Fishing Rods 101

Fishing Rods 101

Fishing RodsFishing Rods 101 explains, and gives you some factors to consider when selecting a fishing rod. I’ve also included ideas to prolong and improve the life of your rods.

This is the 3rd post in my 101 series; check out the others Fishing Reels 101, and Fishing Line 101.

“Don’t call it a pole it’s a rod!!!!”220x350xcane-pole-2.jpg.pagespeed.ic.FzdnJjP1v9

It is a rod rather than a pole. A fishing pole is a stick or piece of wood that has a line tied on the end. A fishing rod has a seat for the reel to attach with eyelets or guides to direct the line from the reel to the end of the rod. Now that we have the important distinction out of the way let’s get started!





Spline of a Rod

Every fishing rod has a "spline". The spline is created when the fiberglass or graphite cloth is wrapped. The overlap causes the spline. Because of the spline or overlap in the wrap, a fishing rod is strongest in one direction, weak in the other.

The way to think about this is that a spinning rod is strongest in the direction with the guides down while a baitcast or spincast rod is strongest with the guides up. You want the strongest direction of the rod working when you have a fish on. This is why you match reels that sit on top of the rod with rods that are strongest with the guides up.

Fishing Rod Types

There are four types of rods:

  1. The fly rod [image] is designed for using the weight of the line to cast the bait, typically a fly. The reel seat sits below the rod (the direction the rod is the strongest).However you can put a spinning reel on fly rod to take advantage of the length and action. This would be great for fishing worms on a stream or other light tackle.

Fly Rod Guides and Line

Fly Reel Seat

  1. The Baitcast or spincast rod is designed for a reel to sit on top of the rod (a baitcast reel). The guides are on the top of the rod to match the reel position.You could also put a spincast reel on this rod as they also sit on top of the rod. The main characteristic is that the guides and reel seat are on the top of the rod. Generally these rods are more heavy-duty and are best known for bass fishing.

Baitcast Rod Reel SeatBaitcast Rod guides

  1. The Spinning rod - The spinning rod has the guides and reel seat on the bottom of the rod. As the line comes off a fixed spool with a “spinning” mechanism called a bail the first few line guides are larger to accommodate the circumference of the bail. These larger first few guides are designed to reduce potential fishing line friction on the cast and retrieval.
  2. Spinning Rod Reel SeatSpinning Rod GuidesTenkara rods - This is a specialty rod popular in Japan and really getting popular around the world now especially in the US. Tenkara is a fixed-line fishing method. No reel, just a line tied to the end of the rod (or should this be pole!). These rods are long, ranging from 11 to 13 feet in length.


A fishing rod can be made out of bamboo, wood, carbon fiber composite or fiberglass composite. The majority of rods these days are made out of carbon fiber. There is nothing wrong with fiberglass rods they are just considered “old fashioned”.




All Rods are classified or categorized based on Action, Power, and Line Weight. Regardless of rod type, these three characteristics are common across all fishing rods. Action, Power or Line Weight are not good or bad; purely differentiators. They only help in determining which rod is best for you based on how and what you are fishing for.


According to Wikipedia - Fishing Rods. The action of a rod relates to the “speed with which the rod returns to its neutral position.” Action is typically defined as slow, medium, fast (or any combination i.e. Medium-fast). Action is sometimes mistakenly presented as the bending curve of the rod.

You can think of it in these terms - a fast rod will not bend far from its neutral position, where a slow rod will flex more and therefore take longer to return to its neutral position.

Action is subjective and can be significantly different between types of rods and manufacturers.


Power describes the rod’s resistance to flexing. Power is typically classified as Ultri-Light, Light, Medium-Light, Medium, Medium-Heavy, Heavy, Ultri-Heavy, or other similar combinations. You may also see power described as the power value or rod weight.

The power rating relates, and is matched; to the type of fishing you plan on doing. Ultrix-Light rods would be suited for panfish with Ultra-Heavy for the biggest of fish. Catching something completely outside the rated size of a rod can result in broken rods.

Line Weight

Rods are also classified by the ideal fishing line weight to be used. As we discussed in the Fishing Line 101 [LINK TO POST], line is rated by pound test. A 6wt rod is designed for a 6-pound test fishing line. Although you don’t have to match the recommended line with the rod exactly, you will get the best performance with a close match.

What to Consider when Selecting a Fishing Rod

What type of fishing reels do you already own?

If you have baitcast reels then that rod could be the natural choice. As mentioned above, there are rods that allow for multiple reels to fit. A baitcast, and spincast reel will both fit on the same rod. Fly and spinning reels are interchangeable with fly and spinning rods.

How much do you plan on fishing?

Do you fishing occasionally on the weekend or a random trip or are you a heavy-duty fisherman or woman? As reliability generally increases with price the frequency with which you fish may allow you to use a less rugged outfit (read less expense).

As with most things, you generally get what you pay for and higher quality and reliability come at a price. I have rods and reels that are in excellent working condition that have been handed down to me from my Grandfather so you can be making an investment if you take care of you gear.

What kind of fish are you after?

If you’re fishing for bluegill you would probably want a much different rod than if you were going after salmon or large fresh water species. An Ultra-Light rod would work for bluegill and other small fish and be a much better choice. A good medium action, medium power 6WT rod would work well for most fishing. Obviously if your fishing is on ether extreme edge then match your gear accordingly.

How portable do you need the rod to be?

If you just fish locally a one-piece rod may work just fine even if you need to travel by truck or auto. Once you introduce air travel then a multi-piece rod would be a much better choice. The ability to break the rod down into a small travel case would be a key characteristic to consider.

How does the rod feel, or look?

The rod is in your hands all the time so the pure feel is important. Grab the rod and see how it feels (give it a jiggle…like everyone does). If it doesn’t feel good than that rod isn’t for you.

You may say you are all about performance, but don’t fool anyone looks are important. How the rod looks is a factor considering you will be looking at the rod almost all the time you are on the water.


Rod Sock – If you have a one piece rod then I think a rod sock is the best investment under $10. A rod sock is exactly what it sounds like, a flexible sock that fits over the end of the rod and comes down to right above the reel. The socks are matched to the rod (guide sizes and length).

Rod Sock

Guides – If you are experiencing a lot of line breaks, inspect your guides. You may have a burr or nick on one of the guides. Depending on how severe it is a little extra fine sandpaper may fix it or you may have to replace the guide.

Rod Storage – Rod can be easily damaged so I recommend a storage rack, either horizontal or vertical. Not only do they keep your gear organized but also your rods are further protected against accidental damage off the water.

Flshing Rod Storage



Fishing is a great pastime and hopefully this post has helped demystify a subject that can be over complicated. Using this information should help you understand and select the right fishing rod for you.

As always feel free to share additional tips or information below in the comments.

Why I Fish

Why I fish

6791705 I have 79 projects, with 127 tasks to urgently work on.  I have so much to do with of course all of it important.  That is what I need to focus on to be productive and to tick the box “productive day”….or is it?  I often wonder why exactly am I here; is it to accomplish everything, that in the short term, I have labeled  as urgent or important?  Or is it something deeper?

Lately I’m focused on living deeper, and in the moment; living in the now.  Don’t misunderstand this for some sort of hedonistic approach to completely disregarding the future, actually I view it as completely the opposite.  I am worried about looking back from the future when my youngest son is waving good by out the car window.  Will I look back with satisfaction or regret?

This fear of regret is one of the reasons I fish.  There has been nothing that has brought my son and I closer than the love of fishing.  We really have a conversation when we talk fishing.  Not the how was school….fine...brief conversation.  I honestly think in his 11 years he know more about fishing than I do.  We actually learn from each other on this fishing journey.  The best Father’s Day memory will be this year as we sat shoulder to shoulder tying files.  Which they actually caught fish.  I’m always about “following the recipe” where he is creating whatever he comes up with.  And like I said we both caught fish.  There is nothing like seeing someone catch their first fish.  It brings the join the forefront.

There is always a place for the “important projects and task” but I hope you take the time to decide what is really important in the long haul.  That is where fishing comes in for me.  Fishing and spending time with people important to me.  That is why I fish. How about you?

Fishing Line 101

Fishing Line 101

Spools of fishing line hanging a wall for sale

Fishing line 101 continues my series of clarifying and explaining the tools of fishing. Don't forget to check out my other posts in the 101 series including Fishing Reels 101.

Fishing Line 101 explains the three types of fishing lines along with their related strengths and disadvantages. At the end of the post I include some tips and maintenance ideas to prolong and improve the life of your line. Let’s get started.

There are three types of fishing line [excluding fly line]:

  1. Monofilament
  2. Braided
  3. Fluorocarbon

Common to all Line

Fishing line is a cord used or made for catching fish. The line has a hook or lure attached to encourage a fish to bite. Pretty basic stuff.

According to Wikipedia - Fishing Line “Modern fishing lines intended for spinning, spin cast, or bait casting reels are almost entirely made from artificial substances, including nylon, polyvinylidene fluoride or fluoropolymer (PVDF, also called fluorocarbon), polyethylene, Dacron and Dyneema (UHMWPE). “ For the scientist is us all!

How Line is Measured

Fishing line is measured in Pound Test and in thickness or diameter. Pound test can be defined as the amount of stress that can be applied to the line before the line breaks. The second number is the diameter. Ken Schultz over at What Does “Pound-Test” Mean on a Fishing Line Label? provides an excellent in-depth description of pound test and how lines are measured. Ken’s post is a really interesting read.

Overall Factors in Line Selection

Things that can be factors in deciding what line to use include breaking strength (measured in pound test), knot strength, UV resistance, cast ability, limpness, stretch, abrasion resistance, visibility, and cost.

Lets get started with the most popular line, monofilament.


Package of Monofilament fishing Line

Monofilament or mono is the most popular type of fishing line. Mono is comprised of synthetic components combined in a gel that solidifies into a slick, string-like substance. Interestingly, they manufacture the line by extruding the gel through a series of gradually smaller openings, while cooling it. This process has remained essentially unchanged for about the last 50 years.

Mono is characterized as having the largest amount of “line stretch”. On the surface this may seem like a disadvantage but is some situations stretch can be an advantage. Stretch is not all bad for two main reasons:

  1. Some stretch provides shock absorption. This stretch can provide you with that extra moment to net a fish when the fish makes an unexpected run.
  1. Stretch can actually enhance the action of certain lures like crank baits. The stretch can allow the lure to look more lifelike, like it is swimming through the water rather than being dragged.

This stretch can be a detriment when fishing with soft-plastic lures or jigs as you may miss subtle fish bites. This is because the line is absorbing the some of the strike rather than transferring the strike to the rod.

Monofilament is translucent and not invisible in the water.   Something many people don’t realize is that mono is not waterproof and actually absorbs water.  When the line is water logged is most cases the breaking point will be lower than advertised. Also you need to check your knots, as a they tend to loosen, as the line gets wet.

Mono does have memory, which means when it comes off your reel you will tend to see curls in the line (which means it holds the shape of your reel's spool).

In summary, I would describe mono as an inexpensive, all around good line. It has been around for 50 years and still is the most popular. Mono is also the most common line that is included with pre-spooled reels.

Monofilament Strengths

  • Mono is the least expensive of the three lines.
  • Although not invisible in the water, Mono is translucent in the water.
  • Stretch can be both good and bad depending on the circumstances.


Monofilament Disadvantages

  • Stretch especially if you are fishing soft-plastic lures or jigs.
  • Not waterproof – Mono absorbs water which can lead to weakened knots and weakened line strength.
  • After waterlogged casting can be sluggish.
  • Breaks down quickly from ultraviolet sun rays
  • Mono has a high degree of memory which will not provide a straight direct line from fish to rod.


Braided Fishing Line

Braided fishing line is the oldest line. There are examples of prehistoric people using woven cotton and linen to catch fish. There are actually two types of braided line: one is Dacron, which is made from a polyester fiber. The second is made out of polyethylene fibers.

Braided line does not stretch at all which makes braided line extremely responsive to fish strikes. As described above with mono this can be a strength and a limitation.

Braided is much stronger than mono so the same test pound line is much thinner. It will take considerably more braided line to fill the same space on the spool as mono or fluorocarbon line.

Braided Strengths

  • Strong line – when you are fishing in brush and around a lot of cover this is the line for you. Braided line has the ability to pull a fish right through grasses and brush. You will loose fewer fish due to line breakage.
  • Smaller diameter line at the same test pound strength.
  • No stretch – depending on your fishing style and needs this can be a distinct advantage.

Braided Disadvantages

  • Braided line is essentially opaque so it can impact line sensitive fish.   One way to get around that is the use fluorocarbon as a leader and attached it to the braided line with a uni-knot or blood knot.
  • Braided line floats, which takes some getting used to.
  • These lines are abrasive and can wear out your rod guidelines and reel components. Better to have titanium components if you are spooling up with braided lines.
  • More expensive than mono which can be considerable as a lot more braided line is necessary to fill a reel spool than mono.
  • Can be tough to break the line when you have a snag.


Package of Fluorocarbon fishing line

Fluorocarbon is the newcomer to the fishing line market. Fluorocarbon fishing line is made of the fluoropolymer PVDF. Fluorocarbon is also a denser material, and therefore, is not nearly as buoyant as mono. Fluorocarbon is a great line when you are fishing closer to the bottom. This line will help you get down to the bottom without the need for heavy (or bulky) sinkers.

Being a denser material than mono, there is less slack in the line. Also, fluorocarbon has less memory than mono so it is generally straighter in the water. Fluorocarbon actually has the same stretch as mono it’s just that the stretch is right before it breaks.

Fluorocarbon Strengths

  • With less stretch there is better feel for fish strikes.
  • Fluorocarbon has the refractive index similar to water, which makes it almost invisible in the water.
  • Perfect line if you want to keep your lure deeper in the water and visibility is an issue.
  • Memory – there is less memory than mono but more than braided line.
  • Great for fishing with smaller lures.
  • Good choice in very abrasive situations (around docks, abrasive barnacles).

Fluorocarbon Disadvantages

  • Much more expensive than mono.
  • Memory - less memory can be an issue with spinning reels. This line can “shoot” of the spool during casting leading to the dreaded bird’s nest of tangle.
  • Stretch – With essentially the same stretch as mono the line can break expectantly because the stretch personality is different than mono as it holds its properties until the end and breaks quickly. You don’t get the give than you might be used to with mono.

Quick Tips and Maintenance Ideas


Line stored on a reel for a long time will develop memory. Memory will cause the line to develop stiff, weakening coils. You will see this when you cast the line as the line sits on the water.

A quick tip to eliminate these coils in mono fishing line is to soak the line in water for about an hour before you go fishing. Take your spool off your reel (with line attached) and put it into a bucket of fresh water. You can also stretch the line but tying it to a stationary object and gently stretch. If you are on a boat you can also let the line out and “troll” with the line extended off the back of the boat.

The sun’s ultraviolet rays are bad for fishing line. UV rays will deteriorate the line, especially if it is exposed to strong sunlight over a long period of time. Overexposure to heat can also cause serious line damage. Store your line in a cool location out of direct sunlight.

If you are getting line breaks and can’t pinpoint the culprit check your line guides and reel for any slight burrs or sharp spots that may be breaking your line.

Utilizing these tips should help your line last a long time and perform at its peak. There are many reasons to loose fish, don’t let line breakage be one of them.


As you can see there are strengths and disadvantages to all three fishing lines. Use this information, along with your individual fishing goals and needs to select the best line for the job.

Please comment below if you have any other thoughts or ideas to share with the community.

Review of Walt Disney World Guided Bass Fishing Excursion

Crescent Lake on Disney World Guided Bass Fishing Excursion On our last two visits to Walt Disney World my son and I have gone out of one of Disney’s guided bass fishing excursions.  I wanted to offer a detailed description and review of our experience.

In conjunction with Take Me Fishing, Disney offers guided fishing outings on their various lakes in search of the all mighty bass.  These outings are a great way to experience something different during your Disney visit and will satisfy the serious fisherman or fisherwoman and Disney guest.

As outlined on the Walt Disney World Take Me Fishing website:

Walt Disney World Guided Bass Fishing Excursion

Guided catch-and-release outings let you experience bass fishing at its finest—all year round! Whether you're a seasoned sportsman or an amateur angler, a guided fishing excursion is fun for Guests of all ages.

Choose from Guided Bass Fishing Excursions, which includes a 21-foot Tracker pontoon boat that can accommodate up to 5 Guests, and Bass Nitro Fishing, which features a tournament-style Nitro Bass boat for one or 2 people.

Both 2-hour and 4-hour excursions are offered, and if available, an extra hour may be added in person at the Marina. Solo anglers may book an afternoon excursion at a reduced rate. The 2-hour trip is $270.00 and the 4-hour trip is $455.00. The price is for the boat up to five people not per person.

All Walt Disney World Resort fishing excursions include:

  • An experienced guide

⁃           Rods and reels and tackle

⁃           Spinning reels

⁃           One baitcaster (didn't use)

  • Tackle
  • Artificial and/or live bait
  • Non-alcoholic beverages (Guests may not bring beverages, food or coolers aboard.)
  • One year BASS (Bass Anglers Sportsman Society) membership, which includes 11 issues of Bassmaster Magazine (one membership per excursion)


Venture out on Bay Lake and Seven Seas Lagoon, skim across Village Lake or cruise Crescent Lake and World Showcase Lagoon. Fishing excursions are available at the following marinas:

  • Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground
  • Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort
  • Disney's Contemporary Resort
  • Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
  • Disney's Old Key West Resort
  • Disney's Polynesian Village Resort
  • Disney's Port OrleansResort - Riverside
  • Disney's Wilderness Lodge
  • Disney's Yacht Club Resort

Call (407) 939-BASS or (407) 939-2277 to make a reservation, or submit a BASS Reservation Request Form online now and a Fishing Coordinator will contact you in 12 to 24 hours. Reservations can be made up to 180 days in advance.

Making your Reservation

To reserve your fishing outing you can either call the Disney number (407) 939-BASS or fill out the online form.  On the form you will need to enter basic information about your stay, including dates and locations, three alternative dates and, or times for your fishing outing, place for pickup, and preferred excursion location.

Our Experience

For both this outing and the first outing we selected the Epcot Lakes location (encompasses Crescent Lake and World Showcase Lagoon).  I submitted an on-line request and then spoke with the fishing coordinator on the phone.  In the comments section I requested Rick as our guide the second time and they were able to accommodate our request.

Bass_Boat_on_Disney_Guided_Bass_Fishing_Excursion-2Bass Boat on Disney Guided Bass Fishing Excursion









We left from the main dock at the Disney Yacht Club Resort Bayside Marina promptly at 7:00. You do have a choice between the pontoon boat or the bass fishing boat. I highly recommend the pontoon boat as you can fish both live and artificial bait on the pontoon boat.  You can only fish artificial lures on the bass fishing boat.

A little tip - We always plan on arriving twenty to thirty minutes early and stop by the Ale and Compass Lounge for a quick muffin or snack and a juice and coffee before we head out on the waters.

Ale and Compass Lounge at Disney's Yacht Club Resort

You might think that once all the Disney transportation boats begin service the fishing would suffer however that was not our experience.  As the Crescent Lake and World Showcase Lagoon are not spring fed and the water does not circulate much, the boat traffic actually churns up the food on the lake bottom and the fish really become active feeders.


For us there were many benefits:

The main one for us is the bass fishing excursion combines our passion for fishing with our Disney passion.

For the Bass Fisherman:

  • We caught a ton of bass.  Well over thirty good size bass with the largest over 6 pounds.

John with bass at Walt Disney World Dylan with biggest bass at Walt Disney World

  • Our guide Rick was extremely knowledgeable and had the normal pleasant Disney Cast member charm.
  • Rick has been a guide for some time and really knew where to take us to locate and catch fish.
  • Rick spent the right amount of time at each location where we caught fish at each one.  He provided a good balance between moving around to different spots and catching fish.  We definitely spent a lot more time fishing than moving around.  There was another guide out in the same lake and their boat moved considerably more and to different locations.  Not sure they caught the same quantity and size of fish.
  • Interestingly on both outings we finished up at the “money spot” right by the dock where we caught a significant number of fish and actually my son caught the largest one of the day (over six pounds).
  • This is serious fishing with either live or artificial bait.  The lake is not stocked.
  • As the Disney waters are private there is very little traffic on the lake outside of the Disney transportation boats, the fishing guides and a few pontoon rentals.  Nobody else is on the lake.
  • Rick was not a clock-watcher so he was flexible on when we left and returned to the dock.   On both the two-hour outing in December and the four-hour outing this June we got plenty of fishing in.  That being said, Rick was prompt and ready to go right at 7:00 with towels on the wet seats and a full load of shiners in the live well.

For the Vacationer:

  • You get to see Disney from a different vantage point before the park is open if you select the 7:00 outing.
  • The lakes and locations are small so you are always close to the restrooms.  We headed in for a quick break after two hours and were right back out fishing.
  • I enjoyed talking with the guide Rick getting the Castmember perspective on things.  For me I find that interesting.
  • My son actually lost one of the poles overboard but there was no issue and he just baited up another rod and my son was off fishing.
  • A side benefit was that while my son and I were out the door early my wife was able to relax, sleep and enjoy a wonderful morning.
  • Even with the four-hour outing we got to the parks by lunchtime to hit all our afternoon FastPass+ reservations.


  • Could be considered costly.  Like most things at Disney it isn’t cheap.  The 2-hour excursion is $270 with the four-hour excursion at $455.  Don’t forget to use your DVC discount; we received a 15% discount.
  • If you take the early excursion and are on property, you may need to get a cab to the location.  On this first outing we had to arrange and pay for a cab.  On the second outing we got a taxi voucher from the concierge - worth asking.
  • If you select the afternoon outing it will take away from time in the parks if this is a first time or you are one to go non-stop at the parks.
  • You cannot bring your own tackle, which may or may not be a big deal for you.  There is actually no private fishing allowed on Walt Disney World property.

Overall Conclusion

Bass fishing on the Walt Disney World guided fishing excursions is highly recommended.  Although it isn't cheap I believe this is an exciting way to enjoy your Disney visit that will satisfy both the fishing enthusiast and Disney fan.





Fishing Reels 101

Fishing Reels 101

In this reels 101 I am going to go through all the reel types and explain their design, intended purpose and strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that you can catch the same fish with any of these reels. There are four basic types of fishing reels:

  1. Fly
  2. Spincast
  3. Baitcaster
  4. Spinning

All of them are different in their design and function and each have their strengths and limitations.

The basic function of a reel is to store fishing line. Each reel adds additional functions but line storage is basic to all fishing reels. Two related functions are to assist in presenting the bait / line and retrieving the bait / line.

I would always try to match your reel to your rod and the type and size of fish you are targeting. This is something you hear stressed a lot for fly-fishing but it is equally important for all reels.

Common to all Reels

Drag System

All four of the reel types have a drag system. The drag system serves two basic functions, one, to ensure that the line does not tangle as it is cast, and two, to tire out the fish. To tire the fish the drag works in concert with the rod to create resistance and leverage. Ideally the drag is set to just below the line breaking point. This protects against the line breaking by releasing line before the line snaps.

Gear Ratio

All reels retrieve the line through a crank and spool system. How many times the pool turns with each turn of the crank determines the speed of the retrieval. Higher end reels have gears that increase the ratio of how many times the spool turns for each turn of the handle.

Gear ratios are expressed in numbers such 2.5:1 or 4.3:1. You read the gear ratio of 2.5:1 as the line is wound around the spool 2.5 times for every 1 turn of the handle. Typically reels with lower gear ratios retrieve the line slower but have more cranking power. You trade off speed for power.

This information can be a key data point in comparing reels based on the type of fish you are after and the bait you fish.   If you just plan on fishing for smaller fish or with live bait, then the gear ratio is probably not as critical to you. I would use the gear ratios to compare within each reel category rather than across all reels.

With that general primer behind us, lets get started. First the fly reel.

Fly Reel

Redington Surge Fly Reel 5/6

The fly reel is the one specialty reel amongst the four general reels. Fly reels come in two main types; fresh water and salt water. The operations of both are identical with only the saltwater fly reels having larger arbors and are typically aluminum based to retard corrosion.

The fly reel’s only purpose is to store the fly line and backing. The fly reel is also a single action reel with a 1:1 gear ratio; meaning that for each turn of the handle the spool rotates one turn.

Modern fly reels do have a drag system that is used when you have a fish on, but the reel does not participate in the casting of the fly line. As the weight of the fly line / lure combination is all in the line, casting is completely different than a traditional reel. To begin the casting process you strip out the approximate length of fly line and use the weight of the line to project the lure (typically a fly) out rather than the lure “pulling the line out”.

When you want to change out the fly line, you change the spool, which contains the whole length of fly line and backing. Most fly reels come with interchangeable spools to facilitate the line change. The reels are reversible between left and right handed crank and due to the casting motion a right-handed fisherman will typically have the take-up handle on the left.

Although you can fish with bait on a fly reel, they are designed to hold the weighted fly line that is used to present the essentially weight-less fly.   I have fished with worms; minnows and wax worms with a single hook tied on fly reel/rod combination and have caught fish. However this is not what the reel (and or rod) is designed for.

Fly Reel Strengths

  • Simplicity - there are few moving parts so maintenance is minimal and fly reels can last a long time.
  • Function - they are easy to use as fly reels only really store the line and don’t participate in the casting process.
  • Interchangeable spools allow for the line and backing line to be changed out quickly.

Fly Reel Limitations

  • A single purpose reel essentially used to present flies and small lures.
  • Low gear ratio can make retrieving large fish more of a challenge.
  • The low gear ratio makes it difficult to fish certain lures that operate most effectively with a quick retrieve.


The Spincast Reel

Red spincast reel

The spincast reel is also known as the closed reel. Based on its simplicity, the spincast reel is an ideal beginner reel.

Similar to a baitcaster reel, the spincast reel mounts on top of the rod. The spool is fixed inside a cone-shaped enclosure that focuses the line back on the spool upon retrieval. This cone-shaped enclosure also reduces the risk of backlash tangles during casting.

The casting process is initiated though a button on the back of the reel that is depressed during the start of the casting motion and released to present the lure or bait. The line is set to retrieve with a simple turn of the handle.

Spincast reels do have both a drag system and a geared retrieval system. Typical retrieval gear ratios are between 2.5:1 and 4.5:1. These are typically lower than a baitcaster or spinning reel.

The basic operation and design of these reels haven’t changed and I don’t believe get the same focus on innovation and enhancement in design or materials that you see in the baitcaster and spinning reels. Not necessarily a weakness, but rather a testament to the tried and true design.

Spincast Strengths

  • Ease of use – the simple casting process makes this a great reel for beginners. There is limited risk of tangles and the “one-button” casting process is ideal for learners.
  • Great for live bait fishing as the required arc of the casting motion can be small but still effective.
  • The fixed spool allows for casting light lures and bait.
  • The design of the nose cone-shaped enclosure significantly reduces the risk of line tangles.

Spincast Limitations

  • The design of the nose cone-shaped enclosure reduces casting distance compared to other reels as the enclosure maintains constant friction on the line.
  • Spincast reel design necessitates a smaller reel and therefore less line capacity.
  • Not an ideal reel for deep fishing or trolling as a result of the limited line capacity.
  • Generally do not have the durability of a baitcaster or spinning reel.


The Baitcaster Reel

Baitcaster reel

The baitcaster reel is considered an advanced reel. This is the other reel, along with the spincast reel, that attaches above the rod. The spool is perpendicular to the rod and is geared so that one revolution of the crank handle results in multiple turns of the spool. Typical gear ratios are 5.4:1, 6.4:1, and 7.1:1. When casting the fisherman use their thumb on the spool to moderate the spool spin. Too much pressure and the lure does not reach its intended location and too little tension and you create a tangled “birds nest” of line.

This reel is used for bait typically weighing at least 1/4 oz. and can handle a lot of abuse and tough fishing. When you are fishing in a lot of cover requiring heavy lines and lures this is the reel. It is the most difficult to cast and therefore I would consider this an intermediate reel. I wouldn’t recommend this for your first reel.

The baitcaster reel is the one reel that use really improves with practice. Off water practice will really help your success and enjoyment with this reel. The key to baitcaster casting is the smart thumb. You got to work the thumb on the spool during casting and this will greatly improve your success.


Baitcaster Strengths

  • Designed for heavy fish with heavy lines and lures.
  • With the “smart thumb” accuracy in the lure placement with this reel is high.
  • Fast retrieval of bait is possible without the line twist you get on a spinning reel.
  • These are substantial reels that are designed for fishing in brush or weeds. This reel has the guts to pull the lure and fish through heavy brush and foliage.
  • With proper care these reels are extremely durable.
  • Excellent performance on any bait weighing in over 1/4oz.


Baitcaster Limitations

  • Difficult to learn and master - This reel is the most difficult to master. With a spool that can spin freely upon casting you need to monitor the line release with your thumb.
  • Beginners tend to spend more time untangling birds nests rather than fishing. Once mastered though pinpoint accuracy is possible.
  • This reel in not good for light lures. Anything under 1/4oz is typically not heavy enough to cast. With modern reels and drag systems, once set properly they significantly reduce the risk of birds nests but need to be set with each lure as the drag is really dependent on the weight for casting.


The Spinning Reel

Mitchell 350 spinning reel

The spinning reel, or open face reel is a great all around reel. The spool is fixed, in line with the rod, and the retrieval mechanism, the bale spins around the spool. The spool is fixed and when the bail is open the line is completely unimpeded thus allowing longer casts. You can also change out line on this reel by replacing the entire spool.

The handle is easily switched between right and left handed action. The drag system adjustment is generally a dial on the front of the spool that is turned for heavier or lighter drag. This is easily adjusted when a fish is on.

This reel doesn’t perform as well when heavy line is required. Anything above 20 lbs. test you will see a degradation in performance as this thick of a line starts to cause friction upon itself as it leaves the fixed spool. Also the design of the reel makes it difficult to generate reel-cranking power.

Spinning Strengths

  • Comes in a wide variety of sizes and spool line capacities.
  • Ideal where long casting is necessary.
  • Excellent for light lures and bait.
  • Relatively easy to use and master, probably the next step up in ease of use from the spincast reel.
  • Easy to cast when overhead or rear cover is present.
  • Adjusting the drag setting is easier.


Spinning Limitations

  • Can generate line twisting as the line is spun onto the spool during retrieval.
  • If you have big hands the bail trigger releases reduce the amount of clearance when the handle spins which can cause you to hit your knuckles as you turn the handle.
  • Tangles are a possibility when casting if the line is not loaded on the spool evenly.
  • The durability of the bale springs and bearings can be an issue. They are prone to fail and that will render the reel unusable.



All the reels out there have specific strengths and limitations that need to be considered when selecting a specific rod / reel combination. As a beginner I would lean towards either the spincast or spinning reel. The ease of use and low “frustration” factor will lead to more enjoyable fishing right from the start.

I hope you find this fishing reel 101 information interesting and useful for selecting your rod reel combination. If I missed anything or you have additional strengths or limitations for these reels please share in the comments below.

Is Fishing 99% Failure?

99% of the time you don't have a fish on.  Does that mean you're failing 99% of time?  Not a very motivating thought.  No, fishing for me is much more than just fish on. Interesting thought though and made me want to think about why I fish.  I do it for relaxation, the challenge of getting a fish on, and the satisfaction of catching fish on flies that I have built.  Fishing is a great stress reliever for me.  I also enjoy shopping for the next great lure or reel or rod; something that will double my success rate.  Boy, a lot of work for 1%.  Improvising on how I fish a bait to see if I can push my luck past 1%.  I really enjoy the scenery and nature as I fish.  I enjoy the anticipation and planning for that outing. I enjoy meeting new people or guides on the water.  I enjoy the learning part just as much as the cork in my hand.

Most of all I enjoy being with my son on the water.  The time spent with him makes it successful 100% of the time, even if we are just fishing.  Don't miss out on that.

Photography like Fishing

Boy in a Mickey Mouse Hat fishing on a dock

Recently I was out fishing with my son, when I realized how similar fishing and photography are. As any boy will do, after a few minutes fishing with a worm he decided enough was enough. For the next hour we went through every lure in the tackle box ending with a lure that was twice the size of any fish in the pond. He was enjoying himself but never caught anything. As I was watching him and changing the lures I realized how as adults we can act like kids with a full tackle box.

How often do we lug around that full tackle box and just run through all the lens in the bag, running and gunning and still not catching anything? I am as guilty as the next guy going through the gear as fast as my son goes through bait. But after that trip my son helped me realize that I needed to get back to basics.

In this day of instant gratification why aren’t we satisfied with the traditional 50 mil (worm)? Maybe even the red and white daredevil 85 mil.!! Back when we were kids we were able to spend the whole day using the worm, mastering the worm, catching fish and really enjoying the whole day. We need to be more like we were as kids (at least back when I was a kid). Rather than drag a full tackle box of lens and gear around just take the worm and enjoy it. When was the last time you took one lure and really enjoyed it, really mastered it, and really caught the big one with it.

Thanks - do you agree / disagree? Leave a note a let us know.

That’s it for today....goin’ fishing.

Lake Monroe and Tom's Guiding Service Review

Lake Monroe, Indiana at night A weekend outing with your child is a great way to enjoy fishing.  My son and I spent a weekend at Lake Monroe outside Bloomington Indiana with Tom’s Guide Service fishing for crappie.

Lake Monroe

Lake Monroe is a 10,750-acre lake just outside of Bloomington Indiana managed by the Army Corps of Engineers.  As a managed lake the shoreline is pristine and not littered with cottages and lake homes.  Lake Monroe is the largest lake completely within Indiana.

Map of Lake Monroe Indiana

According to Wikipedia

"Construction on the lake began in 1960 and was finished in 1965 at a cost of $16.5 million. Salt Creek was dammed south of Bloomington, Indiana and the reservoir fills the valley to the northeast of the dam extending into adjacent Brown County."

Another interesting and relevant fact is that almost 30% of the lake is "non-wake" so the wake boarders, skiing and fast boating is on separate part of the lake from where we fished.  Nice and calm.

The lake is known for:

  • Crappie
  • Largemouth bass
  • Smallmouth bass
  • Stripped and White bass
  • Catfish
  • Walleye
  • Spotted bass


Tom’s Guide Service

Tom Todd II, the owner of Tom’s Guide Service was whom we used for the day.  Tom took my son and I out for a full day of crappie fishing.

Tom has been on the lake since it opened in 1965.  Currently he is one of two guides working the lake full-time.   A fuel truck driver who retired, Tom has been guiding full-time for the past few years.

Alumacraft Tunnel Hull Boat

Tom had a great 18' Alumacraft Tunnel Hull Boat with a 50 HP Mercury motor that was nimble enough to get right into the weeds, brush and key spots where the Crappie were.  Tom also has his boat rigged with two fish finders.  The boat may seem small but with us being on the "non-wake" portion of the lake the boat was extremely stable and more than big enough for the three of us to fish comfortably.

Cost and What’s Included

We were out on the water from 9:00 AM to 6:00. The rate was $250 (single person rate) as children are free.  In my view, this this was more than a fair rate.

Tackle - Tom provided all the rods, live bait and artificial bait for the day.  I believe this is common for fishing guides although this was only my second guided trip.  We had spinning rods and reels and fished both crappie minnows and a special jig (insert image)

Food and Snacks

Tom's Guide Service 2008 18' Alumacraft Tunnel Hull Boat on shore for lunch



Lunch was provided and included sandwiches with fresh sliced ham water sodas and cookies.




The Day on the Lake

We stayed at the Fourwinds Resort and Marina which is right on the lake, but to save time for fishing, Tom met us at the Cutright Boat Launch to start the day.  This was about a 30-minute drive around the lake.

The Cutright Boat Launch is south of Bloomington right off of Old 446.   Cutright is only 1 of 3 marinas on the lake.

The weather was perfect, although a little cool when we started out.  The water temperature was approximately 51 degrees with the air temperature warming up into the 60 by the afternoon.

Tom's understanding of the lake was evident as we had a well laid out plan of attack for both technique and locations.  We moved around the lake to specific locations he knew and in such a way that we spent much more time fishing that moving between locations.  Also he let my son “drive the boat” which is always a fun thing. (insert image]

We were after crappie.  Tom really spent time with both my son and I showing us how to use the jigs, where to fish, and most importantly; worked the many snags we encountered.

The snag-less jigs we used INSERT PICTURES were good. On the surface you would think that using only 1 jig for the day would be constricting but I found it a positive.  With my 11 year old, and probably any kid, there is a tendency to constantly switch bait; lures and you end up spending more time with dry lines than wet ones.  Using 1 jig (and a live bait rig on the other rods) worked well.

Customer service

Tom's service was great and I found Tom to be really down to earth and authentic.  He is just a great guy to talk with and extremely patient with my son.  We decided on Wednesday (right before Easter) that we wanted to fish and filled out the information form on his website and he responded that night (right after he got off the water).  We set the day and time and that was it.

Lake Monroe water level high

The Lake had had over 1.4 inches of rain during the week so that much new, fresh water in the Lake played havoc with the fishing.  In spite of that we caught over 20 fish for the day.  Everyone was happy.





If you are new to Lake Monroe or want a guide to help you effectively fish the lake, I highly recommend using Tom's Fishing Guide service.  The overall experience was excellent and he is wonderful with children.


Rediscovering Fishing

Sun streaming down on riverI can remember riding my Schwinn 10 speed Continental sporting my latest cut off shorts, down to the Paint Creek in Rochester Michigan. I couldn't wait to throw my latest home-made plug or fly after whatever fish happen to wander by. My luck was good. Devouring Field & Stream, Sports Afield and the library, with my best friend was my main source of learning. I enjoyed trips everywhere from Lake Huron to Yellowstone Lake. The journey I'm on now is rediscovering fishing. Shakespeare Rod and Reel on top of tackle box

Welcome!!!!Welcome to fishing Through, I will cover all the areas of fishing including fresh water, fly fishing. Fly tying and other things I can get myself into. Weaving in some of my photography along the way, I hope to convey and rekindle the love of fishing I had growing up in Rochester Michigan. I certainly don’t know everything about fishing but I am committed to sharing what I learn and hopefully we can enjoy this wonderful sport together.