When buying fishing equipment, it is important to know the types of fishing reels and their uses. These are the common types; keep in mind, as with everything else, there are a myriad of variations and special use devices.
Centrepin (or Center-Pin)
A centrepin reel is the more official sounding name for a fly-fishing reel, typically positioned below the rod. The common design is manual, single action, with line return at a 1:1 ratio. This means for each turn of the handle, the spool makes one complete revolution. There have been many innovations in both fresh and saltwater fly reels since their design patent by Charles F. Orvis in 1874. One of the most important improvements has been the addition of adjustable disc-type drag systems making retrieval more effective and fishing more successful.
Baitcasting (or Conventional)
These reels are positioned above the rod with the spool angled horizontally. Their design is preferred for larger fish and is used popularly with saltwater and more experienced freshwater fishermen. The design of the baitcasting reel gives it a higher learning curve and has often left the inexperienced angler trying to untangle backlash, or more affectionately, a “birds nest”, in the spool. A common reason for this mess is not casting enough weight which allows the line to slack and “spin up”. In theUnited States, these reels are called conventional reels and inEuropethey are referred to as Multiplier Reels due to the geared line retrieval allowing one turn of the handle to turn the spool multiple times.
Spinning reels are positioned below the rod and operate with a vertical fixed spool. This is the most common beginner reel due to its ease of use and relatively low price. It is useful for casting lightweight bait and doesn’t suffer from backlashes like the conventional reel. This category should technically also recognize the “spincasting” reel which is very similar to a standard spinning reel with the application of a cover to contain the spool and bail mechanisms. Personally, I have found these reels tend to have more problems than they are worth and wouldn’t recommend them for any serious application. The spincasters seem to be better suited for small children because to cast the line all you need to do is press a button and swing the rod.
These are the 3 basic categories of reels. Each having situations where it excels and offers it’s own unique challenge. The best advice I can give is don’t skimp when buying a new reel. The old adage applies: You get what you pay for.