Spinning vs Casting Rods – 2021 Complete Comparison Guide

Jeff
| Last Updated April 5, 2021

Thinking of fishing but not sure of which to use between spinning vs casting rods?

We suggest you first read this article in its entirety.

You’ll find out which rods are best suited for what fish size and what you should be going for if you are a beginner angler.

Photo credit: premierangler.com

Spinning vs Casting Rods

Spinning Rods

Casting Rods

Pros

Pros

  • Easy to learn and master, making them great   for newbies

  • An excellent choice for small fish species

  • Less chance of tangles in fishing line

  • Cheaper options

  • Offers impressive accuracy

  • The best option for heavy and big fish

  • Durable rods with an excellent drag system

Cons

Cons

  • Not very accurate

  • Not suitable for fishing heavy and big fish 

  • Greater chance of fishing line snapping

  • Not very durable

  • Not easy to master

  • Not suitable for finesse applications

  • More expensive

Best For

Best For

Anglers of all skill levels and smaller fish species

Experienced fishermen and bigger fish species

What is a Spinning Rod?

A spinning rod is usually built from graphite, fiberglass, or carbon fiber with a PVC or foam handle. They are typically light and shorter in length ranging between four to 14 feet, with six- to eight-footers being the most commonly used options.

The rod comes with guides or eyes located on the underside and faces downward. The eyes are loops that “guide” the fishing line, keeping it straight as soon as it unwinds from the spool.

When you catch fish with a spinning rod, the pressure from the struggling fish causes the line to press against the guides or eyes and away from the blank. This allows the line and rod to bend in a way that gives the angler a more natural fishing feel. 

This fishing rod is available in different action ranges, including extra-fast, fast, medium, and slow action. Usually, they are designated with the letter “S” in the model number.

Spinning rods are built to work with spinning reels, which are mounted under the fishing rod. The guide loops on these fishing rods are bigger and won’t match spincast reels or baitcasters. It is best to always match a spinning rod to a spinning reel to avoid problems.

Photo credit: takemefishing.org

What is a Casting Rod? 

A casting rod (or baitcasting rod) is a fishing rod built to handle heavier lures and provide higher fishing accuracy. 

The rod’s frame is usually made from durable construction materials, such as fiberglass, carbon fiber, and graphite.

The rod’s design allows for a reel to sit on top of it, improving its aiming ability and power and resulting in long-distance casts. 

There are guides or eyes facing upward on the fishing rod. This makes it difficult for a fighting fish to break them off as it pulls away during the struggle. Instead, the fish will only bend the rod without any chance of breaking the rod or cutting the line. 

Casting rods are the ideal option for anglers who prefer surf-casting, trolling, and power fishing methods. They are also the best choice for saltwater fishing.

Casting rods are specifically built to be used with a casting reel. Using them with spinning reels can result in a frustrating fishing experience. 

While the rod is the preferred choice among many experienced anglers, it takes a lot of practice and learning to maneuver casting reels successfully. For this reason, they are not the best fishing rods for beginners because they are typically difficult to control.

Relevant Characteristics Between Spinning and Casting Rods

Here are distinguishing characteristics between the two rods.

Spinning Rod

Casting Rod

Photo credit: dks.scene7.com

Photo credit: dks.scene7.com

Fewer and larger, down-facing eyes

Eye Type/Size

Many and smaller eyes located near the reel facing upward

Spinning reel and spincast reel

Compatible Reel Types

Baitcasting reel

All skill levels

Skill Level

Experienced angler

Underneath rod

Reel Placement

Top of rod

No

Trigger Grip

Yes

Spinning Rod vs Casting Rod 

Photo credit: dreamstime.com 

Similarities and Differences 

Regardless of design and construction, fishing rods all have one purpose and that is to catch fish. However, in comparing spinning vs casting rods, it is important to consider what makes them different and the features they share in common. 

Let’s now take a more detailed look at these distinguishing features. 

What is the Difference Between a Casting Rod and a Spinning Rod?

The following are some of the glaring differences between spinning and casting rods.

Reel Placement and Type

The most apparent difference between both rods is the position of the reels. On spinning rods, the reels are mounted below the rod. 

Besides the location of the reel on the rod, each option is compatible with a different reel type. Baitcasters are best for casting rods while spinning reels and spincast reels are compatible with spinning rods. 

Trigger Grip

Besides the reel placement, another very clear difference between the two fishing rod types is the presence of a trigger grip on the reel seat of casting rods. 

The feature allows you to have a firm grasp on the rod, but it is noticeably absent in spinning rods. 

Uniform Guide Sizing and Orientation

The eyes or guides on a casting rod start near the reel and are uniformly spaced. This is to prevent the fishing line from rubbing against the rod blank as you reel in a fighting fish. 

The guides on a casting rod are smaller and face upwards, while on spinning rods, they are larger and face downward. 

Fishing Technique

To the onlooker, all rods can catch any type of fish, but the experienced angler knows better. You are likely to get excellent results if you use spinning rods with lightweight lures for attracting and catching small to medium-sized fish species. Besides, you can cast more easily with these rods from different locations. 

Conversely, casting rods perform better with bigger fish. They are known for providing excellent aim and accuracy.

Price Difference

The price tag on casting rods is typically a few hundred dollars, making them considerably more expensive than spinning rods. 

But with the high price comes superior quality, so a casting rod is worth the investment, especially if you want to take fishing more seriously.

Spinning and Casting Rod Similarities

While there are several differences between spinning and casting rods, both fishing tools share some common attributes, although they may work slightly differently. Below are the most apparent similarities.

Guides or Eyes on the Rod

The position, size, and amount of eyelets or guides vary between both fishing rod types, but they do share that feature in common. 

In both cases, the eyelets serve as the “passage” for the fishing line. They are strategically located to ensure that the fishing line remains straight as it leaves the spool. 

Casting Ability

Anglers can cast for long distances with both rods, depending on the type of lure or bait they use. 

A casting rod can cast farther if you plan to use heavy baits, while long-distance casts with lighter lures are achievable with spinning rods. Even if you plan to cast into the wind, you will reach farther with a spinning rod.

Skill Level

Indeed, a spinning rod may be the most ideal choice for beginner anglers, but that does not mean it is exclusively for newbies. Pro or advanced fishermen also use spinning rods. 

That’s another way of saying that experienced anglers can and do use both rod types. It is necessary to have both rods in your arsenal if you plan to be a versatile fisherman. 

Several Types of “Action”

Both rod types come in an array of actions, depending on the fish you are targeting. The action can be fast, meaning the rod will flex or arch only at the tip. Slow-action rods will curve all the way to the base, while medium-action models can only bend up to the middle as you reel in fish.

Durable Handle Materials

The handles on both rods are typically made from cork or EVA foam, which are durable, lightweight, and sensitive to the hand. 

Advantages of Spinning Rods

Knowing the features of a spinning rod is one thing, understanding the benefits of using the equipment is another. Here are a few important benefits of using the fishing tool.

Requires Less Skill

You don’t have to be a pro fisherman to use a spinning rod. With casting rods, the angler needs to have a fair understanding of centrifugal cast control mechanisms and other complex workings of the baitcaster. 

These are all unnecessary with spinning rods.

Even if it’s your first time handling a spinning fishing rod, you should be able to get the hang of it with a little practice because the learning curve is less steep. Little wonder the rod is the preferred option for beginners. 

Offers Longer Casts with Lightweight Lures

Spinning rods feature wide guide-loops that minimize line friction during casts and support increased line flow. All these translate to longer casts, especially with lightweight lures.

Spinning rods are ideal if you are fishing from land and hope to reach a stump up to 20 feet away (or slightly more) using a tiny lure. They are also great for tossing weedless grubs into dense vegetation on the water.

In other words, a spinning rod is your best friend if your fishing technique is more of finesse applications or involves the use of light gear. 

Also, windy conditions do not hinder the casting ability of spinning rods. Instead, it is a lot more efficient to cast lighter lures into the wind.

Less Expensive Option

If you are new to the world of fishing, it makes sense to start with an inexpensive fishing rod. Spinning rods are a lot cheaper than casting rods. 

But whether you are new to fishing or you only fish once in a long while, getting a spinning rod is usually the smart thing to do.

Advantages of Casting Rods

Following are some of the more apparent benefits of investing in good-quality casting rods.

Gives Room for Plenty of Fishing Gear

With casting rods, you are not limited to only one type of bait for attracting fish. You can use the rod with artificial lures, live lures (such as worms), and baits. They are also excellent for trolling or use with crankbaits, jigs, and other heavier lures. 

The rods are compatible with just about any bait or lure. The deciding factor is the fish species you are interested in catching.

Highly Durable Fishing Rod

Regardless of whether you are planning to go fishing in fresh or saltwater, you need a durable rod if bigger and stronger fish species are on the agenda.

This is one of the places where casting rods outshine their spinning counterparts. The former is designed to be highly durable to withstand the immense pressure of stronger and bigger fish.

You can confidently go into a fight with the strongest water beasts with a casting rod because it will hardly break. Combined with the correct line, they can handle the weightier species effortlessly.

Offers Greater Casting Control

The reels on casting rods sit on top of the fishing tool. This placement allows for greater control of the line during casting. 

Apart from the ability to cast further, you will also have more accuracy with the tool. If you can aim correctly at the exact location on the water where you want your bait or lure to land, there is a high probability that you will hit that precise spot.

It might require a great deal of work to get the hang of casting rods, but anglers who put in the effort to learn and master casting rods and baitcasting rigs usually prefer to use the outfit for the precision it offers.

What About a Spincast Rod?

An alternative to these rod types that you could try is a spincast rod. Spincast rods are very popular among beginners, as they are a super approachable type of fishing gear. Spincast rods are rods that hold a spincast reel and use a basic button to push and release the casting line. 

People who use spincast rods love the simplicity of its simple push-button casting. This feature tends to characterize this rod as an option for kids, but there’s still a lot of appeal for this rod type for older anglers too! These rods tend to be inexpensive, making them great for beginners, and easy addition to an existing rod collection. 

While these rods may not catch you any huge game, they are great for more casual, small-medium-sized fishing adventures. These rods require light line, so it isn’t great for catching heavyweights. 

When and Why Would I Use a Spinning Rod? 

This section will prove useful if you are wondering why you should use a spinning rod and in what fishing conditions they work best.

Fishing with Light Lures

Spinning rods are most suitable for targeting small fish with light lures. With the right fishing line, this rod will give you excellent results in small water bodies.

Excellent Choice for Monofilament Line

Fluorocarbon and braided lines are not the best options to use with spinning rods. Therefore, if your fishing technique involves mainly using lightweight mono, you may as well stick to using a spinning rod. 

This means you don’t have to deal with issues of line twists or problematic tangles. 

Ease of Use

A spinning rod is most suitable if you want a rod that is easy to use, perhaps because you are new to fishing.

Besides being a cheaper option, it allows you to make long-distance casts without too much effort. Also, you will be able to reel in fish very quickly with a spinning rod, even if you are a newbie.

It’s glaring to see why spinning rods are best suited for beginner anglers. However, that is not to say advanced or pro anglers don’t use the fishing tool as well.

When and Why Would I Use a Casting Rod? 

Here are some of the reasons and scenarios where a casting rod is the best option.

Fishing with Heavier Lures 

Casting rods are the perfect fishing tools for targeting fish in heavy covers, such as bass. If you intend to fish bass with crankbait or jig, your best bet will be a casting rod. 

Keep in mind that these rods are more expensive, but they are the ideal choice for heavier lures because they are built to be durable. 

Targeting Large Size Fish

Casting rods are built with enough thickness and backbone to make them stronger than their spinning counterparts. This makes them the perfect choice for going after larger fish species.

It makes sense to target stronger and heavier fish with stronger fishing rods since they are less likely to break during the long struggle with bigger fish species.

Highly Versatile Option

Apart from offering higher accuracy, casting rods are highly versatile, especially if you have enough experience in using them. 

They give anglers the flexibility of working with every type of fishing line, including fluorocarbon, braided, and monofilament lines.

With these scenarios and reasons, it is easy to see why casting rods are best suited for advanced or professional anglers.

Bottom Line

The fact is there is no “winner” when it comes to which fishing equipment to choose between spinning vs casting rods. 

Each has its benefits and downsides, and if you’re like many other anglers, you probably will use one rod more but likely use both at some point.

Casting rods are expensive and not beginner-friendly, meaning you need to have lots of fishing experience to set it up, maintain it, and master its use. However, they are highly durable and offer unmatched accuracy. 

On the other hand, spinning rods are cheaper, easy to maintain, and perfect for beginners, although they lack accuracy.

People Also Ask

Do you still have questions? That’s perfectly okay!

This section lists some of the questions common among anglers, particularly beginners who are trying to figure out which equipment to choose between spinning vs casting rods.

We have provided concise answers to help make your decision a lot easier.

Do I Need Both a Spinning Rod and a Casting Rod?

It depends on the type of fishing you plan to do. 

If you merely want to fish occasionally, there may be no need to invest in more than one fishing rod. 

But you need both rods if you intend to be anywhere near a well-rounded angler, as both rods complement each other.

How to Tell a Spinning Rod From a Casting Rod

Besides the reel placement, one of the clear differences between the fishing rods is the presence of a trigger on the reel seat of many casting rods, particularly on saltwater models. This feature is absent from spinning rods.

Casting rods have smaller guides and fewer eyes than their spinning counterparts.

Can You Use a Spinning Reel on a Casting Rod?

While it is possible to use a spinning reel on a casting rod and vice-versa, you will miss out on casting distance if you do so. 

But a bigger problem with using a spinning reel on a casting rod is the possibility of compromising the rod since the tools are not compatible.

Jeff

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 admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.