Why is My Fishing Reel Spinning Both Ways?

There are several reasons why your fishing reel is spinning both ways. The most obvious reason is that something is wrong with the anti-reverse, which can be fixed. If it is not that, then it could be the drag is not set right or broken, or something is wrong with the bail. To figure out what the problem is you may have to go through some trial and error to find the right problem so you can fix it. Technically, the fishing reels are supposed to spin both ways but not all the time.

Why Your Reel Might Spin Both Ways

The Bail

As mentioned, the fishing reel is designed to spin both ways but not at once. The bail is the U-shaped wire that is moved from one position to the other. In the open position, the bail will allow you to cast your line. The handle and spool will spin in reverse to let the line off the spool. When it is in the closed position, it will stop the handle and spool from spinning in reverse, which means that you have to have it in the closed position to reel in the line. For casting or retrieval make sure that you have the bail in the right position on the spinning reel.

If the bail is placed right for casting the fishing line or retrieving it and it is still spinning in both directions, then there is probably something wrong with the bail. To find out if this is the problem, take off the bail, unscrew it, and then look at the inside of the bail. You want to make sure that the bail is in good condition and that they are in one piece. If there are any broken components in the bail system this could be the problem so you will need to replace the components that are broken.

Drag is Not Set Right or Broken

The drag that you find on a fishing reel is what controls how much pressure that the fish can put on the line in the reverse direction without the fish pulling the line out. The drag system is what will keep the handle and spool from spinning in the wrong direction but only up to a certain pressure point. Once the fish has applied more pressure than the drag can handle, the spool and handle will be released to let the line out. The biggest benefit is that you will not snap your fishing line. 

If the drag is set too low, the fish can pull the line out too easily and cause the spool and handle to spin in the wrong direction. To fix this, just increase the setting of the drag and then approximately calibrate for the size of the fish you want to catch. The drag system could be broken if this does not work.

If it is broken, you will need to remove the drag components in the drag system and clean them. The pieces will need to be replaced if anything is broken. You may need to get a professional to repair your drag system because it is not a simple thing to fix.

Something Wrong With Anti-Reserve

This is generally the most common problem for the fishing reel spinning both ways. The anti-verse will stop the fishing reel from spinning in the wrong direction. There is generally a switch you can switch to control this. Switching the anti-reserve on will stop the spool and handle from spinning backward. It will stop the line from coming off the spool. If it is not engaged then both the handle and spool can spin in both directions.

When your reel is spinning in both directions make sure that you have the anti-reverse switch engaged, which will stop this. If this does not work, your problem might be with the anti-reverse switch or the entire system. When this is the problem you will need to take the fishing reel apart. See if there are any damaged components in the anti-reverse system. There could be components that are broken or misaligned.

To diagnose and fix a problem with the anti-reverse component this is how you do it.

  • Check to make sure that the reverse switch is not stuck in the off position.
  • If it is stuck or does not engage in the on position take it apart to see what is going on inside.
  • Unscrew and take off the housing cap, remove the rotor nut and spool washers. Take off the rotor assembly to find the clutch bearing. By the bearing cap, you will need to unscrew the screws by the rim.
  • Once all the screws are removed, take out the clutch assembly. Do not move the pinion. This is an important piece that needs to stay in place.
  • Look to see if the roller clutch sleeve is nested inside the large-diameter busing. Read adjust it if it is not sitting right so it sits in there correctly. Basically, you will need to realign the clutch bearing so it sits right into the anti-reverse clutch. After doing this, put it back together. This hopefully will fix the problem.
  • If you see any visible broken parts of the assembly you will need to have it replaced by a professional.


  • When the fishing reel is spinning both ways, the most obvious problem is with the anti-reverse clutch.
  • The reel is designed to cast the line out and then retrieve it through the spool and handle. The later models now have an anti-reverse clutch.
  • One problem can be the spring in the spinning reel is disconnected. If this is the problem you will have to disassemble the spinning reel and put the spring back into the correct position.
  • If you do not know how to work on your fishing reel, you should take it to a professional to have it fixed.
  • The hammer piece has gotten caught on the latching gear and should be fixed by a professional.

You may also like to read: Do Fishing Rods Float?

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