Spinning reels have lots of moving parts, and thus are the source of both misery and joy for anglers. A good reel helps catch fish and a bad reel can turn a fishing trip into a nightmare. When seriously fishing, do not scrimp on a reel. What separates good reels from poor ones are the number of ball bearings, which are strategically placed to make the reel innards run more smoothly. The more ball bearings a reel has, the more smoothly it will perform. Good reels will have at least two stainless steel ball bearings. The more money paid, the more ball bearings the reel will have.
There are three primary types of spinning reels: spin cast, spinning and bait cast. Spin cast reels are typically closed-faced and use a thumb cast button to release line. These are good for beginners, but have little feel. Bait cast reels can be hard to master. They are most often found in bass anglers’ boats and are easily the most problematic reels. I suggest using an openfaced spinning reel. They come in all sorts of sizes for the East Tennessee fisherman. A spinning reel is easy to cast, can be cast with precision, and it’s also easier to remove line tangles.
Other reel considerations include gear ratio, drag, spool, bail and handle. Gear ratio refers to how many times the reel spool goes around per turn of the reel handle, determining how fast line is reeled in (think RPMs with a car engine). Overall, the lower the ratio, the lesser the reel, though low ratio rods have their place, especially trolling. Most fishermen will want a higher gear ratio for a speedier retrieve.
A spool is the round device upon which line is spun in the reel. Many reels come with interchangeable spools, enabling rapid changing out of lines of differing test. Spools are usually aluminum or graphite. Aluminum spools are more durable. Any spool that comes with a reel is designed to hold an adequate amount of line designed for that reel and will be stated on the reel. For example, an ultra-light spinning rod is going to hold 100 or more yards of 4 pound or less test line.
The bail is the wire mechanism outside the main reel body that either prevents or allows line to come off the spool. Cast with the bail open and reel with the bail closed. Make sure the bail is completely open before you cast and completely closed before reeling. Some open-faced reels come with a built-in bail trigger. I find they don’t always flip the bail open and are in the way, especially after having become proficient with an open-faced reel already. Stay away from bail triggers.
The handle is used to turn the innards to reel in the line. Some open-faced reels have interchangeable handles. This way, the angler can reel either right-handed or left-handed. Make sure the interchangeable handle is tightly screwed onto the reel before fishing.
When purchasing a reel, consider reel size, not only for the quarry, but also with which rod the reel will be used. The more ball bearings the better. Higher gear ratio is important when it comes to precisely reeling in lures. Usually, good reels have good parts throughout. You get what you pay for.