A great spinning reel, also referred to as an open faced reel, is my go to reel for most of my fishing. They are easy to cast, give you less problems with line problems, and if you buy a decent reel they are very durable. One of my favorite things about a spinning reel is that there isn’t much of a learning curve, unlike other types of reels. My kids have each picked up the learning of how to use a spinning reel fairly easy. Spinning reels, by far, are the easiest reels to learn and use, and are the best in performance. Though there are definitely reasons to use other types of reels in different types of fishing, so I do own and use other types of reels as well. The design of the spinning reel helps to lessen the risk of getting tangles in the fishing line. They are mounted on the underside of a fishing rod, which also makes them easier to use and to hold. Let’s take a look into some of the components and features of spinning reels. Abu Garcia Spinning Rod and Reel CombosUgly Stik GX2Graphite or Aluminum Reel Body - The reel body, or housing, can be made of various types of material, which will affect the durability, the weight, and feel of the reel. They can be made of aluminum, graphite. or sometimes a combination of both. An aluminum housing is stronger than graphite , but graphite is lighter. This is where you have to make a personal choice as to whether strength or weight is more important to you. Aluminum reel bodies are typically found on the higher end reels, but if your target fishing area is in saltwater, graphite is probably a better choice because it is resistant to corrosion.Solid Construction - The difference from a cheap reel and a good real will be the solid construction. Cheaper reels strip on the inside gears, especially if you don’t keep them away from sand and gritty soil. It’s important to feel the reel, and make sure that there are no flimsy parts when you are looking for a cheaper but better quality reel. If you buy a good name brand at a little higher prices, they will be built right. What you don’t want is loose or flimsy, cheap feeling parts. If it feels flimsy, it just won’t last. It’s better to spend a little more money, and get a well built reel. The movement of the reel should feel solid, and smooth in performance. There should be no back play, it should lock solid when trying to reel backwards, with the exception being if you unlocked the block that locks the reel from reeling backwards. Reel Weight - A good quality, well made reel, will be much lighter than it’s cheaper competitor reels. This is an important quality because a lighter reel will mean less fatigue, and less strain on your wrist and forearm muscle. A heavy reel can also cause joint stress and fatigue with heavy use. It’s important to consider the weight of a reel when making a decision on buying a new fishing reel. Most online stores, and many reel packages will list the weight of the reel to show you a comparison between reels and the different manufacturers and quality levels. When comparing reel weights online, be sure you're comparing similar sized reels for an accurate comparison.Reel Size - Choosing the right size reel is the easiest decision to make. Each reel is rated for the size line that you can line the reel with, and how many yards of each size of line. If you first think about what you are fishing for, and the size of fish you hope to catch, you should be able to easily decide on the size of the fishing line, and you can then select the right size reel to use with the line. The smaller the pound test of the fishing line, the smaller reel you can use. As an example, if you are throwing a rubber worm out for largemouth bass, the average bass you will catch are three to six pounds, so I typically go with an 8 or 10 pound test, just in case I tempt a larger bass. In looking for a reel, I would typically look for a reel that states that it will hold 10 pound test, that way I know if I need to use 8, 10, or even 12 pound test, the reel will be perfect in that scenario.Gear Ratio - There are all kinds of different sizes of reels. The spool on a spinning reel is fixed, and the bail wraps the line onto the spool as you reel, and this is where gear ration comes into play. The larger the gear ratio, the less reeling you have to do to reel your line in. That may not matter much if your casts are short, but casting a long ways, or dropping your line down hundreds of feet deep, it really begins to matter. The gear ration refers to the number of times the bail rotates around the spool with a single turn of the reel handle. So if you have a 5:1 gear ration, the bail rotates around the spool five times for every single full turn of the reel handle. Spinning Reel Drag System - The drag system on a spinning reel is another important thing to consider when shopping for a new fishing reel. The drag is what applies pressure to a hooked fish, and it will let line out during the fight to help ensure that your line does not break on a large or super tough fighting fish. If you don’t set your drag right for the weight line you are using, or if your reel does not have a high quality and smooth operating drag system, you will risk losing that big fish due to a line break when you are trying to reel him in. You should look for a reel that has a smooth, non-constrictive drag. The line should pull out steadily, smoothly, and without hesitation, at whatever tension you set the drag. They have front and rear types of drag systems on various reels. This is referring to the location of the drag controls, along with a few other differences between the two styles. For the front drag systems, they have multiple large drag washers that offer higher durability and performance when compared to rear-drag models. The reels with the rear drag controls are easier to access when fighting a fish, but they don’t stand up as well to larger, harder fighting fish. Reels are continuously exposed to the elements, so another thing to look for are the sealed drag systems to protect the drag system and the inner gears from being compromised, which causes premature failure of the reels and drag systems in general. Reel Ball Bearings - Spinning reels have ball bearings or bushings within the body of the reel for improved smoothness and stability of the reel components. Spinning reels typically have a roller bearing within the line roller, and the larger number of bearings within the reel, the smoother the performance of the reel will be. Sealed stainless steel bearings are better than bushings if you are looking for more durability and control within the reel. Typically the more ball bearings that a reel has, the higher the quality and price of the reel. You should look for a minimum of four ball bearings to ensure the reel will perform well and will be smooth on the retrieve. Anti-Reverse Handles - Anti-Reverse handles are a must when looking for a new reel. The anti-reverse should be immediate when you try to reel backwards. A low quality reel will reverse a little bit and not stop immediately. The problem with this is that it is not good for the hook set when you get a bite. A solid immediate anti-reverse, will set the hook perfectly, while one that allows some back reeling will give a little bit of slack as you start to set instead of setting properly. In Conclusion - The bottom line is to buy a reel that has the look and feel that you want, with as many of the quality features we discussed. I typically set a price range for my reel, and then look for which good name brands that will fit within that price range with as many of the quality features that I can get. Once in a while I splurge on myself, and will review the reels from my favorite brands and pick a reel in the middle of the top tier of their product lineup. If money is no object, buy the best one they offer, like my dream reel below, you won’t be disappointed that you did! But, it is my dream, so I will be super jealous! High End Spinning Fishing Reels•Shimano Stella SW Spinning Reel•Okuma Makaira Spinning Reel•Daiwa Exist LT Spinning Reel•Van Staal X Series Spinning ReelTop Selling Spinning Fishing Reels•Penn Slammer III Spinning Reel•Shimano Vanford Spinning Reel•Daiwa Ballistic LT Spinning Reel•Daiwa BG MQ Spinning Reel•Daiwa Procyon AL Spinning Reel•Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel•PENN Spinfisher VI Bail-Less Spinning Reel•PENN Conflict II Spinning ReelDisclosure: This post is brought to you by the Mendenhall Outdoors team. We highlight products and services that you might find interesting. We frequently receive products free of charge from manufacturers to test. This does not drive our decision as to whether or not a product is featured or recommended. If you click a link on this page, then go on to make a purchase, we might receive a commission – at no extra cost to you, and does not impact the purchase price of any products that you may purchase.