Types of Fishing Reels and How to Spool Them

Types of Spinning Reels

When it comes to spinning reels, there are two types to choose from – spinning reel for beginners

  • closed faced
  • open faced

Closed Faced Spinning Reels

If you’re learning to fish, the closed faced spinning reel is a great choice. It’s mostly trouble free, and is perfectly capable of bringing in your catch. When you’re casting there’s a push button release, and there’s also an opening in the top where the line comes out during casting. You mount this type of reel on your fishing reed. When you buy a prepackaged rod and reel, it will almost always have this type of reel, and spinning reels are very popular with beginners, children, hobbyists and casual sportsmen.

How to cast closed faced reels

Open Faced Spinning Reels

An open faced spinning reel can be more difficult to use. They come in a range of sizes, to suit different conditions. An ultra light model can be used for catching pan fish, but if you’re going game or ocean fishing, you’ll need a larger model. The advantage of an open-faced reel is that it has a much greater line capacity, and can be used for most game fish like bass, catfish, salmon, and trout. The drag is smooth, so they’re a great choice for catfishing.

shimano open faced spinning reels

How to cast an open faced spinning reel

It’s common for fishing enthusiasts to start out with a closed face-spinning reel, and then graduate to an open-faced reel as they gain experience. It’s always worth spending a little bit extra to get a good quality reel. Many cheap reels contain plastic parts, and you run the risk of them failing if you catch a larger fish.

A common rule of thumb is that the lighter the line, the smaller the reel needs to be. So check and make sure your reel matches the fishing line you’re going to use. If you only want to buy one reel, then go for a medium speed one. If your budget runs to two reels, choose both a low and high-speed reel.

Also, reels are different for right and left handed people, so make sure you mention this when you’re shopping for a reel. Right-handed reels turn clockwise, whereas left-handed reels turn counter clockwise.

Much like spooling mono line on your fishing reel.  The most important thing to remember, just like braiding any line is to keep the correct tension, so you don’t get twisting or knots. Line can get slippery, so go slowly and make sure you’re pulling it taught as you reel.   If you are new to fishing see our open vs closed face reel guide.

Spooling Braided Line on a Spinning Reel

If you were not able to follow the video, here are written instructions.

1. First, just grab your rod and put the braided line through the top eye (closest to the reel).  Pull that line down to the reel.
2. Then (and this is very important), make sure you flip the bail open. Too often, we forget to open the bail, and the whole process is ruined!
3. Next, you’re going to tie a knot with the briaded line to connect with the reel. It’s not really important which knot you use, just something that will hold sufficiently.  I like to use a double overhand knot, where I loop the end over the spool.   Once that’s secure, tighten down and then do it a second time.
4. Carefully pull the tag end to the knot, tightening as you go. You should be able to get close enough that you don’t need to cut the end.
5. Now that you’re attached, reel in enough mono line to cover the spool with a layer or two of line. Hold your top two fingers of your right hand on the line up near the eye to make sure it’s tight and true.
6. Now that you’ve covered the spool, cut the line past the first eye.  Once the braided is attached, make sure it’s tight, and there are no twists or tangles.
7. Grab the braided line now using your right hand on the rod and your two fingers to feed the line. This is when you’ll want to use the washcloth in between your fingers and the braided line, so you don’t burn up or cut your fingers.
8. Start reeling and bring in the braided line to the reel.

Make sure that the spool is letting off line clockwise, with the label up, and the reel is going clockwise, too (from the top). That’s how you know it’s all lined up properly.

Keep pinching with your fingers as the braided line passes through to create the right tension and keep it clear of knots.

Just like filling a spool of mono line, you’ll want to come close to the edge of the reel but not touch it or go over. Leaving about 1/8″ to 1/16″ is recommended – juts enough for you to touch the reel.

But you do want to get as much braided line on there as possible so you’ll be able to cast sufficiently far. Once it’s done, clip the end of the line and put it through the remaining eyes, tying your end knot or however you want to secure it.

You’re now set up with braided line and ready to hit the ice!

Adding line to your new or existing reel can be an easy process.  There are very few tools needed and always easier with a friend!  In this guide we will show you how to string a push botton (spin-casting), spinning, baitcaster and fly fishing rod & reel combo.

Tools needed

  1. New Fishing Line
  2. Knife or Scissors
  3. Backing Line for Fly Reels
  4. Pliers
  5. Socket Wrench


Relining an Open Faced Spinning Reel with Mono

Casey Davidson from Shakespear shows a great video on how to reline your shakespear fishing rod.

  1. Open bail of your reel
  2. Thread line through guides
  3. Tie overhand knot on end of fishing line (see video)
  4. Wrap line around reel and tie two overhand knots
  5. Close reel bail
  6. Hold line above reel while reeling in the line

Spool Line with The “Pencil” method (or Screw Driver)

For all of you old school anglers, I’m sure you know the traditional method spooling the line. While it’s great to have a fishing line spool, there may come a time and place to know an alternative.

Of course, one of the biggest threats to ruin a perfectly good day on the ice is getting your line so twisted that you just have to start cutting.

When it’s reeled from spool to spool, it (theoretically) lays down exactly the same, so it’s usually twist-free.

But you can re-spool yourself with the same effect if you know how to do it and use patience.

  1. First, grab a pencil, a pen, or a screwdriver end, etc. that will fit inside your spool ends.  To be honest, it’s best if you grab a buddy to help you re-spooling this way, because a second pair of hands really helps keep everything straight and tight.But if you have to do it yourself, just grab an empty box, first. Drill or poke some holes into it.
  2. Next, place the spool over your pencil or implement and fit it into the can. This way, you have a stable base to turn it without needing a second person or professional spooler.
    The hardest part will be to spool with the correct amount of tension.So another old school trick is to use a heavy book (like a handy fishing guide, map book, or even the Yellow Pages!) and run the line through it. You can make it even heavier by putting a toolbox or something weighty on top.
  3. Then, reel the line through the book and onto your new spool, creating the perfect amount of tension.

Go slowly and make sure it all lays down correctly to avoid tangles and problems once you cast!

Creating a Line Spooling Station with a Box

Here is the easiest way – using a fishing line spool.

  1. To get started, tie the line onto the spinning reel. I like using an arbor knot to attach the line to your reel. For those of you who don’t know, an arbor knot is an overhand knot on the end of your line that joins another overhand knot that’s tied around your spoil. You’ll find that this knot holds well and also offers the perfect amount of tension for spooling.
  2. Next, click the bail up.   After tying that knot and making sure it’s secure, trim excess line.
    One note – if you’re using an extra thin line, it might be too hard to tie the knot so you can easily just secure it with a piece of electric tape, too.
  3. Close the bail again.
  4. The next step is to spool the line, making sure it’s going in the correct direction. Too often, newbie fishermen make the crucial mistake of spooling the line in the wrong direction, thinking that it will create extra tension.But any experienced angler knows that it’s supposed to go in the same direction as the line sits on the spool. Getting this right is super important, so stop and check twice, or else you’ll run into the problem of your line twisting and knotting after a few casts.

    The easiest way to make sure you have it in the right direction is to put down the spool with its label facing up, which means it will correctly spool back on the reel.

  5. Next, using your index finger and thumb, hold the line and keep it about twelve inches or so from the reel.Then you can start spooling the line with a couple of spins of the reel.

    That will get you started enough to secure the line so you can turn the reel label-side-up and put it back on the ground.

  6. Keeping the line between your fingers, continue to reel in. Make sure to keep the line tight or else tangles and knots can result.

As you’re reeling in the new line and making sure it’s tight, take a quick glance at the rim of the reel. You want to make sure to leave enough space – about 1/8 of an inch – between the rim and the new line. It’s not easy to gauge that distance, but just make sure it’s not too close or running over, too.

Restringing a Push Button (Spin-Casting) Reel

  1. Twist off the face of the reel
  2. Unscrew the bolt holding the line in (by hand or with pliers)
  3. Take out old line (if there is any)
  4. Feed new fishing line through the top of the fishing rod and through the cap of the push button reel
  5. String around reel and tie line
  6. Put plate, washer, nut and cap back on
  7. Hold line above cap while reeling in the line


Respooling a baitcaster with braid or mono line

  1. 1.  Thread line through guides
  2. Tie overhand knot
  3. Tie second overhand knot (see video)
  4. Have a friend hold the spool with line coming off on top of spool


As seen in the video you can tie mono as the starting line for a baitcaster and half way through use an uni-knot to tie the mono and braid together for stronger line.

How to string a fly reel properly

  1. Tie on “backing line” with a double surgeon knot (see video)
  2. Create a slip knot and loop over reel
  3. Reel on 10-15 feet of backing line and cut off tag
  4. Tie backing and fly line using a nail knot (see video) and cut off tag
  5. Tie fly line and strike indicator using a perfection loop
  6. Tie strike indicator to leader using a loop-to-loop knot