Open vs Closed Face Fishing Reel: Which one to Choose?

Open vs Closed Face Fishing Reel
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Anglers have a variety of choices when it comes to preferred fishing gear, especially when choosing reels.

Some are more beginner-friendly than others, but even if you are a pro, you can still go back to basics and a simple approach in certain situations.

One of the frequent dilemmas is open vs closed fishing reel, and which one to choose depends on intended application. When it comes to simplicity and avoiding line tangles, go for the closed face. For a bit more versatility and casting accuracy go for open.

These two types vary in precision, price, casting performance, tangling issues, and some other important factors.

The best option is the one that suits certain fishing conditions and the angler himself, especially a beginner.

To know more details and to make an informed purchase decision, read the chapters below where you will find out everything!



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What Is an Open Face Fishing Reel?

Open face reel is the most common, versatile, and widely used reel type also known as spinning reel.

What makes it different from closed one is the fact that all external components are opened.

Spool that holds the line is uncovered, and the bail is too. There is no housing for those moving components.

The line is also uncovered, and casting process is different than in closed face reels. Bail has to be manually opened while you are using your finger to hold the line. Upon casting, the lure weight will “peal off” the line from the spool, you will be able to see that process.

When your lure hits the water, use your hand to close the bail, and you are ready to fish!

Open vs Closed Face Fishing Reel - Best

What Is a Closed Face Fishing Reel?

Closed face reel, as the name suggests, has an outside housing for all external moving, and you can’t see the spool or the spooled line.

Upon casting, there is no bail or line roller that could present a problem for a complete beginner. On the front part of the housing is a “hole” through which the line goes out.

Instead of the bail, there is a button which you need to press to unlock the line and cast it.

When talking about closed faced reels some anglers instantly think of small spin cast reels for kids, however that is not really true. There are closed reels perfectly capable for all kinds of angling experiences.

Open vs Closed Face Fishing Reel - Kids

Open vs Closed Face Fishing Reel: What is the Difference?

When you start comparing open vs closed fishing reel the first difference you will immediately notice is where it sits on the rod.

Open faced reels hang below the rod. Rods for those reels have line guides suspended along the bottom side of the blank length.

Closed faced reels, same as baitcasting reels, sit on top of the rod, and these rods have line guides along the upper side.

Besides position, there are some other differences when it comes to reel performance and features.


• Closed faced reels are excellent for wagglers and stick floats on moving waters, like rivers.

• Casting is a bit less accurate and distant, but it is extremely easy to do.

• Suitable for smaller fish species and mostly freshwater fishing.

• These reels are cheaper.

• There are no line tangles.

• Components are better protected because of the housing.

• Line capacity is limited.

• Has lower gear ratio available.


• Enable higher precision and distance while casting.

• Come at a higher price (check models under 100$).

• Various models suitable even for saltwater and bigger fish.

• More prone to tangles and a bit harder to operate by a complete beginner.

• Can accommodate more line length and heavier lines.

• Overall versatility is better.

• Available in a wider range of gear ratio and much faster options.

As you can see, there are many differences between the two, however, both are more than capable of landing you a fish.

What are the Best Open and Closed Face Fishing Reels Brands on the Market?

The best open face fishing reel, as well as the best closed face fishing reel, is the one that offers you the following, regardless of the manufacture, size, and type.


Every reel on the market is made with various materials, depending on which component and price range you are observing. From plastic, to aluminum, stainless steel, and composite materials, you can choose the one you like. Closed face reels are usually made with a bit less “fancy” materials due to the fact that they are cheaper and used for basic fishing. Make sure to choose saltwater rated if you intend to use it at sea.


Drag is one of the most important reel features and that is the one that can make or break your experience when the fish gets hooked. Consider the numbers of course, but also make sure that the drag is smooth and not giving up under pressure.


Ball bearings and internal components play a huge role here. Quality comes over quantity and go for better materials and better craftmanship instead of high number of bearings.


Depending on a fishing technique and targeted species, you will be using the handle a lot. It should feel good in the hand, slipping even when wet should not be an issue, and the handle must be firm.


Line capacity is important for various technique, as well as the line strength. Closed faced reels have smaller capacity due to limited “indoor” space.

Depending on intended use, you should also consider features like gear ratio, IPT, and size. There is no “best” option among those features, and every single one of them has its intended use.

Remember how I said: “regardless of the manufacturer” in the beginning of this chapetr? Well, let me clarify this a bit more. You should always buy from reputable and well-known manufacturers (like those from USA, or Shimano or Daiwa). Those guarantee that the product you are buying is made up to certain standard. Besides, for such reels you can get service and spare parts if needed.

Read on to find out what models I recommend.

Open vs Closed Face Fishing Reel - Daiwa

Best Open and Closed Face Fishing Reels

Here are my recommendations for both fishing reel types. Those are the best buy considering overall quality, performance, and price of course.

Best Open Face Reels

When it comes to open face reels, I have a few favorites.


If you are looking for a budget friendly option with a luxurious feeling, this is the one to go (#ad). Multiple times cheaper than some high-end Shimano open face reels, Sedona also offers some impressive features.

It is one of the cheapest Shimano reels that has Hagane gears and improved drag. It can be used in freshwater and saltwater, and it comes in sizes from 500 to 8000.

Gear ratio varies among sizes, from 4.6:1 to 6.2:1.

To learn more, you can also check my article about Shimano Sedona vs Sahara ...

Daiwa BG

Among Daiwa open face reels, this is the one I like the most (#ad). It features aluminum body, air rotor, ATD drag, and some other excellent features that make your fishing experience extraordinary at a very low price.

Sizes go from 1500 to 8000 which can cover almost any fishing situation you can think of. Gear ratio is from 5.3:1 to 5.7:1 which is perfect for versatility.


Last, but not the least, is Okuma Ceymar (#ad). You will get a ton of premium features for more than a reasonable price. Line control system will help line lay to be even across the spool, corrosion resistant body will ensure long life, and cyclonic flow rotor will increase airflow and speed up the drying.

Sizes available go from 10 to 65, which is quite a large range. When it comes to gear ratio, it goes from 5.0:1 to 6.2:1, depending on a size.

Here you can read also more about:

Best Close Face Reels

Among closed face models, I have chosen three favorites, and those are:


Among Zebco closed face reels, this one is a bit more expensive, but it is also the best (#ad).

It comes in two sizes, 20 and 30, and it is extremely lightweight and comfortable to use. When it comes to gear ratio, it is on a slow side, 3.4:1. Line capacity, although small, is decent for closed facet models.

Overall, it is an excellent choice.

Good models from Zebco are also the Zebco 33 (#ad) and Zebco 808 (#ad).

Abu Garcia ABUMATIC 170

Abumatic 170 (#ad) is the best Abu Garcia closed face reel, and as the name suggests it comes in one size only, 170. This size is among the most versatile ones, and you can catch a variety of smaller fish with it.

Among all three mentioned here, this one has the best operating drag, and it feels suer smooth. Gear ratio is relatively slow, 3.9:1, and line capacity is actually very good.


Lastly, here is one Daiwa closed face reel. Daiwa Goldcast (#ad) is available in three sizes, 80, 100 and 120. Gear ratio is 4.1:1 for all sizes.

It is very comfortable to use, casting is excellent for this type of reel, and so is line capacity. Among given models, this one is suitable for a bit harder conditions, and it feels perfectly durable and capable.

Open vs Closed Face Fishing Reel: Which one to Choose?

As I already mentioned, it really depends on what kind of fishing you are planning to do, and what is your experience level.

If any of the following statements apply to you:

• You are planning occasional fishing just for fun on small freshwater bodies of water.

• You want to teach your kid how to fish.

• You have very limited budget.

• You already have a rod with line guides positioned up.

Choose CLOSED face reels.

Otherwise, if the following applies to you:

• You already have some fishing experience

• You have ambitions to catch more and bigger fish

• You want to go to saltwater expeditions

• You like versatility

Choose the OPEN face reels.

FAQs about Open vs Closed Face Fishing Reels:

Deciding which reel to use is not an easy task, so here are some more answers in case you have some doubts when comparing open vs closed fishing reel.

Open vs Closed Face Fishing Reel for Saltwater?

Saltwater fishing is specific for various reasons. It mostly includes deeper water, a bit bigger fish, and corrosion danger.

You should choose reels that are corrosion resistant, with larger line capacity, and a bit stronger. Although there are closed face reels rated for saltwater use (like Zebco, Pulsinno, and some other), I would still recommend you to go for open version if you have high ambitions.

But, if you plan to occasionally fish on vacation in summer from the shore or a pier for species like grey mullet, than you can take a cheaper and easier to use closed reel.

Are There any Open and Closed Face Fishing Reel Combos?

Fishing rod and reel combos have two main advantages and those are price and compatibility. When you buy rod and reel together, you will save some money. Besides that, buying them in pair means that they are perfectly compatible, and you don’t have to stress about combining them yourself.

For closed face reel I would recommend Zebco 33. You can see the details of this excellent and affordable combo here (#ad) ...

And for open face, there is a great combo that includes a telescopic rod and open faced reel made by Ugly Stik. Check it out (#ad) ...

Which One (Open vs Closed Face) is Best for Beginners?

For a complete beginner I would always recommend closed faced reel. As already mentioned, these reels are very user friendly and easy to operate by anyone. These are also excellent for children, clumsy people, and elderly anglers who are begging their angling journey.

There are no line tangles, casting is easily done by pressing a button, and there is no bail that could get in a way of your casting.

Which One (Open vs Closed Face) is Easiest to Use?

This question had already been answered, but if you don’t believe me, here are a bit more details.

Closed face reels the easiest to use and besides effortless casting, they can also cast to much lower distance. Fishing close by is much easier for a beginner. Before you become very ambitious and decide to cast on the other side of the lake you should learn a thing or two about fishing.

It has limited accuracy, but that will force you to improve your technique before upgrading to open face.

These reels are also suitable for very light lines and lures, frequently used by beginners.

What is Trigger on an Open Face Fishing Reel?

Open face reel with trigger is a type of spinning reel that can be operated by one hand. This technology was a big innovation in the 1980s however, today those reels are hard to find.

Regular spinning reels require both hands, where one is used to open and close the bail when necessary. Trigger is a system that allows you to do it with one hand, the one used for holding a rod. In a way, it is similar to closed face reel in terms of one hand casting.

Although some anglers still love it, it includes additional moving parts and that means less dependable reel with a higher chance of malfunction.

One of the most famous models is Shimano Syncopate (#ad).

Open vs Closed Face Fishing Reel - Shimano 


When comparing open vs closed fishing reel we can conclude that for a complete beginner closed face is a better option, especially for freshwater fishing on smaller bodies of water while catching smaller fish.

Open faced reels are a bit more versatile, available in wider size range, and suitable for saltwater too. With a good open face reel, you can land a big one!

If budget is not an issue for you, you can always get both! Otherwise, I would advise you to go for open face if you have at least some fishing experience!

About Me

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I am Siniša Pintar (friends call me Sina), the guy behind and eBook writer. This site is base camp for fishing enthusiasts from all over the world. I love fishing and want to share all my stories, knowledge and my experience with any and all potential anglers. Read more ...

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