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JRW Fishing.com ~ Fishing Reels
       Trout Fishing Size Chart

Fishing Reel

A fishing reel is a device used for the sport of angling for the deployment and retrieval of fishing line using a spool mounted on an axle. They are most often used in conjunction with a fishing rod. The first illustration of a fishing reel is from Chinese paintings beginning about 1195 A.D.

History of the fishing reel

English literature first reported a "wind", placed within two feet of the lower end of the fishing rod in 1651. This is usually accepted as the first reference to a reel. And the first picture of a fishing reel is mentioned above. Until the 1800's the fishing reel was not much more than a storage place for excess line. The British claim to be the originators for the multiplying reel, but the fishing reels of George Snyder, of Kentucky, have become the most famous 19th century multipliers. Snyder's reels were developed in the 1820's, and are what you think of as an "old fishing reel". From these reels came what we think of today as a fishing reel. With various changes and developments along the way.

Types of fishing reels


1) Fly casting - These fishing reels are traditionally fairly simple in terms of mechanical construction, though this has been changing with developments in technology. A fly reel is normally operated by stripping line off with one hand, while casting the rod with the other hand. Another development in fly reels has been a larger design to increase the speed of retrieve and keep a tight line in the event a hooked fish makes a sudden run towards the angler.

2) Bait casting - These reels in which line is stored on a revolving spool. When a cast is made, line is pulled off of the reel by the weight of the lure. Because the momentum of the forward cast must rotate the spool as well as propel the lure, bait casting designs normally require heavier lures for proper operation than most other types of fishing reels. On most newer reels spool tension can be adjusted to reduce spool overrun during a cast. The result of spool overrun is the famous "birds nest". And dealing with a "birds nest" is no fun at all.

3) Spinning - Spinning reels were originally designed to allow the use of lures that were too light to be cast by bait casting reels. Because the line didn't have to pull against a rotating spool, much lighter lures could be cast than with a bait casting reel. Spinning reels do not suffer from backlash, although the line can become trapped underneath itself on the spool or even detach in loose loops of line. Various level-wind mechanisms have been introduced over the years to attempt to solve this problem. Most spin fishermen manually reposition the bail after each cast in order to minimize line twist, which is exactly what I do.

4) Spin cast reels These fishing reels were developed by the Johnson Reel Company in the early 1950's. Just as with the spinning reel, the line is thrown from a fixed spool, and can therefore be used for throwing light lures and bait. This fishing reel eliminates the large wire bail of the spinning reel in favor of two pickup pins. The spin cast reel is then fitted with a nose cone that encloses and protects the fishing line and spool. Pressing a button on the rear of the fishing reel disengages the line pickup thus allowing the line to fly off of the spool. Upon cranking the handle, the pickup pin immediately re-engages the line and re-spools it onto the reel. Many of you probably used a Zebco reel when you were a kid. This is a spin cast reel.

5) Underspin or Triggerspin These are spin cast reels that are mounted underneath a standard spinning rod. A lever or trigger is grasped with the forefinger. During the forward cast, this lever is released, and the line flies off the fixed spool. Like spin cast reels, there is no wire bail to hold the line, rather two pickup pins. Basically these fishing reels are a combination of #3 and #4.


We have provided a brief history of fishing reels as well as the various types fishing reels that you may encounter throughout your fishing excursions. Just click on the word Fishing Reels, if you would like to check out the quality fishing reels that JRWfishing.com has available for you.