The Right Reel For You

Which reel style is best for you? Here’s a look at each, in, descending order of popularity.


is the choice of about 45 percent of American fishermen, probably because it is the most trouble-free and simple to use, making it ideal for beginners. The line flows off a stationary enclosed spool and is governed by a thumb button.

Since light lines are used, spincasting is good for all panfish. Heavier lines can be used for larger gamefish, in both fresh and salt water, with heavy-duty spincasting models.

fishing reel-


constitutes about 35 percent of reel use. The line flows from an open stationary spool and is controlled by the forefinger. Its main advantage is in casting light lures and baits. Ultralight, light and medium models are made for freshwater species; heavier models for saltwater are very popular for surfcasting because of the distance attainable.



is used by about 15 percent of all anglers in the United States and is the most difficult to master because of one mechanical curse: the backlash. A revolving spool is filled with line that is controlled by the angler’s thumb. A “dumb thumb” that loses control as the line pays out on a cast allows the spool to overrun-and a tangled mess results. Most pros use baitcasting rigs because they can maintain better line control, ease lures into minute target areas, and tame bigger fish more efficiently.


represents only about 5 percent of use despite its being a delightful way to present the tiniest of lures. The reel is not used to land a fish but rather holds and yields line, which is controlled with the free hand. It takes a lot of practice to learn how to control eight-to nine-foot rods, casting a 30- to 40-foot line that propels flies at the end of a flimsy leader. Those so addicted love it, and are loyal devotees. Some view it as a great way to conserve fish because it demands the most patience and determination of all four methods.


When a fish follows but refuses to take your lure, give it time to return to its hangout. Put on an entirely different type of lure; for instance, switch from a sinking plastic worm to a chugging surface lure or an overhead spinner. Cast to the original target area and work the lure as slowly as possible. If you don’t get a strike, cast again and work the lure very fast. The idea is to tease the fish into a reflexive strike even though it might not be hungry.


Some fishermen complain that their new, high-tech baitcasting reel still gives backlashes despite having magnetic or centrifugal controls. Here’s the problem: These controls are effective mostly during the height, or fastest part, of the cast. Racklashes occur because the thumb is not controlling the line as the lure slows down. Here’s the solution: There is another backlash control in the right end bearing screwcap that applies tension on the spool shaft. Try tightening this until the lure moves slowly from your rod tip downward to the ground. You won’t be able to cast quite as far, but you will rarely get a backlash.


All fishermen cast a little long at times and the plug winds up over a limb or root. Don’t try to jerk it loose immediately. A fish could be eyeing it. Give the lure slack line and let it lie on the surface. Twitch gently, making it dance on the water Many times your errant cast will bring back a lunker.


Save your coffee cans because they make dandy worm keepers. Cut out the top and bottom, put removable plastic lids on both ends and fill the can with moss. Add worms, plus some cornmeal for nourishment. As fishermen know, worms always go to the bottom of any can. Just turn your handy worm can upside down, take off the plastic lid, and there they are…ready for the liveliest to be selected.


When you feel a pickup, point the rod tip at the fish, reel slack out of the line, and have one thing in mind: speed in the rod tip. This, not muscle, is what buries the barb. With one hand forward on the handle and the other on the butt, pull toward yourself with the top hand while pushing away with the bottom hand. This will exert twice the hook-burying force of a slower, muscular, sweeping hook set that most anglers use.


When you hook a lunker and it dives into woody or brushy cover, don’t try to horse it out or you may break it loose. Instead, locate your boat just over the snag and wait for the fish to revive and begin moving around. Frequently it will swim out.


Here are six ways to ensure that you land a lame bass.

1) Play it out and clams the lower jaw, thumb inside and forefinger curled beneath the lip.

2) Reach over the head, put pressure on the gill plates and lift.

3) When a treble-hook plug is in the jaws, don’t reach for the head, because you might snag your hand. Instead, play the bass out, cradle it in your hand and put pressure on its soft belly with your index finger. This paralyzes the fish for easy landing.

4) Lead the bass into a landing net.

5) Beach your boat, step out and beach the bass.

6) Slip your index finger into a gill slit, reach through to touch your thumb, grip the bass, and land it.


When white bass school up and move out after spring spawning, be on the lake by daybreak. This is when they move over the surface and are visible from a distance. Note the way they are moving, motor ahead and wait for them to come within casting distance. Do not try to catch the bass on top, because the fight would spook the rest of the school. Put on a heavy lure like a Sonar or a one-ounce grub-jig. Cast beyond the school, let the lure sink, and retrieve it below the school, where the larger fish lurk. When one is hooked, shove your rod tip downward, reel slowly and lead it low instead of fighting it in. This tactic will catch a limit of the biggest bass in any school.


You’ve probably heard it said: “Never use stainless-steel hooks; they won’t rust out and a deeply hooked fish will die.” Don’t believe it. Cadmium, bronze or blue hooks don’t rust out either, because they never remain in that long. Experiments have shown that a hook embedded in a bass’s mouth turns the flesh brown the first week and black the second week; then the dead flesh disintegrates and the hook drops out as the bass inhales and exhales water. So if you can’t get the hook out, cut the line and the released bass will live on!


My buddy and I had been trout fishing all morning on a clear stream and hadn’t had one bite. Suddenly we noticed muddy water coming our way downstream. In the next half hour we caught our self-imposed limit of three rainbows each. Curious, we hiked upstream and saw a herd of cattle udder-deep in the water. After that, when trout weren’t biting, one of us would go upstream and roil the water. It worked from fair to good, so give it a go where you fish.


When a treble-hook plug snags on the bottom, move in and pull on it from the opposite direction of its original course…it will come loose at least 75 percent of the time.


On days wines bass aren’t going for your favorite plastic worms, try two-timing them. Tie two hooks side-by-side and put a plastic worm on each. One slide-sinker will do, of course. Make both worms curlytails, and fish this rig slower than you usually would.


A roll of tough,sticky duct tape is en essential item in my repair kit. I have used it to replace guides, repair boat leaks, make hinges on broken tackleboxes, mend glasses, tape reels on cracked rod handles, seal seams in leaky waders, tighten loose ferrules, and much more.