How to Pick a Spinning Reel

How to Pick a Spinning Reel

Spinning reels are sort of a middle ground between a spincast and a baitcast reel. They are a lot more advanced and accurate than a spincast reel, yet they are easier, lighter, and simpler than a baitcast reel.  

They work well for beginner and experienced anglers just the same as they don’t have a demanding learning curve like baitcasters. Moreover, they can be used with finesse techniques and lightweight fishing. Throughout this article, we will walk you through the basics of choosing a spinning reel.

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Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Spinning Reel:

1. Structure

Logically, structure is the first thing that comes to your mind when speaking about fishing gear, in general. You certainly want to buy something that’s going to last. Many materials can be used in the construction of a spinning reel; each one of them has its own merits and deficits. 

These elements include anodized aluminum, carbon composite, graphite, manganese, titanium, and ceramic. Manganese, titanium, and ceramic are strong, durable, and anticorrosive. However, they are top-notch and quite expensive.

Our regularly priced materials would be aluminum, carbon, and graphite. Aluminum is a lot stronger, yet it does not offer flexibility nor lightweight. Graphite is the total opposite as it does not provide much strength, but it offers flexibility, and it is quite lightweight. Carbon composite is standing between them as it offers the best of both worlds still for a reasonable price.

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Choosing amongst these materials is indeed a matter of preference; nonetheless, there are other factors that must influence your decision. These factors include your waterfront and target fish. 

If you are going to be fishing in saltwater, you have to go with graphite or carbon as they are naturally anticorrosive and can withstand the abuse that saltwater will wreak on them. Aluminum is not that tolerant when facing saltwater.

This same rule goes for the internal components of your reel, as they must be made out of the same top-quality material. Furthermore, they must also be sealed, waterproof, and corrosion-proof in order to last. Brackish/freshwater is a lot more forgiving with reels.

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2. Size

The size of the reel depends on the line that you are going to be using. Most of the top-notch reels will have this information engraved on it.Spinning reels come in four different sizes; small, medium, large, and very large. 

The choice of line will depend on your target fish as if you’re going for trophy catches that are known to be quite stubborn; you will need a heavy braided line. On the other hand, if you’re just doing a wide range search or light fishing, then a light monofilament line would suit you just fine. 

Nevertheless, we would advise you to have a reel that’s in the middle so that it can work for both sides if you’re aiming for just one reel. If you can purchase more than one then, you might want to get the larger and smaller sizes for maximum practicality.

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A small reel is sized from 1000 to 3500. The sizes can be written in the thousands, hundreds, or even tens form; still, they’re all the same. This reel can be used on small fish such as small bass and trout. It is mostly utilized in slow-moving brackish water, such as lakes. It can take a mono line from 2 to 10 lbs. while a braided line can go from 4 to 14 lbs.


This one here starts from the size 4000 all the way to 5500  and can be used for larger bass or bonefish when you are practicing offshore fishing. It can take a mono line from 8 to 14 lbs. and a braided line from 15 to 50 lbs. This is an excellent choice if you want something in the middle. However, it will not survive if you go for trophy catches; this is not what it was made for.

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Now we’re starting to hit big fish. The sizes of this reel range from 6000 to 8500. You can begin catching snappers and steelheads with it. This reel can work for saltwater fishing, such as surf and inshore fishing. It can take a mono line from 12 to 45 lbs. and a braided line from 30 to 80 lbs.

Very Large

This is our beast reel. The sizes here range from 10,000 to 30,000, which is enormous. You can start catching tuna and sturgeon with it. This reel is designed for fast-moving water and fights. It can take a mono line from 12 to 60 lbs. and a braided line from 50 to 100 lbs.

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3. Drag System

A drag system is the resistance or breaks that your reel utilizes against the fish. There are two types of drag systems that go on a spinning reel, which are the front mount or rear mount. The front mount is a lot more reliable as it is mostly composed of multiple oversized washers. These allow a smooth performance without tension. They have the ability to distribute the heat from the generated friction all over the reel evenly in order to have a sleek retrieval. 

Rear brake systems are not as efficient as they do not have the same number/size of washers. Typically, a carbon disk drag system with oiled felt washers, and a high maximum is perfect.

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4. Gear Ratio

This is the speed at which you retrieve your line. The numbers stand for the number of full spins that your spool makes per one full crank of the handle. 4.0:1 to 6.2:1 is the dominant category in the market today. If you go towards four, then you are going for a lower gear ratio, which means slower retrieval. 

While if you go up towards the six, you are having fast retrieval, which is more suited for finesse fishing in order to take advantage of each minute. Some models enjoy 7.0:1. However, we do not think that that’s necessary.

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5. Ball Bearings

These are the wheels inside the reel that keep it going. They are mostly present on a pinion gear and tend to be made out of either stainless steel or ceramic. In both cases, they should be shielded entirely and sealed in order to avoid any water damage.

With ball bearings quality rules over quantity. It is a lot better for you to go for a low number of high-quality ball bearings rather than going for a high number of low-quality ball bearings as they will end up breaking down and ruining your fishing experience. We would not advise you to go with a lower number than four ball bearings on a reel.

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6. Spool

The spool is an essential part of any reel. With spinning reels, they come fixed as they do not rotate, rather the bail wire opens and closes either letting line out or letting it in. First of all, you want to go for a large spool, something with a high line capacity even if you don’t intend to use it fully. Having the freedom is undoubtedly appealing. 

Another thing about spools is that there are two types; wide and shallow or narrow and deep. The wide and shallow variety is a much better choice because it reduces the friction between the line and the spool as it goes out and therefore elongates the cast and makes it a lot more accurate. It also reduces the friction between the line and the bail lip. While the narrow and deep does the exact opposite of that by increasing friction.

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7. Comfortable Design

You will be holding this reel for long periods; consequently, you must be completely comfortable with it. Try to go for an oversized handle that is also ambidextrous in order to suit all anglers. Make sure that the handle is at an appropriate distance from the body of the reel so that you can turn it without any obstacles. 

Handles could be made out of cork, rubber, or EVE; however, EVA has been found to be the most comfortable and non-slip. Lastly, try to have all of the buttons and triggers rubberized and easily accessible.

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Final Thoughts

Spinning reels are the most common reel on the market today. They have been for quite some time, and we do predict that they will remain like that for the foreseeable future. They have too many merits to not be the number one used reel in the world. 

A spinning reel is simple, easy, and secure; you cannot go wrong with a spinning reel. Still, you must always know what you require out of this device. Hence, prepare a checklist and make sure to purchase a reel that satisfies all your needs because, with this diverse market, you will certainly find something that will catch your eye.

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