Spinning Reels – An Overview

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Spinning Reels – An Overview

by Capt. Terry Rand

The Daiwa Black Gold is one of the more popular models of Spinning Reels available.
Photo by: Author
Spinning reels are probably the easiest style of fishing reel to learn how to operate. Yet, many individuals still do not use all of the functions of the spinning reel to their advantage, often times costing them the fish of a lifetime. Take the time to learn all of the abilities of a spinning reel to maximize your fish catching potential.

To begin with, spinning reels have the advantage of being able to cast light lines to great distances with little effort. They tend to handle heavier lines poorly due to the fact that a spinning reel utilizes a fixed spool, meaning that the spool that holds the line does not rotate. Because the spool is fixed, heavier lines tend to cause more friction against the lip of the spool and the guides of the fishing rod during casting. This friction slows down the cast resulting in poor casting distance. Using a thinner, lower diameter line creates less friction. In freshwater sized spinning reels, 10-12 lb. test monofilament line is usually about the maximum recommended line weight. In saltwater sized spinning reels, line recommendations rarely exceed 20 lb. test monofilament.

Another aspect of choosing the right line for your spinning reel involves matching the correct size line for the weight of the lures or bait you are throwing. A general rule of thumb is that a lighter diameter line will cast a light lure farther and with more accuracy. For example, if you are fishing for trout in a small river and you are attempting to cast a lure that weights 1/16 of an ounce with 10 lb. test monofilament line your casting distance will be hampered by the thickness of the line. Remember, thicker line will create more friction against the lip of the spool and the rod guides and that small lure will not provide enough pulling weight during the cast to compensate for that friction. If you scale down your line size to 4-6 lb. test monofilament you create less resistance when casting, ensuring a nice long cast with those tiny lures.

On the other hand, if you take your trout rod out on the bass boat with you and attempt to cast a 1/2 oz. spinnerbait on that 4-6 lb. test line you are going to run into other problems. You won’t have any difficulties making a long cast but because of the repeated strain of throwing that heavy lure on light line you will eventually weaken the line and break off your lure either during a cast or while fighting a fish.

Another essential feature of a spinning reel that is often under utilized is the correct use of the drag system. The drag knob sits on top of the spool and too many people seem to think that it is simply a screw for holding the spool on to the reel. When fighting a large fish and the fish charges away from the angler two things can happen. Either the line will break or the rod will break from the excessive tension. To compensate for this, the drag knob can be tightened and loosened to allow the fish to pull line off of the spool during the fight. The drag can be adjusted during the battle for the size of the fish. Generally speaking, you always want there to be a lot of tension on the fish but not so much tension that the line or rod will break. Adjusting your drag accordingly will ensure that you land that fish of a lifetime.

One other option that you have when it comes to handling a large fish at the end of your line is to use the “back reeling” abilities of a spinning reel. Under normal operation your spinning reel only reels in the forward direction, taking line up on to the spool. There is a small toggle switch located on the back side or under side of your reel. When this switch is flipped it allows the angler to reel in reverse or “back reel”. Instead of relying on your drag system to allow the fish to take line from the spool while making a run you can “back reel” slowly and let the fish take the line that you delver while back reeling. Essentially, an angler would back reel only as long as the fish runs. Once the fish begins to tire the angler can resume reeling forward and taking line back on to the reel. This method requires more practice and attentiveness on the part of the angler but it also relieves the angler of relying on the mechanical drag system.

As you can see, using a spinning reel properly requires a little more than just simply spooling it with line and casting. But if you use these tips to your advantage you will land more fish, lose fewer lures, increase your casting distance and you will become a much more versatile and knowledgable angler.

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