How Does a Spincast Reel Work? Internal Mechanisms Explained

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Written By Russ Egan

Russ is a professional fisherman with over 20 years of experience. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ comprehensively tests and reviews all his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. There is nothing he prefers than heading down to his local tackle store, buying the latest fishing reel, and taking it to the water to test.


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A spincast reel works by enclosing the fishing line in a conical nose cone. When the push button is depressed, the line pick-up pin disengages, allowing the line to freely flow off the spool. Releasing the button engages the pick-up pin, stopping the line and completing the cast.

There are several types of reels, including spinning, baitcasting, and several more. Spincast reels are newer types of reels, invented in the 1940s. However, they quickly became the most popular reel in the United States among fishermen of all levels thanks to their easy usage and improvements on many problems plaguing older reels.

Spincast reels work by winding the fishing line onto a fixed spool. The weight of the lure pulls the line off the spool. The closed cover on the spool is the big difference that prevents problems that have frustrated anglers with baitcasting reels, especially backlash and tangling.

Here is what you need to know about spincast reels and how they work. Then, you can decide if you want to incorporate these reels into your own gear stash.

Spincast Reels

What Is a Spincast Reel?

First, let’s establish a spincast reel and what makes it different from other types of reels.

Spincast reels are reels that have a fixed spool which does not rotate as it holds the line. This is different from other types of reels, such as spinning or baitcaster reels, where the spool spins with the line and that is how the line goes out and comes back in.

The spincast reel was first invented in 1949, but really took off in the 1960s. At first, it was seen as a reel for children because it was much easier to control than other types of reels, but not for serious fishermen.

Today, they are still very popular among children and novices. Spincast reels allow beginners to master casting and the motion of fishing before learning how to coordinate harder reels. They have other purposes, even for advanced anglers, such as catching panfish.

How Does a Spincast Reel Work?

You may be wondering how a spincast reel works if it can’t move and unspool the line. The answer lies with one of the most powerful forces in the world—gravity.

Spincast reels have a small hole in front of the spool. Once you spool line onto the reel, you feed it through this hole and onto the fishing rod. Then, when you cast the line, the lure pulls the line out of the hole until you get enough distance to safely fish. The rod relies on the weight of the lure instead of the spinning of the reel to release the line. 

That also means the line automatically stops releasing when the lure hits the water. When the lure starts bobbing in the water, it no longer has the weight to pull on the line. Then, it stops. 

This unique mechanism gives spincast reels some advantages, including:

  • No backlash
  • No tangling
  • No spinning out of control

These are the basics of how a spincast reel works, but there are a few other important parts you should know if you really want to understand how this tool functions.

Parts of a Spincast Reel, source: Your Bass Guy

1. Take-up Pins

If the reel doesn’t spin, then how do you get the line back onto the spool or release it? The answer lies in the take-up pins. These are pins that live inside the reel and stop the line from moving. You can control them via a lever or button.

When you want to cast off or retract, press the thumb button or pull the lever (which one you use will depend on the model of the reel). This mechanism pulls the take-up pins and allows the line to rotate. When buying a spincast reel, make sure you get one that has multiple take-up pins instead of just one as that makes the reeling in process a lot smoother.

2. Drag Systems

Spincast reels come with one of two types of drag systems. Externally-mounted star drags are easy to see and operate. You just turn the mechanism with two fingers until you get to the desired drag.

If you can’t see a star drag, your reel probably has an internal drag system. You control this thanks to the control wheel on the reel. When you try to hold the reel, the drag system control should be right by your hand so you can adjust it while you fish. 

3. Gear Ratio

Another important component of a spincast reel is the gear set-up. Gears inside the spincast reel determine how many times the line goes around the spool and how many handle turns you need to wind the spool. 

A gear ratio tells you a lot about the properties of a reel. Lower gear ratios have a slower line retrieval, but are more powerful. Higher gear ratios have a faster line retrieval, but less torque.

Spincast reels don’t have as much range in terms of gear ratio as other, more powerful types of reels, but they can help you figure out which type of gear ratio is best for you.

Types of Spincast Reels

There are actually two main types of spincast reels. The difference relates to the mechanism for triggering the take-up pins.

Push Button Reels

On push button reels, you activate the take-up pins with (you guessed it) the push of a button. As you’re casting or reeling in your line, you push a button near your thumb, which releases the take-up pins and allows your line to flow freely. These reels are usually paired with baitcasting rods.

Pull Trigger Reels

Instead of a button, pull trigger reels have a trigger or a lever that you pull to trigger the take-up pins. Besides the take-up mechanism, the two types of reels differ in terms of their position and which rod they pair with. Pull trigger reels sit underneath the rod and pair with spinning rods. Pull trigger reels are often used as the transition step for older children as they get used to spinning reels and rods.

internal components of a spincast reel, source: Slo Fishing

Final Thoughts

Spincast reels are favorites among beginners because their unique mechanism prevents backlash and other problems that lead to tangling. The spool is stationary, using the weight of the lure and the release of take-up pins to unspool and spool the line. 

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