Freshwater Fishing Reels

Freshwater reels are mechanical devices that hold and spool out fishing line. Regardless of type, all are designed with a brake to slow running fish, a handle to retrieve line and a bracket to fasten the fishing reel to the rod.

Types Of Freshwater Fishing Reels

Over the years, hundreds of companies have made thousands of models of freshwater reels. There are four basic types of freshwater fishing reels, many of which are offered in a variety of sizes, line speeds, casting distances and more. This is important when learning how to choose a fishing reel. 

Bait-Casting reel

Typically, the hardest of the freshwater spinning reels to master, the bait-casting reel is designed to cast larger lures or bait for longer distances. These types of freshwater reels often include a level-wind mechanism to prevent the line from being trapped under itself during rewind and subsequent casts. Many bait-casting reels are also fitted with anti-reverse handles and drags designed to slow runs by large and powerful game fish.

Standard bait-casting reels are mounted above the fishing rod and have a retrieving crank on the right side of the reel. But they're also made for lefties.

Because the momentum of the forward cast must rotate the spool as well as propel the lure, you should always use heavier lures with a bait-casting reel. Due to the complexity involved in using bait-casting reels, they are most definitely not considered a beginner fishing reel.

Open-Bail Spinning Reel

With a spin-casting reel, a mechanical pickup is used to retrieve the line and an anti-reverse lever prevents the crank handle from rotating while a fish is pulling line from the spool. And because the line doesn't have to pull against a rotating spool, like it does with a bait-casting reel, you can use much lighter lures with a spin-casting reel.

Fixed-spool reels are cast by opening the bail, grasping the line with the forefinger and then using a backward snap of the fishing rod followed by a forward cast, releasing the line with the forefinger at the same time. On the retrieve, the large rotating wire cage or bail (either manually or trigger-operated) serves as the line pickup, restoring the line to its original position on the spool.

Open-bail reels are traditionally mounted below the rod. And they're really pretty simple to use. Go to the Fishing Techniques section to find out how to cast and retrieve with this type of spinning reel.

Closed Spin Casting Reel

As with the open-bail spinning reel, the line on this reel is thrown from a fixed spool, so you can use relatively light lures and baits. However, the closed spin-pin cast reel eliminates the large wire bail and line roller in favor of one or two simple pickup pins and a metal cup to wind the line on the spool. Traditionally mounted above the rod, the spin cast reel is also fitted with an external nose cone that encloses and protects the fixed spool. Because of these design features, spin casting reels are often considered the best freshwater fishing reels for beginners.

Fly Fishing Reel

Most fly fishing reels are quite simple in design. After choosing the right size for your rod, the next most important feature to consider in these freshwater reels is the drag system.

Go to the Fly Fishing section for more information on fly fishing reels.

To learn about different types of freshwater fishing hooks visit our next section.