Ron's Tackle Tips — Spinning vs. Casting Reels

Ken Jones

Staff member
Spinning and Casting Reels: they both have their place

By Ron Crandall of Ron's Reel Repair (April 1998)

In response to questions on the subject, the following will give the situations where spinning or casting reels shine. These are of course our opinions, gleaned from personal experience, and are not governed by sales reps who have probably never used the products they're pushing.

Spinning: This is by far the most common method. The places that it shines are:
1. You are fishing with very small lures or bait and are casting a reasonable distance.
2. The wind is blowing 35 MPH and you are surrounded by other people.
3. If you are new to the fishing world or only fish once or twice a year.
4. You are fishing on a pier that only allows underhand casts.
5. You are float fishing for jacksmelt or striped seaperch (my favorite) and the total terminal end only weighs 2 oz. (I use Fuji film cans for floats).

Casting: We will discuss bait casting reels since conventional reels, like Penn Senators rarely apply to piers. Bait casting reels shine when:
1. When you are using the new Super Lines; bait casting gives you a lot of control. (No matter what the rep says, Super Lines don't really work well with spinning gear).
2. When you are fishing for fish that do a long run, i.e., salmon at Pacifica, you have the capability of adding extra drag control with your thumb.
3. If you have a lot of experience casting. The people who are good can hit a one foot circle at fifty yards.
4. The whole outfit is light in weight. As a comparison, a casting reel that holds 200 yards of 12# line might weigh 10 oz. The equivalent spinning rreel might weight 18 oz.

Other things to consider:
1. Modern spinning reels (under $20.00 reels excluded) and casting reels' drags are equal. (You cannot compare a 35-year-old French spinning reel with a new Shimano Calcutta).
2. Check for anodizing. This will help ensure you have a long life reel. Check the warranty and the parts availability. If you can't get parts your reel is worthless. Some companies have parts for reels going back 50 years, others only go back five years.
3. We did not include spin-cast reels in our comparison for the simple reason that the majority of those in production are not designed for saltwater and would not last one season.

This is a side bit: Yesterday, I fished the surf with a Penn 180 baitcaster then, when it started to rain, I switched to a Penn 712 spinning outfit. Both systems caught fish. Each outfit worked best under the particular conditions. Comfort was the important thing, this is supposed to be fun and not work.

SC McCarty

Well-Known Member
Hi Ken,

Thanks for posting these, but they will soon be lost somewhere in the list of posts. Could you consolidate them as a single post, and make them sticky to keep them at the top of the list?