How Exactly Do Spinning Reels Work?

how does spinning reel work

Even though spinning reels are pretty basic, if you have never held one before, it will feel somewhat foreign.

In addition, most anglers aren’t even entirely familiar with how a spinning reel operates.

So, developing your skill by learning how it works is crucial.

That is why we have written this complete beginner’s guide to help you understand all the components of a spinning reel and how they work.

What is a Spinning Reel?

Fishing reels with open faces and fixed spools are known as spinning reels, and their arm is made of rotating metal that winds line onto the spool when you turn the handle.

The line is drawn off the spool by the weight of a lure or other fishing gear attached; the metal arm is removed during casting to free the line from the spool.

In other words, the fishing line is unwrapped from the fixed spool, which remains in place when casting.

It has a bail wire and a little line roller connected to guide the line as it is being reeled in.

Bail is essential because it prevents tangles and keeps the line properly.

The spinning reels are simple to operate and ideal for smaller fish because they perform superbly with smaller baits.

However, they are also available in big sizes for big fish.

The best all-around fishing reel is the spinning reel; you can use them for various fishing activities, including casting artificial lures, live or dead bait, rigs, or bobbers.

A fixed spool and an open face are just two of the numerous components of a spinning reel.

Understanding Spinning Reels + Pro Tips

reels on the floor

Spinning Reel Components

Let’s first become familiar with the many components of the best spinning reels and their roles before discussing how to utilize one on the water.

1) Handle

You wind with the handle to bring your line in or to bring in a fish. The handle protrudes from the side of the reel.

Unlike the Baitcaster and spin cast reels, which are made with a single hand, either the right or left, retrieve in mind.

On the other hand, most versions allow you to alter the spinning reel handle from left to right or vice versa.

By unscrewing the knob on the side of your handle, you can adjust it to suit your needs.

As part of the regular maintenance of your gear, continually lubricate your spinning reel’s handle at the end of each fishing season to maintain its lasting function.

2) The Drag

Drag is a crucial component; every angler should know how it operates on a fishing reel.

Your fishing line’s tension is added or removed by the drag system.

You can adjust the zero friction plates by turning the drag knob on top of the spool, which raises or lowers the tension.

When battling fish, having this flexibility is useful.

A line cannot come out of the spool with the bail closed, and the knob tightened.

When the bail is closed, and the knob loosens, you can remove a line from the spool with little effort.

Without it, the line might break, and an angler would frequently lose fish if the fish pulled too hard and he is unable to pull the line.

Before you begin fishing, adjust the drag to the types of fish you want to catch.

Setting Your Drag

To tighten or loosen, turn the drag knob in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.

  •  Manually remove the line from your reel to assess the impact on the drag.
  • Keep going through these procedures until the drag is set to the desired level.
  • You should always set the drag before you begin fishing.

3) Spool

The spool is located directly below the drag adjustment knob.

The spool, shaped like a cylinder, does not spin like a baitcasting reel but moves up and down thanks to the gearing under the spool.

This component, unique to your particular reel, is where your fishing line is stored.

Your fishing line will unwind from the spool when you cast and wind around it when you reel it in.

But pulling the line will cause the spool to revolve, releasing the line and activating the drag.

Setting up the Spool
  • You can use monofilament, braided lines, or fluorocarbon lines, depending on the bait, water, or water level you want to fish in.
  • Flip the tiny handle up to release the bail.
  • Through the guidelines, thread your line firmly and straight.
  • Place the spool on the ground and close the bail.
  • Hold the line and turn the reel slowly.
  • To load the line, keep turning the reel.
  • Fill the spool up to the edge.
  • Cut the line near the supply spool using line scissors.
  • To keep the free end of your line in place, swivel or clip.

4) Bail

The bail resembles a length of rigid wire that wraps around the exterior of the reel, and the line roller is located at one end of it.

One of a spinning reel’s most crucial components is the bail.

Bail has two crucial functions. (1) To correctly spool off the line and cast your bait, you must open or engage the bail and close the bail to recover or reel in.

(2) As you wind, the bail rotates around the spool, evenly distributing your line.

The line is also directed via the line roller to shield it from friction.

Your fishing line could operate erratically without the bail.

So, the bail arm maintains order for castings and retrievals to go smoothly.

To properly cast it, wrap the line around your casting arm’s index finger.

Use the opposite hand to lift the bail to the right to open it.

Cast the rod, carefully letting the line go at the right moment.

Close the bail with the free hand as soon as the lure touches the water.

5) Anti-Reverse

The anti-reverse switch on your spinning reel is another component to understand.

When battling fish, it can be helpful to employ this feature, commonly found at the bottom of the reel.

With this switch turned on or off, anti-reverse enables the handle to wind the bail in both directions, letting the line out to give time for the bait to enter a fish’s mouth or pulling the line in while fighting fish or winding in your bait.

For new anglers using spinning reels for the first time, anti-reverse on is considered a great tool.

6) Reel Foot

The actual link between your spinning reel is the reel foot.

This part will be positioned against the rod and secured to the rod.

It is the rod’s initial and sole point of attachment. The bail necessitates that the reel is placed some distance from the rod. So that

during a retrieve, the bail can spin freely without being impeded by hands or the rod.

Fishing Line

Your choice of fishing line will entirely depend on the species of fish you are targeting.

You can use monofilament, braided lines, or fluorocarbon lines, depending on the bait, water, or water level you want to fish in.

7) Bait/Hook

What you are fishing for will also determine the bait or hook you should use.

How to Cast a Spinning Reel

You’ll use the ability to cast a spinning reel in most of your upcoming fishing expeditions.

Although it might be pretty easy to cast a spinning reel, there are some procedures you must follow to make sure the process is effective, tangle-free, and that both distance and accuracy are maintained.

Make sure you have a matched setup with the appropriate spinning reel size before you go on the water.

Make sure the rod length you choose is appropriate

Next, make sure you are employing the proper line.

Whether you are using monofilament, fluorocarbon, or braid, it needs to be within the specifications suggested for the rod and reel.

Make sure you correctly spool the line on without adding any extra folds.

Now, with 4–6 inches of line hanging from the rod tip and the bail roller at the top of the spool, close to the rod handle, grab the line in front of the roller with your index finger to open the bail.

As long as your lure and line are secure in your index finger, they should not move.

Wind your hand around your waist on the bottom of the rod.

Swing the rod and lure over your shoulder by pulling your top hand forward and pushing your bottom hand outward.

Pause to allow the rod to load for your cast.

To cast, extend your upper hand forward and, while maintaining control, snap your lure or bait toward the target while releasing the line with your index finger as the rod moves forward in the casting direction.

This action will increase the distance of the cast. Close the bail after the lure has touched the water by winding it or pushing it over with your hand.

You can change, slow down, or reverse the process of the bait or lure if you notice or feel that it is traveling too far or in the wrong direction.

Maintaining your Spinning Reel

Use cotton swabs to clean your reel’s exterior. Remove any stains or dirt.

As part of your routine maintenance, continually lubricate your spinning reel’s handle at the end of each fishing season to maintain its lasting function.

In all, your spinning reels should always be kept clean to avoid expensive reel servicing.


The most well-liked and valuable form of fishing reels is spinning reels.

Beginners will find them quite user-friendly and adaptable for most fishing applications.

With the help of these tips, you now have a deeper comprehension of your spinning reel’s parts.

In addition, learning various fishing tips and techniques makes you one of the best fishing anglers.

So don’t stop; keep doing more research and practice!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How does a spinning reel work fishing?

Fishing reels function by transferring the angler's handle rotation to the spool and retrieving the fishing line.
The line will differ depending on the type, the retrieve speed, and how the spool releases.

How do you on or off switch on a spinning reel?

With this switch turned on or off, anti-reverse enables the handle to wind the bail in both directions, letting the line out to give time for the bait to enter a fish's mouth or pulling the line in while fighting fish or winding in your bait.

A spinning reel's anti-reverse feature activates the drag and stops the reel from spinning backward.