Fishing Reels 101 – Part 2


Casting reels have a visible line spool that lays perpendicular to the rod so it functions much like a winch. This type of reel has a trigger to release the spool and the spool turns when the crank is turned. There is usually a spoke wheel drag adjustment around the base of the crank handle. There will be a spool tension adjustment knob and sometimes an adjustment for tuning the spool rotation speed when you are casting. The last two adjustments are used to maximize the casting distance while minimizing the amount of backlashes. Backlashes occur when the spool rotates faster than the line is pulled off the spool. This causes the line to start winding back around the spool in the opposite direction and somehow you always end up with a knot or a complete mess that requires clippers to solve.
To cast a rod equipped with a casting reel do the following:

  1. Place your thumb on the trigger and make sure it overlaps the spool.
  2. Press the trigger and use your thumb to keep the spool from turning.
  3. Start your casting motion.
  4. On the forward part of the casting motion remove your thumb from the spool.
  5. As the lure flies through the air, you may need to lightly touch your thumb to the spool to prevent it from rotating faster than the lure pulls line. This usually will happen during high wind situations, or when your lure goes up farther than out.
  6. When your lure hits the water, place your thumb on the spool to stop rotation. If this is not done you can, and probably will get a backlash.

When first starting to learn to use a casting reel, adjust your spool tension as follows:

    1. Tie on the lure you are going to use.
    2. Hold the rod out horizontal and trip the trigger.
    3. Allow the lure to fall to the ground/water and observer the spool. Tighten the spool tension so they spool stop rotating on its own when the lure strikes the water. This will help reduce backlashes.
    4. As your skill increases you can adjust the tension and magnetic drag systems to fine tune your reel.


Single Action Fly Reels
Single Action Fly reels consist of a simple spool with a housing around it. The housing has a large hole for the line to come out of. There is a small handle on the spool used for cranking and a simple drag system. These reels are the most widely used of the fly reels. They are used to hold line and fight a fish when one is hooked.

Automatic Fly Reels

Automatic fly reels have a spring system located inside the reel and a trip lever to wind the line back on the spool. As you pull off line the reel spring loads up. When you trip the lever it releases tension in the spring and causes the spool to rotate and wind the line back in. Automatic fly reels are not designed for fighting fish, and as such, have no drag system.

Casting a flyrod will not be covered in this article because entire books are written on the subject. I may write an article about fly casting at a later date.