I have been looking at new rods and several people have suggested a baitcaster. I currently have a spinning reel that I am comfortable with but I would like to try a new rod/reel type.

What am I going to gain and lose from switching to a baitcaster?

  • Many comments here mention a belief that baitcasters are better for bigger fish than spinning reels. I can only imagine that if there were any substantive benefit to the baitcaster you'd see more of them used by the rock-hoppers out at Montauk and all along the beaches of New England. These are guys that commonly drop $1,500 for surf fishing equipment to tackle 40+ lb striped bass. They discuss knots at length for any advantage. I bet they'd use baitcasters if they really were "better for big fish." I can't say that I've EVER seen a baitcaster throwing a plug or other lure in salt water.
    – That Idiot
    Apr 20, 2017 at 18:14

9 Answers 9


Google says:


http://setthehook.com/reels/reeldifferences.htm (link now dead: archive)


Hopefully someone with some knowledge of the subject will distill these into a proper answer. For now I'm getting some ink in the page.

  • 3
    Link only answers are discouraged. Please consider expanding your answer into something more complete.
    – Erik
    Mar 11, 2016 at 20:10

My experience is that I can cast farther and with greater precision with a baitcaster. That being said, you have to practice... A LOT. There is a tensioner for the gears. You have to balance the tension for your personal style to avoid backlash, but still get a good distance. Backlash is bad, very bad. It creates the worst tangle you've ever seen. A bad one and you just have to cut the line out and respool your entire reel. Most times you won't be able to just pick up your friends baitcaster and cast it without re-adjusting the tensioner (at which point they'll probably use you for cutbait).

However, it's well worth the practice. When I regularly fished for bass I could drop a lure into a 2" square underneath a low hanging bush from 40' away. You just won't get that kind of performance from a spinning reel.

From a technical standpoint, baitcasters generate less drag and friction on the line during the cast.


Baitcasters will add excitement to your otherwise dull fishing excursion. Tired of just relaxing in your boat and catching fish? With the wonderful new backlash feature built into you baitcaster, you will have hours of entertainment that rivals a Chinese finger trap.

All jokes aside, baitcaster often have a higher gear ratio that gives your a faster retrieve than a spinning reel. They are great for stuff like buzzbaits, larger crankbaits etc.


I agree that bait casters are more accurate, although with enough practice with a spinning reel you can be almost as good as a casting with a baitcaster. Spinning reels will allow you to throw smaller and lighter lures.

Casting and retrieving are best suited for baitcasters though. Spinning reels work better for dead stick presentations, vertical jigging and live bait, if you ever fish live bait for bass.

  • I'm not sure I agree on the lighter lure point. Generally for a lighter lure on a baitcaster I just loosen the tensioner. Since spinners have more friction they generally will require a heavier lure for any given distance. Once exception I can see is super light lures, such as fly fishing, but that's not bass fishing. Sep 7, 2012 at 15:10
  • @RussellSteen - I used to fly fish for largemouth bass all the time. Nowadays I fly fish with heavier gear for Striped Bass.
    – That Idiot
    Apr 20, 2017 at 16:07

I would suggest sticking with a spinning reel with the caveat that if you're fishing for a bigger fish (>10 lbs) use a baitcasting reel.

Benefits of spinning reel:

  • simple to use
  • can easily swap spools/lines if needed
  • doesn't get easily tangled, which a baitcaster will

Benefits of baitcast reel:

  • more accurate
  • can handle heavy fish (>10 lbs)

See this link: http://www.foundry35.com/blogs/blog/132873735-baitcast-vs-spincast-vs-spinning-reels-which-is-better-and-which-should-you-be-using

  • Spinning reels can easily handle heavier fish, I catch all of my 20-30 lbs. carp on $7 wal-mart plastic spinning reels and have never had an issue
    – celeriko
    Jun 1, 2016 at 15:19

The thing i keep hearing is if you just practice enough you can place the lure wherever you want with a baitcaster. Its the same with a spinner reel, you just practice. I would almost bet i can Place it just as good with a spinner as anyone with a baitcaster, i can Place my lure wherever i wanto and i can cast anything from >1g - 120g with a spinner but i will get fubar with a baitcaster on the lakes if i use a baitcaster below 10g and some wind. I would argue during perfect condictions baitcaster wins, any other condition the spinner Wheel will win. The baitcasters are more or less a Commercial thing, people need to buy new stuff and it looks cooler on the rod, its like Iphone.

  • You mean baitcasters are like overpriced and over-hyped buggy smartphones that don't conform to basic fundamental web browser standards?
    – zer00ne
    Aug 15, 2015 at 8:40

Spinning reels will clearly cast further and easier especially in the wind. But once you learn to throw the baitcaster the accuracy will outweigh all the other downsides.

We focus on catching big fish and the baitcaster is stronger, while the spinning reel probably provides a better fight.

Read this article on fishing styles to help you.

Hope this helps!


bait cast can throw further than spinning reel. The key point is if you keep getting bird nest, add heavier weights or sinkers, this will reduce your bird nest.

2nd point is bait cast does not have tangle knots like spinning reel where some knot form for unknown reason.

After you switch to bait cast and know how to use it, you will not go back to spinning reel.


I'd like to see someone throw a 1/64 oz trout magnet for trout, crappie, bluegill, perch, rock bass etc from a baitcaster accurately over and over. Trust me, I've tried it while my kids use all my spinning setups. If you do all sorts of fishing and only have the cash for one type of set-up, get yourself a spinning reel + rod. If you only fish for muskie/pike or big catfish get a big 5500 series baitcaster(i.e. Ambassadeur) which are way easier to cast(once you know how to use it) without backlashes than the smaller ones designed for bass, I have a small AG revo sx that is nice, does cast a little farther and retrieves faster but other than that I dont see many advantages, you can be just as accurate with a spinner, I often get out on dams on the rocks to hit holes, it's much easier to fish vertically with a spinning set up, I've pulled my largest walleye out of deep holes in rocks close to dams

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