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Choose reel that's right for you

By By BEN NORMAN
Outdoors Columnist
A Kentucky watchmaker, George Snyder, is credited with developing the predecessor of the modern bait-casting reel in the early 1800s. Snyder's reel featured a reel with a spool that rotated around its own axis several times for each turn of the reel handle. It was basically a mini winch attached to a rod for retrieving line.
Bait casting reels continued to be improved on through the 1930's, but the development of the spinning reel cut into bait casting reel sales drastically after WWII. Later, the increased interest in bass fishing revolutionized designs in both bait casting and spinning reels. The development of the level-wind device that distributes line evenly on the reel reduced the backlash problems early reels were plagued with. In recent years, manufactures have developed reels with magnetic brakes that prevent backlash during the cast. Any one considering a bait-casting reel should take a look at one of the newer reels with the magnetic anti-backlash device.
While the bait-casting reel is usually the choice of tournament and experienced bass fishermen, the spinning or spin-cast reel is the darling of the average recreational fishermen. Just as the old .30-30 rifle accounts for thousands of deer each year, so does the old, inexpensive Zebco 33 fill fish stringers and live well boxes.
Spinning reels come in all sizes, from the ultra light reels used on panfish to the large saltwater reels used for off shore fishing. Their main advantage is the fixed spool that allows line to "spin" off the reel with little resistance.
Closed-face spinning reels are ideal for beginners but are preferred by many experienced fishermen as well. They operate like other spinning reels with the following exceptions: The spool is enclosed, and spin-cast reels release the line via a push button release activated by the thumb of the casting hand. Some casting distance is sacrificed because the line must pass through the hole in the cover, causing a slight amount of drag. This minor fault is more than made up for in the spin-cast reels ease of operation. When selecting spinning or spin-cast reel, make sure it has a smooth drag. The drag setting selector on a spinning reel will usually be a star attachment on the front of the spool or a round knob at the rear of the reel housing. The drag adjustment on a spin-cast reel will usually be a star shaped wheel on the side. Check to insure the line can be pulled from the reel in a smooth, fluid motion. If the line "jerks" when it is being stripped out, choose another reel.
Spinning and spin-cast reels are best suited for light tackle and when casting into the wind. They require a minimum of maintenance and are simple to use. Bait casting reels afford more lure "feel", are better for larger fish, but require more skill. So what's the answer? Buy the one that "feels right" to you and go fishing!