How to Use a Spinning Reel

Spinning reels are known for their ease of use and versatility to fish multiple species. A spinning reel maintains a user friendly spool for easy casting and an adjustable drag system for fighting fish. While spinning rods and reels are used by all levels of anglers, they are perfect for the beginner fisherman. Learning how to use a spinning reel enables you to fish for virtually any species in Freshwater and Saltwater. As you advance, various features on the spinning reel will enable you to improve your game and graduate to more specialized equipment like baitcaster reels and conventional reels.

Fishing Line for a Spinning Reel

Fishing line can be broken down into 3 categories: Monofilament, fluorocarbon, braided line. Monofilament, AKA “Mono,” is the cheapest and most common line. Mono floats and gives stretch, but its bulky and slightly visible. Fluorocarbon AKA “Fluoro” is the most expensive and highest performing line. Fluoro is virtually invisible and sinks, however it does not stretch. Braided line AKA “Braid” is a blend of fibers that make it the strongest per pound line but it is highly visible. We recommend 6 Lb Monofilament for a beginner’s spinning reel. The strength of fishing line is known as “test,” and the Lb test of line is roughly selected by the target fish size. However, the lighter the Lb test, the further you can cast. 6 Lb mono is heavy enough to handle all the common species at average sizes, and is light enough to cast smaller lures when learning how to use a spinning reel.

How to Spool Your Line

Here’s how to spool your spinning reel with detailed graphic instructions. A 330 yd spool will fill a common sized spinning reel. First, run the line through the guides and flip open the bail. Tie an arbor knot to the reel’s spool to secure the line so it catches evenly. Close the bail and pinch the line above your reel between your thumb and your index finger. Have a friend hold the opposite spool of line while you reel and make sure their spool is feeding line in the same direction you are spooling onto the reel. Leave roughly 1/8 of an inch between the line and the rim of the spool so you do not over spool the reel. Once full, remove the spool from the reel and soak it in a bowl of warm water for 30 minutes to remove memory and prevent line twisting.

How to Cast a Spinning Reel

One of the benefits of a spinning reel is that it is very easy to cast. Start by holding the rod in your dominant hand with the arm of your reel between your index and ring finger. Pinch the line to your rod with your index finger and flip the bail open. Place your opposite hand on the butt of the rod. Lift the rod back over your shoulder so that it is perpendicular to your body. Swing the rod forward in a 180 degree rotation from back to front. During the rotation, release the line from your pinch at roughly 130 degrees. After the cast, close the bail with your opposite hand. Reel forward to retrieve your lure.

How to Set Fishing Reel Drag

Learning how manage your drag system will save you from missing fish and enable you to catch larger predators on lighter tackle. The drag of a fishing reel is a set of friction plates inside the reel. When a fish fights as you reel in, the drag allows tension to gradually release your spool and feed line out without giving any slack. If a fish pulls on a stiff line without any give, the tension can snap the line. A properly set drag lets you to stay tautly connected to the fish and gives the fish an appropriate amount of line back when it fights too hard. To set the drag on a spinning reel, turn the knob on the top of the reel. Rotate CLOCKWISE (right) to TIGHTEN the tension. Rotate COUNTERCLOCKWISE (left) to LOOSEN the tension. Test the drag by closing your bail and pulling line from the front of the reel with your hand. Try your best to imitate the pull of a fish sized to your target and adjust appropriately. While fighting a fish, you can correct your drag by adjusting the knob when the rod is loaded up. Correct your drag when not enough or too much line is feeding out.

When to use Anti-Reverse Feature

Similar to the drag system, the Anti-Reverse system allows you to play the fish by relieving tension. Anti-Reverse is a switch, often found on the bottom part of the reel. When turned OFF, Anti-Reverse allows the angler to reel forwards and backwards. As you gradually reel backwards, line will release. When learning how to use a spinning reel, the Anti-Reverse should be left ON so the handle can only reel forward. As you master your spinning reel, set your Anti-Reverse to OFF in order to play with smaller fish species like Bluegill and Crappie. Panfish don’t have the power to engage your drag.  Therefore, work them back and forth to alleviate tension when spooled with a micro-line (1-2 Lb test).