When comparing a baitcaster vs spinning reel, there are many misconceptions, most notably that spinning reels are for beginners and baitcasters are for experienced anglers only. While a baitcaster may have more of a learning curve, they should by no means be avoided by beginners.
Baitcasters and spinning reels offer unique advantages and disadvantages, so in this post, we aim to decipher when to use a baitcasting reel vs a spinning reel.
Baitcasting vs Spinning Reel: What is the Difference?
The difference between a baitcasting reel and a spinning reel is that they are mounted on the rod. A baitcasting reel is mounted above the rod, usually on the top, while a spinning reel is mounted below the rod.
Another significant difference between baitcasting and spinning reels is how the line is wound. The line is wound around a revolving spool perpendicular to the rod in a baitcasting reel. The line is wound around a fixed spool parallel to the rod in a spinning reel.
The advantage of having the line wound around a revolving spool in a baitcaster is that it allows for more accuracy when casting. The disadvantage of this design is that it can be more challenging to control, especially for beginners.
On the other hand, spinning reels are much easier to use and require fewer skills to master. The fixed spool design makes it simpler to control the line and avoid tangles. The main downside of a spinning reel is that it is not as accurate as a baitcasting reel.
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of baitcasting vs spinning reel let’s take a more in-depth look at the pros and cons of each.
Baitcasting Reel Advantages
More control – Since baitcasting reels are mounted above the rod, you have more control over them. This gives you greater casting accuracy and allows you to fish in tighter spaces.
Better for heavy lures – Baitcasting reels are designed to handle heavier lures, so if you’re planning on using large baits, a baitcaster is the way to go.
Less chance of line tangles – The spool design of a baitcasting reel reduces the risk of line tangles.
Baitcasting Reel Disadvantages
More difficult to use – The learning curve for baitcasting reels is steeper than for spinning reels. It takes some practice to get used to their work and avoid common mistakes like bird’s nests.
Not as good for light lures – Baitcasting reels are not ideal for lighter lures, as they can cause the line to backlash.
Spinning Reel Advantages
Easier to use – Spinning reels are much simpler than baitcasting reels and require less skill to master. The fixed spool design makes it simpler to control the line and avoid tangles.
Suitable for light lures – Spinning reels are a good choice for lighter lures, as they are less likely to cause a backlash.
Spinning Reel Disadvantages
Less accurate – The main downside of a spinning reel is that it is not as precise as a baitcasting reel.
Not as good for heavy lures – Spinning reels are not designed to handle the same heavy lures that baitcasting reels can.
When You Should Use a Baitcasting Reel
Baitcasting reels should be used when accuracy is needed and you intend to cast into tight spaces. When fishing around heavy vegetation or branches overhanging your target, it is advantageous to use a baitcasting reel to give you the best chance of hitting your mark.
Another time to deploy the baitcaster and leave the spinning reel behind is when you seek maximum casting distance. A baitcasting reel will outperform a spinning reel regarding distance, which is one of the main reasons baitcasters are so popular among bass fishermen. Bass fishing often requires longer casts that spinning reels cannot deliver.
One more deciding factor when it comes to choosing a baitcasting reel vs a spinning reel is when heavier lures are needed, a baitcaster is the optimal choice. Many saltwater fishermen step up to baitcasters for this reason when accuracy and casting distance isn’t a factor. But when it’s time to deploy more heavy-duty tackle, baitcasting reels are the go-to choice for many anglers.
When You Should Use a Spinning Reel
While baitcasting reels have some advantages over spinning reels, there are also times when it’s better to use a spinning reel. As mentioned, spinning reels are much easier to use and require fewer skills to master. If you’re a beginner or not looking for the extra challenge of using a baitcaster, a spinning reel is a way to go.
Spinning reels are also a good choice when fishing with lighter lures. Since baitcasting reels can cause a backlash when using lighter lures, spinning reels are a better option. A spinning reel is the best choice if you’re planning on using small lures or bait.
A spinning reel is an excellent all-purpose choice if you’re not planning on fishing in tight spaces or casting long distances. They are simple to use and can be deployed in various situations.
Spinning Reel Vs Baitcaster for Trolling
The choice is easy when deciding between a spinning reel and a baitcaster for trolling. I would never consider using a spinning reel for trolling when you have the option of a baitcaster.
Baticasters have the upper hand in letting out lines, setting a hook, running drag, and avoiding line twists. Even without a line counter on a baitcasting reel, my experience has been that it is still easier to keep track of the line you have let out than on a spinning reel.
When trolling with a baitcaster, you avoid the challenge of casting with one while all you need to do is let the line out, so you have many advantages without being a master caster.
How to Use a Baitcasting Reel
For the best tips on how to use a baitcasting reel, it makes sense to watch a video to see it in action, so check out this video below for an introduction to using a baitcaster.
There are many questions related to the baitcaster vs spinning reel debate. Below, we will answer the most common questions to help you understand the two reels more.
Is a baitcaster reel hard to use?
Baitcasting reels are not hard to use, but require more practice than a spinning reel. If you are new to fishing, it is recommended that you start with a spinning reel and then move on to a baitcaster when you are more comfortable.
Are Baitcasters suitable for beginners?
Baitcasting reels are not recommended for beginners. If you are new to fishing, it is recommended that you start with a spinning reel and then move on to a baitcaster when you are more comfortable.
Do I need a special rod for a baitcaster?
No, you can use any rod with a baitcaster. However, it is recommended that you use a rod designed explicitly for baitcasting to get the most out of your reel.
Why do bass fishermen use Baitcasters?
Bass fishermen often use baitcasting reels because they offer more control and accuracy than spinning reels. Additionally, baitcasting reels can handle heavier lures better than spinning reels.
Can you jig with a baitcaster?
Yes, baitcasting reels can be used for jigging. However, I prefer spinning reels for this style of fishing.
What do brakes do on a baitcaster?
Brakes on a baitcaster help to prevent backlash and line tangles. There are two types of brakes—centrifugal and magnetic. Centrifugal brakes use friction to slow the spool down, while magnetic brakes use magnets to slow the spool down.
Is mono or braid better for Baitcasters?
Both mono and braid can be used with baitcasting reels. However, I prefer braid because it gives you more sensitivity and strength. Additionally, braid does not stretch as mono does, so you get a better hookset.
For our full breakdown of the best line for baitcasters, check out our post here.
And for the best lines for spinning reels, click here.
Do Baitcasters cast further than spinning reels?
Baitcasting reels do cast further than spinning reels. This is because baitcasting reels have a lower gear ratio, which means the spool revolves more slowly. This slower revolution makes for a longer cast.
Which Fishing Reel is Best?
There is no “best” type fishing reel. It all depends on your preferences and the type of fishing you plan to do. If you are new to fishing, I recommend starting with a spinning reel. They are easier to use and can be used in various situations. Once you are more comfortable, you should try your hand with a baitcaster.
For more guidance on choosing reels, check out the pages below: