In this article, we make distinctions between 'casting' and 'spinning' fishing rods. This is an essential piece of knowledge for purchasing a fishing rod or reel.
When a fishing rod blank is built, it is designed to bend in a certain way. At Lamiglas, we will test that bend (spine), and then build the finished rod according to the bend. A blank can be built into either a casting rod or a spinning rod, but the build must follow a specific process to work properly for either.
Casting rods are often designated with a "C" in the model number as in "HS94MC" They accomodate 'casting' reels, referred to as "bait-caster" "conventional", and "level-wind" reels as shown.
Oddly enough, certain 'casting' rods are not designed for casting a bait at all, they may be designed for letting a sinker out slowly, or trolling with a downrigger etc.
Casting reels can be many sizes and shapes. With lighter rods where lots of casts are made, often it can be a good idea to go with a "low-profile" casting reel, as they are designed for precise casting, even with lightweight baits/lures.
Heavier power casting rods may require large "level-wind" reels that are built for maximum drag and lots of line capacity. These may be larger and heavier, thus they are best paired with a bigger rod. They may not be ideal for making lots of casts, especially with lighter gear, but they have the ability to powerfully make up ground on big fish.
Can I Use a Spinning Reel on a Casting Rod?
If you use a spinning reel on a casting rod you'll sacrifice casting distance and could possibly compromise the rod. This is also true in the reverse.
How to Tell if a Rod is a 'Casting' Version.
Many casting rods will have a "trigger" on the reel seat, although this is not always the case, especially on saltwater models. Uniform guide sizing is another big tip-off. Spinning rods will almost never have a "trigger."
Casting Rod handle on a bass rod.
Guide Sizing, Guide Spacing & Reel Placement
Casting rods must have well tested guide spacing, to prevent the line from rubbing on the blank of the rod. With a casting rod - the reel will be on "top" of the rod while you are fishing. Casting rods traditionally have smaller guide sizes than spinning rods, although guides near the tip are often similar sizes for similar ratings.
Spinning rods are often designated with a "S" in the model number as in "HS94MS." They accommodate "spinning" reels as shown which typically will have a 'bail' that spins when reeling (although some Surf Fishing reels come without a bail.)
Spinning Rod handle on a bass rod.
Spinning rods require larger guides as the line comes off of the spool. Spinning rods don't require as many guides as a casting reel, as the line on a spinning reel is pulling "below" the rod when you are fishing.
Spinning rods are often the best type to start with for casting baits, as they are less prone to tangles for inexperienced casting.
Some techniques are best served with a spinning rod for finesse tactics. It really is going to depend on the fishery and the type of retrieve/jigging action.
Choosing Which Type
If you have had the opportunity to fish both styles, you'll find that there are various cases where you will prefer one over the other.
Benefits of Casting Reels
As a general rule, casting rods are better in a boat where rods are being trolled, anchored with, down-rigger fished or otherwise used. Casting reels are easier to use in a rod holder and allow a measured, controlled release of line to get your lure out. In cases where precision casting is needed, casting reels can allow effective placement of cast with backhand, 'flipping' and skipping baits - although most is capable with either reel type.
Benefits of Spinning Reels
Spinning reels are excellent for techniques where multiple casts are required and the angler needs a consistent, straightforward approach. Certain presentations are best Spinning reels If you are looking to start out fishing, a spinning reel is likely the best choice to start with.
Fly Reel on a Gear Rod?
Fly reels are a different ball game, but they're not ideal for attaching to a spinning or casting rod, largely due to the differences in guides. You won't get ideal distance and accuracy from that setup.
Match your reel and rod setup with the right diameter of line, you'll see the full potential of a well made fishing rod come out!