Types of Rods & Reels

Types of Rods & Reels
Fishing rods are meant to improve casting distance and accuracy and to give the angler leverage when fighting or handling fish. The reel's primary purpose is to store fishing line. Fishing rods and reels can be classified into four types. An understanding of the types of rods and reels will make the decision of what to buy and use easier and increase your enjoyment of the time you spend fishing.

Spinning Rods and Reels

Spinning rods and reels are easy to use and can be used for most forms of fishing, making them the most commonly used rods and reels. Spinning reels are mounted on the bottom of the rod which has a straight handle. The spool of a spinning reel remains stationary when casting. The guides at the base of the rod have a large diameter opening and become progressively smaller to let the line peel off the reel freely. To cast a spinning outfit, open the bail while holding the line with the index finger until the end of the cast. Line is pulled off the spool by the weight of the bait. The handles of spinning reels can be removed and set for either left- or right-handed operation.

Casting Rods and Reels

Also known as bait-casting rods and reels. Being able to use larger, stronger lines, greater casting distance and better accuracy make bait-casting rods and reels the preferred outfits of tournament and serious bass anglers. The reels can have a tendency to backlash when casting, which creates a tangled mess that often frustrates the recreational angler. Automatic braking systems and a smooth practiced cast will eliminate most backlashes. The reel is mounted on top of the rod, which has a straight handle. Some rods have a trigger for the index finger to rest on. The spools on casting reels rotate when casting, making the need for large diameter guides unnecessary. Unlike spinning reels, the handles of casting reels are made for either left-hand or right-hand operation. To cast, a thumb button is pressed to disengage the spool allowing it to spin freely. A tip to reduce backlashes and to control casting distance is to apply thumb pressure to the spool during the cast.

Spin Casting Rods and Reels

For many people, push-button closed-faced reels were the introductory reel of their youth. The reel sits on top of the rod, which has small line guides and a handle that resembles a pistol grip. They are used by pushing a button on the back of the reel and holding it until the end of the cast. The biggest drawback to these reels is that fishing line can get tangled inside the reel face. Also, line strength is limited to the lightest lines. These rods and reels are most often used for catching panfish, such as sunfish or bluegills.

Fly Fishing

The reel of a fly-fishing outfit is used primarily to store the fly line and backing. Fighting the fish is mostly done by grasping the fly line and using the rod's spring like flexibility to tire the fish out. Fly reels have a drag system for those times when larger fish are fought using the reel. Fly rods differ from other fishing rods because they are used to cast the line, which carries the fly. To cast a fly rod takes some instruction and a lot of practice. The most common types of fly lines are floating, shooting head and sinking lines. There are other more specialized lines. Fly lines are not attached to the reel. Instead, a backing line usually made of Dacron is attached to the reel at one end with the fly line attached to the other. The fly line will have a leader system tied to the free end and a tippet tied to the end of the leader. The leader will be either one manufactured to taper from a thick end that is attached to the fly line down to a thin end attached to a tippet. Homemade leaders are made up using varying line thicknesses from heavy line tapering to light line at the leader end. Sometimes, a bite leader will be used in place of a tippet when going after toothy fish like blue fish. This is a short length of heavy line attached to the leader with the fly tied to it.


They look like bait-casting rods and reels. However, trolling rods and reels are not really meant to be cast. The reel sits on top of the rod, which has small line guides. Some high-end trolling rods have roller guides. These are guides that, as the name implies, roll with the line as it is let out and taken in. To use one, disengage the spool by pushing a button and let the line be pulled out by the weight of the bait. When trolling, use a light drag setting and tighten the drag after the fish is on.

Article Written By Mark Quest

Mark Quest began his writing career in 2009, contributing to various online publications. He attended Asheville Buncombe Technical Community College, focusing on the sciences.

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