How to Use a Spinning Reel

Spinning reels are very versatile and beginner-friendly. The handling and manipulation needed to learn to cast using a spinning reel are essential for every angler to learn. Once this ability or skill is honed, anglers can easily try other styles of fishing without difficulty.

But there are a lot of things that are needed for anglers to know the basics of fishing with spinning reels. Read on and learn as we cover some of these basics in our simple guide:

How to Use a Spinning Reel [Step by Step Guideline]

Knowing The Spinning Reel

Fishing reels were used simply as devices for storing for the fishing lines. Now, fishing reels have become staple parts used together with fishing rods. Reels provide anglers with controlling on how much of the line should be put out when casting.

Determining the length of the line would also help anglers estimate where they should cast their baits or lures in the water and how deep their baits or lures should go.

Spinning reels operate by using a fixed spool. The difference between spinning reels and baitcasting reels is that the former makes use of a stationary spool while the baitcasting reels make use of a rotating spool. The spool in spinning reels contains a rotor and bail assembly which is mounted around it.

These help the line go back to the spool if it is retrieved. When the crank or reel handle is turned, the internal gears of the reel rotate the spool. Its rotor then wraps the line around the spool as it is oscillating. This action also makes sure that the line gets distributed evenly in the spool.

Gathering Your Equipment

Before we delve into the individual components a spinning reel has, we need to know first what are the required other equipment that is used in tandem with the spinning reel.

Spinning Rod

Spinning Rod

One standard feature of spinning rods differentiates it from the casting rod, and that is the direction that the eyelets are facing. In spinning rods, the eyelets are facing downward as the rod bends.

This is because the line is fed directly from the spinning reel which is located on the underside of the rod’s handle. The line then traverses the entire rod and it needs to follow the underside of the rod in parallel with the placement of the spinning reel.

Spinning rods should always be used with good spinning reels.

Fishing Line

Choosing a fishing line for your spinning rod and reel depends entirely on the type of fish you are going to catch. You can pick between a variety of fishing lines available.

There are no dedicated or specific lines that you should worry about using when you plan on having spinning rods and spinning reels.

Fishing Line

Baits or Hooks

Baits or hooks, like the fishing line you choose, depending on what fish you want to catch. With a variety of baits and hooks available, it is always a good idea to bring different kinds when you go out fishing.

Different types of fishes prefer different kinds of baits/hooks and you can’t be assured that the bait or hook you have with you will always be what the fish will like.

Identifying The Parts of a Spinning Reel

Now that you are prepared with all your equipment, we can now move on to identifying spinning reel parts and what each part does. Most spinning reels have the following elements:


The spool is one of your reel’s primary component. This is where your fishing line will be wound around. Once the line is cast, this retrieves back the line and will hurt the line back again around it.

reel spool

Reel Handle

This is the part you control to retrieve the line back once it has been cast. Most reel handles are designed to ensure that the line will not anti-reverse. This means that after the line has been cast and the bail has been closed on the spool, the handle will only be cranked forward. This also makes sure that tangles are lessened when the line is being retrieved.


The bail is the spinning reel’s part that ensures the line stops coming out of the spool once cast by flipping manually into the locked position.

To enable the line to be cast out of the spool, the bail should be manually flipped to the open position so that the line can come out freely.

Spooling The Spinning Reel

Before you can start using your spinning reel, you need to wind or spool your fishing line to the spinning reel’s spool first.

Follow the simple instructions below on how you can successfully spool your line to your spinning reel:

  1. Grab your line and make an overhead knot on one end. Make sure to snip off any extra line after the knot.
  2. With the bail assembly open, loop this knotted end of your line around your spool and tie it again with the rest of your line. An arbour knot would usually be the best knot to use for this.
  3. Press down the knot you just made to make sure that it sits tightly on your spool.
  4. Close the bail and with the rest of your line out, wind the line to your spool using the crank or reel handle. Turn it until you have the desired amount of line.

After you have wound the line onto your spool, you can now guide the line to the rest of your rod. Some prefer doing this the other way around by guiding the line through the rod first before they spool the reel.

It depends on which you are more satisfied with but doing either would still net the same results.

Handling The Spinning Reel

After the line has been guided along your rod, you may now proceed on how you should prepare your reel for casting. Before doing that, check the way you are handling your reel.

Hold your reel by letting the arm of the reel come in between your middle and ring finger as you are gripping the rod handle. This gives you a more stable grip on your rod and as well as your reel when you are casting.

With the same hand, pinch the line protruding out of the reel close to your rod using your index finger. This is so that the line will not come off your reel as you set the bail open. Hold this position until you can cast.

Adjusting Drag on The Spinning Reel

Before you can start casting your line, you need to adjust your drag first. You can do this by grabbing the adjustment knob on the top of your spool.

When you tighten this knob, this makes it more difficult to pull the line from your spool. You will know how much you should tighten the knob by manually pulling on your line while your bail is closed to get a feel for whether you should still loosen or tighten it.

Drag on the Spinning Reel

Performing The Cast

Now that you have set the drag on your line and you have ensured that the line is pinched against the rod while the bail is open, you can now start casting.

Do this by flipping the rod so that it is vertical and then extending it as far back as you can. With a swift motion, flip it back forward and make sure to release your index finger that is holding on to your line so that your line will now start casting forward.

Note that it takes some practice for beginners to time your release correctly to ensure that your lure will land in your targeted area.

Once you see that it landed on your target, flip the bail closed and tighten the line as you see fit.

Freshwater vs. Saltwater Spinning Reels

Fishing with spinning reels is not the same for the type of water that you’ll be fishing in. While spinning reels are best for freshwater fishing, they can also be considered if you want some saltwater fishing.

Freshwater fishing using spinning reels depend on a variety of factors but most of the reels used here have smaller sizes.

Freshwater vs. Saltwater Spinning Reels

This is efficient for freshwater fishing because most fishes caught in this type of water have smaller sizes.

Using a large spinning reel would only be bulky and would not be economical since you will not be using that much line when fishing.

Saltwater fishing, on the other hand, would typically use larger spinning reels. Catching larger fishes in saltwater fishing would require larger reels because there may be more line needed and the reel has to be sturdy and have the appropriate power to be able to reel in heavier fish.

Spinning reels are also preferred in saltwater fishing because of their ease of use and reliability.

There are indeed a lot of points to consider for spinning reels. But with practice, any angler can perfect their fishing skills. Polishing this would ensure that casting will be easy when fishing is done by beginner or professional anglers alike.

Fishing can be fun. Try it with a spinning reel now.

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