Three Types of Bass Fishing Reels
There are three types of bass fishing reels, spinning reels, baitcasting reels and spincast reels. Bass fishing reels cost anywhere from $30 to $500 dollars depending on the materials used and brand purchased. Bass anglers have many options when it comes to purchasing reels. This article will inform you of the basic types of bass fishing reels and the benefits of each. Each type of reel will be discussed further in subsequent articles. Stay tuned for our top 5 and top 10 lists for each type and budget category.
Spinning Bass Fishing Reels
Spinning reels or fixed spool reels have been used since around 1870. These bass fishing reels were initially designed for fishing for trout or salmon because of the lightweight flies. These lightweight fishing lures were not easily handled by baitcasting reels. These reels are mounted below the rod. The spinning reel with its fixed spool solves the backlash problem because the spool doesn’t rotate and is not capable of overrun.
A textiles magnate, Holden Illingworth, is the first known person to be associated with the modern fixed spool spinning reel. The Illingworth reel’s line was carried off the leading edge of the stationary spool with a line pickup device which rotated around the fixed spool and this design allowed for lighter lures to be cast.
It wasn’t until around 1948 when the Mitchell Reel Company out of France introduced the Mitchell 300 spinning reel. This updated design set the face of the fixed spool in a permanently forward position below the fishing rod. This new reel was later offered in a variety of spool sizes to accommodate fishing for a variety of species including all freshwater and saltwater fish. The Mitchell design used a manual line pickup that was used to aid in retrieval of the line and eventually evolved into the wire bail design we see today. An anti-reverse device prevented the handle from rotating when engaged with a fish. This type of design allowed the angler to select lines as light as 2 pounds and was capable of casting extremely light lures as low as ⅛ ounce.
The only issue with spinning reels has to do with line memory. When using monofilament or even fluorocarbon line the line released from the spool coils or loops around the spool. When using these types of line the angler still need to stop the line with his or her finger as it hits the water. Most anglers use the newly developed braided line on spinning reels because it doesn’t have memory like monofilament or fluorocarbon. The best suggestion is to use braided line with a monofilament or fluorocarbon leader. This setup can help to prevent line tangle and will definitely save you a ton of headaches while bass fishing.
Spinning reels are cast by holding the line with the right or left finger and flipping the wire bail releasing the line. Upon the cast the angler releases the line with his or her finger allowing the line to spool out. Your finger is the brake in this setup and can be used to slow or stop the line from coming off the spool. On the retrieve the opposite hand is used to rotate the crank handle picking the line up.
Spinning reels are by far the easiest reel to operate. These bass fishing reels are vital in the presentation of finesse baits that require lightweight line or lures. Every bass angler should have at least one spinning reel setup for presentation of soft baits like stick worms.
Check out our most recent spinning reel posts.
Baitcasting Bass Fishing Reels
The Baitcasting bass reel or revolving spool reel stores the line on a bearing supported spool that relies on gears to take one revolution of the handle and turn the spool multiple times. This reel differs from the spinning reel in many way one of which is that the reel is mounted on top of the rod.
This reel design dates as far back as the mid 17th century and really came into popularity with amateur anglers during the 1870s. The early designs featured brass and iron gears, brass, silver or hard rubber spools. These bass fishing reels had none of the modern technology we rely on today, and therefore were extremely difficult to operate. The angler had no advantage of drag systems and relied solely on their thumbs to rest against the spools when fight fish that ran with the bait. In the 1870s, manufacturers started to experiment with bearings that mounted the spool which decreased the backlash occurrences caused by free spinning spool models previously. These new drag system operated with a clicking noise allowing the angler to set up a stationary rod and wait for the click meaning the fish had taken the bait.
Most reels up until this time were mounted below the rod and the baitcasting reel was unusually mounted atop the rod, but this was really by accident. The reel was designed to be cast while the reel was in the above rod position then was to be flipped over for reeling the line back in. In practice most angler just didn’t rotate the reel to the below rod position which all led to the design we see today.
Today’s baitcasting reels are constructed using aluminum, stainless steel or new composite materials. The technology includes level winding mechanisms, anti-reverse handles and drags designed to slow runs of larger game fish. The new designs are featuring much greater gear ratios even as high at 8:1:1 in recent years. These higher gear ratios result in faster retrieves. The lower ratios are higher in torque. The use of the adjustable spool tension, the centrifugal brake system and magnetic cast control have reduced the likelihood of backlash. It is important to understand the operation of the new technology. Each time a different weighted lure is attached, the reel will need to be adjusted accordingly. Most baitcasting reels can easily be palmed in the hand. This increases the drag, aids in setting the hook, increases sensitivity, and increases accuracy.
This is where the fun comes in. The baitcasting reel is cast by depressing the thumb switch allowing the spool to run free. The thumb rests against the spool preventing the free run. The cast is performed by using the wrist more than the arm. The thumb is lifted from the spool allowing the line to run out when cast. The bass angler presses the thumb against the spool right before impact with the water. The thumb can be used to feather the line meaning control how much line comes off the spool. The modern technological advancements help to control the dreaded back lash but this reel still takes practice to master. The bass angler still needs to focus on being smooth and let the rod and reel do the work.
Check out our most recent posts about baitcasting reels.
Spincast Bass Fishing Reels
Most children’s reels are spincast designs. In 1949, the Zero Hour Bomb Company released this reel design. The spincast reel is still used by some anglers today.
The reel design attempts to solve the backlash encountered using baitcasting reels. This reel is designed to reduce line twist and tangle complaints that were being encountered by anglers. These reels handle lighter lures with ease. The reel operates with one or two pickup pins operated with a button. These are super easy for children even as young as 3 years old to operate.
The design does have some drawbacks which include casting distance and less line capacity than spinning reels. Unless fishing at precise depths, most bass anglers stay away from this type of bass fishing reel. Most spincast reels operate the best with traditional monofilament line due to its softer characteristics.
Spincast reels are the easiest reels to operate which is why most young anglers use them predominately. The start, the angler pushes a button located on the back of the casing. During the forward cast, the angler releases the button allowing the line to feed off of the spool. The button is pressed again to stop the lure at the desired distance. When retrieving, the pickup pin immediately engages the line and is spooled back onto the reel.
As you can see there are a few variations to the modern bass anglers reels. The traditional designs really haven’t changed over time. The only changes are in materials and technology allowing for easier and easier operation. The key is research and knowing your options.