Spinning Reels vs Baitcaster? Which Is Better?

I got an email from someone this morning asking a common question. I shot him a quick answer that I hope helps out. If you have additional comments about this debate, post them in comments.



I’m a diehard bait caster. I have tried to use spinning reels but my accuracy suffers. On almost all of the saltwater fishing shows I watch, including yours, spinning reels are used almost every time. Why are spinning reels used much more frequently than bait casters?

-Tom J


Here is my response:

Hey Tom,
Thanks so much for watching the show! Hit me up with questions anytime you have them.

As for baitcaster vs spinning, it is really personal preference. If you can throw it accurately with a baitcaster, there is no need to consider a spinning rod. There are also regional preferences. My Texas friends love the baitcaster and do not use spinning rods much. I know lots of Florida anglers who have never held a baitcaster in their life. I also have alot of friends who are professional bass fishermen and they can hit anything with a baitcaster. However, even those guys tend to move to a spinning rod under certain conditions.

To answer your question specifically, it is my opinion that a Spinning rod is superior to a baitcaster in many situations we encounter regularly in the Florida Keys.   The wind blows 10-20+ mph most days and our typical bait is either a live shrimp, a live crab or a small bucktail jig (all lightweight baits).  We, of course, use lots of other things but for the purpose of this description lets just go with that.  In the course of one movement down a flat, we will hopefully get to cast down wind.  However, the cast could be in any direction. It is not uncommon at all to see a school of fish in front of you, downwind, and make the initial cast.  As the boat continues to move forward and the fish continue to close the distance, the next cast may be at 9 o'clock and eventually behind the boat, directly into the wind.  My experience is that a spinning rod offers the best chance to get the bait to the fish without causing any problems like a birds nest or backlash in these conditions.  I believe that is why spinning rods are far more frequently used on the Florida flats than baitcasters.

I think that another reason that the spinning reel is used alot in saltwater is because of its ability to fight a fish so well on really light line. I can cup the spool with my hand and apply additional drag while having the drag set on the reel very light. Casting distance is extremely important to success due to the clarity of the water and wariness of the fish we are trying to catch and therfore we use light line often.

I enjoy using a baitcaster, but I have spent thousands more hours in every condition with a spinning rod in my hand than with a baitcaster.  Put simply, I am far more accurate and comfortable with a spinning rod than a baitcaster.  It sounds as if you are the opposite. 

Both types of tackle are just tools.  If one is better for you than the other then use it.  It really doesn't matter if another person, or the majority of other anglers use a certain type of rod.  The entire purpose is to catch the fish and have fun doing it.  Use what you are the most effective and the most comfortable with.

There are lots of overlapping areas between the two reels. Most of it boils down to personal preference and being confident in getting the job done in the given situation. There are no rules to which reel you should use, just go with the one you like the best and the one that helps you catch the fish. For me, it is often a spinning rod but occasionally a baitcaster.

I hope that helps a bit!

Tom Rowland

Here is a Tips from the Pro's on this same subject that we shot a while back. It will repeat alot of what I said above, but you might like to watch it:


Thanks for the email.

Tom Rowland

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