Baitcaster VS Spinning Reel: Pros & Cons

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What is right for one person might not be right for another. With that being said, when it comes to fishing reels, there are 2 main choices to go with. This includes the baitcasting reel and the spinning reel.

With that being said, you might not know what to expect with either of these reel types. So, what is the difference between baitcasting vs spinning reels?

Baitcaster reels are for more experienced anglers who are fishing for heavier fish, they are better for achieving excellent casting accuracy/distance with your lures but take time to master, and generally more expensive than spinning reels.

Spinning reels, on the other hand, are more beginner-friendly reels that are well known for ease of use and all around usage, they are also generally cheaper than baitcaster reels.


Baitcaster VS Spinning Reel Pros And Cons

Let’s take a detailed look at each and cover the main advantages and disadvantages of each reel type.

Spinning Reels

fishing spinning reel
By Jonathan Ewen & Stephen Ewen [CC BY 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons
One of the most important aspects of the spinning reel to keep in mind is that it features a reel which sits below the rod. It’s an open spool with the line sitting in the same direction as the rod.

They also feature a bail which needs to be opened when casting, and then closed before you start reeling the lure back in. If you are an angler with limited or moderate experience, the spinning reel is probably the better option for you.

These things tend to be a bit easier to use than baitcasting reels. They are ideal for various reasons. For one, they are usually very easy to cast with, plus they are great for finesse fishing techniques too.

They work well for lighter bait, lighter line, and lighter prey too.

Advantages Of Spinning Reels

There are several main advantages that you get when using a spinning reel, many of which are associated with ease of use.

So let’s talk about these first.

Easier To Use

The biggest advantage that comes with a spinning reel, especially when compared with a baitcast reel, is that they are much easier to use.

This is especially true when it comes to casting. For a spinning reel, all you have to do is open up the bail, make your cast, close the bail, and then retrieve the line.

It really does not get any easier than that.

Left & Right Handed

Another advantage that comes with a spinning reel is that they can be found in both left handed and right handed models.

It’s something that not many people think about, but it’s a problem that often faces left handed people.

Moreover, some spinning reels actually allow for the conversion from left or right handed use to the other.

Less Line Backlash

With a spinning reel is that you won’t really face much line backlash, which is especially important when casting into the wind.

Baitcasting reels, due to their design, often cause line backlash, which is true whether or not you are casting into the wind. It’s a big problem that you will see with baitcasting reels, especially when not being used properly.

Thanks to the simple and user friendly design of the spinning reel, it’s a good choice for beginners due to limited backlash and the ability to cast into the wind.

Finesse

Spinning reels are also good choices to go with because they are great for finesse fishing tactics, especially with lighter line and lighter bait. Yes, spinning reels are optimal for fairly light fishing line, but they are limited in terms of what kind of line works well with them.

Spinning reels work well with light line, live baits, and light baits, which is especially true for casting. Spinning reels don’t have much backlash, thus allowing you to increase casting distance with light line and light baits that usually would not fly very far.

Finesse fishing also works well with spinning reels due to this fact.

Versatility

Overall, spinning reels are very versatile and come in many different presentations. This makes them ideal for various casting and fishing situations.

They might not have the highest drag, retrieval rate, and they can’t handle super heavy line or lures, but they are a good all-around choice to go with.

It’s a user friendly choice perfect for beginners that just want to cast and retrieve with ease.


Disadvantages Of Spinning Reels

As you can probably tell, spinning reels do also suffer from some disadvantages.

Let’s go over these right now;

Casting Distance

For one, due to the way spinning reels are built, with the spool on the bottom of the rod, combined with the bail, the overall casting distance is just not the same as with a baitcasting reels.

Yes, spinning reels do allow for maximum distance with light lures, but that is about it.

If we are talking about anything else other than very light line and light lures, spinning reels just cannot achieve the same casting distance as a baitcast reel can.

Retrieval Rate

Another disadvantage that comes with spinning reels is that they usually have a much lower retrieval rate than baitcasters.

In other words, spinning reels usually do not have a very high gear ratio, which can make for slow retrievals.

Yes, this can be ideal in some situations, but generally speaking, a higher gear ratio tends to be best.

Drag Ratio

On that same note, spinning reels usually do not have a very high drag ratio either. This means that although spinning reels are good for smaller prey, the reel and the line needed for the spinning reel, is just not designed for bigger fish.

The drag system won’t be able to hold a larger fish, as it just cannot be set very high, which is decisively bad if you are going for any fish but the smallest ones. (More on drag and using it correctly here)

Casting accuracy

Although spinning reels are easy to use, they do not allow for casting accuracy (more on casting distance here).

Once you begin your cast, controlling the direction and rate at which the line comes off the reel is nearly impossible.

A spinning reel is not something you want to use if you are fishing in Lilly pads or anywhere else where a lot of accuracy is required.

Heavy Lines & Lures

Spinning reels, due to their design, are not built for heavy test lines and for heavy lures. The reels are just not designed for much else other than fairly light and basic mono or fluorocarbon line, in combination with fairly light lures.

Also, due to the reel being on the bottom of the rod, it’s hard to get as much cranking pressure on the fish you are trying to reel in.

The bottom line is that spinning reels are fine for smaller fish, but many features of them prevent them from being ideal for fishing anything larger.

Bad Line Memory

The other drawback that comes with spinning reels is that they tend to suffer from line twist and bad line memory.

This is because of the way in which the line moves in comparison with the bail.

The line has a much higher chance of being twisted up upon casting and retrieval than when using a baitcaster.


Baitcasting Reels

Sport Daiwa Fishing Water Baitcast Reel Activity

The fact of the matter is that baitcasting reels are generally considered to be the better option for experienced fishermen.

Yes, they are more difficult to use than spinning reels, much more difficult, but with some practice, if you know what you are doing, the results you can achieve with them are pretty great. Baitcast reels sit above the rod instead of below, and they have a free spool which sits perpendicular to the length of the rod. 

This allows for a lot of power, big spools with heavy lines, heavy lures, and a high level of casting accuracy and distance. Baitcast reels tend to have higher drag systems and larger gear ratios than spinning reels, allowing for a lot of cranking pressure, quick retrieval, and the fishing of large prey.

It’s not a reel that should be used by beginners, but once you get some practice in, a baitcast reel might just be your best friend (we have covered an in-depth article on all the parts and features here).

Advantages Of Baitcast Reels

Baitcast reels do come with several key advantages, so let’s talk about these first, before we get to the disadvantages of them.

Casting Distance

Due to the way in which the spool sits and the way the line comes off the spool, baitcast reels allow for far casting distances.

It’s a bit hard to explain, but the bottom line is that you will get a longer overall casting distance with a baitcast reel than a spinning reel.

While they are not the best for very light lures and windy days, the casting distance is generally unrivalled.

Casting Accuracy

On that same note, because the spool is free, has no bail, and requires you to use your thumb to control the rate at which the line comes off the spool, baitcast reels allow for a lot of casting accuracy.

It is very possible to control the speed and direction which your line and lure flies after you cast.

This casting accuracy is one of the main reasons why many seasoned anglers prefer baitcast reels over spinning reels.

Line Variety

Baitcast reels can be used with all kinds of fishing line. They work well with monofilament, fluorocarbon, and braided line.

They work especially well with heavy line and heavy lures, which goes double when you want to achieve a far casting distance with them. Many people like baitcast reels due to their versatility in terms of the types of line which they can handle.

On that same note, yes, the way in which the spools of these reels are built, as well as the rest of the reel, means that they can handle large and heavy line. In other words, they are ideal for going for large and heavy fish.

On a side note, baitcast reels just tend to be stronger in general, and can handle increased amounts of pressure and resistance when compared to a spinning reel. It’s much easier to apply a lot of cranking pressure with a baitcaster than with a spinning reel.

Related:

Drag Systems

Baitcast reels usually have really nice drag systems as well as high gear ratios. So, for one, when talking about the drag system, you will be able to adjust it for one, and second, it can usually be set pretty high.

Once again, this makes the baitcast reel ideal for heavy line and when fishing for large prey. Also, because baitcast reels tend to have high gear ratios, they do allow for very fast retrievals, which can be a definite advantage in most situations.


Disadvantages Of Baitcast Reels

Yes, just like everything on this planet, the baitcast reels also comes with some disadvantages that are worth noting.

Backlash

One thing that needs to be noted about baitcast reels is that they are hard to use when casting and are susceptible to wind complications and backlash. The fact that you need to use your thumb to control the speed at which the line comes off the spool can make things difficult.

This is especially true when casting into the wind, and goes double if you are casting with a light lure and light line on a windy day.

In other words, baitcast reels, when not used properly, or on a windy day, tend to suffer from line backlash. This means that line tends get really loose in the air, it twists up, and can form a nice birds nest on the spool.

If a baitcast reel is not cast right, and you don’t know how much pressure to apply to the spool with your thumb, things can get very messy.

Finesse Fishing

Although baitcast reels are great for heavy lures, heavy lines, and for their quick retrieval speeds, they do not particularly excel with lighter lures and with finesse fishing techniques.

They are designed more for cranking power, retrieval speed, and casting distance and accuracy. However, they just don’t do too well for finesse fishing.

Thinking about trying Ice Fishing? here is the complete beginners guide on the essentials.


When To Use Baitcaster vs Spinning Reels?

Baitcaster reels are generally better used in the following situations;

  • If you are a more experienced fisherman.
  • If you have a higher budget available, baitcaster reels are generally more expensive.
  • If you are fishing for bigger fish.
  • If you need a lightweight option, and will be casting frequently.
  • If you are planning to fish in harsher weather conditions.

Related: Best Rod To Pair With Pflueger President Reel.


Conclusion

The bottom line with casting reel vs spinning reels is spinning reels are good choices to go with if you are an inexperienced or beginner fisherman. They are very easy to use and they work well in many situations. They do well for finesse fishing, and for light lines and lures, and for smaller prey.

However, if you need more casting distance, better casting accuracy, a faster retrieval rate, more power, and heavier line, then the baitcast reel is the best to go with. Of course, they are a bit harder to use and can suffer from backlash, but once you get the hang of it, it should not be a major issue (we have covered some good beginner options here).