What Is Anti-Reverse Features Into a Fishing Reel: A Detailed Guide

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As an experienced angler, I’ve spent countless hours exploring the nuances of fishing gear. One feature that has always stood out to me is the anti-reverse mechanism in fishing reels. This feature, while often overlooked, plays a critical role in the fishing experience. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the anti-reverse feature, discussing its functionality, uses, and benefits.

Understanding the Anti-Reverse Feature

The anti-reverse feature in a fishing reel is a mechanism that prevents the reel handle from spinning backward. This feature is typically activated by a switch that, when flicked, allows the handle to move in both directions – forward and backward. However, when the switch is flicked back, the handle can only move forward, hence the term “anti-reverse.”


How to Use the Anti-Reverse Feature:

The anti-reverse feature is not an essential component of every fishing reel, but it does have its uses. Here’s how you can use it:


The most common way to release line from a spinning reel is to open the bail arm. This is what you do when you cast. You open the bail arm, hold the line with your finger, and then cast. After you finish the cast, you close the bail, and that’s when you start wrapping line onto the spool.

Fighting a Big Fish

If you hook a big fish, it will try to pull line from you. To avoid breaking your line or even having the rod pulled out of your hand, you can allow the fish to pull line off with your drag system. The drag system consists of several drag washers that press down on the spool. The tighter you press them down, the tighter or the less tight the drag system will be. This allows a large fish to pull line off the spool without breaking your line.

Using the Reverse Gear

The reverse gear gives you a third way to release line. Some anglers prefer to have this option when fighting a big fish. They control whether they’re taking in the line or releasing the line. If the drag system is set too tightly, you can use the backward motion of the handle to release line when the fish is making a powerful run.


Anti-Reverse Features in Different Types of Fishing Reels:

Spinning Reels

Spinning reels are one of the most common types of fishing reels, and they typically come equipped with an anti-reverse mechanism. This feature is activated by a switch that, when flicked, allows the handle to move in both directions – forward and backward. However, when the switch is flicked back, the handle can only move forward, hence the term “anti-reverse.” This feature is particularly useful when fighting a big fish, as it allows the angler to maintain control and apply constant pressure.

Spincast Reels

The anti-reverse mechanism in a spincast reel works similarly to those in other types of reels. It is designed to prevent the handle from spinning backward, providing the angler with more control during the retrieval process. This feature is particularly useful when you’ve hooked a fish and are reeling it in.

In spincast reels, the anti-reverse feature is typically activated by a switch or button. When engaged, the anti-reverse mechanism locks the handle in place, allowing it to only move forward. This ensures that the line remains taut, providing the angler with a greater degree of control over the fish.

Baitcasting Reels

Baitcasting reels are popular among experienced anglers for their precision and power. These reels also feature an anti-reverse mechanism, but it’s often more robust than the one found in spinning reels. The anti-reverse feature in baitcasting reels is typically a one-way bearing that locks the handle in place once you start reeling in. This provides the angler with a high degree of control, especially when battling larger fish.

Fly Reels

Fly reels are a bit different from spinning and baitcasting reels, but they can also include an anti-reverse feature. In fly reels, the anti-reverse mechanism is often a part of the drag system. When the fish pulls on the line, the anti-reverse mechanism engages, preventing the handle from spinning backward and maintaining tension on the line. This feature is particularly useful in fly fishing, where maintaining control of the line is crucial.



The Benefits of the Anti-Reverse Feature:

Enhanced Control

The primary benefit of the anti-reverse feature is the enhanced control it provides. When you’re reeling in a big fish, the last thing you want is for the handle to spin backward, causing you to lose control and potentially lose the fish. The anti-reverse feature prevents this, ensuring that you maintain control at all times.

Increased Power

The anti-reverse feature also increases your reeling power. By preventing the handle from spinning backward, it allows you to apply constant pressure on the fish. This is particularly beneficial when you’re battling a large or strong fish.

Reduced Gear Wear

By preventing the handle from spinning backward, the anti-reverse feature also reduces wear and tear on the reel’s gears. This can extend the lifespan of your reel, saving you money in the long run.


F.A.Q Of Anti-Reverse Features:


What does anti-reverse do on a fishing reel?

The anti-reverse function on a fishing reel prevents the handle from spinning backward, which allows for solid hooksets and smoother line control. It’s particularly useful when fighting a fish that’s pulling on the line.

How does anti-reverse clutch work?

The anti-reverse clutch in a fishing reel works by using a ratchet-type mechanism that allows the handle to turn in only one direction. When the handle is turned in the opposite direction, the mechanism locks, preventing backward movement.

What is anti-reverse on a fly reel?

Anti-reverse on a fly reel works the same way as on other types of reels. It prevents the handle from spinning backward when a fish pulls on the line. This can help prevent line tangles and improve control when fighting a fish.

Who makes anti-reverse fly reels?

Several manufacturers produce anti-reverse fly reels. These include well-known brands like Orvis, Sage, and Lamson. Always check the specific features of a reel before purchasing, as not all models may have an anti-reverse feature.

What does instant anti-reverse mean?

Instant anti-reverse refers to a type of anti-reverse mechanism that engages with no backward handle play. In other words, as soon as you stop turning the handle, the anti-reverse engages immediately, providing instant hook-setting power.

Is clutch needed to reverse?

The term “clutch” in the context of fishing reels often refers to the anti-reverse mechanism. So, yes, this “clutch” is what allows the reel to have an anti-reverse function.

What is reel backlash?

Backlash, also known as a bird’s nest, occurs when the fishing line tangles in the reel. This is most common in baitcasting reels and is often caused by the spool spinning faster than the line is leaving the reel.

How do you reverse the direction of a fly reel?

The direction of a fly reel can often be reversed by removing the spool and adjusting the clutch or drag mechanism. However, the exact process can vary between different reel models, so it’s best to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Are all reels reversible?

Not all reels are reversible. While many fly reels can be switched between left-hand and right-hand retrieve, this is not always the case for other types of reels. Always check the specifications of a reel before purchasing.



The anti-reverse feature in fishing reels is a small but mighty tool in any angler’s arsenal. It provides enhanced control, increased power, and reduced gear wear, making it an essential feature for any serious angler. So the next time you’re in the market for a new reel, make sure to check if it has an anti-reverse feature. It might just be the difference between landing that big catch and watching it swim away.

You May Also Like My Other Reel Article-

Best Anti Backlash Baitcast Reel

Best Flipping Reels

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