Are Baitcasters better than Spinning Reels?
I hear this question at every sport show, on the docks, the shores of lakes and local tackle shops – "Are baitcasters better than spinning reels?" In my opinion, baitcasters are not better than spinning reels, however, there are circumstances where a baitcasting reel will out-perform a spinning reel. Vice-versa, there will be times when a spinning reel his high above a baitcaster in certain situations. With that being said, the answer is not a simple yes or no. With over 50 years of using both style reels, I can tell you this – you need both! Let's see why I feel that way.
Why, why, why?
I will argue this statement in every type of fishing, especially with today's new hi tech baitcasters and spinning reels. "A baitcaster or spinning reel can whatever the other can do, every time!" The key to choosing which is better is which one will do it best! So before you contemplate if a baitcaster better than a spinning reel, what exactly is the situation you will be using the reel?
Even with the advent of Bait Finesse Reels (BFS), where you have a smaller, shallow spool baitcaster made specifically for light weight lures, I still feel a small spinning reel is a better choice. The spinning reel will give you the option to make short accurate casts, plus the additional longer cast if needed.
On the baitcaster side, deep cranking a crankbait to 25 feet with a spinning reel is going to be a tough task, especially if you plan to do it for any length of time. A slow speed, deep spooled baitcaster like the KastKing Kapstan Elite 300 makes this task a breeze.
There is no clear cut reason why a baitcaster could be better than a spinning reel, but there are a lot of cross-over reasons why a baitcaster may be better in a certain situation.
Which is better?
As for the main question of whether a baitcasting reel is better than a spinning reel, there are arguments on both sides. A baitcasting reel will allow the angler to gain more torque over a spinning reel. The usually lower gear ratio, combined with leverage an angler can put by hand placement, makes baitcasters a good choice. On the spinning side, the torque is applied strictly through gear ratio, where most are higher, and the hand placement only allows pressure dictated by the rod. From strictly torques standpoint, in my opinion, a baitcaster is the better reel.
On the distance side, there is no angler out there can honestly say they can cast farther with a baitcasting reel over a spinning reel. Unless you are world record holder Ron Arra, you will most definitely cast a spinning reel farther. Some distance is a non-factor, but in the surf, pier, or freshwater scenarios where distance is paramount, a spinning reel will fill the bill.
I can remember a day on the South Shore Beach of Long Island. There were five or six of us casting at large striped bass and bluefish pushing the 20 pound class. These fish were busting on bait at the end of a sandbar where the rip formed – a good distance from the beach. Five of us had spinning reels, while one angler had a conventional set-up with baitcasting gear. Two things happened on that day. The first was the baitcasting guy could not get anywhere near where the fish were holding. The second was that only a buddy, Eric Simmons and I were able to reach these fish. We had large capacity spinning reels filled with light, 20-pound braided line. The long, 11-foot rod, combined with those reels enable us to catch fish-after-fish, while four other anglers could only wish!
On the baitcasting front, I have had several times where anglers using spinning tackle could not reap the rewards from a lake. I was on Upper Lake in Yaphank, NY one early morning and trout had just been stocked. This is a big bass lake, and a lot of the fish are always released. When the state stocks the trout fingerlings, these large bass go into a feeding frenzy. On this day, armed with a 7-3 foot rod, baitcasting reel filled with 20-pound fluorocarbon line and a 3/8-ounce swimming jig, I crushed large bass after another with ease. On the other hand, the anglers using lighter spinning gear, just busted off anytime they hooked one of the larger bass.
These are two scenarios that have played out in my fishing endeavors. The question of is a baitcaster better than a spinning reel can be summed up in one easy sentence. A baitcasting reel ‘can’ be better, than a spinning reel at times. However, for the most part, you will need to have both types of reels in your arsenal to be a well-rounded and successful angler.