Baitcaster vs spinning reel – which one is better and what are the differences between the two? These are two of the most common and frequently asked questions about these reels. While both can be used by beginners as well as experts, there is so much more that adds to the differences.
For instance, baitcasting reels are pricer and complicated to use as compared to spinning reels. Moreover, baitcasters are best for catching larger species whereas, a spinning reel would be an ideal choice for smaller bodies.
What a spinning reel does can all be done with a baitcaster as well. However, there are certain things that only baitcasting can offer. That said, one would be fine with a spinning reel unless they require the features of a baitcaster.
As an experienced angler, I have used both types of reels for several years. Despite some differences, I love using either type for different kinds of fishing techniques and in different waters. Here is the breakdown of much-wanted baitcaster vs spinning reel differences:
The Major Differences – Baitcasting vs Spinning Reels
There are numerous misconceptions about baitcasting and spinner reels which I kind of believed too – guilty, though. However, I decided to distinguish the differences between both reels myself and hence, tried a couple of products.
The chart below characterizes the main differences which are discussed in detail further:
|Features||Baitcasting Reel||Spinning Reel|
|Physical appearance||Low-profile or round profile||Chunky reels|
|Weight||Light to extremely lightweight||Twice the weight of a baitcaster|
|Hand orientation||Non-interchangeable handles, one must purchase either a right-handed or left-handed reel||Comes with interchangeable handle for an ambidextrous hand orientation|
|Braking system||Two types and highly efficient||No braking system|
|Drag||Extremely efficient drag system||Good drag system|
Remember, it is not only the reel that does the job but a compatible rod as well. So, whichever reel you decide on, make sure you get the right rod for it too. You can either get both the components separately or purchase a combo, that will save you lots of time and effort.
As a result, I figured out some interesting facts and differences between both reels. Remember, each type has its advantages and disadvantages. Therefore, it wouldn’t be fair to call either one of them superior to the other.
Let’s learn about the major baitcaster vs spinning reel differences:
1. Physical appearance
Discriminating between the two reels just by looking at it is possible, you must carefully check for the following things. Speaking of a spinning reel, the spool and rod are perpendicular to each other. Whereas, the spool on the baitcasting reel is in line with the rod.
Furthermore, spinning reels having a bite alarm are known as bite and run reels. Such reels make a noise as soon as a fish grabs the best baitcaster line. This alarm can be turned on or off by pushing the clutch present between both drags.
However, baitcasting reels have a dedicated switch for a line clicker or bite alarm. You can find this switch on the side of a reel. When turned on, the line plays out right after the line clicker makes a sound. This is perfect for situations when you use a rod holder for fishing as it makes a sound for each catch.
If you go for the entire reel and rod combo, you can determine between the two by looking at the rods as well. For instance, the spinning rod is plain with huge eyelets, nearly 40 to 50 millimeters wide. Whereas, baitcasting rods have small eyelets especially the first one is the smallest. Also, it features a trigger right under where the reel is placed.
Spinning reels are a lot chunkier and weigh twice or even thrice the equivalent models of a baitcaster. This could serve as a disadvantage for anglers who spend hours fishing. However, there are some latest models with reduced weight for a better experience.
Relatively, a baitcaster is small in size and light in weight. These gears don’t add stress on the wrist, arms, or shoulder even if you use them for day-long fishing activities. The models come in various weights and even the heaviest ones aren’t too heavy.
3. Hand Orientation
When it comes to hand orientation, spinning reels take the bread. It is because these reels are universal, meaning a single reel can be used for both right and left-hand retrieval. You can easily do this by cranking the handle in the reverse direction to pull the shaft out. Now, take off the cap from the other side, slide in the handle’s shaft, and crank it until you hear a clicking sound. Use the cap to cover the opposite side. And voila! You can use it with the other hand.
One interesting fact about spinning a reel is that you use a right-handed reel with your left hand. It is because the rod must be held in the right hand. Whereas, for a left-handed reel, you hold the rod in your left hand and use the reel with the other.
The case is different with a baitcasting reel because you have to purchase either a left-handed or a right-handed reel. One single gear cannot provide an ambidextrous hand orientation. Moreover, right-handed here means that you reel with your right hand and hold the rod in your other hand.
4. Braking System
Braking systems play a vital role in the overall fishing experience. Even though spinning reels lack braking systems but it isn’t a major issue. These reels are not prone to backlash issues which require brakes to prevent the problem.
Contrarily, backlashes and bird’s nests are more common on baitcasters and therefore, these have braking systems. Backlashes occur when the spool turns faster than normal and lure flies in the air and starts tangling, causing a traffic jam in your reel.
To prevent the bird’s nest and backlashes, baitcaster reels have some top-notch and highly efficient braking systems especially best anti backlash baitcaster reels . They are responsible for slowing the spool so it doesn’t fly away abnormally.
Tip: Don’t hold the baitcasting reel upwards or downwards but sideways, it reduces backlashes.
Learn about baitcaster brakes in our detailed guide.
Spinning reels cannot work if they didn’t have a drag system. You can increase or decrease the drag using the screw present on spinning reels. Turn it clockwise to increase and counterclockwise to decrease. It is a series of six discs that provide the right amount of tension and power during fishing.
Moreover, baitcaster reels also have an efficient drag system, typically located near the handle, at the side of the reel. Similar to a spinning reel, you can tighten it by turning right and loosen it by turning on the left side.
Despite the similar mechanism, baitcasters are likely to offer more drag and much-enhanced strength.
Pros And Cons
When it comes to the baitcaster vs spinning reel pros and cons, both have advantages and disadvantages. Some of them are as follows:
Baitcasting Reel Pros
- Baitcasters have the greater line capacity
- Offers precise and accurate casting
- High-end and durable
- Works perfectly with heavier lures and lines
- All models feature a low-profile design
- Suitable for catching large fish
- Works perfectly with heavier lures and lines
- Highly customizable
Baitcasting Reel Cons
- Requires high expertise to use
- Difficult to learn
- Susceptible to backlash issues
- Hand retrieve cannot be changed within the same reel
Spinning Reel Pros
- Less expensive
- Can be used by beginners
- Interchangeable light and left-hand retrieve
- The reel position at the bottom offers better rod stability and balance
- Allows more control over drag and casting distance
- Works best with a rod holder
- Can be used in various habitats
- Suitable for light baits and lures
Spinning Reel Cons
- Prone to wind knots
- Not best for larger species
- Less accurate casting as baitcaster reels
- Frequent line tangling issues in windy weather
Baitcaster vs Spinning Reel For Beginners
New anglers prefer a reel that is easy to use and doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg. Considering these preferences, spinning reels are a better option for beginners. These are less pricey and user-friendly. However, spinning reels weigh a lot more than a regular baitcaster reel and can cause fatigue and strain on arms and shoulders.
Whereas a baitcaster reel has a lot to learn, therefore, newbies get confused and ultimately frustrated while using these for the first time. But here are 25 Baitcaster Tips For Beginners to get started.
Baitcaster vs Spinning Reel For Bass
Bass fishing is done all around the world and is probably the best kind of fishing for many anglers. Speaking of the baitcaster vs spinning reel freshwater and saltwater bass fishing, both the reels work impeccably fine. Anyhow, because of numerous advanced features baitcasting reels have whined an edge over spinning reels.
Can I use baitcasting and spinning reels in saltwater?
Yes, the baitcaster vs spinning reel saltwater fishing is achievable with both reels. While a freshwater spinning reel can easily work in saltwater, the case is a bit different with baitcasters. Some models of baitcasting reels are designed exclusively for freshwater fishing. This means, that these are likely to corrode, rust, and become noisy if used in saltwater.
Which type of reel offers better casting distance?
Shedding light on the baitcaster vs spinning reel casting distance, baitcasters offer a much more precise and unmatched casting distance. It is far more accurate than a spinning reel. We have also reviewed list of best baitcasters for casting distance that you can use.
Can I pair my baitcasting and spinning reel with any rod?
No, baitcast vs spinning reel compatibility issues are the same i.e., each one works best with the same kind of rod. For instance, if you are using a spinning reel, make sure to pair it up with a spinning rod only. Similarly, a baitcaster reel won’t work up to the mark and become quirky unless it is coupled with a baitcasting rod. More in Casting vs Spinning Rod guide.
Baitcaster vs spinning reel is one of the most interesting topics to discuss. After using the reels for years, I have finally figured out the vital differences between both. According to my experience, if you are just getting into fishing, use a spinning reel. As mentioned earlier, it is easier to use and less expensive results in less backlash, and comes in an ambidextrous hand orientation.
Whereas, if you have already mastered spinning reel, using a baitcasting reel won’t be tricky for you. Furthermore, if you need to control your distance and need lots of line capacity then go, and spend on a baitcaster.
Before purchasing either of the reels, make sure you understand all the technical points and differences. Also, determine your expertise, fishing type, and budget, and then choose accordingly.