Baitcasting vs Spinning Reel: Which One is Better?

Baitcasting vs Spinning Reel

Choosing among two most commonly used fishing reel types is not always easy. Both have certain advantages.

Their main difference is the spool, and while spinning ones have it fixed, baitcasters have a free one. This greatly affects their performance.

Baitcasters are suitable for large fish and heavy lures, while spinning ones are much easier to use. Baitcaseres are also better for heavier lines, while spinning ones are more forgiving when it comes to backlashes. So, there is no better option, it depends what you are using it for.


 

If you are comparing baitcasting vs spinning reel, you should inform yourself about both, and choose the one that is better for your fishing skills and techniques you are practicing.

Luckily, you can find both types made by reputable manufacturers, and entry level models often come at a reasonable price.

Here I am going to explain the differences, list all the pros and cons, and answer some frequently asked questions about baitcasting and spinning reels.

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Baitcasting vs Spinning Reel: What is the Difference?

Comparing baitcasting reel vs spinning reel will show you that there are a lot of differences.

First of all, it is their spool ...

Spinning reels have fixed spool, while baitcasting have a revolving spool that turns while you cast.

This greatly affects the casting distance, and baitcasters can cast further and more precise. Because of the spool turning, they have braking mechanisms, that can be either magnetic, centrifugal, or combined. This is important to slow down the spool when the lure hits the water.

Unfortunately, this can result in backlashes, especially when casting into the wind.

On the other hand, spinning reels, although less accurate, are more suitable for less experienced anglers, because they are easier to use, are less likely to jam or tangle, and the maintenance process is easier.

Of course, anglers should choose the one that is more suitable for their fishing needs. Beginners, or recreational anglers who like to fish on vacation, or maybe a few weekends during the year, often choose spinning reels. They come in numerous sizes, you can use them to catch all kinds of fish species, and they are a bit more affordable.

Experienced anglers will often choose baitcasters, but learning how to properly use them will take some time. They tend to have more advantages, but even the most experienced anglers will sometimes use simple spinning reels.


 

Additionaly, spinning reels are mounted in a way that they are hanging below the rod, while baitcasting reels are mounted on top. Line guides for the spinning ones are under the rod, and on rods made for baitcasters, guides are on the upper side.

When you fight a fish, the rod will bend, and upper position of line guides with baitcating reels is more suitable to withstand larger forces.

There are some other differences too, like gear ratios, line capacity and more, which I will mention in the following chapters.

For those who don’t have the time to read all of the details that are going to be presented in the following chapters, here is a quick overview chart:

REEL TYPE Spinning Baitcasting
For large fish / lures / heavy lines NO YES
For small fish / lures / light lines YES NO
Prone to backlashes NO YES
Prone to line tangling NO YES
Prone to line twisting YES NO
Easy to use / maintain YES NO
Has extremely high gear ratio options NO YES
Very long durability NO YES
Affordable price YES NO
High line capacity NO YES
High accuracy NO YES
Extremely versatile YES NO
Long and accurate casting distance NO YES
Jamming NO YES

What are Baitcasting and Spinning Reels Good For?

First of all, you have to know that there are different types, and sub-types of the reels on the market.

Baitcasting and spinning are the most commonly used ones, because they perform well in almost any situation, and can be used for numerous fishing techniques.

Depending on a size and some other features, you can use these reels for both freshwater and saltwater fishing, for fishing from a shore or a boat, and use them for popular techniques like jigging.

If you are targeting large and strong fish, use heavier lines and lures, and want maximum precision, you will probably use baitcasting reels.


 

For smaller fish, and simple setups like those with a basic boober rig, anglers will most likely go for spinning reels.

Larger baitcasters, and some spinning models, can also be used for offshore fishing. Of course, for saltwater, you have to use the models made to be used in such harsh conditions.

When it comes to lure types like jigs, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits, baitcasters provide incredible accuracy. But you can get away with using a spinning reel for some of these too.

Light soft plastic baits, and live baits work well with spinning ones.

Spinning reels are more of a “all-around” reels, while baitcasters are a bit more specialized.



What are the Advantages of a Baitcasting over Spinning Reels? [Pros and Cons]

When comparing baitcasting vs spinning reel pros and cons, there is a list of features that have to be mentioned.

I already mentioned some of those, but here is a complete list:

Pros:

• less prone to line twisting/p>

• greater casting distance

• greater accuracy

• usually has bigger line capacity

• wider range of gear ratios available

• more suitable for heavy lines and lures

• lighter weight

• increased reel durability

Cons:

• higher price

• harder to use

• prone to backlashes

• not suitable for very light lures

• more complicated maintenance

• not suitable for very light lines

• more prone to tangling

• lines have a tendency to rub against the rod when bended (it causes line breakage)

As you can see, there are numerous advantages of baitcasting over spinning reel, however there are some downsides too. Of course, some of the downsides can be eliminated by the angler, if the one learns how to use it properly.

Some beginners choose baitcasters because they think that it is a better option, however, that is only true if you know how to use it. Otherwise, it will have lower performance than a simple spinning reel.



What are the Advantages of a Spinning over Baitcasting Reels? [Pros and Cons]

Of course, spinning reels also have some advantages, and in some situations they work better than baitcasters. So, here is a complete list of both pros and cons.

Pros:

• suitable for lighter setups, including lighter lines and lures/p>

• not prone to backlashes

• easy to use

• easy to maintain

• lower price

• not prone to jamming

• can be used for almost all fishing techniques

• less prone to line tangling

Cons:

• heavy

• not suitable for large fish

• less durable

• prone to line twisting

• not as accurate as baitcasting reels

• shorter casting distance

• less control over the bait

As you can see when comparing baitcasting vs spinning reel, spinning ones have important advantages too. It really depends on what you are using the reel for.

Baitcasting vs Spinning Reel - Pros and Cons

Baitcasting vs Spinning reel: Which One to Choose for Bass Fishing?

As you can see, these two reel types are quite different, so choosing the proper one for a specific fish, in accordance with the lure types you are going to use, is crucial.

So, baitcasting vs spinning reel for bass fishing?

You can use both to catch a bass, but of course, you must match them with suitable rods. But, bass anglers will almost always use baitcasting reels, and the spinning ones are mostly chosen by beginners.



Baitcasting reels are more suitable because they can handle heavier lines, and the majority of lures you are going to use for bass. Actually, very experienced bass anglers usually have a few baitcasters, that have different gear ratios and sizes, to be able to match them perfectly with certain lures.

If you are looking for just one baitcaster for all the bass fishing, go with the medium gear ratio, about 6.1:1 – 7.1:1. Just by adjusting your reeling speed, it will work well with both faster and slower presentations. You can use them with jigs, spinnerbaits, and similar lures.

Slower ones are ideal for cranking, and work well for large baits, while faster ones are made to be used for flipping and pitching.

Baitcasting vs Spinning reel: Which One to Choose for Catfishing?

There are numerous catfish species, and choosing the best reel for catfishing depends on it.

Of course, you will not use the same reels for monster Wels catfish and for Channel catfish. Here I am going to focus on some “normal” sized fish.

When comparing baitcasting vs spinning reel for catfish, you should think about the angler`s experience too. You can use spinning reels, but as the catfish tends to grow large and fight hard, make sure that the one you are using can handle it. Saltwater spinning reels are stronger and sturdier, so go with that one. Small, freshwater ones can only be used for really small specimens.

Saltwater ones have stronger and more reliable drag, larger line capacity, and can handle heavy lines.



However, the biggest problem with spinning reels is that you are limited to spinning rods, and finding a suitable one for catfish is not simple. Also, these reels also limit your lure selection.

Baitcasters on the other hand, are better for the job. Experienced anglers almost exclusively use those, and you can find a large selection of baitcasting rods for catfish made by various manufacturers, in all price ranges.

Due to their size, durability, line capacity, and accuracy, you can use almost any lure and practice all the fishing techniques.

Also, you will be able to fish with rods that will work far better than the spinning ones. Of course, it is even better if you have a few different baitcasting reels.



Baitcasting vs Spinning reel: Which One to Choose for Saltwater?

Saltwater fishing can be done in different ways. Some anglers prefer fishing from a shore, and catching smaller fish. Other will go to offshore adventures to catch a monster.

So, when trying to decide between baitcasting vs spinning reel for saltwater, you should choose in accordance with your fishing style.

You can use both. There are very large spinning reels for saltwater, that can be used for offshore too. If you are fishing from a local pier and catching small fish, go for a smaller spinning one.



For surf fishing, you can use surf reels, which are basically just modified spinning reels that accommodate more line. They are also more powerful, and designed for easier casting, to achieve greater distances.

When it comes to baitcasters, the situation is a bit tricky. On the sea/ocean, we often encounter constant winds, and casting them into the wind can be a nightmare. Also, if you are fishing from a boat, even an anchored one, on waves, casting will not be as accurate as on the land, so the baitcaster`s accuracy will not be so noticeable.



It depends a lot on a location and fishing conditions. If you are interested in catching really big fish, then you should think about baitrunning reels, made for offshore fishing from a boat, where you just drop a lure instead of casting it. Otherwise, they work on a same mechanical principle like baitcasting ones.

So, if I had to decide which one to use for some regular sized fish and average fishing conditions, for a recreational angler, I would probably say the to choose the spinning one.

Which ever you choose, make sure it is rated for saltwater, because they are sealed better, more corrosion resistant, and can handle tough conditions. You should also clean them after every use to prolong their lifespan.

Baitcasting vs Spinning Reel - Saltwater

Other FAQs about Baitcasting and Spinning reels:

I already made a comparison of baitcasting vs spinning reel, and here you can find some commonly asked questions.

Some of those were already briefly mentioned ...



What Fish Can You Catch with these Reels?

The answer to this question is almost all of the species anglers frequently catch. Smaller, spinning reels are excellent for small panfish, trout, bream, perch, and many others.

Baitcasters are excellent for larger fish and lures, like already mentioned bass and catfish.

When it comes to saltwater fish, depending on where in the world you are and what species are available, you can catch almost anything that is not bigger than, let’s say bluefin tuna, or blue marlin. But for that, you will have to use a heavy-duty reel, in a high price range, like Shimano Stella.



Which Lines and Lures Should I Choose for these Reels?

As I already mentioned, it depends on a reel. But here I am going to tell you how to choose it.

Every reel has specifications stated by the manufacturer, and there you will find line capacity, depending on a line diameter. Of course, you will be able to put more length of a thin line than the heavy one, on the same reel. Follow these instructions and do not overfill the spool, because it will cause a lot of problems.

Also, do not put too light, or too heavy lines. Just follow the manufacturers instructions.

When it comes to the line type, majority of reels can work with both mono and braided, however, not all of them come with a braid ready spool.

When it comes to the lures, it depends on a reel size, type, and gear ratio. Large and heavy lures should go with larger reels, and vice versa.

When it comes to the gear ratio, medium one can handle almost all lure types. You can reel in faster or slower to make your lure presentation suitable.

Fast reels are great for topwaters, jerkbaits, lipless crankbaits, buzzbaits and other faster lures. Slow reels are better for crankbaits at greater depths, large swimbaits, and deep-water spinners.

Medium ones can be used with all of this, but the presentation will not be optimal. However, they are excellent for medium depth crankbaits, shallow spinnerbaits, and squarebill crankbaits.



Which Reels are Better for Beginners?

As already mentioned, when comparing baitcasting reel vs spinning reel for beginners, the answer it the spinning one. Here is why:

- not prone to backlashes
- less tangling
- easier to use
- cheaper
- versatile
- available in large sizes too, so you can catch a bit bigger fish too

These reels are extremely versatile, and suitable for learning process. From casting, to maintenance, you can gain a lot of valuable experience before introducing more complicated equipment.



Which Reels are Easier to Maintain?

Reel maintenance is extremely important, and actually, there are different kinds of maintenance. Regular maintenance is done after every fishing, when you clean the reel from debris, dirt, salt, or whatever is on it.

Then we have yearly maintenance where you have to disassemble the reel, clean it, remove corrosion if there is any, lubricate it and assemble it again.

And the third one is unexpected maintenance that is done when the reel is showing signs of malfunction. At this point, you have to diagnose the problem and fix/replace some parts.

Both third and second option are harder to perform on a baitcaster because it has more complex parts. So, before you decide to disassemble a baitcaster, make sure you have some experience on a spinning one. Follow instructions, do it on a flat surface, have tools available, and label the parts, so that you know how to assemble it again.

Which Reels are Cheaper to Buy?

Both reel types exist in all price ranges, from cheaper entry-level models, to high-end ones. And my advice it to always buy from reputable manufacturers because it will save you money on the long run.

When it comes to baitcasting and spinning reels in the same category (let’s say entry-level models), spinning ones are a bit cheaper.

That is understandable because they are simpler, and less durable.

Which Reels are More Durable?

Baitcasting reels are stronger and sturdier, and can last much longer. That is because they are made to handle a lot more stress when fighting larger fish.

However, it depends on numerous factors ...

To ensure its longevity, you have to perform regular maintenance, and take care of the reel.

Try not to accidentally drop it onto the rocks, or misuse it in any way. Also, more expensive reels are made from better materials, so you can expect those to last longer.

Which Reels are Less Prone to Tangling?

And the last baitcasting vs spinning reel comparison is about line tangling.

Spinning reels are more prone to line twisting, but baitcasting reels are prone to tangling, especially if used by anglers who are not very skillful.

This often happens if you use too light lines, cast into the wind, or have too much line slack while reeling in, so the line doesn’t spool evenly and has loose parts.

Although many will say that it is a beginner’s problem, the truth is, it happens to everyone, just less often.

Of course, line tangling can happen on spinning reels too, but it is usually a lesser problem than on baitcasters.

Baitcasting vs Spinning Reel - Difference

Conclusion

Comparing baitcasting vs spinning reel is not always easy. Both have numerous advantages and disadvantages, and are made to be used in different conditions.

Beginners should use spinning reels, preferably with a medium gear ratio, to learn various fishing techniques with a versatile reel. A good spinning reel is probably one of the most versatile pieces of fishing equipment.

On the other hand, baitcasters are made to be used for heavier setups, and provide more accuracy. Some fishing techniques and lures are just not suitable for spinning reels, and when you learn how to use a baitcaster, you will see how much difference it makes.

No matter which reel you choose, perform regular maintenance, clean it, and take care of it, to have a dependable reel at all times.

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