Spinning rod and reel with a fishing lure.

How To Use a Spinning Rod – A Basic Guide

Learning how to use a spinning rod is one of those things in the fishing world where you will lose many opportunities if you cannot do it. Spinning rods offer a great set of attributes that are unobtainable with other rods such as baitcasting versions. Spinning rods allow you to cast very light lures and cast heavier ones further. The reel on a spinning rod, a spinning reel, rotates the fishing line around a center spool instead of winding it on sideways as a baitcasting reel does. Using baitcasters is slightly harder.

The design of the spinning rod is extremely unique because line guides on the rod point downwards instead of upwards. Almost all spinning rods are operated the exact same way no matter the species or size of fish being targeted. This is a lesson on how to use a spinning rod properly and effectively. Make sure to master it. Much more fish lurk right around the corner!

Understand and Learn The Mechanical Advantage

Spinning reel parts.

While the mechanics of the spinning rod are pretty basic and straightforward, it will help immensely to know how they all work together before fishing, namely the reel. The rod itself has a slot in which the reel is seated and held in place. Pretty simple.

The reel is slightly more complicated. On the tail end of the reel exists something called a reel foot. This is what attaches the reel to the rod. Seated near the bottom of the reel is a knob. This is used to remove the reel handle and switch it to the other side.

This makes spinning reels ambidextrous. The reel handle is what you turn with your hand. The line roller (also called power roller) is what your main line goes under. This lets the line be reeled back onto the spool. The spool is where the line is stored once you spool up your line. On top of the spool is the drag knob. This can and should be adjusted. Drag is how you keep from breaking off under pressure.

You will want to set this before you fish. Generally, you will want your line to come off the spool at around 10% of your line’s strength. This is easy to figure out. If you can reel the line in but still pull a little out without breaking it, that should work fine. Be careful on very light line. It takes a lot more precision or you risk breaking off. Be very careful when you are fishing light or ultralight.

Always remember to set your drag properly too! There is a piece of wire located on top of the reel which is called the bail arm. It basically keeps the line going in one direction. It opens and closes. This mechanism controls if your line comes off the spool or not during casts.

1. Learn How to Cast The Spinning Rod The Right Way

There is a right way to cast a spinning rod and a wrong way. Hold tension on the line with your pointer finger. Under this tension, the line will not fall off the spool. Lift the bail arm to the upward position. Bring the rod behind you and throw your lure while releasing the line with your finger. Once the bait hits the water, DO NOT START REELING! No matter the temptation, don’t do it. You will regret it later!

Unless you don’t care about removing tangles from the line, starting to reel to engage your bail is an act you will always want to avoid. You will want to close the bail arm manually with your opposite hand once your bait hits the water instead. This will prevent your line from twisting up on you and it also keeps it tight. Start reeling with your other hand opposite of the one that is holding the rod.

If you are right-handed, you should reel with the left hand and vice versa. Sometimes your lure will start flying upwards instead of forwards. In this case, practice trying to release your finger a little later. You are releasing early if your lure doesn’t move and your rod bends under it.

2. Fishing and Retrieving

Once you have perfected your cast and manually closed the bail arm, you can start to reel in the line making sure to work your lure differently depending on your type of bait. Many people choose to use spinning rods for one reason. Versatility. Spinning rods excel at casting lures that weigh barely anything and pretty much anything in your tackle box.

You have the choice of catching tiny fish like Crappie or huge ones like Marlin. They will handle it all. If you’re fishing with a spinning rod, try not to make the lure to heavy unless your rod is matched for it. Bigger spinning reels will handle bigger lures just fine. There is always a time and place for spinning rods which is practically always and everywhere.

Do not attempt to throw huge lures on a reel that is meant for light ones. You will probably lose your lure, a good chunk of line, and the rod will probably snap in your face. To work the lure, use a series of pauses and twitches with your rod tip. Impart faster action when using a reaction type lure and work it slower when using a soft plastic or if the water is really cold.

3. Fighting and Landing the Fish

When you get a bite, make sure to perform a hard sudden jerk with your rod. You want your hook to deeply penetrate the fish’s flesh. I always like to give it a few extra pulls after the first just to make sure that hook positions itself inside the fish’s mouth. Spinning rods are very good for fighting fish. The line guides that point downwards are putting less stress on the fishing line.

If the fish is running but needs some line, turn the drag to the left. Tighten the drag by turning it to the right if you are not making any progress or if the hook did not penetrate as deep as it should have. Start reeling it in. Try to be as fast and efficient as possible reeling the fish in. You want to put as little stress on the fish as possible. It will thank you for it by swimming off naturally to get bigger and reproduce so you or another angler can catch it again. Your rod will also last that much longer.

Wet your hands if you must handle the fish and do NOT put it on the ground. All fish have a protective coat of slime that protects their scales and body from infections. Try not to rub any of this off. If pictures are to be taken, only keep the fish out of the water for as long as absolutely necessary. Let it breathe by putting it back in the water in a net before you take your picture. Release the fish by gently laying it down back in the place you caught it.

Is Your Head Spinning Yet?

Spinning rods definitely are an amazing invention. They indeed have revolutionized the way we catch fish. They are a wonderful piece of history and a wonderful piece of art. They have evolved in so many ways that many people need advice on how to use a spinning rod. This was a basic guide to hopefully get you zoned into a few more fish provided you have one lying around.

I do hope the spinning rod stays with you for many years to come because its almost endless the possibilities you can do with them. This is one tool that should never leave your arsenal. They are versatile, easy to use, and a pleasure to have on the boat or bank. If you have a loving bond with your spincaster, we urge you to keep using it but we ask that you at least give the spinning rod a try.

What is your favorite part about using a spinning rod? What techniques do you use it for? Have any questions? Drop a comment down below so we hear what you have to say!

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