How Does A Fishing Reel Work

Do you love to go fishing? Then you must know the importance of having the right equipment on hand. Opting for a fishing reel is an intricate task since it comes with a variety of moving and fixed segments. All of these parts need to be in sync in order for the reel to function with precision. That’s why people ask about How Does A Fishing Reel Work

Are you thinking of buying a fishing reel? Do you know how does fishing reels work? Find out what to look for when buying fishing reels and how to choose the right one for you.

When you search the market, you will notice different fishing reel types that work in different manners. Once you understand the way it works, you will be able to utilize, choose and sustain your reels.

So how does a fishing reel work? In simple terms, an angler will rotate the handle that transmits this motion on the spool, which then retrieves the fishing line. Every fishing rod and reel will have a different retrieval speed. Moreover, spool releases also vary in different fishing reels. Anglers will also have to be aware of the basic function a reel offers such as drag setting because the fishing reels are mounted in a particular way on each rod.

You will find reels of different sizes and features. In addition, the gear ratio is also different for each fishing rod. When choosing the right fishing reel, beginners tend to feel confused and make mistakes because they don’t know how does fishing reels work. Read on to find details that will aid you to opt for the right one. This article mentions all the imperative aspects of a fishing reel and a rod, allowing beginners to make an informed buying decision.

Different Fishing Reel Types & Mechanisms

Here we are going to discuss the most popular types of fishing reel: spin fishing reel, baitcasting reel, fly fishing reel and spinning reel. You can see their main differences here.

Even though there is a huge variety of fishing reels accessible but this article will be focusing on the four main fishing reel types. The working principles are quite similar for another type of fishing reel.

Spin Cast Reels

Beginners and inexperienced anglers mostly use spin-cast reels. These fishing reels work a lot like spinning reels but come with an enclosed face. With these fishing reels, you are unable to see the spool, which will be fixed and will not rotate when casting. Moreover, when casting the bail on these fishing reels does not have to be flipped. Rather than bail, these reels have a trigger or a button that is used when anglers want to release the line at the time of casting. Spincast reels offer a very short casting distance owing to the friction between the opening and the line. These reels are sometimes used while fishing in saltwater.

Spinning Reels

When answering “How does a fishing reel work?” a spinning reel is frequently used to demonstrate. These reels are ideal for experienced and inexperienced anglers. This fishing reel type is easy to learn even though it comes with different parts. It has an open face and a fixed spool. When casting, the spool stays in place and the fishing line unwraps from it. Appropriate for smaller fish, these fishing reels are easy to utilize. It can be used with smaller baits. For larger fish, you can choose a bigger size.

 The spinning reels come with a bail wire and a small line roller attached. These features guide the line while reeling in the fish. Another important feature of the fishing reel is the bail as it will keep the line in place and decrease the chance of knots.

In order to cast, you will have to flip the bail upwards, which will release the line and then allow it to unwrap. For retrieving, you need to close the bail and spin the handle.

Baitcaster Reels

Baitcaster Fishing reel mechanism functions differently from other reels. For starters, the spoil on this fishing reel is not fixed and spins while casting. It is a highly precise and efficient mechanism that is used by professional anglers. These fishing rods are harder to control and do get line tangles. You might also find options that are appropriate for beginners. 

The lure and the line will fly away when you cast. At this point, the spool will rotate and the weight of the lure will pull the line. Then the lure will slow down and hit the water.

Baitcasting fishing reels also have a braking mechanism that will prevent the spool from releasing and turning the line after it hits the water. These brakes will slow and stop the spool. When the angler does not use the break or if there was no slowing fishing reel mechanism; the line would keep releasing. This is known as backlashing. It leads to line tangling and ensues when casting into the wind.

Fly Fishing Reels

In terms of their parts, fly fishing reels seem simple. However, the techniques used with these fly fishing rods are difficult. These fishing reels are totally different from the above-mentioned fishing reel types and can ONLY be utilized when embarking on a fly fishing adventure. 

For starters, these fishing reels come with interchangeable spools, which can be replaced. Secondly, the handle and the spool spins while casting. This aspect is known as direct drive. The handle is not too large either compared with other fishing reel types. 

You will find a couple of alternatives when it comes to fly fishing rods but the majority of them have single action. Casting using these reels is tough because anglers will have to manually strip the line from the spool. You will have to do the same for retrieving. There is a variety of methods used to retrieve the line. This fishing reel is only there to accommodate the line.

How Does Gear Ratio Work on a Fishing Reel?

Gear ratio refers to the number of times a spool will rotate with one turn of the handle. Fishing reels can be fast, medium, or slow. For instance, 6:1 implies that the spool will rotate 6 times on 1 turn of the handle. This, along with the line quantity and the spool size will determine the line length that can be retrieved in a single turn.

The gear ratio number is crucial given that different speed is required for different fishing methods. Beginners must use a medium one given that these reels are versatile and work in diverse situations.

So how does a gear ratio function on a fishing reel?

Fishing reels have wheels with “teeth”, which can be helical or straight. The majority of the time, the helical teeth offer a smoother and better run but they are categorized in the expensive reel range. The wheels on this reel are situated next to each other with teeth held together. When you turn one of them, the motion is automatically transferred to the other. Since the wheels are different in size, the motion that is transmitted from the bigger to the smaller one tends to be faster.

An exciting element of the gear ratio is that numerous fly reels have 1:1 because these are lighter, simple, and come with fewer moving parts. This is known as single action and implies that one handle turn will result in a single rotation of the spool.

Should a fishing reel be on top or bottom? 

The way a fishing reel functions impacts its location on the fishing rod. Some reels are mounted below while others are placed on the top. 

The majority of spinning reels are mounted below the fishing rod which means they will be hanging from it. Along the bottom side, anglers will also find the red line which guides it. These reels are suitable for spinning fishing rods as they have quite a large line guide. It aids the passing of the line in times of casting. Moreover, fly fishing reels are also mounted below the rod. 

On the contrary, baitcasting reels are mounted on top of the fishing rod. These rods are appropriate for line guides on the upper segment of the rod. The build allows anglers to apply a higher degree of pressure on the rod. It is appropriate for bigger and heavier species of fish. 

Spin-casting reels are quite different. These fishing reels are mounted at the top of the fishing rod but have a push button on the back of the reel. Anglers can easily use it by pushing the button with their thumb. You will also find certain versions that are mounted under the rod. Naturally, these will not have a push-button. Rather you will find triggers serving the same purpose. These triggers will be situated amidst the reel mount and the spool for anglers to use it conveniently.

how does a push button fishing reel work?

The push button fishing reel is just the same as the normal reel, the only difference is in the button. A push button reel has a button that can be pushed to control the brake. The button is usually located near the handle and is used to increase the resistance against the movement of the handle. Normally, there is no resistance in a normal fishing reel. If a fish bites the line, then you have to apply braking pressure to stop the handle from turning. The braking system of the push button reel is created to give the reel extra resistance, this makes it possible for the handle to continue rotating even if the line is pulled out of the water.

The more the handle is pulled, the more resistance is introduced. These extra resistances makes it very hard for the fish to drag the fishing line and rod. Since the resistance is increased, a fish can be released without much stress on the line, thereby preventing it from breaking. The push button reel has a good braking system and hence it is often used by professional fishermen. did hope to get the answer on how does a push button fishing reel work?

What is the function of a drag on a fishing reel?

Drag is an imperative element of a fishing reel and a fishing rod, which is why all anglers must learn how it operates. In simple words, it is ‘added pressure’ that the fish will have to overcome if they want to pull out the line. Its construction is such that friction plates will be installed in the fishing reel. Each reel comes with a maximum drag that will be displayed in pounds or kilograms. Anglers can set it by utilizing a knob or button. 

Drag on a fishing reel permits the spool to turn backwards and let go of the line. Without the drag, the fish will pull hard enough, which will break the line. As a result, the anglers will lose the fish quite regularly. 

Prior to fishing, set the drag depending on the species you intend to target. You will find it was difficult to do so in the middle of the procedure. For some reels, it might just be impossible to set it while fishing. 

Typically, if you are unaware of the drag setting, then you must choose a lower setting. You will need to put a little force while retrieving if the line is slightly loose. In case you set the drag too high, the line will break when dealing with hard impacts.

The Best Fishing Reel for Beginners

After a clear understanding of how fishing reels work, you might find it easy to choose the right one for you as a beginner. If you are not purchasing for a child, then the best fishing reel for beginners is a spinning reel. Compared with baitcasting reels, these are easy to utilize and have ample power for all types of fishing adventures.

Spinning fishing reels are also a great choice because most of the baits and lures can be used with them. Moreover, these reels and fishing rods can be utilized for several techniques. Another amazing aspect of a spinning reel is the price factor. These reels tend to lie in the affordable price category, making them an excellent choice for beginners. If you keep these reels properly and in the right environment, spinning fishing reels tend to last a long time owing to their construction and high-quality materials.

Another fairly decent choice for beginners is the spin-cast fishing reel. This category comes with limited prospects and is an excellent option for children who want to venture into fishing. Moreover, people who do not go fishing regularly can also purchase this type of fishing reel. Hence, it is perfect for individuals who do not plan on fishing on a long-term basis.

Beginners usually have wishes that go beyond their abilities. It is better to keep it simple and take your time to learn the right techniques. For this reason, you must choose a spinning fishing reel that has a medium gear ratio.

Related Resource: How To Change A Fishing Reel From Right To Left Handed

Beginners must look for a lighter setup. Anglers should avoid big sizes as the chance of catching a large fish are slim to none. When you opt for lighter setups, it will allow you to learn the proper fishing techniques.


As a beginner, anglers generally enquire how does a fishing reel work. Understanding the fishing reel mechanism through which these rods and reels operate is imperative as it will facilitate you to make the right buying decision. Purchase decisions are generally based on the type of fishing reel and the size of the mission.

Each fishing reel comes with different internal parts, which ultimately alter its performance. Anglers will only be able to identify these differences once they have experienced them. You must start with spinning reels as a beginner and then move on to bait casters. When you keep the process simple, it will give you higher success.


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