reel choice

When To Use A Spinning Vs Baitcasting Reel, Explained

Following a simple rule helps you determine whether to use spinning or baitcasting reels for bass fishing.

The rule of thumb I follow is to use spinning reels when I need to fish with light line (8-pound test or less) and switch to a baitcaster for fishing with heavy line (10-pound test or more). I do have some exceptions to the rule such as I fill my baitcaster with 8-pound monofilament when I fish suspended stickbaits for wintertime bass. Using lighter line helps my stickbaits dive deeper and I prefer the higher gear ratio of a baitcaster because I like to let my stickbaits sit still on a slack line and the baitcaster allows me to reel in line quicker to set the hook after I detect a strike.

fishing reels

I would prefer to fish a baitcaster all the time because I can cast it more accurately by controlling the spool with my thumb. The reels feature higher gear ratios than spinning models which I need for high-speed presentations such as waking a spinnerbait, buzzing a buzz bait across the surface or burning square-bill crankbaits in shallow cover. I also prefer a baitcaster for all of the power fishing techniques with heavy line such as pitching and flipping, Carolina rigging and slow-rolling spinnerbaits.

A baitcaster works well with all three line types: monofilament, fluorocarbon and braid. I use a baitcaster with monofilament for topwater baits such as Zara Spooks, twitching suspended stickbaits and cranking in the shallows or at mid-depths. A baitcaster with fluorocarbon is my choice for jig fishing, Texas-rigged soft plastics and deep cranking. I rely on a baitcaster filled with braid for buzz baits, plastic frogs and topwater chuggers.

spinning tackle

I resort to spinning reels mainly in the spring when bass are in the shallows and finesse tactics seem to work best. I also switch to spinning reels on windy winter days for casting suspending stickbaits because baitcasters tend to backlash too much when throwing those lightweight plugs into the wind. Some of my favorite finesse tactics I use with spinning tackle are wacky-rigging Senkos, shaking a finesse worm with a shaky head jig, skipping tube jigs and drop-shotting.

I prefer to use fluorocarbon for finesse tactics but it tends to fly off a spinning reel spool too easily causing a bird’s nest. I solve this problem by filling the spool with 10-pound braid and attaching a fluorocarbon leader.

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