Spinning Reels vs. Conventional Reels: What’s Best for the Ocean?


When it comes to fishing in the ocean, one of the primary decisions anglers have to make is choosing between spinning reels and conventional reels. Both types of reels have their advantages and disadvantages, and understanding these differences is crucial in selecting the best reel for your fishing needs. In this article, we will explore the key differences between spinning reels and conventional reels and discuss their impact on the environment, specifically the ocean.

What are Spinning Reels?

Spinning reels, also known as fixed spool reels, are one of the most commonly used types of reels in fishing. They are designed with a fixed spool that hangs below the fishing rod. The line is released from the spool by the rotation of a bail, which is a metal wire that wraps around the spool to prevent the line from tangling. Spinning reels are easy to use, making them a popular choice for beginners and casual anglers. They are suitable for a wide range of fishing applications, including freshwater and light tackle saltwater fishing.

Advantages of Spinning Reels

Spinning reels offer several advantages that make them a favorite among anglers. Firstly, they are beginner-friendly and easy to use. The bail system allows for straightforward casting and reeling in of the line, without the need for any complex techniques. This makes them ideal for novice anglers who are just starting to learn the basics of fishing.

Secondly, spinning reels are water and dust resistant. Their design incorporates seals and gaskets that protect the inner components from water and debris, ensuring smooth functioning even in challenging conditions. This makes spinning reels suitable for fishing in saltwater environments, where exposure to corrosive elements is a concern.

Lastly, spinning reels are particularly well-suited for light tackle fishing. They are designed to handle finer lines and lighter lures, making them perfect for targeting smaller fish species. The drag system of spinning reels is typically not as strong as conventional reels, but it is sufficient for landing smaller fish.

What are Conventional Reels?

Conventional reels, also known as baitcasting reels or multiplier reels, are a popular choice among experienced anglers and those targeting larger fish species. Unlike spinning reels, conventional reels have a spool that rotates as the line is cast. The spool is controlled by using the angler’s thumb, allowing for precise control over the casting distance and accuracy. Conventional reels are commonly used in applications where heavier tackle and longer casting distances are required, such as offshore fishing and surfcasting.

Advantages of Conventional Reels

Conventional reels offer several advantages that make them a preferred choice for certain fishing scenarios. Firstly, they have the ability to cast further using heavier tackle. The rotating spool design allows for greater line speed and increased casting distance, making them ideal for anglers who need to reach distant targets, such as offshore reefs or deep water structures.

Secondly, conventional reels have a heavier drag system compared to spinning reels. This means they can apply more resistance and withstand the strong pulling power of larger fish. The increased drag capacity of conventional reels makes them a reliable choice for anglers targeting big game species, such as marlin, tuna, or sharks.

Maintenance and Environmental Impact

Regardless of whether you choose a spinning reel or a conventional reel, proper maintenance is essential for the longevity and performance of your reel. Regular cleaning, lubrication, and proper storage can help prevent rust and corrosion, ensuring that your reel remains in good working condition for years to come.

In terms of environmental impact, both types of reels can have an impact on the ocean if not used responsibly. Anglers should always follow local fishing regulations, including catch limits, size restrictions, and protected species guidelines. Furthermore, proper handling and release techniques should be practiced to minimize harm to fish populations. This includes using appropriate tackle and gear, avoiding excessive fighting and stress on the fish, and practicing catch and release whenever possible.


Spinning reels and conventional reels each have their strengths and weaknesses, and the choice between the two ultimately depends on your fishing preferences and the species you are targeting. Spinning reels are beginner-friendly, water and dust resistant, and better suited for light tackle fishing. On the other hand, conventional reels are capable of casting further with heavier tackle and have a heavier drag system for larger fish. Whichever type of reel you choose, it is important to practice responsible fishing and minimize your impact on the ocean environment.