Spinning Rod Vs Casting Rod: What are the main differences?

Spinning Vs Casting Rod

If you are new to sport fishing, you might feel overwhelmed with so many types of fishing rods available in the market. For the time being, let’s just focus on the two most basic types of rods: spinning rods and casting rods. 

These two types, along with their variants, surprisingly make up 90% of current fishing rods. Each serves a different purpose but this article will help you grasp the differences between the most basic and user-friendly ones: spinning and casting rods.

To find out how effective your fishing is, spending some time choosing the right rod is necessary and inevitable.

Although some might argue that many basic rods can catch multiple species, each fishing situation may require a slightly different type, length, and style of rod. 

To be a smart angler, don’t skip our article because we will help you compare and contrast some aspects of spinning and casting rods.

What Is A Spinning Rod?

A spinning rod is a tackle with straight handles, and either fixed or adjustable ring reel seats.

The open-faced spinning reel is located right underneath the rod, which is on the same side with the line guides.

It is this convenient position of the reel that makes it more popular with anglers of all levels.

This feature, which is only shared by fly reels, makes spinning rods more comfortable and balanced to hold, especially with those novice anglers who are not used to constant casting.

What’s more, the spinning reel can be converted to become suitable for both left-handed and right-handed users. The line leaves the reel in a form that is similar to a cone-shaped envelope.

However, do you know why it is called a spinning rod?

This type of rod, in fact, doesn’t consist of a spinning or revolving spool, yet only a fixed one. During the process of casting, a static spool offers no opportunity for backlash.

The name actually comes from the process of reeling the line around the spool during the retrieval phase.

A suitable spinning reel size is also something you should consider when combining with a spinning rod.

What Is A Spinning Rod Used For? 

With the mentioned features of a light backbone, spinning rod is most suitable for casting lures over long distances. The spinning rod is more used for fresh-water fishing than saltwater fishing because this backlash-free tackle is more well-suited for fishing light or small fish. 

They are also more widely used among novice anglers as being easier to use. However, nowadays, thanks to technical advances, spinning tackle has become a much more versatile tool that can suit different applications.

It ranges from casting small-profile 2-pound fish with an ultralight model to large-profile 30-found saltwater with a more heavy power spinning model. 

If you start with trout, panfish, and perch, consider spinning rod. Light spinning tackle works best when you cast over long distances.

Nevertheless, if you aim for bass, pike, lake trout, and big cats in windy weather, you will need to shorten the casting distance and go for a much heavier tackle like casting rod.

What is a casting rod?

This rod either comes with a straight handle or the one with a pistol grip

Casting rod is a tackle that uses level wind or baitcasting reels that mount on top of the handle and face the angler. The size of the casting rod’s guide ranges from small to medium.

This rod either comes with a straight handle or the one with a pistol grip, both of which include a trigger hold right under the handle. 

The rods are usually one-piece units and stiffer than their spinning rod counterparts. To handle much bigger and heavier fish, some heavier-duty may have a telescoping butt.

So what does the name tell about this type of fishing rod?

It doesn’t focus on natural bait but is most well-known for casting lures and sometimes for bait and trolling. 

What Is A Casting Rod Used For?

The purpose of using casting rod partly is mostly for casting lures. The high lure placement accuracy is the reason why many experienced casters opt for this rod, especially the majority of bass anglers.

To handle big fish, the rod bends over and the line is forced down onto the eyelets, and the rod blank to avoid breaking the eyelets.

If you aim for large fish like salmon, striped bass, flathead catfish, and other strong saltwater fish, long casting rods with straight handles are highly recommended. 

To look for a good casting rod, you should find the following signs: smooth, spotless finish with a rich glow. Regarding other components, look for many evenly spaced guides (one every six to eight inches), a light tip and a dead straightness.

What Is The Difference Between A Spinning Rod Vs Casting Rod

Spinning RodCasting Rod
Position of reelunderneath the roda little higher on the top of the reel seat
Line guidesfewer, wider and spaced further for better flexibilitymore, small to medium size, spaced closely so more backbone for handling bigger fish
Location of rod backbone/spineopposite to the side of guidesthe same side with guides
Performancefurther distanceconsiderable level of accuracy
Type of fishlighter freshwater fishheavier freshwater and saltwater fish
Skills levelbeginner to intermediateintermediate and above

Now that we have understood the basic foundations of a spinning rod as opposed to a casting one, it is time to dig deeper into how they are different from one another.

Line guides

  • Position

While in the spinning rod, the row of guides is along the bottom of the pole, it is placed along the top of casting rod. 

  • Size and number

Greater and fewer aides with further spacing feature spinning rods. The guide near the reel handle is very large. As the guides run towards the tip, they get progressively smaller in size, which creates the cone of flight layout.

Many argue that this layout with heavy guides mightn’t enhance casting distance as compared to the “new guide concept” layout.  

On the contrary, casting rods consist of smaller guides with closer spacing. In comparison to the nearest guide to the handle of the spinning rod, the first guide in casting is smaller but still big enough to handle the sideways movement as the line comes off the spool.

The guide spacing is closer but well-tested to avoid the rubbing of the line on the blank of the rod. 

It is believed that the more guides the rod places strategically, the higher the fish-fighting power of the rod is. To deal with a strong fish, more guides help better energy distribution to the rod.

Therefore, the casting rod earns an advantage over their spinning counterparts in dealing with heavy and large fish. 

Position of the reel seat

This is the first and foremost point to distinguish between spinning and casting rods. While the reel mounts underneath the rod in a spinning reel, it sits a little higher on the top of the casting’s reel seat. 

That’s why spinning reel is more comfortable for inexperienced anglers as pulling the line on a spinning reel is much easier when it is located below the rod.

There is a lower chance of getting into tangle when compared to casting rod, which requires some time to master the skills.

While the reel mounts underneath the rod in a spinning reel, it sits a little higher on the top of the casting’s reel seat.

Furthermore, casting reels are more secure with solid twists for heavy weight fishing whereas those twists in spinning reels are not secure enough to handle the same application. 


When it comes to performance, many anglers will favor casting rods due to their higher precision, which is mainly attributed to their smooth operation and low-profile mounting. Being upgraded many times, casting rods have tackled backlash issues and improved cranking power to efficiently handle strong-fighting fish. 

Anglers usually choose spinning rods as they can cast over long distances, being versatile and easy for new users.

Type of fish

Light to medium-duty spinning rods are much more preferred in clear freshwater (smaller lures, and lighter lines). Smallmouth bass, tugging fighters like white bass, quite strong sunfish, carp, pink salmon in rivers, and shad are primarily caught by spinning tackle.

Heavy-duty casting rods can handle heavier saltwater fighters. 

Skills level

To master the fishing techniques with casting rods, anglers need to spend more time and effort to get used to the way the rod bends and the eyelets go upward.

It is also dull, tiresome, and expensive when you need to change lines several times before acquiring the casting skill.

On the other hand, spinning rods require little effort and can be quickly mastered with a comfortable handle. After getting the knack of opening the bail, holding the line usually with your index finger, and then removing your finger at the right time. 

Location of rod backbone/spine

The purpose of a rod backbone is to withstand the majority of the stress when the pole bends. The rod bends more into the backbone with a slower motion. When it travels more, it increases the distance to return to being straight, which lengthens the period returning back to a straight rod. 

The casting rod features the backbone and the guide being on the same side whereas the spinning tackle displays the opposite direction.

The number of guides has a close connection to the degree of bending. When dealing with large fish, fewer guides will not create enough bending, which triggers higher tension and might break your fishing rod or cost you a big fish.

What are the pros and cons of a spinning rod vs casting rod?

With all features mentioned above, it is rather easy to list out some pros and cons of these two tackles.

Spinning Rods Advantages

  • Comfortable reel position at the bottom to reduce hand fatigue
  • Longer casting distance
  • Convertible handle (for both right-handed and left-handed anglers)
  • Considerable flexibility with further spaced guides
  • Easier control for dragging 
  • Fixed spool with no backlash
  • Perfect for use with a rod holder (set and forget)
  • Small fish casting in freshwater
  • Versatile rod with many applications depending on materials 
  • More affordable price than casting rods

Casting Rods Advantages

  • Pinpoint accuracy
  • Smaller and well tested spaced guides
  • High compatibility with various fishing methods
  • Great cranking power
  • No flex thanks to the stiff gear support system
  • Strong-fighting fish casting

Choosing the right rod depends on your needs and preference.

Spinning rod and casting rod

No, you shouldn’t use a spinning reel with a casting rod. The fishing line guides on a spinning reel are oriented on the incorrect side of the rod, which can result in damage and decreased performance, thus you should never use a spinning reel on a casting rod. See also: What happens if you put a spinning reel on a casting rod?
For beginners who have just taken up sportfishing, spinning rod will do you good as it will reduce arm fatigue during continuous casting. Furthermore, the position of the reel mounted at the bottom takes less time to get used to.


The differences between spinning and casting rods basically lie in the position of the reel and the guide layout. Whether you are a novice or an experienced angler, I hope you can find more insights after reading this article. Let me know if I skip any interesting facts!


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