How To Use A Spinning Reel

Sergio Smirnoff

Hello, my name is Sergio Smirnof, and my goal with FishReeler is to provide a valuable resource for anglers of all levels, from beginners to experienced veterans. I hope that my passion for fishing and dedication to the sport shines through in the content I create and inspires others to get out on the water and catch some fish!

Shimano Forcemaster BX 33H NH-SP


The spinning reel is widely used in different types of fishing and today it is considered the most common and versatile in the entire fishing world. For fishing not only to bring pleasure but also to be successful, it is necessary to use the spinning reel correctly. In this article, I will answer the questions that you probably have. I will answer questions like how to correctly use spinning reels, how spinning reels work, and many others.

Spinning Reel: It’s Simple

Shimano Forcemaster BX 33H NH-SP-SFMBX33H Reel

The spinning reel is one of the main components of modern predatory fish fishing. Lures of different weights need to be kept at a distance and returned over and over again. In particular, lures with high water resistance or lures that generate strong vibrations put the reel to the test. In addition, we anglers want the device to work flawlessly. This places high demands on the performance and durability of the spinning reel.

Unlike passive standing fishing, spinning is a very active type of fishing. The bait is ejected and re-introduced using a line (braided line) adapted to the type of artificial bait. The fisherman is helped by the minimum possible weight of fishing equipment, consisting of a spinning rod. The load on the spinning reel is compensated by the respective quality of the individual components.

The ball bearings of the spinning reel affect the smoothness of the spinning reel. Only the highest quality ball bearings and gear parts are suitable for these reels. Tolerances should be kept as low as possible to minimize gear play and ensure the best contact with the bait. Spinning reels are available in all price ranges. Some models cost between $700 and $1,000. Spinning reels are also available in the low-cost sector, but they are usually not suitable for long-term use. To truly enjoy spinning, you must be willing to invest $50 or more in a durable spinning reel.

Spinning Rod Kali Kunnan Genesis 3000 Carbon MN Action

Kali Kunnan Genesis 3000 Carbon MN Action

What Is A Spinning Reel?

The spinning reel is the most important piece of fishing tackle. Not only does the number of caught fish depend on its type, but also the general convenience. Also, experienced fishermen always have a few extra reels to make it easier to change the line while fishing or suitable for other fishing conditions.

How To Use A Spinning Reel For Beginners?

Device Spinning Reel Infographic

There is nothing complicated in handling a spinning reel:

  • Before casting, make sure the lure is firmly attached to the end of the line or to the swivel that connects the line to the lure. It allows the line not to twist, thus, during the drive, the bait behaves more naturally.
  • By lowering the line from the spool, or by winding the reel by rotating the handle, make sure that the bait is about 1-1.5 meters from the tip of the spinning rod.
  • Now use your index finger to press down on the line that runs from the spool to the first ring and swing-out the bow of the line guide. Now the spool is in a free state, if you release your finger, the line will start to reel.
  • Make a swing, not necessarily strong, just take the tip of the rod behind your back or to the side. Now briskly (not necessarily strongly for the first time) swing the rod forward, pointing with the tip where the bait needs to fly, and at the very last moment release the finger that holds the line.
  • The line will start to come off the spool, and the bait will fly to the place where you cast.
  • Immediately after the bait lands in the water – fold the line guide to the standard position so the line doesn’t continue to come off the spool and a beard doesn’t form.

You need to wind up the fishing line by rotating the reel, depending on the type of your wiring. If you want to fish along the bottom, wait for the bait to fall to the bottom, keeping the line in tension, after falling to the bottom, the line will sag a little, at this moment you need to start wiring. If you want to fish from above, you need to start wiring immediately after the bait falls into the water and a quick reel.

Spinning Reel Parts

It will be useful for any angler to know the basic principles of how a spinning reel works. The axis on which the spool is located is mounted in the direction of movement of the scaffold. In addition, it is static both during throwing and at the moment of reeling, which excludes inertial force. Let’s consider the main elements of the reel.


It is made from a variety of metals, including aluminum, as well as plastic, and other materials. It contains a large proportion of the elements. At the top of the body, there is afoot, with which the attachment to the fishing rod is made.


They can ensure the smooth operation of the entire device. Manufacturers can equip the scaffold roller with a bearing to reduce friction. It is believed that the more of them, the better the reel works, but the judgment isn’t always correct.


The housing contains a pair of gears. This is the heart of the mechanism by which the arm torque is transferred to the rotor. It is he who rotates the forestry machine.

Line stacker

As I said, the mechanism is connected to the rotor under the spool, which is connected to the bow of the line stacker. The latter makes rotations, winding the fishing line on a spool, which reciprocates.

Line roller

A small but serious component that makes up a spinning reel. With its help, the roller is connected with the line stacker. The period of use of a monofilament or braid directly depends on his actions.

Backstop device

The spinning spool backstop locks the line stacker to prevent the fishing line from coming off the spool. It is made in such a way that it is still possible to pull the thread under load. This is true when playing large specimens.


It can be quite long, when it rotates, it sets the entire device in motion. It has a free-running tip made of plastic or neoprene.


It is designed for laying a fishing line on it. It is made as a removable element, which allows you to easily replace it with another line of a different section during the fishing process.

The scheme of the spinning reel includes a friction brake, which can be located both in front of the body and behind. Prevents the spool from rotating when the line is reeled under load. With excessive force, for example, when catching fish, it pushes the line off to avoid a break.

The rear drag is appropriate for carp fishing or feeder fishing since it is impossible to predict the weight of the fish that will be hooked. The blank is constantly placed on the stands with such a relationship.

How To Wind Line On A Spinning Reel?

Fishing Line Spooling Accessories

How To Wind Line On A Spinning Reel

Winding a fishing line on a reel is an important stage in the process of preparing a spinning rod for fishing because mistakes in this can lead to the fact that at the most interesting moment good catch will fall off the hook.

Winding should be done without too much tension, but not too loosely. The line should be tightly wound. The direction of winding should be parallel to the rotation of the spool.

The amount of line is such that the reel is filled. The line reserve, taking into account the casting distance, should be approximately 20%.

You can attach the line to the spool using a knot, or you can simply hook the line or cord to a stopper that can be on the spool. Some models of reels, instead of a stopper, have a special clip for which the fishing line is fixed and then the winding of the required amount simply begins.

You can fix the line on the spool using a knot in this way:

  • Make one full turn of the line around the spool.
  • One end must be passed through the line, which is mainline, thus forming a loop.
  • Around the base, make 3-4 full turns of the line, which will eventually form a loop.
  • At the beginning of the twist, pass the end of the line through and tighten with a knot. The excess end of the line can be cut off.

This is a small knot, but strong and doesn’t interfere with the further winding of the line on the spool.

There are three main ways to wind a line:

  • Cylindrical
  • With a slope
  • Chaotic

Step-By-Step Instructions For Winding Fishing Line On A Spinning Reel

The cylindrical method is the simplest since here the whole winding consists of incorrectly fixing the line on the spool (using one of the above methods) and winding the line evenly along the entire length of the spool. As a result, you should have a cylinder. Due to its simplicity, this type of winding is the most common.

Slope winding:

  • Fix the end of the line with a knot or with a stopper on the spool.
  • Winding starts: with variable pitch, which decreases towards the bobbin wall. Thus, it turns out that near the wall of the fishing line there will be more, which is similar in shape to a cone.
  • Chaotic winding

This method is used only on spools, it should not be used. The meaning of such a winding is that here the turns are superimposed as they will come out, without any specific system. In the process of fishing, this can lead to entanglement and breakage of the line, involuntary descent.

Winding on a reel of fishing line is carried out according to the following algorithm:

  • A reel must be installed in the reel seat of the spinning rod.
  • The line is tied in a knot as described above, or secured to a stopper. The bail must be open in this case.
  • The winding process starts: the line of the line guide is lowered. The line from the reel should come off smoothly, and not fly off in turns, otherwise, it can get confusing. In the process of winding with one hand, you need to hold the ring already wound on the spool, adjusting the winding force so that the winding doesn’t come out weak, but not too tight.
  • Make sure that the line doesn’t reach the edge of the sides 2-3 mm.
  • After the end of the winding, the end of the line must be inserted into the clip, which is located on the side of the bobbin.

How To Clean A Spinning Reel For Saltwater Use?

Spinning reels need constant care and monitoring of their technical condition. I recommend that you, at least once a year, preferably before the opening of a new season, carry out technical preventive maintenance of the mechanism, which consists in cleaning it from dirt and lubricating the gears and bearings with special lubricants.

It is better to buy lubricants for reel care in specialized places. I don’t recommend that you use automotive oils and grease, since they differ significantly in viscosity from the lubricants required for delicate parts of the mechanism and can increase frictional forces and lead to jamming of the mechanism and its failure.

After arriving home from fishing, remove the reel from the case, clean the dirt and dust with a brush and dry before long-term storage. If the contamination is substantial, use warm water and detergent. You need to wet the brush in it, but try to keep water out of the reel.

If the fishing was in saltwater, then disconnect the spool with the line, and rinse them in warm water, soaking them for 10-20 minutes. Otherwise, the salt can damage the line itself or the line roller.


A spinning reel is a mandatory attribute, without which the spinning tackle won’t function. The main characteristics of this device directly affect the quality of fishing and casting distance. This reel will allow you to master various fishing techniques. You can easily master them, but you may have difficulties while using such a reel. I really hope that this article has helped you understand how a spinning reel works, and also you have found answers to your questions.

Shimano Forcemaster BX 33H NH-SP-SFMBX33H

Tags: #how to use a spinning reel / #how to use a spinning reel review / #how to use a spinning rod and reel review / #how to use a spinning reel for beginners / #how to clean a spinning reel for saltwater use / #how to correctly use a spinning reel

Sergio Smirnoff
Sergio Smirnoff
Professional fisherman with 40+ years of experience.
Fishing and the ocean is a passion of my life. I am passionate about all kinds of sea fishing: fishing from the shore (spinning, float, baitcasting), from a boat, and spearfishing day and night.

I live in Tenerife (Canary Islands) for the last 10+ years and share my daily fishing experiences on my website. Many years of personal experience as a fisherman and the vast experience of my friends allow me to write professionally on any fishing topics (from choosing a flashlight and equipment to deep-sea fishing).

All of my advice is based on practical real-world experience and will be useful to both novice anglers and professionals. Read more about the author.

Affiliate Disclosure: sometimes gets paid for listings, through sponsors or affiliate programs like Amazon, Ebay, Cabelas, Bass Pro Shop, Shimano, Daiwa, Rapala, Renn, Okuma, KastKing, etс. Clicking a link helps keep free, at no extra cost to you!

About the author: Each article is verified by the fishing expert Sergio Smirnoff. The articles are written by professional and amateur fishermen with 20+ years of fishing experience.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency. The articles are for informational purposes only, share your opinions in the comments and join the fishing discussions, let's share our fishing experiences together!

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Arber Burnbrook
Arber Burnbrook
3 months ago

Thank you for this article! I have always used a baitcasting reel and was hesitant to try a spinning reel. This article provided easy-to-follow instructions on how to use a spinning reel, making the transition from a baitcasting reel much easier. Now I can expand my fishing options and try new techniques with my spinning reel.

Donoyr Culverburn
Donoyr Culverburn
3 months ago

I have been fishing for years and found this article to be very informative. I learned a few tips and tricks on how to improve my technique, such as properly positioning the bail arm and using the drag system. These small adjustments can make a big difference in catching more fish and preventing line tangles.

Plectranus Greywines
Plectranus Greywines
3 months ago

This is a great article for beginners! I just got into fishing recently and had no idea how to use a spinning reel. This article provided clear and concise instructions on how to use a spinning reel properly. Now I feel confident enough to head out to the water and give it a try.

Negar Mosstar
Negar Mosstar
3 months ago

I think Ugly Stiks are a solid choice if you’re worried about durability, but they do lack sensitivity. For younger anglers, they might be the way to go. However, if you’re looking for more sensitivity, I suggest checking out the Shimano Sellus or Daiwa Aird-X rods. 

As for reels, if you want to stay around the $50 mark, the Daiwa Regal LT, Revros LT, or the Shimano Sahara are all great entry-level options that won’t break the bank.

Ector Burnbrook
Ector Burnbrook
3 months ago

If you’re considering an Ugly Stik, I would recommend going for a 6’6 medium power rod. It’s a good middle ground that can handle most situations, and anything lighter may not be suitable for bigger fish. Personally, I prefer not to go below medium action.

For a reel, I highly recommend the Pflueger President. I recently bought one on sale, even though I don’t use spinning reels much anymore. To give you an idea of its durability, I accidentally caught a 4-foot alligator gar while river fishing with an Ugly Stik GX2 combo, and the President reel had no issues handling it. While the Shakespeare reel may work, it’s not as high quality as the President.

Hanson Crabback
Hanson Crabback
3 months ago

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HHelian Shortshield
HHelian Shortshield
3 months ago

As someone who grew up fishing in the Great Lakes but is now navigating the rivers of the Carolinas, I can say that river fishing definitely has its differences. I recently took my little girl out for our first fishing trip together and while we only had an hour or so to fish, we had a few bites but didn’t catch anything.

I’ve been doing some research and am considering setting up a Carolina Rig, but I’m hesitant to use it with my daughter as it has a lot of leadership lines and I worry about her accidentally hooking herself or me. Do you have any tips for a safer setup for kids? Currently, she’s using a bobber with a simple rubber grub-like lure on a hook and about 2 feet of the line after the bobber.

Growing up, I always used live worms as bait, but my daughter is not a fan, so I’m looking for other options to keep the experience positive for her.

Dago Ivycrown
Dago Ivycrown
3 months ago

I just wanted to share my recent purchase of a Daiwa spin-cast reel from Tackle Warehouse. It was a pretty inexpensive option, but since it’s a brand I trust, I felt confident in my choice. I plan on giving it to my wife as a Christmas present, although it won’t be the main gift since she has a bit of a love/hate relationship with my fishing habit.

Looking back, I wish I had purchased the Black Max Abu Garcia combo as a beginner. I made the mistake of buying used Pflueger and Abu Garcia bargain rods when I first started out, and unfortunately, my Pflueger reels have since broken. It’s been tough finding someone locally who will repair them, as they only fix specific brands. 

It’s frustrating to have two dead reels that I’ve caught my biggest fish on just sitting there. I recently invested heavily in nicer gear, but with the late fall and early winter weather, fishing has become quite challenging. It’s weighing on me, especially since I’ve spent so much on gear and I’m not having much luck.

Carem Barberry
Carem Barberry
3 months ago

If you’re just starting out and looking for a mid-range spinning rod and reel combo, I highly recommend the Pflueger Trion or President reels in a 3000 or 3500 size, paired with an Ugly Stik GX2 rod in a 6’6″ medium action. You don’t need to spend $200 on a combo when you’re just starting out. Stick with a spinning reel for around $50 and a rod for around $50, and you should be good to go.

Baitcasting reels can be more difficult to learn, so I suggest starting with a spinning reel. I’ve been fishing about 12 hours a week year-round with my main setup, which is a Pflueger Trion 30 and a Fenwick Eagle 7′ medium rod.

The total cost of my setup was around $110, and I’ve caught fish up to 15lb striped bass on it. I find that the medium action is a good all-around choice, as it’s soft enough to throw light baits but still has enough backbone to handle bigger fish.

Jalmun Oakshine
Jalmun Oakshine
3 months ago

If you’re struggling with wind knots and tangling on your spinning reel, fear not! Here are some tips to prevent those pesky knots and keep your line running smoothly.

First and foremost, spool your line correctly. DO NOT roll it off the spool. Instead, pull it off the side of the spool with the label facing you. This is the correct way for every spinning reel and brand of line that I’ve tried. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, have it done professionally?

When using a braid, make sure your line is very tight. Most spooling machines can’t achieve this, so I recommend tying off a couple of ball-bearing swivels inline and walking the line off, then reeling it back on as tight as you dare. The line should feel absolutely solid with your thumbnail – no give at all.

Always close the bail by hand. Every time you close the bail by cranking the handle, you’re adding a twist to the line.

Stop the line by placing your finger on the spool lip just as your lure or bait hits the water.

Lift your rod tip to remove the slack from the line before you start reeling.

Never turn the handle while a fish is taking a drag. When you’re turning the handle and not gaining the line, you’re twisting the line with every revolution.

Your reel twists the line as it puts it on the spool and untwists it as it comes off. When the line is pulled off your reel from the drag without the rotor turning, you’re getting unintentional twists. During your day of fishing, if you lose a lot of drag, you’ll want to do the ball-bearing swivel trick again and go at least as deep into the spool as the fish did.

Sebast Redpales
Sebast Redpales
3 months ago

If you’re looking for a versatile rod that can handle a variety of fishing needs, I recommend a 7′ medium power, moderate to moderate fast action rod. I prefer two-piece rods that can break down into two shorter sections for easier transport. While some people suggest shorter rods for beginners, I find that a longer rod can help with longer casts and handling big fish.

For a budget-friendly option, I recommend the Ugly Stik rods. They’re durable and perfect for beginners. If you have a bit more money to spend, I recommend checking out Fenwick Eagle rods. They’re lightweight, well-made, and come with a great warranty.

Pair your chosen rod with a 2500 or 3000 series reel, such as the Pflueger President or Shimano Sedona. For the line, I recommend braiding with a fluorocarbon leader. However, if you’re not experienced with braid, mono is easier to work with.

If you’re targeting trout, I suggest a medium-light rod, but a medium will work well for catfish. For line, I recommend a 15-20# braid with a 10#ish fluorocarbon or mono leader. If you’re not using braid, 10-15# mono or fluorocarbon will work well for both trout and catfish.

Docius Drendines
Docius Drendines
3 months ago

If you’re looking to get into fishing, I’d suggest going for a spinning rod. There are plenty of options available at every price point, and the differences between them are generally quite minor.

The first step is to establish a budget. It doesn’t need to be a large one, and I’d recommend allocating around $50-100 for a rod/reel combo, and then another $50-100 for lures, tools, and gear.

When it comes to selecting a rod and reel, look for a Medium or Medium-Light action, and a length between 6′ and 7′ (depending on your height and personal preferences). A good option for beginners is pre-packaged “combos” that include both a rod and reel.

I would highly recommend finding a local bait and tackle shop to purchase your gear from. They can offer valuable advice and tips, and help you navigate through all the marketing nonsense out there. Although you may pay slightly more than if you were to shop online, building a relationship with the shop is invaluable.

Kelvhan Wisepeak
Kelvhan Wisepeak
3 months ago

In my experience, it’s always best to start with a local tackle shop. While it might seem like you’re paying a bit more than online, the benefits are huge. Not only can they help you figure out what you need, but they can also give you tips and tricks for your specific area. The relationship you build with them is important, and they’ll help you in the long run.

Having someone local to fish with is even better. They can teach you the ins and outs of fishing, and you’re much more likely to catch something on your first few trips. Starting off with a spinning setup is a good idea. If you’re buying the reel and rod separately, it’s better to spend more on the reel than the rod. A cheap reel can ruin your day, while a cheaper rod is less likely to make a difference.

If you’re looking for a rod, I suggest the Ugly Stik. They’re a good beginner rod, and they’re fairly affordable. While they might not be the best rods out there, they’re definitely tough and will last you a while.