How to Choose a Spinning Reel: A Pro Guide for Beginners

How to Choose a Spinning Reel

We’ve all been there – picking up angling as a new hobby and looking for a new spinning reel. You’re very excited to get started with using a new reel.

However, the excitement fades away when you delve into finding the right spinning reel for yourself.

When you don’t know how to choose a spinning reel, the variety of products will overwhelm you to the core.

Not only are spinning reels essential to determine your fishing quality but also comfort.

Therefore, you must know how to choose the right product for your fishing and angling requirements.

We have created this detailed buyer’s guide to help you make an informed decision.

What to Consider When Choosing a Fishing Reel

Over the years, spinning reels have surpassed any other reel form to be the most popular kind. They influence the way you perform and reduce your learning curve.

They are the best tools for beginners to learn. Most experts also like them for the reliability they offer.

The number of choices available for spinning reels is overwhelming and confusing. Therefore, in this section, you will find out how to choose a spinning reel.

Reel Size

Think of the reel’s size as a car engine’s power. You won’t want to buy a Mustang if you’re looking for an in-city affordable car. Similarly, it makes no sense for you to buy a 5000-size reel if you’re targeting perch.

Each user’s suitable spinning reel size is also influenced by the spinning rod they’re using to maintain balance. Let us have a look at the different spinning reel sizes and their functions.

  • 1000 – The 1000 size reel is as small as it gets. These are small and lightweight, and hence, easy to handle. The 1000 size reels are perfect for catching species such as the small wild brown trout and perch. They are perfect for ultralight fishing tactics. They are compatible with low diameter lines and have light breaking strain.


  • 2500 – Even though the 2500 size reel is slightly bigger than the 1000 size reel, it is also perfect for light fishing tactics. You can use them for performing drop shotting, jiggling, and spinning. The only difference between 1000 and 2500 size reels is the latter’s larger spool size and line capacity.


  • 3000 – The 3000 is the most popular reel size. It is neither too big for you to carry around on casual trips nor too small to catch a serious game. These reels tend to have high breaking strain due to the larger line capacity. They also have more robust drag systems but do not have too heavy or bulky a reel size.


  • 4000 – The 4000-size reel is the second-largest reel, ideal for catching bigger and stronger fishes such as salmon, pike, and smaller trout. This reel provides excellent cranking power. The more extensive line diameter compatibility allows for very high breaking strain. The spool is big and has an extensive dragging system.


  • 5000 – the 5000-reel size is only to be used to catch massive salmon in deep and robust flowing water. This one is a vast reel and has the highest breaking strain. This reel can catch species such as GT, barracuda, and other strong and hard-fighting fish.

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Great Ratio

A spinning reel’s gear ratio can be defined as the ratio between the number of bail arm rotations per a full turn of the reel’s handle.

The gear ratio influences the spool’s speed and efficiency. Let us have a look at the different gear ratios and their compatibility below.

  • 8:1 – 5.4:1 ratio – This is the most common gear ratio range found in most spinning reels. This ratio range is excellent for providing a balanced line retrieval rate. However, it also makes the user face lures, creating heavy drag in the water.
  • 6:1 – 6.2:1 ratio – This ratio range is rapid and makes even the slowest of lines more efficient and faster. If you like to use your rod to create a high impact on the lure, you can use reels with this gear ratio range. You will have to use less effort with such reels.

Line Capacity

Line capacity is your spool’s capability to hold a certain length of the line. The line capacity is dependent on the line’s diameter and fishing purposes.

You should use a shallow spool if you like to use low diameter lines. However, if you want to use thick diameter lines, you should use a deeper spool.

We recommend getting reels with deep spools if the fish you generally target puts up many fights. You will have to use lines with thicker diameters since the more viscous the line, the less the possibility of it breaking in the water.

Front Drag vs. Rear Drag

When you’re buying spinning reels, you can either buy one with a front drag system or one with a rear drag system.

The drag system influences the amount of fight the reel can put up with the fish. Therefore, the reel’s overall power is dependent on its drag system design.

The rear drag system is the one that features the drag knob at the rear end. Therefore, the drag mechanics run throughout the reel’s body.

On the other hand, the front drag system features the drag knob on the front. They can produce much more drag pressure and hence, are preferable.

Handle Types

There are only two handle types in spinning wheels – a single handle system or a double handle system. Whichever you want to use comes down to personal preference.

  • Double Handle – The double handle system is perfect for counterbalancing motion within the reel, leading to less wobbling. However, these are not practically comfortable due to their heavyweight and small paddle handles.
  • Single Handle – The single handle system is much more practical in terms of weight and paddle size. Since the reel has more space for a single handle, the paddle can be large enough to offer a comfortable grip. However, this system does not provide the right balance and involves an enormous learning curve.

While choosing a spinning reel, it is best to get one with anti-reverse handles. These handles ensure zero backward motion, allowing for a better hook set and better fishing accuracy.

Spool Material

Most spools are either made of aluminum or graphite. Not only does the material influence the fight a reel can endure, but also the reel’s overall weight.

  • Aluminum – Aluminum spools are incredibly smooth and hence, do not cause unnecessary drag while casting. They are incredibly refining and durable. However, they are heavy and need to have holes drilled in them to manage weight and balance.
  • Graphite – Graphite spools are perfect for entry-level reels. They are incredibly durable while being much lighter than aluminum reels. However, they are not the smoothest and most refined spools oy there.

Number of Ball Bearings

The number of ball bearings has a slight yet significant impact on a reel’s performance and longevity.

Experienced anglers will tell you that the larger the ball bearing in a reel, the smoother the function.

However, it is not only the number but also the bearings’ quality that influences the reel’s smooth functioning.

It is important to note how the reel’s price influences the quality and number of ball bearings used. If you choose a high-priced reel, naturally, it will have high-quality components.

Therefore, the higher the number of the bearings, the smoother the reel. However, that is not the case with economic reels with economic parts.


Whether you are going to use the reel in saltwater or freshwater is a factor that s often ignored by beginners. However, this is a crucial thing you should consider while buying a spinning reel.

  • Saltwater reels have a robust stainless steel body to take the harsh metal beatings. The components should be corrosion-resistant. Therefore, saltwater reels tend to be heavier and more durable than freshwater reels.
  • Freshwater reels are excused with the heavy materials and components since they don’t have to endure as much as saltwater reels. Not that they are of a lower quality, it is just that they don’t require to be as heavy-duty as saltwater reels.
  • If you’re going to fish in both freshwater and saltwater, it is best to opt for corrosion-resistant stainless-steel reels. Saltwater reels can sustain in freshwater. However, using freshwater reels in salt water can be disastrous for the reel’s longevity.

The Different Types of Fishing Reels

You don’t know how to choose a spinning reel by only following the above-given considerations.

You must consider the different types of spinning reels and choose the one best suiting for requirements. Below, you will find a detailed explanation of all the fishing reel types and their uses.

Types of Fishing Reels

Spinning Reels

Spinning reels are the most versatile fishing reels and are perfect for beginners. They are not used to wind the line directly. Instead, they employ a 90o angle to the reel and rod to wind the line.

A spinning reel’s head is generally very soft. Therefore, it is not the best reel to catch big fish. However, it is great for beginners learning how to catch smaller fish that do not put up too much fight.

The best thing about spinning reels is that they make a sound every time the line begins opening. Therefore, you can easily understand when a fish has been caught.

Another essential thing to note about fishing reels is how lightweight they are compared to other fishing reels.

Baitcasting Reels

More seasoned fishers generally prefer bait casting reels. They are much more stuff and heavier than spinning reels.

They are used to wind the line directly into the spool, allowing the process to be quicker and more accurate. Baitcasting reels are perfect for bigger fish since they offer higher drag.

Using these reels requires a lot of practice, accuracy, and control. Therefore, they are reserved for experienced anglers.

They feature a braking system to adjust the spool’s tension knob. Consequently, it allows for higher versatility and control.

Spincast Reels

Spincast reels are among the most efficient and lightest fishing reels. Their casting method is very different from other reels since it requires you to control the handle and a knob at the back.

The know allows the line to be ready to be cast, and the handle controls the cast length.

Much like spinning reels, spin-cast reels are also top-rated among beginners. However, unlike spinning reels, they are not preferred by seasoned users.

They are perfect for fishing in small areas. Therefore, you can hardly use them for professional fishing.

Trolling Reels

Trolling reels usually sit at the higher price range of fishing reels. You will hardly find any budget trolling reels since they are characterized by their graphite or carbon fiber construction.

They are rigid and sturdy. Therefore, they are best used to catch big and strong fish in the middle of huge water bodies.

They are designed similar to baitcasting reels but have larger line capacity and sturdiness. Trolling reels feature larger spaces between the gears.

They also have an attached level to allow for quick line winding. These reels are also generally used by experienced anglers.

Fly Reels

Fly reels are the most affordable fishing reels out there. They are perfect to use in small freshwater areas. They cannot sustain the pressure of being used in salt water due to their easy-going construction.

Flywheels are straightforward to use and feature an effortless mechanism. They are also very easy to install. You will have to attach them to the bottom and end of the fishing rod.

Therefore, wining lines in them is also very easy. Flywheels are perfect for people who like to fish casually or are only beginning to learn the art.

Components of a Spinning Reel

While learning how to choose a spinning reel, you will also have to learn about its different components. Given below is an explanation of each spinning reel component and its use.

  • Handle – The handle(s) allow the angler to adjust the rotating side while controlling a fish on the line.
  • Body – The reel’s body is the casing in which all of the reel’s components are held together. The reel’s body material dictates the reel’s overall weight and durability.
  • Gear Box – The gearbox rotates the spindles with each handle rotation. The gear box’s gear ratio influences how quickly you can retrieve a line.
  • Spool – The spool is the connecting medium between the reel and the line. The line rests on the spool, which is attached to the spindle. Therefore, every time the spindle rotates, the spool does too and changes the line’s length.
  • Drag Knob ­- The drag knob adjusts the friction offered to the line. Therefore, it affects how quickly a spool can rotate when set free.
  • Bail – The bail’s purpose is to release the line into the sea without any tangles. It allows the line to be properly wrapped around the spool to keep it from knotting and breaking.

How Does a Spinning Reel Work?

While you learn how to choose a spinning reel, it is also essential to know how they work. Now that you have an idea of all the components of a spinning reel, it will be easier for you the understand the working mechanism.

The spool’s safeguard wheel discharges the fishing line when you prompt it to cast over the surface of the water. As you rotate the handles, the spindle moves and either wrap or extends the spool line.

You will hear a sound from the spool whenever there is a fish stuck on the line.

This sound comes from the line being pulled off the spool due to the target’s fight. You can adjust the drag strength to determine the speed at which you want the line to wind or discharge from the spool.

How to Tie Line on a Spinning Reel?

How to Tie Line on a Spinning Reel

You cannot use a spinning reel unless you know how to tie a line to it. To start fishing with your spinning reel, you must follow some steps to tie the line to it.

Equipment You Will Need

  • Spinning reel
  • Spinning rod
  • Line Spool
  • Scissors

How to Do It?

You must follow the given steps to tie the line to a spinning reel effectively.

  • Step 1 – Attach the reel to your rod for better support. Place the reel’s foot over the reel seat on the rod and screw it until the reel is fastened tightly.
  • Step 2 – Slide the line’s tip through the fishing rod’s first guide.
  • Step 3 – Open the bail arm and use either the uni knot or the arbor knot to secure the line into a reel. You can also use an overhand knot. However, uni knot and arbor knot are recommended for fluorocarbon and monofilament lines.
  • Step 4 – Close the bail once the line is tied to the reel.
  • Step 5 – Pull the line through the reel’s full length. Leave about 1/8th of an inch or a nickel-sized space between the spool and line.

How to Fix the Drag in a Spinning Reel?

Fixing a suitable drag on your spinning reel makes a substantial difference in your fishing ease.

The drag keeps the line from breaking as a fish puts up a fight against the line. Drag plates allow the line to be pulled from the spool to prevent extra strain on the reel.

Fixing the perfect drag is extremely important since the target might escape if the drag is too low.

On the other hand, if the drag is too high, the line might end up breaking easily. The easier reels to fix drag on are either spin-cast reels or spinning reels.

Since we are talking about spinning reels, particularly in this article, let us discuss how you can set the drag on them. Follow the given steps to fix drag on a spinning reel.

  • Step 1 – Pull the line directly over the reel using your hand. However, you should wear gloves or be very careful to prevent the line from cutting your fingers.
  • Step 2 – Use the drag adjusting knob or the front adjustment button to adjust the drag. If your line is pulling away quickly and wanting to tighten the drag, click towards the right. However, if the line is too firm, click towards the left to losing the drag.
  • Step 3 – You can use a small spring scale to judge the drag force. To do so, hook the weight on the line while holding the rod at a 45o The perfect drag is when the line moves only after a third of its weight is put on it. Therefore, if you’re using a 40-pound line, it should not move until it sustains a 14-pound weight.
  • Step 4 – If you doubt whether your drag is too tight, it is best to keep it loose. It is better to let the fish put up some fight while being pulled rather than allowing it to break the line with high pressure.

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Wrapping Up

Spinning reels and the reels of choice for most anglers, no matter their fishing experience.

They are perfect for beginners because they do not have a learning curve as the bait caster reels. Season anglers trust them because they are effortless to use yet reliable for small game.

Spinning reels hail over the other fishing reels due to their ease of use and high-performance. Choosing the right spinning reel influences your overall fishing performance.

Therefore, it is crucial to know how to choose a spinning reel. This article is a one-stop solution for all you need to know about choosing the right spinning reel according to your requirements.