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Casting VS Spinning Rods

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Hi Guys,



What is a the difference between casting and spinning rods? I assume that the casting rods are the same as spinning rods and they allow you to cast farther. Therefore then why do you need spinning rods? Why don't we just buy casting rods and get the best of both worlds? I know they must be differences(thats why they have the different types smile.gif ). Please educate me on the differences and why you would use one instead of the other?




Only The Paranoid Survive
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casting rods generally have more smaller guides and a collector (stripper) closer to the reel.


The guides don't need to be as large as on a spinner because the line is coming straight off the spool instead of in coils. More guides and a closer collector are used because the guides rest on top of the blank and more guides are needed to prevent the line from touching the blank.


The spinning reel casting rod combo has been done and can work ok but is not ideal unless using a long rod and small spool reel. The close and small collector guide on a casting rod will choke the coils to much and the coils will often clog the collector, thus backing up the line or creating a tangle around the guide.

Some might not be too pleased about the spine being reversed either, though many factory rods are not spined anyway.


The lowrider system uses small guides on a spinning rod but they are placed further up the blank so as not to over choke the coils. A small braid filled reel on a long casting rod might be effective.

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bigkyle - are you contemplating a new purchase, looking to mix-and-match spinning and casting components, or just wondering about general differences. If its one of the first 2, a few specifics might help you get the information you're looking for.

I've done stuff I ain't proud of, and the stuff I am proud of is disgusting.

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Hi Guys,



What is a the difference between casting and spinning rods? I assume that the casting rods are the same as spinning rods and they allow you to cast farther. Therefore then why do you need spinning rods? Why don't we just buy casting rods and get the best of both worlds? I know they must be differences(thats why they have the different types smile.gif ). Please educate me on the differences and why you would use one instead of the other?





I'm going to take a step back and assume you know that casting rods are used primarily with conventional/casting reels and spinning rods are meant for spinning reels?

Generally I like casting rods for jigging bucktails and heavier lures from the boat and bottom fishing. They generally have more power per foot of rod and more "backbone"..big casting rods are great for heavy large chunks of meat into deep water and waiting for something big to swim by and eat it.

Spinning rods are great for plugging lighter lures 1-4 ounces where you are retreiving the plug over and over. Although using a casting rod with a conventional reel can be fun also once you get the hang of it.

"Where is my mind?  Waaaaay out in the water see it swimming?"
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Conventional roda have more guides, usually much smaller, and reel seat is mounted so it tightens from the top. Line off the conventional spool feeds off smoothly while a spinning line billows off the reel. The stripper (first guide) must be large enough to allow the line to billow, yet small enough to keep the line from striking the blank. Spinning reels line does not touch the spool in the cast, and if not controlled will hit the blank. The second guide must choke the billow to keep line from twisting in the cast. Too much choke and the rod wont cast far, too little choke and the line slaps the blank also effecting the cast.

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The great advantage of the casting rod is its weight savings. Rod and reel together weigh about what a reasonable sized spinning reel weighs. For me, this weight savings is well worth learning how to use it. On days I take my spinning outfit, I am always surprized how ungainly it is.


Many guys use casting gear for bigger stuff and spinning gear for smaller stuff, but if you get the right rod, you can fish all striper sized lures with casting gear (well, not with the same rod).


The shortcoming of spinning gear is that you have less control of the line and the way it works allows for twist to occur in the line. Also, because you must have your finger on the line during you cast, you run the risk of cuts if the drag slips before you release when casting big weights long distances.


The shortcoming of casting gear is that it is difficult to learn and unforgiving in a headwind, because the spool will want to keep spinning as the lure is getting blown down, causing overruns or birdsnests. With small lures, you also run the risk of overruns if your rod is too heavy. Even the best caster still has the occasional overrun- no amount of learning will change that.


There are four components to casting: rod, lure, line and operator. Each must work together to make the cast- the reel is simply a stoage container for the line. The best casts occur when rod, line and lure are matched for each other and the operator is not too badly impaired. Relative to casting, everything dependent on the lure.


If the line is too light for the lure, you will achieve great casts, but will not be able to retrieve because the lure will no longer be connected to you. If the line is too heavy, your distance will be impaired because friction of the line through the guides and air will slow down the lure and cause it to fall short.


The best casts are those that utilize the full flex and spring back of the rod. If the lure is too light, the rod will not bend correctly, and the lure will fall short. If the rod is too light, it will not spring back correctly and the lure will fall short. If the lure is waaayyy too heavy, the rod will not spring back at all and will no longer be usable. You will still be able to retrieve the lure, but will not be able to cast again.


Operator impairment is controllable by not imbibing large quantities of alcohol and refraining from fishing with broken limbs or severly strained muscles. Both of these sound easy, but are more difficult than they seem. As you fish more, you will come to understand. I am a good-ol'-boy, and have personally fished with both broken ribs and a fifth of bourbon at the same time. It was a great trip, but I could not cast very well at all.


Retrieving a lure has two components- lure and operator. I cannot help you any further in this area without every other member of this board informing you that I am utterly wrong. We are all right. If at any point in time rod, reel or line become a factor in retriving the lure, you should stop immediately and identify the source of the problem.


If the lure stops through no fault of the rod, reel, line or operator, one of two things has happened. You are snagged or you have hooked a fish.


The difference can be confusing. Many of us have watched some other guy fight a good sized rock for twenty minutes before realizing that he was snagged. I have personally had a guy tell me he was snagged, and hand me the rod to get him free when it turned out he had caught a fish. No bourbon was involved with that, oh no sir.


Once the fish is hooked, the lure ceases to be a factor. Some would argue that the hook is still a factor, but 99% of the time, hook failure is really operator error, either through using poor hooks or too much power on the system.


The interplay of rod, reel, line and operator are all important to reel in a fish. The reel is designed to slip and allow line to go out if too much pressure is placed on the system. This is good, because otherwise the line will break. The rod is designed to be a spring that absorbs the power of the fish and provide leverage against it. The line should keep contact with the fish and allow you to bring it to you.


The operator is responsible for managing all of these factors. As with casting, you will achieve the best results if all the components are matched to the size of the fish. Unlike casting, you have much less control over this- as fish do their own thing independently. Sometimes ridiculously small fish will attempt to eat incredibly large objects. Other times, very large fish will munch on the smallest of offerings. As a rule, though, you should be able to predict the general range of size that most fish will fall in on any given trip, and plan accordingly.


You should set your drag, the slipping point of the reel, at about 15% of the breaking point of the line as it comes off the reel. This may seem low, but the line may have a nick, or the fish may be erratic and apply pressure too quickly for you to respond, so 15% is about right.


Your rod will add another 15% of the weight of the line in pressure on the fish, if you use it at its maximum power. This is accomplished by keeping the rod at an angle between 40 and 60 degrees from the surface of the water. Most fishermen hold the rod at too great of an angle to utilize it properly. Sure, it looks dynamic to see a fisherman leaned back with his rod to the sky, but it defies the laws of physics and we all know what happens when you taunt mother nature...


Another reason to keep your rod between 40 and 60 degrees is that you can respond to the fish no matter which way it goes. If you have your rod to the sky and the fish comes at you, you cannot keep the line tight by raising the rod, because, well, it's already there.


If you are wondering about the difference between spinning and casting rods, you should get a spinning rod. If the reel you get has a long, skinny spool, you can use a rod with a smaller gathering guide (the first guide from the reel on the rod). If the reel you have chosen has a short, fat spool, you should get a rod with a larger gathering guide. As a general rule, American reels have wider spools than Asian ones do, thus require larger gathering guides. I guess I should say American designed reels, as they are now almost all made overseas.


Finally, as you contemplate getting a rod, do not go into WalMart by yourself and expect to

come out with what you need. Even Dicks and SA will not be able to help you too much. Get together with a buddy who knows how to fish and have him help you through the process. You will be much happier with the outcome.

I have become too old to drink bourbon on the rocks. I will still drink it in the parking lot. 

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Wow thanks sweet water. that was a lot of info icon14.gif . How can people not tell the difference between being snagged and having a fish on the line. From my fishing experience a fish usually takes the bait and attempts to "run" or it nibbles the bait. While you usually get snagged when reeling in the line. Also how do you set the drag on the reel? Sometimes when i have hooked a fish and I attempt to reel him in the reel slips(i don't know if that is the correct term, but instead on line coming on the spool it goes out of the spool). i know that guys here advocate not adjusting the drag when fighting a fish but if you realized you set the drag to light should you adjust it when fighting a fish?



Only The Paranoid Survive
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Thanks, Longshot- I hope it made you laugh at least once.


Bigkyle- sometimes in running water, it can be difficult to identify a snag because the motion of the water against the line will make it feel like a fish moving off.


Until you get a good feel for it, set your drag using a hand scale. You can do it two ways- off the reel and off the rod. Measuring the drag off the reel can be done by yourself, but you will need a friend to do the off the rod method.


Tie your line to the hook on the hand scale pull against the drag, watching to see what weight is recorded before the drag slips. If you have the drag too loose, you may need to reel the scale back a time or two until you have tightened the drag down satisfactorily.


If you have the drag too tight, stop pulling when you have reached the ideal weight you want to set, loosen the drag a bit and try again.


You want the drag to slip at around 15% of the line test for most applications, though you can go higher for some applications, and lower for others, and you want to be a little lower if you use braid.


Applications where you may want to go to 20% would include places with a high likelihood of the fish taking you over sharp obstructions, or the end of heavily fished jetties where you run the risk of crossing a bunch of other people's lines.


If you fish open beaches and intend to take the fish home anyway, you can go a little lower, thus extending the length of the fight (the most enjoyable part of fishing, but really only a small part of the time we are fishing). A slightly lower drag setting (say 12% of line test) will make a fish easier to deal with in the wash, as it will have worn itself out more and will be more compliant.


If you practice catch and release, it is better to keep your drag at the 15% ratio so that you can bring the fish in more quickly with less stress.


Here are some sample ratios:


20# mono, normal (yeah right) conditions: 3# drag off the reel


30# braid, normal conditions: 4# drag


30# mono: 4.5# drag


50# braid, difficult conditions: 8-10# drag


30# mono, difficult conditions: 5-6# drag.


20# mono, difficult conditions: doesn't matter, you're undergunned anyway.


The friend method of setting your drag has the line going through the guides and tied off to the scale, which is held by a friend about 20 feet away. Raise the rod to your fighting postion and have your friend back off while watching the scale. Have him call back the wieght of the slip. This would be 30% of the breaking test of the line. If he gets to 30% with out the drag slipping, have him stop until you have gradually loosened the drag until it slips. Then he should step back to make sure that the reading is correct. Double all the above numbers for your conditions.


Do not try to set the drag off the rod tip by yourself- you will break exactly six inches off the rod tip and cuss like a sailor. Of course, I only know this anecdotally- I was never stupid enough to try this myself. Never ever ever. Not me, NO.


If you check your drag every trip for a while, you will quickly get a feel for where you want to be and be able to do it by hand. This is not an exact science, and the numbers I have presented are recommendations, not the ten commandments. As you develop a comfort zone, you will find your own personal preference.


Your friends are right: you should not adjust your drag during a fight with a fish. You do have other options. If you are in a crisis, you can apply additional drag by touching the spool of the reel with your hand. I do not know what kind of gear you are using, but would guess that you are using spinning gear.


If you have a skirted reel, one without a cup on the rotor, you can use either the skirt or the rim. With a cupped reel, you must use the upper rim of the reel. Do not touch the line, only the spool. You have two choices here, and practice will tell you which you prefer.


I prefer to use the hand I reel with. I do not need to use the handle when a fish is running. I take my hand and lightly cup the spool of the reel with my index finger curled around the rim. Progressively adding pressure will increase your drag very nicely, and as soon as you lift your hand from the spool, you drag will return to its preset postion.


The other option is to use your index finger of the hand that is holding the rod. Making sure that the bail is out of the way, use the tip of your finger to apply pressure to the rim of the spool. This method is trickier than the previous one, because if you are right handed and the spool spins counter clockwise, you could have your finger drawn into the bail, which hurts, and will generally end the fight with the fish. Again, you will cuss. And, you may break the rod voluntarily if you have anger issues.


Now, this is where a friend can help you. Once you have set your drag correctly, have your buddy move around the yard as you practice brushing the spool to see what is comforable for you, what the line will take and how much pressure is necessary.


If a friend is not available, throw a stick for your dog and practice slowing him down. Do not do this with your girlfriend's Pekinese- it will not apply enough pressure and you will be sleeping alone for a while. Again, I have never done this personally, ahem, cough, cough.


Alright, I am done for now. What's the next question?

I have become too old to drink bourbon on the rocks. I will still drink it in the parking lot. 

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Thanks a million for the info. How did you get so much knowledge about fishing? I'm thinking of buying of the St. Croix Tidemaster Inshore Spinning Rods. What reel do you recommend can go with this rod? I'm thinking of the Shimano® Aero Stradic® Spinning Reels. For some reason i'm drawn to shimano reels. I have a baitrunner 6500B and spheros 4000FA. What saltwater spinning reels do you use? In your opinion what is the best brand of reel in general or which do you prefer using. The spinning reels brands that look worthwhile to me are shimano, daiwa, quantum, penn. How do you rate each one? In future if I have more questions can I PM you? Sorry for confusing you with foolish questions biggrin.gif . Thanks

Only The Paranoid Survive
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