Spincast Vs Spinning Reels – Everything You Need To Know

Spincast Vs Spinning Reels
Spincast Vs Spinning Reels

If you are reading this article, chances are that you walked into your local fishing accessories outlet to buy a reel and the plethora of choices simply overwhelmed you.  There are over 150 reel manufacturers out there, each one coming up with at least a dozen or so variants for each category. Experienced anglers, let alone novices, can get confused with the sheer number of choices.

There are 4 main types of reels; spincast, spinning, baitcast, and fly-fishing reels. Of these four, I get the most doubts about the spincast and spinning reels.  People often confuse the two and it’s easy to see why. They both sound the same. But, aside from their names there is not much similar about them.

In this article, I want to give you a comprehensive analysis of these two reels so you can go out and make an informed purchase.

Spincast Reels

Spincast Reel

Spincast reels have been around since the early 1940s. As its name suggests, it incorporates functions of a spinning and casting reel. They are by far the easiest of the four reels to use, making them perfect for beginners. However, that definitely doesn’t mean that an experienced angler won’t come within a hundred yards of one! Given the right circumstances, an accomplished angler may, in fact, prefer one of these.

Components of Spincast Reels

A spincast reel is a compact, closed-faced unit. It has a reel cap that can be unscrewed to reveal the spool containing the fishing line.  The line exits the unit through a single hole. A push-button release at the rear and a reel handle on the side round up the components of a spincast reel. It is typically mounted above the rod handle, although there are select models that are mounted on the underside.

Casting a Spincast Reel

Simplicity is the name of the game here. To release the fishing line, all that an angler needs to do is hold the push button down while casting. Releasing the push button stops the line release. The reel handle can then be cranked to retrieve the line.

Casting a Spincast Reel Pros

Ease of Use

Did I mention it is easy to use?! All it takes are a few tries for most beginners to get going. It literally is child’s play, which is why it is also the go-to reel choice for children learning to fish.

No Line Entanglements

Being a closed-faced reel that guides the fishing line out through a hole, there is little chance of the line birds nesting or tangling. The line casts smoothly and accurately in the cast’s direction.

They Are Economical

You can walk into your local Walmart and pick up a spincast reel for just $5. That is how cheap they are. Even the high-end ones cap out at under $95, making it a wise choice for those sitting on the fence about taking up fishing as a serious hobby.

Casting a Spincast Reel Cons


You get what you pay for with spincast reels. The reels are usually made using plastic components that break apart with moderate use; these aren’t built to go the distance.

Jerky Retrieve

Some cheaper reels don’t come with pickup pins that pick up the line and wraps it around the spool. This can cause the line to drop a little and cause jerky and a slow retrieve.

Not Very Versatile

There are significant limits to what you can do with a spincast reel. They are intended for light lines and light lures which can only catch small to medium-sized fish. Because of their small spool yard capacity, they can cast only short distances too.

Spinning Reels

My Penn Battle II Spinning Reel
My Penn Battle II Spinning Reel

By far the more popular of the four fishing reels, spinning reels have a lot going for them. They are moderately easy to use with more line capacity and are overall very versatile. Like a baby moving from milk to semi-solid food, spinning reels are a step-up from spincast reels. A lot of anglers who graduate to using spinning reels never look back.


Spinning reels are more sophisticated looking than their simpler spincast cousins being open faced with a lot more moving parts. Atop the reel is the drag knob which has frictionless plates that can be adjusted by turning the knob. The spool that holds the fishing line sits underneath the drag knob. The spool is attached to a flippable bail which acts as a trigger for casting. At the bottom of the reel is an anti-reverse switch along with a handle on the side. A spinning reel sits below the rod handle.

Casting a Spinning Reel

To cast using a spinning reel requires a little more practice. Using your dominant hand, first hold the fishing line in place against the rod with your index finger. Next flip the bail with your other hand, release your index finger and make the cast. To stop the cast either flip the bail back manually or crank the handle which will automatically flip the bail for you.

Spinning Reel Pros

It’s an All Rounder

Spinning wheels can be used with everything from lighter baits weighing only 1/15th of an ounce to heavier ones. They are great for drop-shotting, skipping lures, and launching light jerkbaits. This essentially means that you can use them in a variety of different environments such as under low-hanging docks, in shallow waters, or in deeper water with thick vegetation. Their bigger size and spool capacity ensure that they can reel in bigger fish too. They also cast much further than spincast reels because of their reliance on the tackle weight to draw the line forward. Most spinning reels also have handles that can be switched from the right to the left side according to your comfort.

No Backlashes

Called by different names such as a rat’s nest or a cluster fugazi, a backlash is the bane of an angler’s existence. It happens in windy conditions when the fishing line tangles around the reel leaving an unholy and intimidating mess. The spinning reel’s spool does not spin. The line simply goes off the spool.

No spinning in spinning reels equals zero chances of the dreaded backlash even when casting into or across the wind.

Spinning Reel Pros

Get the Thrill of the Chase

There is nothing an angler loves more than fighting a fish with the cat-and-mouse game of loosening and tightening the fishing line as required when the fish pulls away. The adjustable and easily accessible drag system on a spinning reel gives you more control over line release. The anti-reverse switch also ensures a good hook set while providing a drag alternative that anglers can use while pulling in lighter fish.

Here are some ultralight spinning reels.


Spinning reels are built using more durable materials such as carbon fiber, aluminum, and anodized stainless steel. This makes them much more rust and wear-resistant. Being open-faced, they are also easy to clean.

Spinning Reel Cons

A Steeper Learning Curve

There is a lot of coordination required to cast using a spinning reel. Forgetting one step can make the cast go awry. Add to that the basic knowledge required to efficiently work the drag system, and it’s easy to see why some anglers feel intimidated and stick with the easier spincast reel.

Line Knotting

While backlashes are uncommon in spinning reels, the problem of line knotting is. Since the line is released rapidly and in an uncontrolled manner off the top of the spool, it can twist in the air forming knots in the line. This compromises the strength of the line which increases its chances of breaking; something that is especially heartbreaking when you are fighting a fish.

Which One Should You Use?

So, as you can see, there are significant differences between a spincast and a spinning reel.  We come now to the all-important questions of which one you should use. This really depends on your level of expertise and the kind of fishing you want to do.

If you are a total novice, my advice is to invest $20 to $25, with which you can get a decent spincast reel, and use that as your springboard to launch your fishing adventure. Let’s face it, fishing is not for everyone. So, if you decide not to continue fishing, throwing or giving away your spincast reel will not hurt as much.

If you decide, however, that you love fishing or if you’ve been fishing for a while and now want to move on to bigger and better things, then the spinning reel is perfect for you. It gives you the flexibility to use different lures, casts farther and more accurately, and will last much longer than a spincast reel will. Sure, it’s a little daunting to cast and control at first, but nothing a little practice and your zeal for fishing can’t overcome. Spinning reels range between $30 to $150.

Here is a post about my go to spinning reel. 

Another consideration is the fish you are looking to catch. If all you want is small to medium sized fish, then a spincast reel will do very nicely. They, however, cannot reel in bigger fish. For that, you need to turn to the spinning reel.

So go ahead and pick the one you think would suit your needs best. Happy fishing!


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