Which Reel - Spinning or Inline?


Justin Carlson asks:

Hi, I was wondering does a spinning reel have an advantage over an inline reel in certain situations. I have been building my own fishing rods and I have noticed that the line seems to be more smooth with an inline reel over a spinning reel. Does the size of the rod make a difference? Example an ultra light that one would use for bluegill or a heavier rod for walleyes and pike. Thanks Justin

Hi Justin - There is certainly alot more interest with in-line reels over recent years.  Much of this attention centers around some design advantages of an in-line, namely smoother uptake, less line twist, and a larger spool arbor to resist kinking and memory.  While the latter especially may be true, I've been somewhat disappointed with in-line reel designs over the years that promise these benefits without losing the traditional strong-suits of your higher end spinning reel.  Still, there are situations where finicky panfish especially require it. 

While I have not tried them all, I've found many in-lines to have poor quality drags which are crucial when using light line.  Another issue can be the gap between the spool and the base allowing loose line to find its way inside and get buried.  All of which adds to a more frustrating experience.  For better or worse, the standard we judge everything against is the spinning reel, and the familiarity we have with it, in my opinion requires these inline multipliers to not only match their performance, but to exceed it.  I'm guessing that eventually the market will produce one that fits the bill, but hopefully it's priced "in-line" with spinning reels of a similar quality.  

You can certainly pair an in-line with any kind of rod, and I've seen Tony Roach use one quite successfully for walleyes many times.  Just pair the rod and line for appropriate use, and you should be good to go.    

Good luck!