Which to Buy: Fishing Reel Types and Their Use



If we look at its history, the first known fishing reels were discovered in the Song Dynasty in China, and the tables of that period depict fishing reels. The earliest known records are the fishing drawings and paintings of 1195 AD in China. The oldest known fishing reels in the west appeared in England in 1650 AD. As of the 1760s, shops in London were advertised for fishing reels with gear systems and became widespread for fishermen. In America, fishing reels are known to be produced in the 1820s.

Types of Fishing Reels


Fly Fishing Reels


The fly fishing reel serves to control the unloading of the rope with the other hand while releasing the rope with the fly rod in one hand. The main purpose of a fly fishing machine is to collect the rope while fighting the fish for a long time, to provide smooth and uninterrupted tension (drag) and to balance the weight of the fly reed during laying. The mechanics of fly fishing machines used in saltwater or freshwater are quite simple. So much so that technically little has changed since the patented design developed by Charles F. Orvis in Vermont in 1874. The basic principle of Orvis’ design was to use very light metals in the construction of the reel and to drill these metals, resulting in a lighter reel model that allows the fly fishing line collected on the reel to dry more quickly than models with a non-perforated flat surface.



In the first designed fly machines, the crank arm was placed on the right side and there was no drag system. Instead of the drag system, resistance was created with the help of a pin that clicks as the pulley rotates. Before the drag system, the rope coming out of the reel was controlled by hand. The hunter, who wanted to slow down the fish, would only put pressure on the mouth of the reel (known as “palming the rim”). Later, the “drag system” was developed to provide adjustable drift instead of these pin click mechanisms. Classic fly fishing machines have changed so little that, although gear systems developed for faster winding in time produced 2: 1 or 3: 1 winding machines with different speeds in each turn, fishermen did not show much interest, considering they were unnecessarily costly and confusing. Instead, they chose to use larger or smaller reels to adjust the winding speed. In contrast to the old one-way arms, these machines were designed to be mounted on both sides, and in order to avoid the heat problem created by the drag system, light-weight composite materials were used instead of metal materials.

The models of fly fishing reels developed for saltwater are specifically designed for use in the ocean environment and have a much larger body and a larger diameter than freshwater machines. They are designed to withstand the pressures and long-term struggles of large ocean fish, using salt-resistant aluminum frames and reels, electroplated or stainless steel parts, sealed and watertight bearings and drive mechanisms to prevent corrosion.



  • Use of Fly Fishing Reels

Fly machines are simple, manual and monotonous designs. By rotating the lever on the side of the reel, you usually rewind at a 1: 1 ratio (one full revolution of the reel arm equals one revolution of the reel). Fly fishing machines are very simple and have fewer parts than other fishing machines. On the outside of the machine, there are two level switches used to release the reel and drag adjustment.

Baitcasting Fishing Reels


Baitcasting fishing reel is a traditional fishing machine model, a machine model with a multiplier gear structure. A toothed bearing supported rotary pulley provides multiple rotations of the pulley with a single revolution of the crank arm. The feed thrower is mounted on the top of the rod. The Baitcasting Fishing Machine originated in the mid-17th century but was widely used by amateurs in the 1870s. The gears of the first Baitcasting Fishing Machines were generally made of brass or iron, the case and reels of silver, brass or rubber, and did not have a multiplier gear system or drag systems. Each turn of the machine arm would rotate 1 turn on the reel and the fishermen would control the rope exiting the machine by pressing the thumbs on the reel. In the early 1870s, some models used bearings to mount the pulley, but the use of the roller and the free-turning pulley created difficulties. A pin ‘tapping’ mechanism was used to apply pressure to the reel to prevent the reel from oscillating freely, but this was not intended as a drag.



Most of the fishing reels are mounted by hanging under the fishing pole, this is a very easy method of casting and handling, and no wrist strength is required to overcome gravity in this position. The reason for placing the baitcasting machine on the fishing pole was that it was controlled by pressing the reel with the thumb during the cast, and it was used after casting in winding or by reversing when the fish was caught. Later, however, many fishermen always preferred to use the upper part, and the crank arm and gear placement were done accordingly. The reason why baitcasting machines are designed as flat is to keep them very close to the fishing pole. The machine which is mounted on top tends to turn down continuously, which in turn overcomes the wrist. For this reason, baitcasting machines are designed flat and there is a trigger just below the machine bed of the baitcasting fishing rod. The baitcasting reel is provided with ergonomics by facilitating the grip with the help of the thumb and a trigger placed under the reel.

Most of today’s baitcasting machines are manufactured using aluminum, stainless steel and/or synthetic composite materials and include a self-closing spool in rewinding, magnetic or centrifugal brake control to control rope oscillation, adjustable drag system, and fast gear systems capable of winding up to 7.1 in one turn. In baitcasting machines, the pulley is movable, the pulley is released during casting and the weight of the casted feed pulls the rope and rotates the pulley in the opposite direction, but the momentum caused by the rope oscillation causes the pulley to rotate even if the rope stops motion. In this case, the reel releases extra rope into the machine and knot problems arise. The magnetic braking system setting makes the reel stop and restrains the knot problems, but the throw control system must also be adjusted to the feed, as the weight of the casted feed will change the speed of rotation of the reel. There are options that can make fast winding with gear systems at different tour ratios or produce high torque to cope with big fish. Baitcasting machines give good results with almost all braid rope or line types.



  • Use of Baitcasting Fishing Reels

The baitcasting reel is very easy to use, but it may take some time to get used to it after other fishing machines. When you hold your casting position, press the pin that allows the reel to rotate freely with your thumb, and also press the reel to prevent it from spinning. Extend the rod over your shoulder and swing it forward quickly. When the tip of the reed is in the direction you want to cast, release the reel with your thumb and allow the rope to exit freely. Although you adjust the auxiliary magnetic brake, hold your thumb on the reel and press it gently to stop the reel when the feed reaches a sufficient distance. Although modern centrifugal and/or magnetic braking systems help control the reel, a number of refinements and experience are required to use a baitcasting machine and achieve the best results.

Conventional Fishing Reels


Conventional Fishing Reels or Spinning Machines are quite similar to baitcasting fishing reels systemically, but due to the fish they are used for, their structure is quite large. When you want to cast, the spinning machine has a pin to release the reel. Conventional fishing machines are not designed for casting. Balance and ergonomics, even in small models, do not allow casting. They are usually left behind from a boat in motion or used directly in deep fish hunting. Conventional machines have been developed for use in large fish and trolling or jigging fishing for offshore use. They are generally mounted on short thick-bodied trolling or jigging fishing rods.

Spin Fishing Reels


Spinning fishing reels, known as fixed reel fishing machines, were first introduced in North America in the early 1870s. It was developed as a result of the baitcasting machines’ inability to throw light bait and fly fishing machines’ inability to throw heavier bait. Since they are mounted on the bottom of the fishing pole, Spin Fishing Machines are very comfortable in terms of use and ergonomics compared to other machines. Unlike movable rollers of the same weight, fixed roller models with much more reel capacity have become widespread because they are lighter but more powerful and avoid problems such as kinking on moving rollers. The fact that you did not have to turn the reel to release the rope or fishing line during the casting, and that the rope or fishing line discharged freely from the reel standing perpendicular to the casting direction, also made it easier to throw lighter baits.



In spin machines, the reel does not rotate about its axis, it is fixed and it moves only forward and backward thanks to its gear system. The winding process is carried out by a rotating wire mechanism. When you turn the handle, the wire that rotates around the reel winds your rope or fishing line on the reel that stands in the center. The reels that move back and forth stack the coiled rope or fishing line on the reel frequently and neatly. The rope or fishing line is controlled by the index finger to adjust the distance the bait will go during the cast and to slow down or stop the rope’s exit. When winding in spin machines, the reel is stacked more tightly and there is no loose rope or fishing line and this prevents problems such as knots or tangling. Spinning angling machines with many alternative sizes ranging from 1000 to 30,000 have been developed over time and have the advantages of all other angling machines. Their use has become widespread in many hunting disciplines, from LRF hunting with lightweight tools to offshore hunting.

  • Use of Spin Fishing Reels

Open the guard wire of your spinner, grasp the rope or fishing line with your index finger, and then extend your fishing rod backward. Swing your rod in the direction you will cast. When the bait gains momentum and your rod is pointed in the direction you’re going to cast, release your fishing line with your finger. Keep your index finger close to push the fishing line again when you want to slow down or stop your bait. To rewind, simply turn the crank handle, as soon as you turn the handle, the wire will close automatically, but it will be healthier for your machine to close the guard wire with your hand before you start winding it.

Basic Parts of Spin Fishing Reel


1- Guard wire; it rotates around the fixed reel and acts as a winding line. When it is turned forward, it releases the rope or fishing line and grasps when it is closed. With the help of the guard bearing, it makes the rope or fishing line less fricative and helps its winding on the reel.



2- Machine foot; This is the part of your machine’s fishing pole fixed to the machine bed. It is important to note that this area should not be damaged. If it is bent or damaged, it will disrupt the whole balance of your fishing line.

3- Crank arm; It activates the gear system which makes the reel rotate. Although it may seem to be one of the simplest parts, especially the arm shoe should be very ergonomic with respect to your hunting style, it should be easy to grip and have a non-slip surface.

4- Anti Reverse Lever; the task is to rotate the reel in one or two directions. When you turn it off, the return lock is activated and you use it in one direction.

5- Reel; It is the reel where the fishing line is wound. Its skirt is to close the gap formed when the reel moving forward and backward and to protect the shaft and shaft bearing from external factors.

6- Drag; It is a mechanical part that applies pressure to the reel to make certain levels of friction braking. This system allows the reel to rotate on the opposite axis to release the rope in a controlled manner so that the rope does not break when the fish exerts more pressure than it can lift on your line. The experiences gained from the past to the present day predict that the techniques that provide the fatigue of the fish are more effective than pulling the fish with rope or fishing line in thicknesses that the fish cannot break.



The drag mechanism consists of washers located between the driveshaft and the pulley. Pressing the drag cover increases the pressure on the washers and the higher the pressure, the higher the resistance between the washers and the washers. Drag washers are generally made of materials such as steel, Teflon, carbon fiber, other reinforced plastics or metal alloys. Because large fish can produce a lot of tensile force, machines with higher residual forces for higher pressures need stronger and more heat-resistant materials than machines designed for lower forces. A good drag mechanism is consistent, durable, smooth, and should remain the same resistance from the first release to the last.

There are two types of drag systems as front and rear drag on fixed reel fishing machines. Offering better performance, the front drag mechanisms are mechanically simpler, generally more consistent in performance, and have higher frictional forces. Models with a rear adjusting screw on the back of the machine are mechanically more complex, and the drag mechanism is not as precise and smooth as the front drag, because it applies pressure on the drive shaft itself, but allows easier adjustment during hunting.

Spincast Fishing Reels


Spincast reel is a design to solve the problems of looseness and balance encountered in baitcasting machines while reducing complaints such as kinking and knots encountered in conventional fixed reel spin fishing machines. We can say that these machines are a blend of Spinning and Baitcasting Fishing Machines. As with spin machines, the rope or fishing line comes out of the fixed reel freely and can, therefore, be used with light baits. However, it eliminates the guard wire mechanism used for casting or winding. Unlike spin-cast machines that can be mounted on the top or bottom of the fishing rod, there is a rod on the outside of the reel that protects the reel and passes through the center of the rope or fishing line. Inside the rod, there is another reel and reverse reel for winding.



Imagine a fixed reel, such as spin machines, a rotating cover that encapsulates it, and a cone outer cover that protects it all. During winding, the reel stops stationary, the cover that surrounds the reel rotates and the tooth on the cover grips the line and winds it on the stationary reel in the center. During casting, you deactivate this tooth by pressing the pin and it comes out freely. The rope or fishing line rubbing against the cone or inner reel during the cast can reduce the casting distance compared to the spin machines, but you can achieve sufficient performance in distance. You can wind less fishing line than other machines of the same size as reel capacity, but this does not create a huge disadvantage in freshwater fishing. However, it does not meet your needs in long-distance or deep water fishing. Like other machines, they accommodate technologies such as drag, anti-reverse, and magnetic braking, making it easier to use and hunt. Spincast machines are ideal for beginners due to their ease of use and avoiding rope or fishing problems.

  • Use of Spincast Fishing Reels

Pressing a button on the back of the reel disables line pickup, and then the button is released during casting forward to allow the line to exit the reel. The button was pressed again to stop the release in the desired position. After turning the handle, the take-up pin immediately goes into the line and winds it on the reel.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Fishing Reel


The angling types vary regionally. In some regions, fishing is usually done by boat, where, in some others by shore or boat hunting. There is also long-distance fishing. The following points must be observed when selecting a fishing reel:



  • Machine Type

Fishing machines are very similar in shape, but they vary according to the type of fish you will hunt. Fishing machines can generally categorize as follows.

-Surf Fishing Machines
-Spin Fishing Machines
-Jigging Machines
-Spincasting Fishing Line
-Bait Runner Fishing Machines
-Bait Casting Fishing Machines

First, you need to decide on the fishing machine you need.

  • Head Size

The size of the fishing machine head is determined by the thickness of the fishing line when a machine is fully filled with 100 meters of fishing line. For example, a fishing machine with a 5000 head size can be filled with a fishing line with a diameter of 0.50 mm and a length of 100 meters. Fishing machine head size is an element that should be considered according to the type of fish you will hunt.

  • Drag Adjustment

Drag adjustment is as important as the choice of the right fishing machine and the right fishing rod. The biggest mistake that new fishermen have made is not to find the appropriate drag setting. It is fishermen’s skill to take the fish out of the water. The fishing machines release some fishing line to reduce the tension on the line in response to the resistance of the fish. You can set how much fishing line will be released by the drag adjustment on the machine. You must make your choice according to the type of hunting.

  • Number of balls

It reduces the friction of the mechanical devices and increases the head rotation speed. There are machines with 1 -15 balls. The high number of balls will increase your performance in long-term hunting.



  • Cycle ratio

The most commonly used cycle ratio is 4.9: 1. It determines the number of turns of the reel when the machine arm is turned 1 time. For machines with a 4.9: 1 cycle ratio, the head will rotate 4.9 times in 1 turn. While heavy fishing machines are used with 2.1 cycles, the machines with 4.1 and 5.1 cycles are preferred for coastal hunting and spin casting.

  • Machine weight

Many fishing methods are performed in such a way that the fishing tackle is constantly held. This element, which can be ignored mostly, should be paid attention especially by hunters who use the spin casting method. The fishing machine, which you will always have in hand with the fishing rod, can allow you to return home with less tiredness or perform longer hunting after a pleasant day.

Best Fishing Reels That You Can Buy Online


  • Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel (Price: $80.47)


  • Linewinder Fishing Reel, Spinning Reel with Magnesium Alloy Supporter, 9+1BB, Golden Black Unique Design, Ultralight Weight, Super Smooth for Saltwater and Freshwater GFII5000/4000/3000/2000 (Price: $49.49)


  • Piscifun Flame Spinning Reels Light Weight Ultra Smooth Powerful Spinning Fishing Reels (Price: $22.99)


  • KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels, 9 +1 BB Light Weight, Ultra Smooth Powerful, Size 500 is Perfect for Ultralight/Ice Fishing. (Price $26.99)


  • Pflueger President Spinning Fishing Reel (Price: $59.99)


Savaş Ateş

When I was a kid I had a small aquarium in our home. I had different kinds of fishes. I like fishes. Then I started to research all kinds of fishes and fishing too. I read lots of books about them. I like to share my experiences.

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