How to Choose a Spinning Reel that's Right for You

By Brandon Palaniuk • January 12, 2023

Brandon Palaniuk here and I'm going to give you a breakdown on selecting a spinning reel. Let's just start by breaking down exactly what a spinning reel is. It is generally mounted on the foot of the reel--which is this part that attaches to the rod and is oriented to be on the underside of the rod rest with your hand above the spinning reel. If this was a baitcast reel, it would be opposite. You're going to have a lot better days out there on the water if you hold it correctly.

The reason that we choose spinning reels is really the design of this spool. When you turn the spool, you can hear clicking; that is our "drag." So, in light line applications like drop shots, Ned rigs, Wacky rigs, Neko rigs, you want that really smooth, smooth drag because in light line that drag is going to allow us to fight those fish - especially bigger fish - without breaking that light line, so smooth drag is super important.

The other thing that's important is that you want to have the least amount of resistance when you are making your cast with finesse applications, smaller baits and lighter weights. As you make that cast, that line is able to flow smoothly off of the spool without any restriction. That's why a spinning reel is important for those finesse applications where you've got lighter line and lighter baits because there's not going to be any restriction like there would be with a bait caster--where you have a braking system controlling the line and slowing it down.

When you're selecting a reel, it's really important to pair it up with your rod as best as possible. I really like that 2500 to 3000 size. The reason for that is that it's a good balance between spool size and the weight of the reel. You're going to get a really good spool size where it manages that line well, it casts really well, and then you're able to pick that line up at a fairly quick speed. If you go too small, a lot of times you're not getting enough line back to the reel quick enough because that spool is so much smaller. And then, as that spool shrinks, your memory is also going to shrink so it becomes a lot harder to manage that line.

You also want your rod and reel to balance. I like to hold my pinky behind the reel seat and then three fingers forward. That gives me really good control of the rod and then it also allows me to put my forward-facing finger up on the blank of the rod if I want. You get a lot more sensitivity that way. But the big thing here is balance. If I have a reel that is too heavy it's going to want to tip backwards and if I have a reel that's too light this rod may tip forward and then you're losing sensitivity, you're losing accuracy on your cast. I like to demonstrate balance by letting the rod rest on one finger at the place where I hold it. If it stays suspended with the ends perfectly horizontal, it's a well-balanced rod and reel.

So, when you're selecting your spinning reel, try to keep in mind; if you go to a longer rod, you may need a little bit bigger spinning reel. But for me, everything I'm doing, bass fishing 6'10" to 7'6", that 3000 size is perfect for me. You know, start out with your budget spinning reels until you get comfortable, and you can go all the way up to $800 spinning reels like this, but just get started. For finesse applications, light line, light baits... spinning reel is the way to go.

--Brandon Palaniuk