Baitcast Vs Spincast Vs Spinning Reel: Differences Between Them

When deciding on a new reel for your fishing set up it’s important to consider all three of the main reel types. 

Certain reels are designed for specific types of fishing. Some reels are better for beginners, where others would be better suited for an experienced angler. 

The three main types of reels are baitcast, spin-cast, and spinning reel. Today we will discuss each type of reel, their purpose, their pros, and cons.

Specifically, we are going to compare Baitcast Vs Spincast Reels & Spincast Vs Spinning Reels.

By the end of this article, you should be able to make an informed decision about which reel type is best suited for you. 

What is a Fishing Reel?

The main purpose of a fishing reel is to store the fishing line and allow the user to release the line a great distance when casting. 

The fishing reel also is responsible for collecting the fishing line by using a rotating arm. 

The fishing reel is supposed to prevent the line from becoming tangled (though we know tangles still do happen, unfortunately) and to protect the line from wear and tear. 

Before the fishing reel was invented, and even to this day in many remote places in the world, people fished by hand. 

Usually, the fishing line would be wrapped around a plank of wood, a hook tied to the end of the line, and then the fishing line would be hand-cast. 

fishing reel types

To hand-cast, you simply let out about two feet of line, spin the fishing line in circles to rapidly build up momentum, and then release.

Or instead of casting, you would simply throw the line in the water directly in front of you. 

Though this is still a perfectly effective way of fishing (I fished for piranhas in the Amazon using this method) having a proper rod and reel opens up so many more opportunities. 

Opportunities like casting at hard to reach places that are not accessible to you by foot. Or opportunities like sending your line to a place that is far away from you. 

Also, it allows for ocean fishing without a boat by being able to cast away from shore a great distance to reach schools of fish outside the break-line.

Another job of the fishing reel is to keep the line tight so you may control your bait and better feel any nibbles or bites on the other end of the line.

You can also feel those nibble and bites with your hand of course, however, it can be a bit painful if you land a real monster while you are holding the fishing line with your hand. 

Either way, it can be agreed that the invention of the fishing reel in the 4th century changed the way we fish forever. 

The fishing reel is the most influential invention to fishing to this day and the advances in fishing reel technology continue to change the way we fish.

What are the Main Types of Fishing Reels?

There are three types of fishing reels that are the most commonly used. They include the spinning reel, the spin-cast reel, and the baitcast reel. 

Each reel has its own characteristics that set it apart from the others. 

There are pros and cons to using each type of fishing reel and later in this article, we will explore these pros and cons as well as put one against the other in a couple of one on one comparisons. 

For now, let us look at a brief overview of what some of those characteristics are. 

Spinning Reel

A spinning reel hangs beneath the rod and has a “bail” that can be opened and close to let out a line or to prepare to cast.

A spinning reel hangs beneath the rod and has a “bail” that can be opened and close to let out a line or to prepare to cast. Think of the bail as sort of a lock.

You can lock and unlock your fishing reel to allow or restrict line. The fishing line goes on the outside of the bail before continuing up and through the eyeholes of the rod.

Think of the bail as sort of a lock. You can lock and unlock your fishing reel to allow or restrict line. The fishing line goes on the outside of the bail before continuing up and through the eyeholes of the rod.

Spincast Reel

The Spincast reel (also called closed face reel) is extremely easy to use and is often included on children’s and beginner’s poles. The reason for this is due to its simplicity to cast.

On the reel, you will find a button that you click. Once you click the button, the line will be able to flow from your reel. If you hold the button, it will lock the line.

This is incredibly easy for casting. Click the button and hold it as you begin your cast, as you flick the rod forward, release the button as you follow through. 

Baitcast Reel

Baitcast reels are intended for larger fish. These are most often used for saltwater fishing and for large lakes where you may hook a larger breed of fish like salmon or trout.

They also can be used for trophy muskie fishing. The reason why they are used for heavier fishing is that they can hold fishing line with much heavier test weight. 

You can find some great casting options here.

What Type of Tackle Can Be Used On Each Type of Reel?

All different types of tackle may be used on each of the reel types. The bait cast reel needs a heavy lure, or added weight, to cast properly and to control in the water. 

Also, you need heavier tackle to go after heavier fish.

The spinning reel and the spin-cast reel can use similar tackle and are pretty much interchangeable. 

Reels differ not because of what kind of tackle you plan to use, but rather because of how they are set up and how they feel in your hands. 

Spincast Vs Spinning Reel

The first head to head comparison we will examine is the spin-cast reel versus the spinning reel. 

Of the three types of spinning reels, the spin-cast and the spinning reel are the most closely related in terms of how and when they are to be used. 

spinning reel

Both types can use the same tackle, are used to fish similar types of fish, and are usually in the same price range. 

There are slight differences that set them apart from each other and we will explore those differences here.

What are the Advantages of Spincast?

There are many advantages to using the spin-cast reel. Whether you are a beginner or an expert, the simplicity of its design is an advantage. 

The spin-cast reel is very easy to use and can be cast with a click of a button.

The casting is easy and the likelihood of getting your line twisted or tangled is far less with a spin-cast reel when compared to the other two types of reel. 

What are the Advantages of a Spinning Reel?

A spinning reel has many advantages as well. It is also easy to use though not quite as easy as the spin-cast. 

There is a little more of a learning curve when it comes to casting, but once you get it right once, you will not have difficulties again.

The spinning reel seems to be the preferred choice by freshwater fishing professionals around North America. 

What are the Limitations of Spincast?

When we look at the limitations or disadvantages of the spin-cast reel, we can see there are a few that need closer consideration. 

The spin-cast reel has two important disadvantages related to the fishing line. The first being that fishing line in a spin-cast reel may become chewed up and visibly damaged after use. 

The second is the fact that the amount of fishing line that you can put on a spin-cast reel is limited. Also, the spin-cast reel itself is most often built from cheaper materials and lacks durability. 

Set down the rod wrongly and the cap might pop off the reel. Something falls on it during a bumpy car ride and the cover can easily crack.

What are the Limitations of a Spinning Reel?

The limitations and disadvantages of the spinning reel are similar to that of the spin-cast reel. 

Though the line is prevented from twisting, the tangles that can form sometimes can be a nightmare to manage. 

Having an exposed reel like the spinning reel will leave you open to more potential tangles forming when you’re out there fishing.

How Much Does Each Reel Type Cost?

In terms of cost, the spinning reel can be more expensive. Most spin-cast reels will range from $25-$75 with some reaching $100. 

The spinning reel can be as low as $25; however, their higher-end models can cost over $200. Some even as much as $300. 

Overall, the spinning reel will be more expensive, but it will be constructed from better quality materials.

Which Reel Is Better for You?

To determine which reel is better for you, first decide if this reel is a gift for a child, for a beginner, or an expert. 

If this reel is for an expert, I would go with the spinning reel. It has better quality materials and if taken care of, should last you a lifetime. 

If this is for a child or a beginner, then go ahead and get the spin-cast reel. Many of us have fond memories of our first fishing pole and more often than not, they were equipped with a spin-cast reel. 

They are ideal for learning and they will assist you when you’re learning to cast. They are also cheaper in case you, or the person you are buying the gift for lose interest in fishing. 

Baitcast Vs Spincast

The baitcast and spin-cast reels have some small similarities, but they are used for two completely different things. Let us look at these two different reel types more closely. 

What are the Advantages of Baitcast?

The baitcast reel is designed for heavier fish and heavier tackle. One of its advantages is that the spool can be outfitted with heavy fishing line. 

There is also a strong drag system to allow the entire fishing pole to handle the force created by a large fish. Sometimes the fish takes a run once they are on the line. 

The heavier drag will absorb some of that force without letting the fish off the line.

If you are doing any saltwater or freshwater muskie fishing, you will want a baitcast reel.

What are the Limitations of Baitcast?

Some of the limitations of the baitcast reel have to do with the learning curve. If you are a beginner, you may find it very difficult to cast. 

When a baitcast reel is cast, the reel spins as the line is airborne. It will continue to spin once the lure hits the water unless you stop it manually. 

This can create some large tangled messes if you do not pay close attention to what you are doing. The other main disadvantage of using a baitcast reel is that it will not work with light lures. 

Meaning, if you want to do some classic bobber fishing for sunnies then a baitcast reel will not work for you because the tackle is too light to allow it to cast any great distance. 

How Much Does Each Reel Type Cost?

When it comes to cost between these two-reel types, again the spin-cast reel is less expensive. 

The price range on a baitcast reel will start around $50 and can easily climb up into the range of several hundred dollars.

How Does Baitcast Compare to Spincast?

When comparing the baitcast reel with the spin-cast reel you could not be comparing two of the most different things. 

Baitcasting reel for the big fish and possibly ocean fish, spin-cast for panfish. 

Baitcast for heavy tackle, heavy line, and an expert user. Spin-cast for the child, a beginner, light tackle including live bait, and a light fishing line.

Of All Three, Which Reel Is Best Suited For You?

So, which is best – baitcast vs spincast vs spinning? The best reel for you will be the one that is in your price range, compatible with your comfort/skill level, and the one designed for your intended use.

If you are doing some freshwater bass fishing at your local lake, then a spinning or spin-cast reel will work best for you. 

Deep-sea fishing? Then of course the baitcast. Are you on a budget and freshwater fishing? Then the spin-cast will be best. A gift for your nephew? Spin-cast. 

Based on the information we have discussed here today; you should be able to decide which reel type is going to be the best for your situation. 

For myself, I mainly fish Northern Pike and Largemouth Bass and I am an experienced fisher, so I prefer the spinning reel. 

Again, read through our discussion and make the right choice for you today. 

Also Read: Top Beginner Fishing Rods

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Sean Ward

Hey there, my name is Sean – OnTrack Fishing is my site. I’m based in the UK yet I’ve been fortunate enough to catch bass in the States, barramundi in Australia, trout here at home and carp on the Danube delta. If I’m not fishing, or talking about fishing, then….I’m probably asleep.


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