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By Scott Cushman, DigitalFish

Should you buy a spinning or overhead reel outfit? Many people choose spinning reel outfits because they are easy to cast (even when fishing light lures) and easy to operate. But overhead reels take more skill to cast softbaits as tangles are easy to encounter if you’re not familiar with how they work.

As a generalisation, you won’t cast a softbait as far with an overhead reel, however they have the advantage when dropping baits to the bottom as you can detect bites quite easily if you get hit as your lure is sinking. It is certainly more difficult to do the same when using a spinning rod outfit.


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Spinning rod outfits are good for fishing around rocks where you want to cast a lure into the whitewash. It is relatively easy to flick the lure into the strike zone and start fishing. If you are casting ahead of the boat when drifting in shallow water (less than 25M), it is easy to cast with a spinning rod.

In deep water, overhead reels are better as they are easier to use when retrieving your lure. As you drift along, it is easy to flick the reel in and out of gear and let line out so you stay in contact with the bottom, which is exactly where you want your lure to be.

There are 2 types of overhead reel suitable for softbait fishing: the bait cast style reel and the round overhead style. I generally prefer the bait cast style reel because it has a level wind mechanism. This is usually a small round feeder that the line passes through on the reel and as you wind, it moves backwards and forwards and evenly packs line onto the spool. You don’t have to do this yourself, the reel does it automatically. The low profile bait cast reels are good and many have casting technology like brake blocks or magnets that help reduce over runs or bird nests.

 If you have the budget, buying a set of each will cover all your bases nicely and they can also be used for other applications like bait fishing and fishing slow jigs and the like.

 From an economy point of view, buying the cheapest gear is ok, if you just want to see if you like softbaiting but you’re usually better off buying something a level or two above ‘entry level’ as the saltwater environment is harsh and reels especially will break down if not looked after properly.

Part One: What gear should I use?

Missed the first part of our softbaiting series? Click here to check it out.

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