Open vs Closed Fishing Reels: Which is Best for You?

Thomas Krik

Written by

Thomas Krik

Marc Lowe


Marc Lowe

open vs closed fishing reels

Anglers, beginners to pros, know it is crucial to use gears appropriate to what they are catching and comfortable with. One essential part is the open vs closed fishing reels, providing the angler control over the distance and speed of the line as it travels.

Reels are classified into two main categories: closed face fishing reel and open face varieties. Both are reliable reels that enable anglers to control the fishing line, which is responsible for casting and reeling in the catch.

Here’s an overview of these two reel types

Closed Fishing reels Open fishing reels
Accuracy Lower precision Higher accuracy
Fish Smaller freshwater fish Large saltwater fish
Uses Ideal for stick and waggler floats Ideal for long-distance casting
Cost More affordable Higher priced with better material quality
Line capacity Limited Better versatility, carrying heavy and long lines better

Open Face and Closed Face Reels: An Overview

1. About Open Face Reel


Mounted below the rod, the spool and line are partially exposed on open face reels. It also has a locking mechanism to prevent the spool from spinning backward as the fish pulls the line. They are often used as saltwater fishing reels to catch big fish.

2. About Closed Face Reel


The spool of an enclosed fishing reel is encased in a metal cup with a hole where the line passes through. In terms of mounting, it is attached above the handle.

You can expect easy use if you are a beginner fisher, it is the perfect choice for freshwater fishing.

Open Faced Reel vs Closed Reel Types Comparison

Deciding the reel you will use depends on several criteria. Here are some points to consider before choosing the reel to work with.

1. Adaptability


Refers to the capability to adapt in fishing to any body of water such as lakes, rivers, and even the open sea.

Open-face is more versatile and known to carry a variety of lines from light to heavy and hold more lines in their spool. More professional anglers use open-face because they can handle any type of weather, even the ocean.

Close-face is limited because of a smaller spool capacity to use heavy lines; it is also not recommended in salt waters.

2. Casting (Distance & Accuracy)


The ease of casting a line, the distance, and the accuracy as the line goes into the water.

Anglers need a particular technique to cast an open face reel line. This is done by guiding the line with your thumb and opening the spinning reel bail before you cast. As the reel has a large spool, distance is not a problem, and the setup provides more control over where you cast your line.

Close-face reels are much more user-friendly, with a simple swing and pressing a button to cast your line. The close-face reel has a small spool meaning limited casting range, and casting accurately to dodge obstacles can be difficult.

3. Backlash


When the line gets tangled and bunched up due to casting against the wind. Backlash or bird’s nest happens when the lure slows down as it enters the water, and the spool is still spinning fast, unraveling the line, and it clumps together like a nest.

Open-face fishing reel and rod suffers from bird’s nest more often due to using a light lure and inexperience. Refining your casting and reeling technique reduces the possibility of a backlash. Though open-face reels are more forgivable, and backlash is easy to fix.

Conversely, close-face types rarely have backlash as it uses lighter lines, and the casting is automatic with a shorter range. However, sometimes it suffers lines tangling inside the housing, which you need to open to untangle the lines.

4. Price Range


Affordability and accessibility are crucial to pros and beginners to provide them with the reels they need according to their budget.

Made with cheaper materials and fewer components, close face reels are more affordable and a preferred price range by anglers for their children who are starting to learn the sport.

Here’s a list of budget-friendly close face reels:

  1. Zebco 404 Spincast Fishing Reel – $9.98
  2. Zebco 33 Micro Spincast Fishing Reel – $19.37
  3. KastKing Cadet Spincast Fishing Reel – $24.99

Versatility means more parts, and the open face reel is more expensive and more marketed to serious anglers and professionals because of its price range.

Below are some options of open face reels in the market:

  1. Sougayilang Spinning Fishing Reels – $15.99
  2. Zebco Stinger Spinning Fishing Reel – $23.90
  3. KastKing Summer and Centron Spinning Reels – $29.99


What reel is recommended for beginners, hobbyists, and pros?

Between open reel vs. closed reel, it is advised that novice anglers use close-face reels because it is easy to use and less expensive. Additionally, they’re ideal for hobbyists that occasionally go out to fish.

But for those who frequently cast fishing lines, open-faced reels fit like a hand to a glove. This reel type is for serious anglers who treat this as a way of life or a sport, as this reel is durable and versatile compared to close-face reels.

What reel has the best quality?

Open-face reels are of higher quality because it is designed to withstand the open sea. They are often made of stainless steel and aluminum for better durability, or composite for lightweight use.

Which reel is recommended for saltwater?

Open-face reels are made to fish in the ocean as it has the capacity for longer and heavier lines.

Are there reel and rod combinations?

There are fishing rod and reel combinations available in the market. The advantage of purchasing a rod and reel combo is quality and reasonable price range.


Comparing open vs closed fishing reels has its own advantages and disadvantages when it comes to fishing. Depending on the angler’s preference and experience on which reel to use.

Open-face is versatile and has a more extended line capacity but is made for serious and experienced anglers as it is easy to backlash in the hands of a novice angler.

The closed-face reel is affordable and user-friendly and less likely to backlash. However, it has limited line capacity and could be better for fishing on the ocean.

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