most scenarios, including from a boat or on land. You can fish at all levels in the water by simply adjusting the height of your float. Once your line is in the water, monitor your float for underwater action indicators. A small bob or wobble, you may have a bite playing with your line, or a small fish already hooked. A large tug and pull, you likely have something medium to large on your hook. It is time to set the hook by giving your rod a slight lift upwards.

Cast and Retrieve


Cast and retrieve fishing is more interactive and requires much less patience; however, it does require constant reeling and casting. To use this technique, simply cast out your line, but instead of letting it sink to the bottom and sit, allow it to settle to the desired depth you want to fish, and start to retrieve.

When retrieving, it is important to go at a speed where your lure is mimicking a swimming fish. This may involve changing speeds constantly.

Once your line has been fully retrieved, wait a moment and cast it back out, starting the process over again.

This technique allows you to fish off the bottom of the water, while exploring for locations of fish, with less risk of snagging or losing your gear to debris on the bottom.

Bottom Bouncing


More difficult than still fishing is another alternative spinning reel fishing technique called Bottom Bouncing. As the name suggests, this technique involves allowing your “jig” or bait to bounce across the bottom of the water body. In doing so, the disturbance caused by the lure as it contacts the ground acts as an attractant for the fish’s attention.
Depending upon what type of water body you are fishing, you may be required to manually drag the lure across the bottom, as in a lake or pond. However, where there is a current, the water movement will likely do all the work for you.

This technique is beneficial to locate where the fish may be currently active. Once you have obtained multiple strikes while bottom bouncing, it is likely you found the location of a school. This would be a great time to change to still fishing, placing your bait directly in the area where the strikes occurred.

There are some risks to bottom bouncing. Moving your lure across the bottom of any body of water increases the chances that you will snag your hook on either rocks, limbs, grass, or other debris that has fallen to the bottom. Be prepared to salvage your line should it start to get hooked on something, but also be ready to replace your gear should the snag prove to be too much and you lose your setup.

Here is a picture of what your line is doing at the bottom during bottom bouncing (Photo from Wawangresort):




Jigging is similar to bottom bouncing with the exception that you are instigating the movement of the lure manually by controlling your rod. The goal of jigging is to get an up and down movement to your lure using your wrist. Simply lifting up the rod tip and then lowering it back down will create the ideal movement of your lure.

After casting out your lure, allow it to settle to the bottom of the water, usually done only in a few seconds. Oftentimes, you will physically feel the lure, or spoon, strike the bottom. Once on the bottom, simply snap your wrist up just slightly, lifting the lure off the ground, then letting the lure settle back down. You simply repeat as you slowly retrieve your lure towards you, keeping your line tight so that you can respond to a bite if needed.

Jigging can be done in different directions, including up and down, as described as above. However, alternatives to this method are side to side motions and a combination of up/down and to a side.

Walking the Dog

Visualize taking the dog for a walk on a city sidewalk. Three feet of space from edge to edge. Now, unless it is a well-behaved dog, it is likely that it’s nose will lead the dog from side to side, capturing all the smells to be had. This is exactly how the Walking the Dog technique should look: Like a dog going back and forth, from edge to edge, with little progression forward.

To use the Walking the Dog technique, which can be a difficult spinning reel technique to master, simply cast the line out and prepare for a slow retrieval. Instead of bringing the line in, as you would in a cast and retrieve, or jigging, give your rod a gentle twitch down and to the side and pause. This pause allows the lure to continue to move in the direction of the twitch. This movement will allow slack to develop in your line.

As the slack develops, twitch your rod to the other side. Allow the same sequence to occur. Throughout the retrieval, occasionally stop all movement and let the lure sit idle… then start again. Resume the same pattern of motions as you continue to retrieve your line.

This spinning reel fishing technique works best when there is a rhythm developed in the motions. The back-and-forth motion should be as seamless as possible. It is also important that, if done correctly, the lure is actually moving side to side more than it is moving towards the rod tip.

Here is a video on how to perform the Walking the Dog technique: Walking the Dog

And finally, here is a picture that provides an overview on the Walking the Dog technique (Photo from Caperlan):


Take one or all of these spinning reel fishing techniques and incorporate them into your game. Test them and see which one brings you the most success. Try different techniques in different water bodies, water conditions, and in the quest for different species of fish. Find which one works for you and perfect it.


Final thoughts

Buy a good reel, one of the above. Don’t be cheap, spend some money. If you buy a cheap reel you might get good days out of it, but don’t expect more than that. Fishing is a great way to spend a day, but a bad reel or a reel breaking or failing when you have hooked a fish is the worse thing and it will ruin the entire experience. There are a lot of cheap and low-cost rod and reel sets, sold in all kinds of places, but trust me when I tell you that you might buy a at a low price and maybe catch a fish, but you will in a short time span need to replace everything because it has failed.

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