What is a Spinning Rod vs. a Casting Rod? [Explained]

A man casting, thinking what is a Spinning Rod vs. a Casting Rod


It sounds simple at first, doesn’t it?

Chuck something on a hook and sling it into the water, hoping to lure in an unsuspecting fish that might become dinner, or a prized Facebook photo to show off to your friends.

But as you spend more and more time in the world of fishing, you begin to understand that it’s much more complex than that. There is a multi-billion dollar industry built around it after all!

One of the first bits of kit you’ll be browsing along the aisles of your local tackle shop, is the rod – which one do I use?

Looking for the best fishing rod as a beginner? Click to read our guide here.

One question many ask is, what is a spinning rod vs. a casting rod?

Spinning rods and casting rods are often found in the same arsenal for many fishermen. While they may seem interchangeable for any scenario, they serve different functions. The reels are entirely different, but the rods are also set up opposite from one another.

Understanding the difference between a spinning and a casting rod and when to use them can make you more productive as a fisherman.

The size of these rods can change depending on if you are fishing large lakes or small streams in freshwater or fishing offshore, or the bay in saltwater.

More important than the rod’s style, the rod’s stiffness and action play a more significant part. The type of fishing heavily determines if you should use a casting rod or a spinning rod.

What is a Spinning Rod vs. a Casting Rod? Key differences!

What is a casting rod A fishing rod like this one resting on a table.

What is a casting rod?

Quipped with an open face or baitcasting reel, a casting rod is designed for a long and accurate cast.

When held in a casting position, the eyes of the rod will be facing up to match the function of the reel. The eyes on a casting rod are small to enhance casting distance.

Some brands of casting rods have micro eyes, which increase sensitivity while not compromising the distance or accuracy of the cast.

Casting rods also tend to have what’s known as a backbone. The backbone on a rod refers to the strength of the spine of the rod. This allows for stronger hook sets or fighting bigger fish.

These rods are used when throwing action baits such as jerk baits or topwater and are ideal when using fast retrieving baits such as buzz baits or crankbaits.

Casting rod setups are typically equipped with heavier lines, anywhere from 12-to-30-pound test, almost eliminating the use of small, light baits.

While the heavier line will take away quite a bit of sensitivity, the rod will perform better during the hook set, fight, and landing of the fish.

Overall, a casting rod will handle all of your needs when working fast action baits. The strength of this style rod should undoubtedly be the backbone of your fishing arsenal.

Want to know the difference between a casting and trolling rod? Click here to read our article.

What is a spinning rod?

Spinning rods are the best option when throwing smaller baits or when using live bait.

The opposite of a casting rod, the eyes of a spinning rod are facing downward when holding the rod. This allows for the line to freely come off the spool when casting.

The eyes of a spinning reel range from relatively large near the reel to smaller towards the tip of the rod. When holding a spinning rod compared to a casting rod, you will be gripping more of the handle, making it more sensitive.

The free spooling action of the reel makes this the ideal setup for live bait because you can easily distinguish the feeling of a bite compared to the movement of the baitfish you are using.

Using lures such as crappie jigs, hair jigs, or shaky heads is highly effective when using a spinning rod because it is easy to perform a jigging motion.

Baits that require an ‘up-and-down motion are best for this setup. Using a lighter line when using a casting rod will further enhance the rod’s sensitivity but will make landing the fish a little bit more of a challenge.

The hook set when using a spinning rod should be short and quick to avoid the risk of breaking off.

Overall, when your main fishing tactic is using finesse, this light and sensitive style rod will be a better option.

Want to know the difference between a casting and trolling rod? Click here to read our article.

Spinning Rod vs. a Casting Rod – Pairing Them Together

While both of these rods contrast each other in many ways, there are baits that can be thrown with either, such as Texas rig lures, flukes, and topwater lures.

Knowing which lures pair best with these two rods will expand your versatility and increase fish production. However, like most other decisions you will make when deciding which piece of equipment to use, personal preference should play a large part.

What works for someone else with a casting rod might work best for you with a spinning rod.

Select the best beginner rod for you, or as a gift from our guide here. [CLICK]

What is a Spinning Rod vs. a Casting Rod? Summary

The beauty of fishing is that there are no rules on what you can and can’t use (if they comply with laws and regulations from state or federal agencies) to enjoy your experience on the lake.

Most importantly, use a casting and spinning rod as often as possible so you will become comfortable with either one during any situation. After mastering both of these style rods, you will be ready for whatever scenario comes up. 

Hopefully, we’ve helped you see the differences between the two fishing rod styles, and if your friend decides to join you in your fishing foray, you’ll be there to answer the question when they ask, what is a spinning rod vs. a casting rod?