View Full Version : What is the difference between a spinning and a conventional reel

05-27-2003, 07:45 AM
There are basically two types of fishing reels for surf fishing, spinning and conventional.

The spinning reel has a fixed spool and the line is wrapped around the spool by a hook or a bail that turns when you turn the reel handle. The drag is generally part of the spool and is adjusted by a knob on the front of the spool. Spinners are easy to learn and have an advantage when it comes to ease of use. They specifically shine when casting very small lures or casting into a strong headwind.

One of the inherent weaknesses with spinning reels is the fact that the line must make a 90-degree bend prior to going on the spool. The bend puts a lot of stress on the line and could become a factor when fishing for large fish in strong currents.

Spinners by their very nature put twist into the fishing line every time you cast and retrieve. Many of the newer reels have quality ball bearing line rollers that help reduce the amount of twist that the reel puts into the line. The twisting action makes spinning reels less than ideal for certain types of braided line.

The conventional reel has a spool that rotates and may or may not have a device called a level wind that lays the line evenly across the spool as it is retrieved. The drag is adjusted by either a lever or a star knob on the end of the reel near the crank handle. There is generally a clutch of some sort that disengages the spool from the drive train. Almost all conventional reels have some sort of clicker that makes noise when you leave the reel in free spool and a fish picks up your offering. The conventional reel is somewhat difficult to fish with light lures and is also problematic when fishing into a strong headwind.

While it is more difficult to learn how to cast a conventional reel it does have several advantages over a spinning reel. The conventional reel can cast heavy offerings with heavy lines farther than spinning reels. They typically have more substantial drag systems than spinning reels and it is easier to drift your bait or lure in the current with a conventional reel. The decision to choose a reel with a level wind or not should be based on the type of fishing and type of line that you plan on using. If you plan on fishing with artificial lures or eels at night or you plan on fishing with braided line you will definitely want a level wind. If you plan on still fishing or fishing with monofilament line you may find that a reel without a level wind gives you slightly more distance.

The choice of what reel to use in the surf is very personal. You may find that you want both a spinning and a conventional reel for different applications. I fish a spinner in the early season with light lures and I use a conventional for most of my other fishing. It is somewhat difficult to fish into a strong wind with the conventional reel, but in those conditions the fish are often right at your feet.

12-08-2003, 01:56 PM
Fishpart - curious what your personal preferences are for surfcasting reels that are spinning & conventional? Also, any recommendation for a beginner in the conventional realm? Txs.

PS - I've read past posts and found them very useful, just wondering what your preference is.

Sent a PM, Txs for the info.