Does the line level on your spinning reel really affect how far you can put a lure out?

It’s interesting how many times issues with braid and wind knots comes up when I am sorting out questions to answer in that Lure Q&A section I do each month in Sea Angler, and of course when I answer something like this, my answer must contain reference to how “full” the spool on the (spinning) reel is. Surely if there is one thing that’s going to cause a decent wind knot it’s overfilling your reel with braid?

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But on the flipside I wonder how many times I have seen anglers talking about how their casting distance is cut back if their reel isn’t properly full of line - and I do wonder if this is a bit of a myth within fishing, or if indeed that casting distance is dramatically reduced. And if by deliberately underfilling a reel a bit one then ends up with a reel that behaves in any weather conditions but you might be losing a couple of yards of distance, well what’s more important? I know what I’d go for.

 Underfilled or safe? This line level works great on the Penn Clash.

Underfilled or safe? This line level works great on the Penn Clash.

Has anybody ever done any tests to prove or disprove this whole losing distance thing because your reel isn’t completely full up? We can’t ignore here how some reels simply don’t behave if you go and put too much braid on them - and the Penn Clash spinning reel is a case in point here - but for all that I have used these reels I can’t recall standing there and thinking that my lures weren’t going far enough (if distance was required anyway). Sure, there has to be the argument as to why on earth Penn can’t make those Clash reels perform properly if you fill them up braid as full as you might a Shimano or Daiwa spinning reel, but hey ho, I have never been privy to how spinning reels are actually planned, designed, made and tested. One thing I do know is that the Clash is one tough reel that is nice and easy to get into if required.

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How many times have you loaded up a spinning reel with braid which you know and trust but have thought sod it, let’s get a little bit more line on there because I haven’t quite got the level right and I can’t be bothered to take it all off and start again? Come on, we’ve all done this, surely?! You then go out fishing and your mainline starts to misbehave when it never did before. You strip a bit of line off, retie your leader, and hey presto the reel’s behaving perfectly again. You and I both know that different spinning reels behave differently with different line levels - as much as it surprises me that more lure anglers aren’t using those Penn Clash reels for example, I found out pretty quickly that you simply don’t go filling them up like you would say a Shimano.

 My mate's Stradic in theory is a little underfilled, but he catches plenty of bass like this, so what does it matter?

My mate's Stradic in theory is a little underfilled, but he catches plenty of bass like this, so what does it matter?

But does it matter? I used to always underfill my shore fishing multipliers because I was always wanting a safe reel that didn’t blow up on me, and I can’t ever recall being out bait fishing and thinking damn, I need some more line on my reel. Sure, some anglers would put their baits out further than me when required, but that’s because they were better casters than I was. It’s no different with lure fishing for me - I want a reel that I can fish with instead of having to sort out wind knots because I got a bit greedy and convinced myself that a bit of a higher line level was really getting my lures out a bit further. I want to be able to cover a decent amount of water if needs be, but at what cost?

I imagine that physics or whatever dictates that line coming off a larger circumference or something like that means it’s coming off faster and more freely, and I guess that somebody out who knows all about actual casting distances will be able to tell me how many yards I might gain from a reel that was filled up that much more. But I don’t really care at the end of the day. Nope, I will always go for a “safe” reel and of course a good modern braid. The spinning reels that I know and use a lot have their “safe” line levels but of course I am a bloke and at some point in the near future I will be filling a spinning reel up with braid and I won’t get the level quite right and I will think sod it, it will be fine - and I will then be cursing myself ragged as I strip some line off when I am out fishing and regretting my line filling actions!