Baitcaster vs. Spinning Reels – Top Picks Reviewed [2020]

| Last Updated December 23, 2020

One of the most important choices you’ll make as an angler is the decision between a baitcasting or a spinning reel.

While neither has a real edge over the other, each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

This article will walk you through each design and why you may want to choose one over the other.

Baitcaster Overview

A baitcaster is a type of reel that is known for its accuracy and power, but also for the difficulties that come along with using it. Many advanced anglers prefer using a baitcaster because it provides a little extra challenge, and when learned to use correctly, can reap tons of benefits.

These types of reels are more commonly used when an angler is hunting larger catches, as that often requires the use of heavier-weight line. Baitcasting reels tend to be better suited for heavy line. These reels are also great for super accurate casts (when used correctly). Because the user can control the spool manually, it provides easy management of a cast.

Spinning Reel Overview

Spinning reels are the more popular choice among the angling community as a whole. They are super easy to use, making them an accessible choice for anglers of all skill levels. But spinning reels aren’t exclusively for beginners— they’re popular with the more advanced as well.

These reels truly shine when used to cast lighter baits. They work better with a lighter line, and because the line can unspool freely thanks to the “spinning” design, there is no restraint on a bait with less weight. Spinning reels are also a good option when you’re fishing in inclement or unpredictable weather because wind won’t affect your cast as much.

Baitcaster vs. Spinning Reel - Similarities and Differences

If you’re having a tough time choosing between a spinning reel and a baitcaster, you’re not alone! Many anglers have also agonized over this choice. To give you a better idea of which design might work best for you, we’ve put together some comparisons to keep in mind:

Baitcaster vs. Spinning Reel Differences

Below are the primary differences between these two models:

Reel Placement

One of the first major differences you’ll see between a baitcasting and spinning reel is where it is located on the rod.

A baitcasting reel will sit atop the rod, allowing the line to unspool directly in line with the rod.

A spinning reel hangs below the rod, where the line will first unspool away from the rod, then turn at the bail to follow the line of the rod.

Baitcaster vs Spinning Reel(Source)

Ease of Use

As mentioned before, there’s definitely a substantial difference in usability between the two rods. 

A baitcasting reel has more of a learning curve associated with it because it requires more manual control. The user has to stop and hold the line with a thumb when the bait hits the water, which can be a difficult action to master.

Whereas, with a spinning design, the reel does most of the work for you. The only action you have to remember with a spinning reel is to flip the bail to the “open” position.

Line Capacity

Because baitcasting reels are created for use with heavier line, they have a higher line capacity. But take this with a grain of salt, as baitcasting reels have a difficult time handling lighter weight line. 

However, spinning reels do their best work with a lighter line. This means that they have a smaller line capacity.


An annoying quality baitcast-users have to deal with is backlash, when a spool moves faster than the release of a line. This results in something called a “birds nest,” an annoying, hard-to-untangle knot. 

Spinning reels don’t deal with this problem because the line doesn’t unspool directly in line with the rod. However, spinning reels can have trouble with line twisting and wind-knots, so no reel is truly mistake-proof.

Baitcaster vs. Spinning Reel Similarities

Drag- Baitcasters and spinning reels both include some sort of drag system to allow more casting and retrieval control. Drag works by applying an amount of pressure to the line, which acts as a friction brake.

One of the most common systems is a disc drag system, used in both baitcasters and spinning reels. Disc drags utilize washers made of various materials, like carbon fiber or plastic, to hold an amount of pressure on the line. The higher the pressure capability, the more stopping power the reel will have.


Although each reel may shine in a different area of casting, both baitcasting and spinning reels are great for casting. Baitcasting reels are particularly great for making accurate casts. This is because the user has more manual control over where the bait ends up. They’re also good for casting long distances. Spinning reels also offer long-distance casting power, especially when it comes to throwing smaller lures and baits. 


Both baitcasters and spinning reels can be used in a variety of angling settings. No matter whether you’re in a freshwater lake or surf fishing from the beach, reels of both designs can work well. If you’re planning on fishing in saltwater, just make sure that your reel is created with corrosion-resistant materials to prevent saltwater damage over time. 


Although you may wish there was a clear winner between the two types of reels, there’s really not. As long as they are used properly, both baitcasters and spinning reels can pull in fish after fish. 


No matter which reel design you choose, the most important thing is going for a high-quality pick. Whether you’re a die-hard baitcasting fan or can’t imagine fishing without a spinning reel, it’s best to go for a reel that will last you for years to come. Happy fishing! 


My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at Read more about Big Game Logic.