If you are any sort of serious fisherman, you need a fishing reel which is specialized for the type of fishing you are doing. Reels come in a huge range of shapes and sizes, and can be as small as an egg or as large as a small car tire. The type of reel you choose will be determined by a number of factors, including:
- What your target species is and how you will catch them. This is probably the most important thing to think about. If you are targeting tuna or marlin from a boat, then you probably want a large game fishing reel. However, if you are spinning lures for trout from the banks of a river, a small eggbeater reel is probably the way to go.
- How much are you willing to spend? Larger, better quality reels are expensive. If you’re budget is relatively low, then you will probably be forced to go for a smaller, more generic reel which may not be specialized as much.
- Do you have space limitations? You obviously aren’t going to buy a huge alvey or game fishing reel if you have no way to transport it or nowhere to store it. Think about this before you buy.
There are a number of different fishing reels, most of which can be placed in one of a few different categories.
Spinning reels are also known as eggbeater reels. They are the most popular modern fishing reel, and have been adapted for use in nearly any environment. They are easy and simple to use, which is a big plus for beginner anglers or for those who don’t have the skills to control a more complex reel.
Spinning reels generally hold a lot of line and are easy to cast, making them a relatively popular option for surf anglers or for those casting lures. You can cast accurately, allowing you to place your bait or lure exactly where you want it when you want to. It is also very easy to fight a fish when using a spincasting reel, as the reel does most of the work for you: all you need to do is wind the handle when the fish stops taking line.
Baitcasting reels are the second most common type of fishing reel after spinning reels. They are a little more difficult to use, and therefore are recommended for experienced anglers. They give very high accuracy casting, exceptional durability, and the ability to fight bigger, stronger fish than any other type of reel would allow.
They are very difficult to use, as you must control the release of line from the reel with your thumb. If you can’t do this properly, you will end up with huge tangles or “birds’ nests” of line. You need to be prepared to use relatively heavy tackle with baitcasting reels, as you won’t be able to get any casting distance otherwise.
Fly fishing reels are extremely simple and contain very few parts. They are actually very similar to centerpin reels, but are designed specifically for fly fishing (not for surf casting or any other form of fishing). They allow the angler to work a fly across the surface of the water quickly, easily, and with accuracy due to their design.
Fly reels usually incorporate a disc drag system which allows extremely smooth movement in the event of hooking a big fish. They are usually ambidextrous, meaning that you can use them on either side of your body without trouble. Since fly reels are designed specifically for fly fishing, you will probably never come across one unless you actually go fly fishing.
These are probably the simplest and easiest to use type of fishing reel. If you are purchasing your first reel and you don’t have a lot of experience with fishing, then you should probably go for a spincasting reel. These reels have a number of features which make them very simple and very easy to use, including:
- A fixed spool design which allows you to cast relatively light lures and baits with ease.
- A metal nose cone and guides which reduce tangling and ensure that casting is simple and possible for everyone.
- They have easily adjustable friction drag systems which make fighting fish a breeze.
Although they sound like the best reel you could buy, spincasting reels aren’t all good. The friction placed on the line by the guides and nose cone reduce casting distance. Relatively narrow spools have to be used due to the reel’s design, meaning that less line can be spooled than with spinning reels. This makes them impractical for long casting or for catching fish which can be expected to make long runs.
The trolling reel is a variation of the baitcasting reel. It has a rounder shape which is designed to hold a lot of line. This allows the angler to target large game fish such as marlin, tuna, big trout or giant catfish. They aren’t meant for casting, and, and often incorporate a moving guide to place the line back onto the reel in the correct manner. Trolling reels can be one of two types: the star drag reel, which is very similar to a baitcaster and has a small lever to put the reel into freespool, and the lever drag reel. The lever drag reel requires you to loosen the drag completely to put it into freespool.
Centerpin reels, also known as alvey reels, are designed especially for surf casting. They have very few moving parts, which lets them be used in and around salt water without seizing as other reels can. Their main feature is an axle through the center of a large spool (the centerpin). The reel is allowed to spin freely on this pin until the drag is applied, which allows for easy casting and simple fishing. This type of reel is extremely popular amongst Australian surf anglers, who typically mount them on huge surf rods. This model of centerpin reel is made to rotate 90 degrees to the rod so that you can cast it longer distances.