Informational Guide

Open Face Vs Closed Face Spinning Reel

We compare and contrast 2 popular fishing reels. See how open-face vs closed-face spinning reels stack up for anglers who want to catch more fish.

by Andrew

Informational Guide

Open Face Vs Closed Face Spinning Reel

We compare and contrast 2 popular fishing reels. See how open-face vs closed-face spinning reels stack up for anglers who want to catch more fish.

by Andrew

by Andrew

When the conditions are right, a spinning reel can make it easier for an angler to bring in the exact fish they want, no matter where they plan to spend the day. Anglers who plan to use a spinning reel will have a choice between the open face and closed face spinning reels, with advantages and disadvantages to both options.  

This guide will help you learn more and compare the open face vs. closed face spinning reel to understand which one is right for your fishing trip. Take a look below and see which one you should bring with you on your next fishing trip.  

An open face fishing reel is one of the most common that anglers will use when they go out to the river or lake. When you first look at this reel, you may notice that most of the moving parts, along with the spool, will be open rather than covered with a spool cover. You will place the line on the spool, and after casting the line and closing your bail arm, the spool will stop uncoiling the line.  

When looking at this reel, the angler will notice that the reel is mounted below the rod. The handle is going to lock, which will make sure the line stops and will not fall off the spool. There is also a wire bail that is used to help when the angler wants to cast the line a long distance out.  

There are many times when an angler will use an open face spinning reel, and if you just want to have one rod at home, you can use this for any fishing adventure. However, this is often best for experienced anglers. They can get a little tricky since you will need to use your fingers to guide the line, which will take practice and can be confusing for beginners.  

  • Can go long distances when casting
  • More control for the fishing
  • Works for any type of fishing
  • Not good for beginners
  • Have to use fingers to control line

Closed Face Spinning Reel (Overview + Pros & Cons) 

Many beginner anglers are more familiar with the closed face fishing reel. This is set up just like the open face reel, but you will not see the fishing line. This is because the fishing line is hidden inside the nose cone of the reel, with a small hole on the top that lets the line come through. 

The location of the reel on these closed face models will also be in a different location compared to the open face model. For the former, the reel is going to be above the handle rather than below it. This can make it feel a little different while fishing, but tends to be better for beginners.  

Think back to fishing with your parents as a kid. The fishing reel you had was probably a closed face fishing reel due to their simplicity when casting. You just had to press the button and release the fishing line. This takes a few times to master, but it is much easier for kids and other beginners compared to using the open face spinning reel.  

  • Easier for beginners
  • Easy to cast the line out
  • Does not need as much control from angler 
  • Easier to hold
  • Reel is in a more comfortable spot
  • Can’t cast out as far
  • The reel is often smaller
fishing equipment

Open Face Vs Closed Face Spinning Reels: Key Differences Explained 

Both the open face and closed face spinning reels are going to be excellent choices for those anglers who are ready to go out.

While many beginners will favor the closed face spinning reel because it is easier to cast and use and may be what they are familiar with as a child, the open face spinning reel will allow them to go after bigger fish and have more fun.  

Comparing the key differences between these two reels is often one of the best ways to determine which reel is best for the individual angler. Some things to consider about the open face and closed face spinning reel include: 

The Price 

When comparing price, the closed face reel is often less expensive than the open face reel. This is because the former will often have fewer components and less versatility in how you can use it. There are closed face reels that are more expensive than the most basic ones, but they still do not compare to the others.

When you want a high-quality reel that comes with a lot of versatility, spend a little more on the open face reel. However, if you only plan to go out fishing occasionally and just want to get something inexpensive, the closed face reel will work great.  

The Casting 

Casting is an integral part of having fun while fishing. For beginners who are just getting the hang of things, the open face reel may be a bit of a challenge. Closed reels are a good way to get some practice because you just have to go through the motions of casting before pressing on the release button, which lets the line fly. That makes it nice and simple.  

The open face reel is going to ask for a little more work. You need to open the bail before casting, use a little technique, and use your thumb to help guide the line. This gives you more control and helps you cast out further, but it does take some practice and is hard for a beginner starting out.  

Casting Accuracy 

While the closed face reel is going to make casting easier, which makes it a good option for beginners, it is not going to provide you with a lot of accuracy and distance. When beginners and kids are just getting the hang of things, neither of those are that important, so the closed face reel is going to be the best.

For an intermediate angler, though, distance and accuracy are very important, and you need to work with the open face reel. This reel provides more of the control that you need.  


If you consider yourself a serious fisher, then you need a versatile rod to get it done. Because they use a small spool and have a low line capacity, the closed face reel is not going to be very flexible. They are best for catching small fish in the area nearby, not for big fish or long casting. The main issue here is that they do not have good hauling power. You will never get a big fish out of the water with these.  

For versatility in hauling power, casting ability, and more, you need an open face reel. They do struggle in salt-water conditions, though, and will not be able to get more than 50 pounds either. But, for the casting distance and more flexibility with medium and small fish, the open face reel is the best.  

The Quality 

When looking for quality, it is best to work with the open face reel. Their quality is more robust, which is often shown in the price that you will pay for the reel. There are some inexpensive models available, especially if you go for plastic. It is best to avoid those because they are not much better than the closed face reel.  

Many beginners are not looking for the highest quality fishing reel. They want to give fishing a try without spending a lot of money. The closed face fishing reel is best for that. However, for serious anglers who want to do a lot of fishing and catch something big, then going for quality is important, and the open face reel is the best one for that.  


People also Ask (FAQs)

What is the difference between an open face reel and a bait caster?

The baitcasting reel and the open face reel are similar and can employ some of the same techniques between them. However, baitcasting is often a better option to use when you want to do power fishing and for some of the fast retriever lures. If your goal is finesse fishing, then the spinning gear is a much better option.  

How do you throw an open face reel? 

Casting an open face reel does not need to be difficult. With three easy steps, anyone can get it done and start catching the fish they want. These include: 

  • Hold the line: You can hold onto the fishing line using the pointer finger while grasping the fishing rod. This also helps you sense any bites that happen with live bait.  
  • Open the bail: Look for the metal ring that hovers over the spool of the fishing line. Flip this open.  
  • Pull the reel back 45 degrees and cast. Point the tip right where you want it to go. Try to make it happen in a fluid motion for the best results.  
How can you tell if the bail is open or closed? 

You can usually tell by looking at the reel. If you can see the spool of fishing line present at the base of the reel, this is your open face reel. A closed face spinning reel will have the fishing line in its own little container, all blocked up, so you will not be able to see it.  

Can I use a closed face reel on a spinning rod? 

Spinning reels can use both open face and closed face reels. There are benefits and negatives to using both based on what you like the most. Many like the open face so they can see and monitor the line, but it is also open to the elements, which makes the closed face spinning reel better for some.  


Both the open face and the closed face spinning reel can make your time out on the lake or river more enjoyable. They are designed to work for all of your fishing needs and can handle many types of fish, based on what you hope to catch.

Take a look at some of the positives and negatives of each one to see what will work best for you.