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Spool  Bail  Handle  Drag  Ball Bearings

Spincast Reel   Spinning Reel   Bait Casting Reel   Rods



A reel is the mechanical device mounted to the handle end of the fishing rod onto which the line is wound.

They come in three types (further defined below), with more speeds and ball bearings than most sane people know about, much less worry about.
The most important point - when you turn the handle, it must feel "smooth." 
Price ranges from affordable to obscenely expensive.   

There's a wide variety of reels out there to choose from and there are quite a few manufacturers making them. They come in different sizes and shapes. Fishing wouldn't be very exciting if there weren't a wide variety of reels to fish with. You wouldn't want to reel in a Croaker with a 9/0 Penn big game reel, or try to catch a big "Smoker" Kingfish with a Zebco spin cast reel.

    There are 3 types of reels that most fishermen use to catch fish. They are:

 Spincast Reel
(Also known as a Closed Face reel)

Spinning Reel 
(Also known as a Open Face reel)

Bait Casting Reel



Even though each kind is different, all reels share some major components:

This part of the reel holds the line. The spool is visible on the both the spinning and baitcast reels. On the spincast models, it's located under the cover. Spools vary in size and in the amount of line they can hold. As you look at each reel, you'll see a listing like, 12/160 or 8/250. This tells you how much of a certain pound test line the spool can hold. In the 2 examples, the spool can hold either 160 yards of 12 lb test or 250 yards of 8 lb test line.

The bail has 2 settings, open or closed. It's the mechanism that either prevents or allows line coming off the spool.

An open bail allows line to come off the spool 

A closed bail- prevents the spool from letting line out. 

When casting your line, one of the things you do is open the bail. After the cast is completed, the bail is closed by turning the handle. Sometimes you'll hear the bail click after you've just turned the handle. This click is the bail closing and is normal.


The handle is what's used to retrieve (more commonly called crank) the line back onto the spool.

The object of drag is to allow the spool to slip before the line snaps. This slipping of the spool allows the fish more line and also prevents it from breaking. When fighting a fish, the rod does its job by absorbing the shock from the line. The rod and the drag work together to prevent the line from stretching and possibly breaking while fighting.

Here's an example: Small fish in open water - you can tighten down the drag and just crank the fish in with little worry the line may break. With a big fish in open water, you may want to lighten the drag to let the fish run and tire out. Therefore, with every fish you hook, you should be aware of the drag "setting" and the environment you hook them in.

Adjusting the drag is done in various ways depending on manufacturer and model. Listed below are some of the more common ways:

A number system 1-10,* 

An arrow pointing to the words less or more *

Located near the handle (called a star drag). *

* You'll want to look at the instructions for you're reel to determine how to operate the drag.

Drag is something you'll need to understand and know how to use.
Take some time and learn how to adjust the drag for your reel. Adjusting it will either make the fish fight harder or it will make it easier on him to pull line from the spool. We suggest playing with this setting so you'll get comfortable making the proper adjustment when the time comes. Keep in mind; it's something that may need to be changed several times a day depending on how the fish are fighting.

You may be wondering, "If setting the drag tires out the fish, why not just tighten it down all the way to begin with"? There are a couple of reasons why you don't want to do this:

It will increase the tension on the line causing it to possibly break

Adding too much pressure could cause the lure to be ripped from the fish's mouth during the fight.

Either way the fish is getting away from you. 

On the flip side, if it's set too loose:

The fish will run taking your line around stumps, rocks etc. until it breaks.

The fish could simply shake his head, and because of the slack on the line, the lure comes free.

The line must stay tight at all times. 
For more information about fighting the fish click here.

Drag is something you'll learn to use over time, and unfortunately, the lessons can be heartbreaking knowing that one got away because it wasn't properly set.

Ball Bearings
Without getting into too much detail, the number of ball bearings determines the smoothness of the reel. Simply put the more ball bearings the better.


Spin Cast Reel
sometimes called "Closed Face" reel


The Spin Cast Reel is  typically an inexpensive type of reel and by far the easiest  reel to use! I recommend it for a beginning fisherman's first reel.



The set will give you a lot of trouble free fishing and is capable of holding what ever you catch.

Spincast reels have a pushbutton line release for casting and an enclosed "nosecone" where the line comes out of the reel. Spincasting reels are mounted on top of the rod and are used primarily by casual anglers, usually fishing for small to medium sized fish.  

These reels are easy to use, inexpensive to buy and might be a good choice if you're not sure how much fishing you're going to do.
Plus it's not too terribly expensive if it's lost.

Spincast rods typically are 5 to 6 feet in length, have a short, "pistol grip" and small eyes. These rods are usually fairly limber in action and light in weight. Spincast equipment is fine for casting medium weight lures/bait. These don't usually work very well for heavy-duty fishing but some larger spincast reels have been designed for catfishing and are gaining some acceptance.

Spincasting reels typically are the easiest to learn but they have some failings. Typically, reels of this type don't have much line capacity, rendering them unsuitable for fishing that requires a lot of line or really heavy pound test. They also usually don't have a very good drag system and the gears in these reels are usually cast plastic or white metal. The gear ratio for the line retrieve is pretty low also, making it difficult to work a lure that requires any amount of speed. If casting accuracy is required, it is difficult with spincast equipment.

The better quality reels are fine for typical panfishing and casual weekend bobber watching but if you think that you're going to get fairly serious about fishing, you might want to consider the next 2 categories.

Just so you're aware, this reel requires a spinning rod because the reel attaches on the under side of the rod. For more information about rods, be sure to see the rod page.

This reel is the easiest to remove tangles, because the spool is exposed. If there is a tangle, it's a simple matter of flipping open the bail and pulling line off.

Learn how to Cast this Rod & Reel
Care of your spin cast fishing reel

Open Face Spinning Reel

Next in line is the Open Face Spinning Reel. It is a little more difficult to use than the Spin Cast, but it comes in a wider variety of sizes.

It comes in ultra-light models for smaller tackle used to catch panfish all the way up to a big bruiser used to catch bigger gamefish such as "Bull Reds" in the surf. It's very useful for situations when a longer casting range is needed.

Spinning rods are usually more limber than baitcasting tackle. This limberness is one of the things that makes spinning excellent for casting light lures or bait, much more so than either spincasting or baitcasting. The other thing that allows spinning equipment to cast light lures far is the design of the reel. The line is allowed to peel off the spool on a cast, unimpeded by either the nosecone of spincast reel or the friction of a turning baitcast reel's spool.
Spinning rods come in various lengths. 

The line capacity of spinning reels is much higher than that of spincast reels so fishing for salmon or trout is possible. "Most" spinning reels have a much smoother drag too, something that is required for finesse fishing and for long running fish. However, the qualities that make spinning great for finesse fishing also somewhat limit where it can be used.

Learn how to Cast this Rod & Reel

Bait Casting Reel


Last, but not least, there is the Bait Casting Reel.

Let me begin by stating that I do not suggest this type for your first reel. Maybe your third or forth once you're proficient with the other two reel types.

It is the most difficult to cast with, but it comes in widest variety of sizes, and can handle a lot of abuse day in and day out. There are models for light-weight use, and bigger models for catching huge fish such as Marlin.

Baitcasting is used anytime heavy cover is going to be targeted. It's ability to handle heavy line, lures and fish is unmatched as is its strength to weight ratio. Baitcast equipment is NOT meant to be used with light lures; anything under ¼ oz. would be better fished with spinning tackle. Baitcasting tackle is the goto tackle when big fish and big lures meet thick, nasty cover. Also, because you control the cast with your thumb, pinpoint accuracy is possible. Once you become proficient with a baitcast reel, it's possible to drop a lure in a 6-inch circle at 50 feet, with hardly a ripple on the water. That kind of accuracy and "touch" is rarely possible with spincasting or spinning tackle.

Baitcasting rods too come in varying lengths and look somewhat like a spincasting rod. But that's where all similarity ends. Baitcasting rods typically have a lot more backbone than the other types of rods. It's this backbone that allows you to muscle a fish from thick weed growth or away from timber. It's also this backbone that allows you to cast heavyweight lures, work big jerkbaits and twitch crankbaits effectively. Try these tactics with most spinning tackle and you'll be exhausted.


The Bait caster Reel mounts to the top of a bait casting rod (this has smaller guides attached to the top side of the rod). This has more uses than the spinning combo - but requires more coordination to use. The line comes off these reels from the top, so it doesn't twist, however, the angler's thumb is used to help control the speed the line unwinds off the reel when casting. Basically, if you forget to put your thumb down over the line on the reel, or don't use enough pressure, the reel spins faster than the line can go through the guides, so it creates a big mess of snarled, tangled line called a backlash, or a "woof" or various other descriptive names.

A really good comparison is what happens to a lot of necklaces thrown into a jewelry box and shaken. Imagine that mess all tangled together with only two ends, one safely hidden by feet of unused line on the reel, and the other at least six feet away, threaded through the rod, with a very sharp object tied to the end. Backlashes are a calculated risk when using a bait caster, and your angler may use many colorful metaphors if one occurs on his favorite reel.

Learn how to Cast this Rod & Reel 


A fishing rod used to be called a fishing pole.

Now fishing pole refers only to a bamboo or cane pole with fishing line tied to one end.
This pole has its benefits.  First of all there is no reel to stop working.  No spool of line to make a birds nest with.  If you can place the bait into the perfect spot in between the limbs of a fallen tree straight down from the tip of your pole, you can lift the bait straight back up with out getting hung up on the limb.
The rod and real will have to drag across it and get hung up.

Fishing rods come in several lengths, strengths (called "action"), and can be affordable or almost obscenely expensive.

Rod and real benefits.   With the rod and real you can fish farther away and use lures that have to moved through the water like a minnow swimming.

There are a wide variety of rods out there to choose from and there are quite a few manufacturers making them also. They also come in different sizes and shapes. Fishing wouldn't be very exciting if there wasn't a wide variety of rods to fish with, just like reels. They both get paired together to provide a variety of options for fishing for a variety of fish.

    Short, stout rods are used mostly for trolling for big game fish. Longer rods are designed for longer casting situations such as surf fishing. You don't need to go to the sporting goods store and buy the longest rod you can find. You need to be capable of handling your rod without tiring. I've caught plenty of fish within 10 feet of the shore.

    I recommend a light action rod about 4 to 5 foot long for a beginning fisherman's first rod. It is ideal for smaller fish, it's lightweight, and can handle smaller terminal tackle very well. Plus it's not too terribly expensive if it's lost.

    The most important thing, is to get equipment that is best suited for the type of fishing that you plan on doing. Get your parents or the person working in the local tackle shop to help you.

More on RODS
Click Here


The most important thing, is to get equipment that is best suited for the type of fishing that you plan on doing.

 buy anything that is shrink-wrapped on a sheet of cardboard.
I guarantee that you will be frustrated and disappointed before the first day is done.

Get your parents or the person working in the local tackle shop to help you.

If you're going to go just a time or two each season, fishing for whatever is biting, mostly watching and waiting for a bobber to go down, then get a 5 ½ - 6 foot light action spincast rod and a matching reel, take the line off that comes with the reel (most spincast reels come prepackaged with junk line) and re-fill the reel with a quality 8 pound test monofilament line. Buy some assorted terminal tackle and other fishing equipment and you're in business.

You used to fish as a kid but haven't touched a rod in years. You know that you like to fish but until recently, you haven't had time. You want to catch bluegills and perch most of the time but you'd like to maybe try bass fishing or chase a walleye or two.
You know that you don't want the ol' Snoopy Catchem Kit 
but aren't sure what to get. 

My suggestion to you is to go find a 6 - 6 ½ foot spinning rod. There are many quality, mid-priced fishing rods available today. Look for names like Berkely, Shimano and Mitchell for decent mid-priced rods. A little higher on the spectrum are rods like St. Croix, Fenwick, Falcon, All-Star, higher yet, you start getting into G. Loomis prices and your "spousal unit" starts pricing lawyers.

A medium sized spinning reel to hang on the rod is needed. You want to make sure that the rod and reel are matched for size and balance. You'll know if they're balanced if you put the reel on the rod, and rest the rod, just in front of the reel foot on your index finger. The rod should balance out, if the rod tips forward, you've picked too small of a reel, tip backwards and you've got to pick out a smaller reel.

Spool this package up with 6 or 8 pound premium mono and you're in business for 90% of the fishing that most people will do. But what about that remaining 10%? You're in baitcasting territory now!

If you want to pick on toothy critters (muskie or pike) or start chasing bass in heavy cover, this is specialized tackle. For most bass and pike fishing, medium bass tackle will work well. At this point, you have to decide whether you want one of the newer, low profile type reels or do you want the traditional round reel. There are factions in the fishing world that will swear that one type or the other is the best. To be perfectly honest, quality reels can be found in both round and low profiles.

One of the reasons to get a low profile reel is if you have small hands. Many of my smaller framed clients really like this type of reel. It seems to fit their hand better and makes a day of fishing easier.

Other anglers think that the round reels are stronger, smoother, more traditional, or whatever. From an engineering standpoint, they are both equally strong and smooth. It's just a personal preference. So, which style is best for you? I don't know, my advice is to fish with someone who has both, try them and get whichever one feels better in YOUR hands.

Rod selection can be daunting. Look in some of the major sporting goods catalogs and you'll see a wide array of baitcasting rods. There's specialty rods for crankbaits, jigs, plastic worms, flippin', walleye rods, bass rods, muskie rods?. What's a guy to get? I like a 6 - 7 foot fast action, medium weight graphite rod.

 Again, just like the spinning rods, there are a wide variety of prices and sizes. 

 Getting started in fishing can be a daunting task, hopefully we shed some light.


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