How to Use a Spinning Reel

There are four kinds of reels: spincast, spinning, baitcast and fly reels. Each of these reels uses a different kind of rod. A spinning reel, also called an open-face reel, is popular with people who want to cast longer distances. The reel is mounted under the straight rod handle and the spool of fishing line isn't covered. There's a wire loop at the top of the reel, called the bail, that moves around the spool when you crank the reel. The bail catches the line and forces it into a groove so it winds around the spindle when you crank the reel. There is a a drag adjustment on the base of the reel or at the top of the spool, depending on what model of fishing pole you have. Spinning rods have large line guides on the bottom of the rod. This lets more line release quickly off the reel. It takes practice to learn how to use a spinning reel, but most people who learn to use it won't go back to a spincast reel.

Put the stem of the reel (the part of the reel that attaches to the rod) between your middle and ring fingers. Grasp the spinning rod handle. Put your thumb on top of the handle and extend your pointer finger so it touches the spool top.

Use your other hand to wind the reel spool until the line roller is right under your extended pointer finger. Pick up the line in front of the roller where it leaves the reel with your pointer finger and hold it against the rod with your finger.

Flip the bail up toward the rod tip with your other hand. Face the area you want to throw your line and turn your body at a slight angle with the arm holding the rod closest to your target area.

Aim the tip of your rod toward your target area, about even with your eyes. Bend the arm holding the pole at the elbow, raise your forearm until your hand is at eye level and move your forearm forward with a slight wrist movement.

Release the line from your forefinger when the rod tip reaches eye level and let the line travel to your target area.

Buy a practice-casting plug, which is a rubber or plastic weight with no hooks. Tie it to your line and place a target 20 to 30 feet away. Practice casting until you regularly hit your target.


  • You released the line too soon if your line went straight up.
  • You released the line too late if the line lands right in front of you.

About the Author

Cathryn Whitehead graduated from the University of Michigan in 1987. She has published numerous articles for various websites. Her poems have been published in several anthologies and on Poetry.com. Whitehead has done extensive research on health conditions and has a background in education, household management, music and child development.