Anglers new to the sport often ask which is a better choice: a baitcasting reel or a spinning reel?
While both have their time and place, more spinning reels are sold than baitcasters.
The reason is simple: Spinners are easier to cast and do not backlash.
Spinning reels are relatively easy to handle and allow the angler to make long, effortless casts with lightweight lures. Baitcasters are more accurate for casting heavy baits. Since baitcasting reels have a reputation for backlashing (tangling), first-timers tend to shy away and purchase spinning reels instead.
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The serious angler uses both, matching the reel type to conditions, much the same way a golfer switches from a wedge to an iron. Spinning reels are good for catching bass, crappie and perch with live or artificial bait. Those seeking big catfish, stripers or largemouth bass in thick cover prefer baitcasters.
Regardless of your reel choice, consider the following before making your purchase:
Retrieve ratio - The number of times the line wraps around the spool with each complete revolution of the handle. A reel with a 7-1 ratio retrieves seven wraps of line per turn of the handle and is quicker than a reel with a ratio of 4-1. High-ratio reels are preferred by those who constantly cast and retrieve lures. Reels with lower ratios are more powerful and are used when fishing for large fish.
Ball bearings - As a rule, the higher the ball bearing count and quality of material, the more smoothly the reel will function.
Weight - Reels made of lightweight materials require minimum casting effort and allow the angler to fish longer without getting tired.
Spool capacity - Spinning reels with 150 to 200 yards of 10-pound-test line, and baitcasters that hold 120 yards of 14-pound-test line, are ideal for many freshwater fishing situations.
Drag - Check the drag for smoothness. Most reels use a multiple disc system. As with ball bearings, more is better.
Reel handle - Most spinning reels come with a soft-padded single T-handle, while many baitcasters are equipped with a double-padded handle. Test the reel handle for comfort and turnability. If it doesn't feel right, try a different model.
Combos - After you have chosen a reel, check the rod and reel combinations. The same reel might be mounted on a rod complete with line at a discount price.
Balanced tackle - For optimum performance, match the rod and line size to the baitcaster or spinning reel.
Price - The price varies with quality and the number of features. There are plenty of reels in the $25-$100 price range that will meet the needs of Lake Norman anglers.
Lake Norman fishing guide Mac Byrum and I will conduct a free two-hour seminar, "How to Catch Trophy Flathead and Arkansas Blue Catfish while Fishing for White Perch," at 6:30 p.m. March 24 at Gander Mountain, off Interstate 77 Exit 36. Details: 704-658-0822.
Stripers are biting throughout the lake. Bass are everywhere, but with no particular pattern. Warming waters have largemouth moving into the shallows.