Spinning reels are easy for beginners to figure out with a bit of practice and experienced anglers love them for their versatility. Spinning reels cast smoothly and there is a wide range available so you can use them just about anywhere.
If you’re interested in learning how to use a spinning reel, here are five pro tips to keep in mind.
1. Understand the parts of the reel and how it works.
This might sound a bit tedious but it’s the best way to get a feel for a spinning reel. When you recognize the important parts and how they work together, you’ll have a better idea of how to use it.
Here are the basic parts and what they do:
- Bail: The bail stops the line from continuing to unspool when you catch a fish that’s pulling against it.
- Drag Knob: When the bail is engaged and prevents the line from freely unspooling, the drag knob allows the line to slowly come off of the spool. You can adjust the drag depending on the strength of the fish you’re fighting. Drag is used to prevent the line from snapping when you’re reeling something in.
- Handle: This is the part of the reel that is spun by the angler to rewind the line back into the spool.
- Line Roller: The line roller makes sure that the line wraps around the spool neatly when you’re reeling in.
- Reel Foot: The reel foot connects the rod to the reel.
- Spool: The fishing line winds around the spool.
2. Make sure you set up your rod and reel correctly.
If you don’t have the right setup, you won’t get the results you’re looking for when you head out on the water.
Make sure you use the right kind of rod. Spinning reels hang below the rod’s handle, so you need a rod that has eyelets on the bottom to properly thread the line. Once you have the right rod, tightly attach the reel onto the seat.
Next, it’s time to spool the reel or add the fishing line. This isn’t a difficult process, but there is skill involved in doing it correctly. First, open the bail by flipping it over the reel. Attach the line, then wind the reel handle to pull the line onto the spool. This can be a long and tedious process because you have to keep winding for a while to fill the spool, but you also have to pay close attention while doing so to prevent any loops or knots.
After the spool is full, string the line by opening the bail and placing the line through the eyelets. Adjust the drag knob to make sure there’s a little play in the line so it doesn’t immediately snap when a fish tugs against it.
3. Practice casting.
The best way to learn how to use a spinning reel is to practice casting with it. Open the bail and pull out about a foot of line. Hold the rod and use your index finger to hold the line against it. Since the bail is open, you now have complete control of the line – all you have to do is remove your finger, and the line unspools freely.
Next, with your finger still on the line, swing the rod back over your head then forward in a whipping motion, releasing your finger at the peak of the cast. This ensures that you get as much distance as possible. The line will continue to unspool until the lure has landed. At this point, close the bail arm and reel the line in a bit.
Practicing might not seem like a groundbreaking tip, but it’s the only way to get comfortable with using a spinning reel and improving your technique. Make sure you practice reeling in, too, so you know you have the basics down pat when it’s time to reel in a big catch.
4. Choose the right bait.
There are a lot of options for bait: plastic lures, spinners, soft bait, hard bait, live bait. Which type is the right one for you depends on where you’re fishing and what you’re hoping to catch. Remember that spinning reels are meant for small to medium-sized fish, depending on the type you’re using. For large saltwater fish, a hefty spinning reel might do the trick, but you might be better off with a baitcaster.
5. Maintenance is essential.
When properly maintained, some spinning reels will last for years and years. This isn’t a difficult process, but it can be time-consuming.
After every fishing trip, remove the reel from the rod and loosen the drag. Use a soft, damp cloth to wipe off all the visible dirt and grime. You can put the rod under running water if there’s a lot of buildup, but too much water pressure can force the dirt farther into the reel, so be very careful if you go that route. Dry the reel thoroughly when you’re done.
Every so often, you should do a deep clean in the interior. This process is pretty involved, but it’s the only way to make sure your reel lasts as long as possible.
To really get your spinning reel clean, you have to take it apart. There are a lot of small parts inside so make sure you figure out a way to keep everything organized before getting started. Put down a mat or towel over your workspace and lay the pieces down, left to right, in the order you took them out. That way, when it’s time to put it all back together, you can work backward, knowing you aren’t missing anything.
Secure the line on the spool so it doesn’t knot and tangle during the process. Then, take the reel apart, laying out the pieces as described earlier. Each reel is set up a little differently so make sure you check the manufacturer’s instructions for the reel you’re using to get it right.
Clean each piece of the reel using a soft bristle toothbrush and the cleaner recommended by the manufacturer. Take your time and remove as much residue as possible, doing one piece at a time and being careful to return it to the appropriate spot in the lineup before moving on to the next piece.
Use a toothpick to add a thin coating of reel oil to the gears and bearings. Then, reassemble the reel, going down the line of parts one at a time until everything is back in its place. This may seem tedious, but properly cleaning your spinning reel will keep it working like new for years to come. It’s the way the pros do it and a good thing to get in the habit of doing.
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