When to Use a Spincast Reel: Species and Location

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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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Your success at fishing doesn’t start at the edge of the water but at the fishing shop. That is when you pick out the right reel for your expedition. Ideally, you want a reel that is versatile, matches your fishing goals, and is easy to use. That last reason is why spincast reels are so popular.

Spincast reels are some of the most popular reels, especially for children and beginners, because they prevent tangling and are easy to use. While most advanced anglers steer clear of them, they’re still useful for catching panfish. They have some disadvantages that will affect your fishing experience, but these don’t matter as much for beginners.

Here is everything you need to know about using a spincast reel.

What Is a Spincast Reel?

Spincast reels are like a combination of baitcasting and spinning reels. Their defining characteristic is their spool. Spincast reels have a fixed spool that does not turn as you cast your line. Instead, the weight of your lure tugs out as much line as you need when you cast and press down on the button to release the line. When you’re not casting or reeling in your fish, a locking mechanism keeps the line in place.

Spincast reels are much simpler than spinning and baitcaster reels. This simplicity is both an advantage and a disadvantage, as you will see below.

zebco 33 spincast reel on a rod

Advantages and Disadvantages of a Spincast Reel

Now that you know what a spincast reel is and why it’s different from other types of reels, let’s get into what this means for the fishing experience.

Advantages of the Spincast Reel

The spincast reel’s greatest advantage is its simplicity. While other reels require coordinating different parts, such as the bail arm, to cast properly, casting a spincast reel is very easy. You press a button, throw the line out, and you’re done. It is very helpful for people who are new to casting and want to perfect the motion without worrying about other factors such as backlash.

Another advantage of the spincast reel is that it doesn’t cause backlash. Spinning reels are prone to backlash because the reel sometimes spins faster than the lure travels. Then, your line gets tangled, and you get a bird’s nest knot. This can’t happen with a spincast reel because the spool is stationary. That means your reel is in less danger of damage and tangling.

Spincast reels are also very lightweight, giving them an edge in certain fishing conditions. If you are catching small species, engaging in inshore fishing, or fishing near a shoreline that has lots of trees and other obstacles, spincast reels give you versatility. You can use a sidearm cast to maneuver around obstacles, switch hands with no problem, and even add an extra reel. 

Disadvantages of the Spincast Reel

The same simplicity that makes spincast reels perfect for some situations is a disadvantage in others. To make it easier to use for beginners, manufacturers take out a lot of coordination. However, that also means fishermen have less control over different factors, such as the drag and tension. This is fine for beginners who don’t even understand how these factors affect the fishing experience, but more advanced anglers will grow frustrated if they can’t control their own sport.

The spincast reel’s lightness can also be a disadvantage. You are, by necessity, limited to fishing small species since the spincast reel is too delicate to haul in bigger fish. You’re also limited in terms of which bait you can use. You can only use lightweight lures, not heavier weights or even live bait.

Finally, spincast reels are not durable at all. These lightweight reels are designed to last just a season or two, while the beginner gets the hang of fishing and moves on to a heftier fishing reel. They are prone to breaking, wind knots, and corrosion. The casing doesn’t protect the reel and actually causes more damage because it’s harder for anglers to see if there is something wrong.

When to Use a Spincast Reel

There are a few situations when a spincast reel is the best choice:

  1. If you’re a beginner
  2. If you’re fishing with a child
  3. To catch certain small fish species

Spincast reels are recommended for beginners and children because they are so simple. However, even experienced anglers use them in certain situations.

Fish Species to Target

Spincast reels are perfect for a quick fishing expedition to the nearby lake to catch panfish. Panfish are small fish that can fit into a single frying pan. These species include:

  • Walleye
  • Crappie
  • Bluegill
  • Perch

Even some experienced anglers prefer spincast reels for these fish because there is no need for a complicated set-up for such small fish.

What Size Fish Should You Target?

The size of the fish matters more than the species. Although some fishermen will claim they nailed massive bass with just a spincast reel and their wits, stick to smaller fish. A good rule of thumb is to target fish that are no more than 4–5 pounds in weight (and even that is pushing it). 

Spincast reels are more delicate than baitcaster or spinning reels, so they can’t reel in heavy, flopping fish. You’re also limited in terms of lure weight and line capacity, so you wouldn’t be able to attract big fish anyway.

The Best Environments

Spincast reels work best for inshore freshwater fishing. There are a few spincast reels designed for saltwater fishing. However, most struggle with that environment because the salt gets into the reel casing, corroding the parts.

Spincast reels are also great for environments where there isn’t a clear space to cast your line. This lightweight reel can maneuver around tree roots, debris, and more.

Final Thoughts

Spincast reels sometimes get a bad reputation among experienced anglers. However, they are perfectly good for catching small fish in freshwater environments. When it comes to teaching someone how to fish, even a child, they can’t be beaten in terms of simplicity.

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