How to Choose a Spinning Reel

2019 Columbia River Fishing Report
August 9, 2019
2019 Puyallup River Fishing Report
August 26, 2019

For the most past, spinning reels are the more common fishing option as opposed to baitcasting reels. Spinning reels tend to be easier to use, so they are often the first choice for novice and recreational fishers.


Of course, if you are not really sure how a spinning reel works, then choosing the right one can be hard because you do not know what you are looking for. With that in mind, is here to offer some advice on how to pick the right spinning reel.

Saltwater vs Freshwater

In general, the type of water you are fishing in should determine the kinds of spinning reel you get. Brackish and saltwater require a higher quality reel as compared to freshwater bodies. The reason is that saltwater can easily corrode the metal components of reels, so saltwater spinning reels tend to be made from anodized aluminum which is very corrosion resistant. In virtue of this fact, saltwater reels also tend to be more expensive than freshwater spinning reels.

Reel Size

The size of the spinning reel is also important and determines what kinds of lines you should use. If you are going to use lighter lines, then opt for a smaller spinning reel. For instance, if you mostly jig for smaller bass, a medium-size reel rated for 8 pound lines is the best bet.  You can make sure the reel you choose is suitable for your chosen line by checking the line capacity information, which should be on the product box or online product page.

Reel Gear Ratio

The reel gear ratio is a measure of how many times the bail rotates around the spool with one turn of the handle. So if your reel has a 3:1 reel to gear ratio, the bail spins 3 times for every one rotation of the handle. Reels with a lower ratio are ideal for catching larger fish because they can provide more torque, but a higher ratio is better for small fish that need to be quickly reeled in. If you are not sure what ratio you should get, then settling for medium speed (5:1) is a safe bet that will work well for most types of fishing.

Bearings vs Bushings

Most reel gears work by using ball bearings that help the gear rotate smoothly when casting or reeling in. However, cheaper entry level reels use bushing instead of ball bearing, which is typically easier to maintain and less fragile.


In all honesty though, the better quality reels have sealed ball bearings, so you should opt for one of those. Although it may be more expensive, it will serve you better in the long run than a bushings reel.

Anti-Reverse Handles

All things being equal, you should always opt for a reel with anti-reverse handles. These kinds of handle lock when they feel tension to prevent the spool from unwinding when the line is pulled on. In fact, if the reel you are looking at does not have anti-reverse handles, you should immediately look elsewhere.


Additionally, you should check on the size of then handle. The larger and longer the handle, the easier it is to find and the more torque you can apply to reel the line in. Larger handles also allow for a firmer grip when your hands get wet or sweaty.


There are many important things to consider before buying a spinning reel, including the size, material, type of water, and whether it works with bearings or bushings. As always, there are no universal rules, so consider experimenting with different kinds of spinning reels to see which one works the best for you.

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