If you decide that freshwater fishing is a sport that you wish to pursue, then there are two critical options available right now that can help you land something quickly: baitcasters and spinning reels. Most beginners find that a spinner is easier to use since there are fewer backlashes to worry about with the design. On the other hand, a baitcaster can help you to create a customized fishing experience that allows you to stay in control in most situations.
Most anglers decide to stick with their spinners since that is what they learned to fish on years ago. Many of them remain happy with this equipment because it is simple and easy to use. Others head toward baitcasters because it offers more of a professional experience, which is something they would like to duplicate on their own trips.
As a general rule, people who are new to the sport of fishing will generally get started on a spinner because it takes less practice to get things right. Nothing is worse than a backlash on your first casting. It would be enough to drive some beginning anglers away from the sport for good! If you have some experience with fishing and want to step up your game, then a baitcaster can make a lot of sense.
If you are wondering what reel type could offer you the best solution for your fishing needs, then here are the baitcaster vs. spinning reel pros and cons to review.
List of the Pros of a Baitcaster vs a Spinning Reel
1. Baitcasters can help you to cast further and with greater precision.
When you get to know a baitcaster well through plenty of practice, then you can send out a cast much further with this option compared to a spinning reel. You also have more accuracy with your placement over that longer distance, allowing you to reach the honeypot even if you are standing on shore. Although the equipment looks a little intimidating because there is a tensioner for your gears and you need to customize it to prevent backlash based on your style, it tends to provide superior results.
2. Baitcasters typically have a higher gear ratio.
Not only can you set a cast more accurately and with better distance using a baitcaster, but it also provides you with a faster retrieval thanks to the higher gear ratio it provides. Although this advantage may not apply to the entry-level models that are available at some retail outlets, you will discover that fishing with crankbaits, buzzbaits, and similar options is a lot easier and more efficient when you choose this option over a spinner.
3. Baitcasters allow you to cast with almost anything.
You can cast almost any lure if you choose a baitcaster over a spinning reel. Although spinners do a better job with live bait and lighter lures, anything that is large, hefty, or significant will work more efficiently with this option. When you cast with something light, it is possible to achieve similar results if you loosen the tensioner a little, although that might be problematic for beginners.
4. Baitcasters can help you to land bigger fish.
Some spinning reels can help you to land larger fish when you’re having a fun day in the Great Outdoors, but the baitcasters are the real go-getters in this category. If you intend to catch anything that weighs more than 10 pounds, then you’ll want to set the spinners aside for this option. Not only does the reel handle the larger fish better, but the rod itself also tends to have some additional heft to its spine. That combination gives you the opportunity to retrieve something quickly, secure it accurately, and release it if necessary with a minimum injury. You can’t swap out your spools or lines as easily with a baitcaster, but it is usually a fair tradeoff for the benefits that you receive.
5. Baitcasters unreel in the direction of the rod while the spool spins.
Using a baitcaster eventually feels like the “normal” way to fish because of the positioning of the line. It unreels in the direction of the rod while the spool spins, which is why there tends to be more control over the process from start to finish when compared to spinners. If you use a spinning reel, then the line comes off at a 90-degree angle from the stationary spool. This advantage is especially important if you are handling a heavy line or need durability with your equipment because you’re fishing in difficult conditions.
6. Baitcasters allow you to customize your approach based on your preferred hand.
Although spinners allow you to use either hand when you go fishing since the reel handle is swappable between each side to fit your needs, baitcasters allow you to purchase something that offers a dedicated design. It isn’t meant to be an option that is universal to anyone who might pick it up when they want to go fishing. This rod and reel are meant to work with your comfort zone. Once you get the setup right, you can fish accurately in almost any conditions while getting to experience all of the other benefits over a spinning reel at the same time.
7. Baitcasters make it easier to handle challenging water conditions.
Imagine that you are fishing in a pond where there are numerous dock pilings or lily pads. These obstacles offer lots of hiding spots for the fish you are after, but it is up to you to cast a lure in the proper direction. When you are using a baitcaster for this process, the experience that you have with your equipment will help you to land the lure with precision so that you can fish in almost any possible situation. Spinners could work there as well, but it would take a lot of luck to duplicate the results you could achieve because of this advantage.
List of the Cons of a Baitcaster vs a Spinning Reel
1. Spinning reels create easy controls that allow you to worry about fishing.
If you just want to go out for a little bit to fish and it isn’t something you enjoy full-time, then a spinning reel is going to provide you with similar benefits. Although you won’t be able to customize the cast or retrieval as much, this option is about as close as you can get to a “point-and-click” design for a rod. That means you can stand on shore, get in a boat, or fish from a pier quickly and easily without worrying about what might happen if you mess things up.
2. Spinners can be just as accurate as baitcasters without the added cost.
It is true that some anglers can achieve a premium distance with their cast using a baitcaster, but those with spinners come fairly close if they practice just as often. This option is a better choice if you prefer to throw out a lighter or smaller lure as well. You’ll receive a superior option when working with a deadstick presentation, live bait, or vertical jigging, which can be essential for bass fishing in some areas. Stick with the baitcaster if you prefer to cast something larger or heavier.
3. Spinning reels typically handle the wind better.
If wind is an issue for you when you’re out fishing, then a spinning reel provides more versatility in that situation without requiring a high level of skill to deal with the issue. Backlashes tend to occur more frequently when anglers cast into the wind. If the lures are on the lighter side in this situation as well, then you’ll spend more time trying to retrieve fish with a spinner. Baitcasters will spend more time trying to get the knots out of their line.
4. Spinners make it easier to skip lures compared to baitcasters.
If you’ve ever watched professional anglers fishing on television, then you will see them skipping lures with baitcasters as if it were something they did all day without a second thought. The reality of this skill is that it can take several hundred hours of practice to get it right. If you just head out to do some fishing a couple of times per month and want to land a lure under a pier, dock, or tree limb, then a spinning reel will help you to do it immediately without the threat of backlashes. It really is a more forgiving process.
5. Spinning reels help your lures to sink straighter.
When you cast with a baitcaster, then your lure is more likely to function like a pendulum as it hits the water. That effect happens because of the resistance that it encounters from the rotational spool. When you are using a spinning reel, then your lure is more likely to sink downward in a manner that seems more natural to the fish. If you are fishing over pilings, seawalls, or tall vegetation, you will not want to discount this potential advantage that spinners have over baitcasters.
6. Spinners make it easier to adjust your drag during retrieval.
When you are using a spinning reel, then it is easier to adjust your drag as you fight a fish during the retrieval process. It doesn’t matter if the drag is near the rear or the front of the reel. It is easily accessible and graduated liberally, providing a full range of adjustments that can help you to finish the battle. The placement right next to the handle, especially for beginners, is something that should not be overlooked.
7. Spinning reels are typically cheaper.
For many anglers who are first getting started with this sport, cost is an important consideration to look at. You can find premium equipment with spinners in the $100 range from a variety of manufacturers. Each offers the potential to provide consistent results. If you were to purchase a baitcaster, then you might find yourself spending three times as much for the equipment you want. Ignore the search results that show you reels in both categories for about $30 – these entry-level products are suitable for practice and light fishing only.
The pros and cons of baitcasters vs. spinning reels eventually comes down to the personal preferences of the angler. Some swear by their baitcasters and would never use a spinner unless they were wanting to do something akin to flyfishing. Others say that the ease of use that a spinning reel provides with enough practice makes this a sport that is more accessible to everyone.
Natalie Regoli, Esq. is the author of this post and the editor-in-chief of our blog. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington and her Masters in Law from The University of Texas School of Law. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Natalie has almost two decades of experience as a lawyer and banker. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.