Open Face vs. Closed Face Reel

As an angler, you want to enjoy fishing without any hitches. Choosing a fishing reel may be among the things you want to cross off of your list of things that may go wrong. Selecting the correct reel is quite the task. Should you choose an open or closed-face reel?

If you are looking for something versatile in terms of the line you want to use, you should pick an open-faced reel. But if you are looking for something simple that can handle a light line with limited room to hold the line, then go for the closed reel.

The reel is one of the most important tools for any fisherman. There are two main types of reels: open-face and closed-face. Let’s take a look at both to see how they work!

Open Face Reel

The open-face reel is also called the spinning reel – they are open faces because the spool and most of the moving parts are out in the open and do not have the spool cover. These are the most common and widely used types of fishing reels

Here are a few things you may want to know about open-face reels.


  • The spool and most of the moving parts are in the open.
  • There is a provision to attach the reel beneath the rod, and you have to use your fingers for casting.
  • It has a stationary spool for line storage and preventing backlash.
  • It has a handle that locks to keep the line on the spool and keep it from spinning backward. The handle lets the line off the spool if the fish is swimming in the opposite direction.
  • It has a wire bail that allows for distance casting.
  • It requires you to use your fingers to guide the line while casting.
  • Some open-face reels have drag knobs supported by stainless steel shafts to avoid damage by saltwater.
  • It has a balanced rotor to prevent the reel from wobbling.

What Is It Good For?

Since open-face reels require you only to pull the line’s weight, they are suitable for live tackle and bait. You can use both artificial lures and live bait.


  • Learning how to use a spinning reel and using it is quite easy, and with practice, you develop precision.
  • They are suitable for long-distance fishing as the open design allows you to pack more lines on the spool. This gives your better opportunities of catching big fish.
  • Once you have mastered how to use an open-face reel, it allows you a high degree of accuracy.
  • The lure on a spinning reel sinks fast, preventing the pendulum effect.
  • Open Face reels are easy to clean and maintain and have a long life span.
  • Spinning reels are relatively cheap, and you can get an excellent high-quality reel at a moderate price.
  • While casting spinning reels, you can cast light baits without the line tangling up.
  • Spinning reels use well-braided lines, which allows you to haul in big fish (not more than 50 lbs) on light lines.
  • Due to their open nature, backlashes are easy to fix.
  • They are versatile and can capture different species in different habitats. They are good for use in freshwater environments and salty water too.
  • Open-face reels are available in a wide range of sizes.
  • They have interchangeable handles to allow for left or right-hand usage.
  •  The reel located below the rod makes it easy to hold and balance while casting.


  • Open-face reels have limited gear ratios, thus limiting options for reel speeds.
  • Using an open-face reel successfully requires you to have some skill beforehand.
  • Open-face reels are susceptible to constant backlash and require you to take a break from your fishing to fix it constantly.
  • Requires the use of both hands and can be challenging to use by beginners.

Closed Face Reel

In this type of reel, a metallic spool cover encloses the spool and the other important parts of the reel. The plastic or metallic spool cover has a hole to allow the fishing line to pass through. A spin cast reel is an example of a closed-face reel


  • Closed-face reels have a metal nose cone that covers all the essential components of the reel.
  • It has a toggle button at the back that toggles the line between the free -spool and the locked one. You can press the button to release or draw back the fishing line.
  • They also have a drug adjustment mechanism on the side of the reel or next to the reel handle.

What Is It Good For?

The closed-face reel is best for fishing wagglers and inshore angling.


  • Easy casting is one of the spin-cast reel’s most desirable characteristics. You do not have to have previous experience, all you have to learn is the right time to cast and press the spool control button, and the line launches.
  • When using closed-face reels, you will rarely have to deal with issues of bird’s nest.
  • They require only one hand to operate them.
  • Manufacturing some of the components requires cheap materials, making them inexpensive.
  • There are very attractive models of closed-face reels.
  •  They are great at catching small fish in freshwater environments.


  • Fixing backlashes is quite a headache when using closed-face reels. You have to deal with the tangles inside a spool cover.
  •  They have low hauling power and limit you to fishing in clear waters as they are easily deterred by vegetation. This limits the size of the fish you catch as they cannot haul in big fish.
  •  They are not designed to meet the demands of long-term use and easily break due to low-quality materials.
  • The line is easily jammed or twisted.
  • Spin cast reels require constant replacement and may be costly in the long run if you intend to use them for more than one season.
  •  Their closed design traps water and debris inside the reel damaging it over time.
  • They have a limited casting range as the spool covers limit the number of lines you can pack.
  • It is not advisable to use closed-face reels in saltwater conditions.

Difference between Open Face and Closed Faced Reels

Difference between Open Face and Closed Faced Reels

Let us now compare the two fishing reels in different aspects.


The open-face reel has the spool and line partially exposed, while the closed-face reel has a spool cover, covering all the important components.

The open-face reel latches below the fishing rod, while the closed-face reel latches at the top.

In a spinning reel, the line is wound around a stationary spool, while in the closed-face reel, the spool spins and draws in the line.


Casting with a closed-face reel is arguably easy. You just have to press the spool control button, take a swing and release it. After releasing, the line flies out to where the rod tip is pointing. Pressing the button again toggles it to locked mode and makes the line stop.

Successfully casting a closed-face reel, on the other hand, requires a bit of skill and practice. To cast it, disengage the bail and squeeze the line against the rod and the index finger of your other hand. This keeps the line from unspooling. Afterward, spin the rod from side to side or over your head; while doing this, release your index finger and aim the tip of the rod where you want it to land.

Accuracy and Casting Distance

Once you know how to use spinning reels well, you are sure of a very high degree of accuracy. For this type of reel, you can control the accuracy and casting distance. On the other hand, closed-face reels are not so accurate as you do not have much control over the casting.


Closed-face reels are relatively cheaper than open-face reels. This is because the closed-face reels have fewer components that are small and easy to produce. You may find pricey closed-face reels, but their price can’t still compare to open-face reels.


High-quality materials that make open-face reels ensure that they will serve you for a very long time compared to closed-face reels. The spin cast reels are easily damaged and require constant replacement.


Closed-face reels have limited use. They can only capture specific fish sizes in particular habitats. Their spools also have low line capacity.

On the other hand, open-face reels are quite versatile and usable in different habitats and conditions and on different sizes of fish.

Water Type

Open-face reels are good for use in both fresh water and salty waters. Closed-face reels are only suitable in freshwater.


It is worth mentioning that you will definitely experience backlash while using the closed-face or open-face reel. Backlash, commonly known as bird’s nest, is a constant and very frustrating problem all anglers experience.

Backlash occurs in one of these two scenarios. If you are casting in windy weather or if the lure is not heavy enough, causing the line to tangle around the tip of the rod or on the spool. Bird’s nest usually happens when the lure slows after you cast the line and the spool continues moving.

Bird’s nest is more common in open-face reels than in closed-face reels. Fixing backlash in closed-face reels is more tedious than spinning reels, as you have to battle tangles in an enclosure.

Refraining from reeling too much line on the spool and practicing more may save you the nightmare that is backlash.

Which One Is Better For You, Open Face or Closed Face?

Which One Is Better For You, Open Face or Closed Face

Now that you have a lot of information on these reels, here are a few things you should look at to see which best suits you.

Price and Quality

When working on a tight budget, closed-face reels should be a good option. If money is not such a significant concern, investing in a nice open-face reel is not so bad. In the long run, the open-face reel will give you valuable service.

Age and Experience

If you are purchasing a fishing reel as an adult, the closed-face reel may be suitable for learning, but once you get the hang of angling, the open-face reel should be your absolute buy if you intend to continue angling.

 If you are looking to purchase reels for a child, get the closed-face reels, but if the child has been fishing for a while and shows interest in long-term angling, buy an open-face reel.

If you are a beginner angler, there is no rule stopping you from using an open-face reel. Intermediate and pro users, however, have an effortless time using it.


If you intend to fish in freshwater, both the open-face and close-face reels are good options. If you are intent on exploring both the salty waters and fresh waters, open-face reels should be your go-to option.

Fishing in vast ocean or lake waters will require that you use open-face reels as they can be cast over long distances. If you are big on inland fishing in places like ponds and rivers, both reels will be good

Use and Life Span

If you are looking at angling as a short-term hobby, the closed-face reel is your best option. If you want to do it for more than one season and are looking for something you can grow into, buying a pleasant open-face reel would be good for you. Even the finest pieces of closed-face reels do not last longer than open-face reels.

If you are a serious angler who plans on fishing consistently and are looking for a more versatile option, the open-face reel should be your ultimate option.

Fish Sizes

If you want to catch big and medium-sized fish like game fish, you should choose an open-face reel. Closed-face reels are suitable for catching small fish like catfish.

In conclusion, we cannot say that one reel is better than the other. Getting the best fishing experience ultimately depends on the type of fishing reel you decide to use. Have a clear plan on how you intend to use the reels before making purchases to make sure whatever reel you buy fits your intended use.