Holding a Fishing Rod Upside Down: Learn the Correct Way

August 11, 2021

If you are new to fishing or have recently switched the type of rod and reel you are using, you may be wondering if you are holding your fishing rod upside down. Don’t worry! This is a common question we get all the time. Depending on the type of fishing rod and reel you are using, the reel can change from top of the rod to the bottom.

In this article, we will go over whether or not you are holding a fishing rod upside down depending on the type of equipment you are using. This way you will understand the correct way to operate your rod and reel. This is crucial for several reasons.

Let’s dive in.

What is the Right Way to Hold a Fishing Rod?

As we mentioned earlier, do be embarrassed if you are unsure of which way to hold your rod! Fishing equipment is complicated and it is easy to get confused when you first start out. 

Luckily for you, this guide will explain exactly how you should hold your fishing rod and reel depending on the type. Below we will go over each type of rod and reel and how to hold them the correct way.

Spinning Reel and Rod

Probably the most common type of fishing reel and rod setup is the spinning reel and rod. Spinning reels can be identified by the spinning action they create when you reel in your line. Spinning reels often have an open bail, unless they are a spincasting reel which has a cover. 

A more technical way to identify a spinning reel is to look at the direction the fishing line spools on the reel. Does the spool spinning axis face parallel to the rod axis? If so, you are using a spinning reel!

Spinning reels are always mounted on the bottom side of the spinning rod. They can be identified by having large eyelets on the rod that allow for the line to rotate evenly when you reel in your spinning reel. Spinning rods will have the reel seat on the bottom of the rod as well.

Spinning reels and rods are most often used for casting lures in rivers, streams, lakes, and the ocean.

Common species to go after using a spinning rod and reel are coho salmon, pink salmon, rainbow trout, steelhead, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and many more! 

Baitcasting Reel and Rod

Another really common rod and reel setup is the baitcasting rod and reel. A baitcasting reel can be identified by having the spool release mounted on the top of the reel, with the line facing up at you.

The more technical way of identifying a baitcasting reel is to look at the direction the fishing line spools on the reel. Does the spool spinning axis face perpendicular to the rod axis? If so, you are using a baitcasting reel (or traditional/bottom fishing reel, which we’ll talk about next).

Baitcasting reels are always mounted on the top of the fishing rod. They can be identified by having smaller eyelets than spinning rods and they usually have a finger hold sticking out the bottom (which helps you grip the rod more effectively).

Baitcasting reels are often used with crankbait rods because they give you extra control and finesse vs a spinning rod. 

Baitcasting rods are often used in freshwater situations, such as lakes, ponds, rivers and streams. We like using a baitcasting setup when fishing for largemouth bass, pike, muskie, and many other predatory freshwater fish that will go after aggressive action lures (like surface frog lures or musky bucktails).

Traditional Reel and Rod

Traditional reels and bottom or trolling rods are very similar to baitcasting reels. They typically have a larger spool than a baitcasting reel so you can add more line to them. This makes them great for trolling or bottom fishing where you need a lot of line. It also makes them a good choice for larger fish that will take out a lot of line when hooked.

A traditional reel can be identified by having the spool release on the side of the reel (it’s usually a lever or small button), with the line facing up at you. The more technical way of identifying a traditional reel is to look at the direction the fishing line spools on the reel.

Does the spool spinning axis face perpendicular to the rod axis? If so, you are using a traditional reel (or baitcasting reel, which we covered above).

Traditional and bottom fishing reels are usually used for saltwater trolling or deep-sea fishing. This is because they are often built to hold a lot of line and are strong enough to fight strong fish.

Since the line is spooled directly onto the reel without a bail, they can put more pressure on the fish safely. Spinning reels can break if you apply too much pressure to the bail.

Typical species that require you to use a traditional reel are marlin, mahi mahi, wahoo, grouper, king salmon, sailfish, and almost all other pelagic fish.

Fly Rod and Reel

The last common type of fishing reel and rod are for fly fishing. These rods and reels are easy to identify – they are often very long and have a large circular reel size. The reel also has a varying size line on it (this is probably the easiest way to identify a fly reel).

This is because a fly reel has a backing, floating or sinking line, and a clear leader on the end. The different types of line help the fisherman cast the line effectively.

A fly fishing reel is always mounted and held on the bottom of the rod. Out of all the different rods and reels, fly reels are probably the easiest to know which way they go. Having the reel on top would feel ridiculous!

Fly rods and reels can be used in pretty much all fishing conditions – from ocean saltwater fly fishing to stream trout fishing. It is known to be one of the hardest fishing techniques, so you may need to practice several times before you are ready to catch a fish.

These rods and reels are most often used for rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, steelhead, salmon, and tropical sports fish like tarpon and bonefish.

Ice Fishing Rod and Reel

The last type of rod and reel we will go over in this guide are ice fishing rods and reels. Ice fishing rods are often small, ultralight spinning rods or ice fishing rods. If the rod you want to use is an ultra-light spinning rod, then you know where your spinning reel goes: on the bottom.

If the rod you are using, however, is specifically made for an ice fishing reel, then the reel goes on the bottom of the rod. This should be relatively easy to figure out as ice fishing reels look pretty unique. Ice fishing reels look a lot like a small fly fishing reel – which means they can only work on the bottom of the rod. 

Ice fishing rods and reels are used for – you guessed it – ice fishing! There are many different species you can target for ice fishing. Perch, pike, muskellunge, bass, walleye, and more are all common species for ice fishing.

FAQs

Is It Important to Hold Your Rod Right Side Up?’

The short answer is yes, it is very important to hold your rod right side up! If you don’t use your equipment the way it was intended to be used, you will run the risk of breaking it. 

On top of that, whenever we mess around with our rods and reels is when a really large fish decides to bite our lure. You’re going to most likely lose that fish if you aren’t holding your rod and reel the right way.

Can I Use a Fishing Rod Upside Down?

Yes you can, but as we mentioned above it is not a good idea. It will put unnecessary strain on the rod and reel and potentially break your equipment. It also looks ridiculous!

Why are Baitcasting Rods Upside Down?

Baitcasting rods are not upside down, that is just the way the rod and reel have been designed! This is because it puts less pressure on the eyelets of your fishing rod, which makes the design stronger than a spinning rod.

Having a stronger design allows you to catch bigger fish.

Parting Thoughts

Learning whether or not you are holding a fishing rod upside down is important. You don’t want to jeopardize using your gear correctly, and on top of that you will look silly holding it upside down. We hope you found this guide useful in figuring out the proper way to hold your fishing rod. 

If you have additional questions about how to hold a rod or what kind of reel you are using, feel free to leave a comment below. 

Happy Hunting!

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