Baitcaster VS Spinning Reel: The Benefits And How To Choose

by Thavius | Last Updated:   October 8th, 2022
Baitcaster VS Spinning Reel: The Benefits And How To Choose

Baitcaster vs spinning reel is a very popular debate in the fishing world and the reason for this is quite simple.

Baitcasters and spinning reels are the most widely used types of fishing reels today. So, if you are looking to join the world of fishing, the baitcaster vs spinning reel argument is one that you can’t shy away from.

Are baitcasters better than spinning reels, there is no definitive answer to that. Several questions must be answered first. We have to look at both types of reels and their differences, pros and cons, and usage.

To help you find the right reel for your fishing needs, we are going to be looking at all the relevant topics in this article.

What Is A Baitcaster?

Anatomy of a baitcasting reel

Anatomy of a baitcasting reel

A baitcaster is a type of reel that is located at the top of the rod and comes with a revolving spool. A baitcasting reel operates excellently with fishing lines such as fluorocarbon, monofilament, and braid. A baitcasting reel’s line leaves the spool in line with the rod.

When using a baitcaster, the spool moves with the line’s casting. As a result, an angler will need to have a significant level of experience to prevent things from spinning out of control.

Without the necessary experience, a bird’s nest or backlash may occur. A backlash occurs when a spool moves with more than the angler’s casting line. The line eventually gets into a knotty mess.

For this reason, baitcasting reels are more suitable for experienced fishermen. You can also reduce the chance of a backlash with more practice.

Though this reel is more advanced, the ability to use different types of bait, lure, and line increases its range of usage.

How to Use a Baitcaster

A casting reel is more suitable for dropping your line in a congested space or a hot spot such as a riverbed. If your baitcasting reel has enough quality, it can be utilized as an offshore reel.

When you want to use a baitcaster, carry the rod to cast with your dominant hand. Then, reel the cast in by changing hands. This way, the dominant hand is in charge of both actions.

During casting, anglers with more experience operate the line with their thumbs to avoid bird’s nest or backlash. To let go of the fishing line, press the “thumb” button. This action will also release the bait. If you wish to stop casting, return your hand to the spool or twist the reeling handle.

Watch these videos to learn how to set up and cast a baitcaster:

Pros of Baitcasting Reels
  • Baitcasters are highly durable
  • Baitcasters are lightweight
  • Baitcasters are suited for holding bulky
  • Baitcasters enable users to cast with more accuracy
  • Baitcasters are highly customizable
  • Baitcasters have higher drag capabilities
  • Baitcasters handle bulky lures and fishing lines with ease
  • Baitcasters can hold powerful fish
  • Baitcasters handle multiple lines
Cons of Baitcasting Reels
  • A baitcaster is more costly
  • A significant level of experience is needed to operate a baitcaster
  • High chance of backlash/bird’s nest
  • Switching orientations can be complicated

What are baitcaster reels good for?

Baitcasting reel with lures and hooks

A baitcast reel can be used for several purposes. These include light spin fishing, big game fishing, and surf casting. In the US and Canada, baitcasting reels are widely used for lure casting for bass.

Several anglers will agree that baitcasters provide more control over the landing of the cast. This is because the spool can be thumbed without fuss.

Also, baitcaster reels usually have greater gear ratios. This means that they are suitable for quick retrieves on lures such as crankbaits and buzzbaits when fishing for bass.

However, baitcasters are suitable for more than just largemouths. They are also ideal for fishing for Peacock bass and giant trevally. Since aggressive topwater representation is needed for both species, a favorable gear ratio will enable you to cast all day without getting tired.

As a result, baitcasters are loved by anglers who prefer heavy lures and fishing lines. They are also popular among fishermen who big jigs and soft plastic rigs.

What Is A Spinning Reel?

Different Components of a Spinning Reel

Anatomy of a spinning reel

Spinning reels are a favorite of many anglers because they are easier to use. They are also affordable and better suited to amateur anglers.

To avoid nesting, spinning reels come with a bail and open face. The reel is placed beneath the rod to increase balance during casting.

Also, the drag adjustment is placed above the reel. When you learn to fish with a top-quality and lightweight spinning reel, you can quickly become a master fisherman.

How to Use a Spinning Reel

With a spinning reel, you will have a lot of control when fishing. For the line to be freed, you should release the bail and then, grip the line using the index finger. This will help you avoid unspooling and tangling before casting even begins.

During casting, you should take your index finger off the line immediately after you get to the top of the cast. When you finish your cast, spin the crank and return the bail to the starting point. This way, you can avoid unspooling.

Watch this video to learn how to cast a spinning reel:

Pros of Spinning Reels
  • A spinning reel has high quality
  • The position of the reel on a spinning reel provides better balance
  • A spinning reel provides better control over momentum and casting distance
  • A spinning reel is an excellent choice for multiple habitats
  • A spinning reel is great for light bait and lures
  • A spinning reel is more affordable than a baitcaster reel
  • A spinning reel allows smooth changing of right and left-handed orientations
Cons of Spinning Reels
  • Spinning reels have limited casting distance with heavier lures
  • You have to be careful with the bail of spinning reels to avoid tangles
  • Expensive spinning reels cost at least 50 dollars
  • Spinning reels aren’t suitable for huge fish such as salmon

What are spinning reels good for?

Fishing rod with spinning reel on riverside

Just like baitcasters, spinning reels are also used for various purposes. They are used for similar purposes as baitcasters including spin fishing, offshore fishing, and surfcasting.

Traditionally, spinning reels are considered to be unsuitable for heavy use like big game fishing. However, more fishermen are starting to use them for different types of fishing due to their ease of use.

Some time ago, bass fishing pros started adding more spinning tackle to their equipment as finesse fishing techniques gained popularity. The increase in the use of braided lines also had a hand in this.

With braided lines, anglers have been able to combine heavy lines with little reels. As a result, an increasing number of saltwater fishing anglers are now choosing spinning fishing techniques to catch the big fish.

Additionally, spinning reels can be used by both lefthanded and righthanded anglers. Baitcasters are usually more suitable for right-handed people.

Difference Between A Baitcaster And Spinning Reel

baitcaster vs spinning reel

The design of a baitcast reel includes a rotating spool that is located above the casting rod. To rotate the spool, the handle beside the reel has to be turned.

On the other hand, a spinning reel is located below the casting rod, and the spool isn’t rotatable. Rather, a bail arm spins around and as a result, spool line on it. A user can operate the bail arm by turning the handle beside the reel.

If you are using a baitcaster, you can cast a lure by releasing the spool so it spins speedily. That way, the line is unwound during the cast. The ball bearing system makes the process possible.

Meanwhile, to cast using a spinning reel, you should fold the bail arm backward. This enables the line to easily slip off the reel. As a result, it’s not necessary for the spool to rotate.

The Benefits of Baitcasting Reels Over Spinning Reels

A baitcasting reel is better than a spinning reel when it comes to casting. It offers better casting distance and accuracy. With a surfcasting baitcaster and a good rod, a user can get impressive casting distances.

As a result, many anglers love using casting reels for surf fishing. However, a baitcasting reel costs more and will take more time to master, especially if you are an amateur fisherman. You will need to learn about the major parts of a baitcaster along with their functions. You should also learn how to spool a baitcaster.

In the end, a baitcasting reel has various benefits over a spinning reel. This being that, its casting ability has more length and accuracy.

Unlike baitcasters, spinning reels do not require a whole lot of space casting.

The Benefits of Spinning Reels Over Baitcasting Reels

A spinning reel costs less and is easier to use. For these reasons, they are an excellent choice for most situations. Many anglers view them as general-purpose reels while most amateurs also prefer them.

Additionally, spinning reels offer incredible versatility as they are suitable for most fishing techniques you may think of. These include bottom fishing, live bait fishing, trolling, spin fishing, and more.

However, the casting ability of a spinning reel is inferior to that of a baitcasting reel. As a result, some master anglers prefer baitcasting reels.

What Type of Reel Is Best For Bass Fishing?

Bass fishing out of a kayak

A popular question asked by anglers is “what type of reel?” is best suited for bass fishing. However, the only correct response is that there is no straightforward answer. This is because both reels perform excellently when used for bass fishing. Your choice should depend on your preference and specific application.

A misconception about bass experts is that they all prefer baitcasters over spinner reels. This is false. For instance, Jordan Lee utilizes spinner reels during bass competitions and does that excellently.

Several bass anglers choose baitcasting reels due to their better casting accuracy. Bass are usually found near thick covers. Hence, the lure should be positioned near the cover with accuracy if you are to make a catch.

Additionally, if you are trying to fish for bass from a boat, you may have to cast in the direction of the shore. So, you will need a reel that will help you prevent the lure from hitting the shore. A casting reel will be more beneficial in such a situation.

On the other hand, a spinner reel will be the right choice if you are just learning how to fish for bass. This is because the real will be easier to master and it will enable you to catch abundant fish. So, you can enjoy the bass experience as an amateur angler without dealing with the complexity of a baitcaster.

The Perfect Fishing Reel Buying Guide

Different fishing reels isolated

After going through the pros and cons of both types of reels, you should have an idea of the right one for you. However, this isn’t enough.

To find the perfect reel for your fishing journey, there are certain factors you should consider. These are:

Fresh Water or Salt Water?

When buying a fishing reel, you should first consider where you will be getting your fish. You may be fishing in either freshwater or saltwater.

For freshwater, you don’t need a special type of reel. However, you will need a high-quality reel to fish in saltwater. A saltwater reel should be resistant to corrosion and durable enough to handle any stress.


Another essential factor that you need to consider is your budget. How much are you willing to spend on your gear?

You should bear in mind that the quality of your gear will depend greatly on its price. Though it is possible to find a bargain, the durability, and quality of reels usually increase with their price.

Also, you may opt for a cheap reel if you will only be using it occasionally. But if you are going to be fishing regularly, you should be ready to spend more bucks.

You should expect to pay around $112 for a high-quality fishing reel. However, the price range for fishing reels is between $50 to $200.

If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on a reel, then you should opt for a used one. A used fishing reel should cost half the price of a brand new reel.

Your Target Species

What species of fish are you looking to catch? For example, if you will search for freshwater species, you don’t have to bother about corrosion. Instead, you should get a top-quality fishing line. You should try to get as much information as possible about your target fish.

Line Capacity

This is associated with the location at which you will be fishing. If you will be using a local lake, you may not need a reel with a big line capacity. However, if you have little information about the location, you should get a reel with a big line capacity.

Fishing Habit

At first glance, fishing appears to be straightforward. However, each angler fishes in a different way from others.

As a result, you should consider your preferences as an angler. To fish from the shoreline, you should get a reel that can withstand the tension from fishes trying to escape.

On the other hand, an angler that loves fishing from a kayak or boat won’t need a durable reel. This is because the angler will have a greater amount of mobility.


Fishing is an activity that takes long hours to complete. So, you will feel every ounce of any reel you use.

To save yourself from fatigue and wrist injuries, you should purchase a lighter reel. With a lighter reel, you will remain comfortable even after long hours of fishing.

Gear Ratio: Speed or Power

The idea behind the gear ratio is easy to understand. It is the number of turns a spool makes when a user makes a complete circle on the handle. The higher the speed of a reel, the lower its strength.

On the other hand, slower reels tend to be stronger. So, you pay attention to the reel’s gear ratio before your purchase it.

You will need a fast reel if you are looking to catch big bass. This is because you will need to quickly pull the fish away from anything that could damage the line.

Meanwhile, a more powerful reel will be required for huge baits that carry a lot. A crankbait is an example of such a bait.

Low-speed reels have the greatest torque, this will enable you to direct more energy into catching the fish instead of exhausting yourself retrieving the bait.

You may watch this video to learn about high-speed vs low-speed spinning reels:

Match Your Rod

When checking the compatibility of your reel and color, you shouldn’t just look at colors. You should check the specifications because a reel won’t work with all rods. Several rod makers specify what rod will work with their reel. So, pay attention to the specification of your rod.

Have a look at our extensive guide on choosing the right fishing rod.


If you purchase a rod that isn’t resistant to corrosion, you will keep replacing it. As a result, you should ensure that your rod is made of corrosion-resistant material.

Also, your reel should have a protective coating and its internal units should be sealed. This is particularly essential for saltwater fishing.


The shape and size of your spool shouldn’t be overlooked. A spool’s design could affect its speed and line capacity.

A deeper spool will offer you greater casting distance while a wider one will provide more room for the line.


With the right-sized reel, you will have a better chance of success. For example, you will need a big reel if you will be fishing in the ocean. This is because you may encounter a real monster such as a tuna.

When scared, tunas can display incredible strength and fleeing power. But you will have the situation under control when you have a bigger reel.

On the other hand, a small reel will be a great choice if you are casting small lures and looking for smaller fish.

Small sized spinning reels

Reel Size

Recommended Mono Line Strength

Recommended Braided Line Strength

Recommended Usage

Recommended Species (North America)


2 - 4 lbs

4 - 8 lbs

Ultralight fishing in freshwater and estuaries, bays & harbors

Trout, Crappie, Bluegill, Yellow Perch


4 - 6 lbs

4 - 8 lbs

Bass, Trout, Crappie, Bluegill, Yellow Perch


5 - 8 lbs

5 - 12 lbs

Light fishing in freshwater and estuaries, bays & harbors

Bass, Walleye, Northern Pike, Catfish


6 - 10 lbs

6 - 14 lbs


6 - 10 lbs

6 - 14 lbs

Medium sized spinning reels

Reel Size

Recommended Mono Line Strength

Recommended Braided Line Strength

Recommended Usage

Recommended Species (North America)

4000/40 & 4500/45

8 - 12 lbs

8 - 20 lbs

Medium fishing in freshwater and inshore saltwater

Catfish, Muskie, Snook, Redfish, Snapper

5000/50 & 5500/55

10 - 14 lbs

10 - 25 lbs

Large sized spinning reels

Reel Size

Recommended Mono Line Strength

Recommended Braided Line Strength

Recommended Usage

Recommended Species (North America)

6000/60 & 6500/65

12 - 16 lbs

12 - 30 lbs

Medium fishing in onshore & offshore saltwater

Striped Bass, Salmon, Snook, Redfish (Red Drum)


14 - 18 lbs

15 - 40 lbs


16 - 20 lbs

20 - 50 lbs


16 - 20 lbs

20 - 50 lbs

Medium fishing in onshore & offshore saltwater

Wahoo, Roosterfish, Dorado, Barracuda, Amberjack

8500/85 & 9000/90

18 - 22 lbs

30 - 50 lbs


20 - 25 lbs

30 - 50 lbs


20 - 25 lbs

30 - 60 lbs

Medium/ Heavy fishing in onshore & offshore saltwater

Tuna, Wahoo, Dorado, Shark


22 - 27 lbs

30 - 60 lbs

12000/120 & 14000/140

28 lbs+

30 - 60 lbs

Medium/ Heavy offshore saltwater fishing


32 lbs+

40 - 70 lbs


36 lbs+

40 - 70 lbs


40 lbs+

50 - 80 lbs

Heavy offshore saltwater fishing

Sailfish, Tuna (large species), Tarpon, Giant Trevally


50 lbs+

50 - 80 lbs


60 lbs+

80 - 100 lbs


This feature provides the spool with friction and makes it easier to cast and claim a big catch. The majority of anglers can only handle 15 to 18 pounds of drag pressure comfortably.

Hence, you should only get a reel that you can handle its drag. Ignoring this could result in fatigue and injuries.

Handle Quality

There’s nothing more frustrating than almost making a catch after several minutes and then, your handle fails you. So, you should ensure that your reel’s handle is of the right quality. You should also ensure that you keep it in the right condition.

The Best Quality

We understand that as an amateur angler, you may be unwilling to purchase an expensive reel. However, you will benefit a lot from buying the option that you can afford.

A high-quality reel will make it easier to catch your first fish and also help you become a pro quickly. The materials used in making fishing reels include aluminum, brass, zinc, and stainless steel.

If you want the very best quality, you should go for a stainless steel reel. This is because reels made from stainless steel offer the most strength and durability. They also do well in saltwater.


baitcaster vs spinning reel

Anglers have argued about baitcaster vs spinning reels for years and there remains no winner. We’ve covered all the relevant information that you may need to make an informed decision in this article. In summary, you should choose your reel based on your wants and needs.

-Happy Fishing!-

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I've been a fisherman for over 35 years. From catching small bullheads with my grandfather at his pond to catching strippers on the backwaters of the Chattahoochee, I love to get out in the wild and have a marvelous day on the water.