How A Spinning Reel Works

Spinning reels are an extremely popular model and for a good reason. These are finely designed reels and are not only among the most popular for beginners, but they are so well made that many professional freshwater anglers also use them. Great for casting, for trolling, for jigging, these reels can handle a wide variety of techniques and lures. That versatility is part of what makes them so popular. The spinning reel design has been around for a long time, and it’s not going anywhere as for many anglers the spinning reel is the standard by which all other designs are going to be compared.

Okuma Helios SX Spinning Reel

So why exactly is a spinning reel considered superior?

Read on to find out more!

Different from “Open Faced Reels”

Spinning reels are often called open-faced reels, which is only partially correct. A spinning reel is an example of an open-faced reel and is, in fact, the most popular version of these. On the other hand, there are other reels that are technically open-faced in nature, but they are not spinning reels (baitcasting reels, for example). It’s important to understand the difference between the two.

Understanding The Parts

There are several parts to a spinning reel, and understanding what each one does and how each one works will help you get the larger picture. Simply put in the big picture, the handle is off to the side, and as you crank it, the reel spins clockwise, pulling in the line that you cast out. Once the line is back in to cast again, you hold the line with a finger, flip the bail arm to open, then use your preferred casting motion, releasing your finger at the right time while snapping your wrist to get the lure out there.

Looking at the parts, things get much more specific. This is one of those reels where the design is excellent because it’s simple and basic yet works flawlessly when properly taken care of.

The Reel Foot

This is the base of the spinning reel, the part that connects the reel itself to the actual fishing rod. If you think of this as “the spine” of the reel in function and appearance, that wouldn’t be completely wrong. Simple, easy to see, getting this tightly fitted on the rod itself is crucial for a good fishing experience.

The Spool

The spool is the circular indentation where the actual fishing line sits after you go through the steps of winding it around the very first time. Because on a spinning reel this is exposed it’s easy to see when there might be snag issues or twisted line coming out, and it’s easy to figure out how much to spool up before it’s time to stop.

The Bail

The bail is the metal arm that goes over the spool, a little bit further out. The line roller is attached to the bail at the end, and the bail determines whether line goes out or comes in. When the bail is open, the line is free to come out of the spool completely freely. This is critical for casting. When the bail is closed, very little to no fishing line can actually come out of the spool. This simple yet effective system is key to the versatility that these reels demonstrate.

The Drag Knob

This sets up how easily the line comes out of the spool when the bail is closed. When the knob is loosened only a little force is required to pull more line. When it is tightened, it is harder to pull line. This is the piece responsible when you hear an angler talk about “setting the drag.”

The Handle

This one is pretty self-explanatory. The handle is off to the side and when the handle turns the line comes back into the reel…hopefully with a fish on the other end!

Line Roller

The line roller is the little knob at the end of the bail that guides the fishing line from the spool into and through the guides attached to the fishing rod.

In Conclusion

There’s a lot to love about spinning reels, and these are often held up as one of the best fishing reels out there. Perfect for beginners, used by professionals, as you can see when you see the simple elegance of how they work, there’s a lot to love here

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