What are Spinning Reels Used For? Benefits & Cons

The great strength of spinning reels is their versatility. You can use a spinning reel to catch brook trout, bluewater species such as marlin, and everything in between.

Of equal strength to its versatility is its user-friendly credentials. The spin reel is easy to learn quickly and takes little time to master.

The spinning reel design followed the spincast reel, which was invented as an alternative to traditional reels so that anglers could fish without the scourge of backlash.

The spin reel followed quickly on the heels of the spincast reel, achieving market dominance within decades.

The spinning reel is now the most popular choice of recreational anglers. 

And this popularity is well supported by the market, with a dizzying selection of brands and reel options.

Let’s investigate a little further. What are spin reels used for primarily?

What Are Spinning Reels Good For?

Spinning reels can be cast, trolled, and jigged. They are used in every location inshore and off, land-based, and afloat.

As spin reels are easy to cast and cast long and accurately, they are most frequently used in any application where a confident cast is required.

However, they are also ideal for setting live baits and bottom bouncing in water that isn’t too deep.

Spin reels are the reel of choice for finesse and ultra-light fishing applications. Their ability to cast unweighted soft plastics on the lightest class of fishing lines is second to none.

On the other end of the scale, large spinning reels have phenomenal capability against tackling busting monsters such as bluefin, GT’s, and other such torpedos.

Man fishing with a spinning reel

A spinning reel allows you to position your boat away from a school of feeding pelagic so as not to spook them and cast extra-large stick baits or poppers with ease.

Spin reels are great for ocean rock and surf anglers, as they can cast big baits, including live and flesh baits, at incredible distances.

They’re a revelation for the lure anglers and will work beautifully on every type of lure fishing, with the exception of fly fishing and extra heavy trolling.

Of course, you can troll a spin reel. However, traditional reels and game reels are blue water, heavy trolling masters, and always the first choice.

You can’t fly-fish with a spin reel. Fly fishing is a specialized style of fishing requiring specialized fly fishing equipment.

While useful for countless blue water applications, spin reels are limited by their spool capacity. 

Fishing at a significant depth requires enormous amounts of fishing line, and even the biggest of spin reel spools have a limited capacity for fishing at significant depth.

While capable of landing Marlin, sailfish, yellowfin, bluefin, and dogtooth, a game reel or overhead/traditional reel is usually the first reel of choice.

Fish and sharks of 200, 400, and 1000 plus pounds are unimaginably powerful. 

Anglers need exceptionally powerful game reels, spooled with the heaviest class of fishing lines available.

And you will need A LOT of line to wrestle these behemoth animals. Spin reels simply don’t have the strength or line capacity to attack these fish with confidence.

Nonetheless, this is a shortfall that only impacts dedicated game anglers. For all other anglers, except for fly anglers, the spinning reel has great advantages.

Spinning Reel Advantages

The spinning reel has two huge advantages. The first is its versatility; the second is the ease of use. 

There are other advantages such as broad model options, brand options, size options, and affordability.

As mentioned earlier, there is no reel more versatile than the spin reel. 

Aside from fly fishing, the deepest of bottom bouncing, and the most extreme game fishing, there’s nothing you can’t do with a spin reel.

They’re the go-to choice for ultra-light work, and they’re legendary performers for every type of lure from huge swimbaits to the lightest of unweighted soft plastics. 

They’re ideal for learning how to use lures, as casting is so easy. Most anglers learn how to fish using spin reels. The reason is their simplicity. 

Even the youngest anglers, including 4 and 5-year-old younglings, can work out how to cast and fish with a spinning reel.

After a few sessions, beginners can become quite competent. After a season or two of regular use, one can hone the finer skills, becoming a spin reel master. 

The more spin reel types you use, the better you get.

And that’s the other huge benefit. There is such a huge range of spin reels from which to choose. 

As the most popular reel-type on the market, manufacturers have delivered a bewildering selection.

You can select size and performance to match your specific applications, right down to the target and conditions in which you’ll hunt said target.

50 dollars will get you a decent spin reel, getting you on the water for far less than the average baitcaster.

Depending on where and how you shop, 10 dollars will get you a very useful second-hand spin reel, with decent new reels sitting between 50 and a hundred dollars.

For those with more available cash, you can spend $1000 plus for the elite models, outstripping the top-end price points of many top-shelf baitcasters.

Baitcaster vs Spinning Reel – Pros and Cons

There is a very long argument about which is better: baitcasters or spinning reels. It’s a very silly argument that is still yet to be put to rest.

Fortunately, it has faded somewhat. The argument came down to snobbery and elitism because the baitcaster took, and takes, more skill to operate successfully and was always more expensive.

Both reel types are awesome. A complete angler should be well versed in the finer arts of using both. 

Neither is better than the other and like anything in life, there are pros and cons to both, informed by a host of variables.

Let’s look at a brief pros and cons list.

Spinning Reel Pros

  • Exceptionally versatile
  • Very easy to learn
  • Very easy to use
  • Very easy to master
  • Best reel for ultra-light and finesse fishing
  • Outstanding model selection
  • Base models are very affordable

Spin Reel Cons

  • Less spool capacity relative to traditional reels
  • Less capacity for extreme-end game fishing
  • Less capacity for fishing significant blue water depths

Baitcaster/Traditional Reel Pros

  • Great casting versatility and accuracy
  • Strength
  • Spool capacity
  • Game reels are unbeatable for big fish applications

Baitcaster/Traditional Reel Cons

  • Base models are more expensive than spin
  • More difficult to learn
  • A little harder to use
  • Harder to master
  • Overrun or backlash can be problematic

Do Pro Fishermen Use Spinning Reels?

Yes, they most certainly do. Because spin reels are so well equipped for finesse work, they are very popular for many types of pro-fishing across the world.

They are very popular with charter fishing companies because they are robust and very easy for non-anglers to use.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is A Spinning Reel Better Than A Spincast Reel?

Spincast reels have extremely limited applications and versatility. They’re inshore only and only useful for a smaller class of fish.

They have very limited casting distance and casting accuracy. They also hold limited amounts of only light class lines.

The closed face of a spincast reel can often be a pain when rigging, which is not ideal considering they’re meant to be a beginner’s reel.

In all honesty, I have no idea why they still make spincast reels.

Why Do Bass Fishermen Use Baitcasters?

Ultimately, it’s just a thing. But baitcasters are great reels for rapid-fire, one-hand casting using all casting techniques. And this is very useful for bass fishing.

Can I Use A Spinning Reel On A Casting Rod?

Often, it’s just not possible due to an incompatible reel seat. Ultimately, should the reel actually fit, it’s not advisable.

Casting rods are specifically designed for casting reels. 

From blank to guides, they’re set up for baitcasters which have a completely different profile and sit on top of the rod, where spin reels hang below the rod.

What are Spinning Reels Used For? Wrap-Up

Spin reels are so versatile, you can use a spinning reel for nearly every fishing application. 

Not only can you use one, but they also absolutely excel at the vast majority of fishing applications.

My arsenal is full of spinning reels. They outnumber my baitcasters and traditional reels significantly.

Spin reels are easy to use, affordable, and great performers. It’s no wonder we poke them at every fish on the planet. 

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