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Reel Seat Debate: Up-Locking Vs. Down-Locking

The right position of the reel seat can build a more comfortable, performance-driven handle with sleek style.

Reel Seat Debate: Up-Locking Vs. Down-Locking

One of the long-standing questions for rod builders is how to position the reel seat: up-locking or down-locking. Let’s go a little deeper into the debate…

Reel Seats & How You Fish

There really isn’t a right or wrong answer to how to position your reel seat, and the frustrating answer for new rod builders is: “It depends.” That’s because personal preference and fishing style will really dictate the best way to design and build your handle grip.

Considering your grip and the balance of the rod, the right position of the reel seat can build a more comfortable, performance driven handle with the sleek style to match.

Your Personal Fishing Grip

Most rod builders, whether experienced or novice, have been on the water enough to know their own style and tendencies. And that’s what’s great about custom rod building–you can create your own rod based on those personal preferences.

Custom rod building is all about dialing in the perfect rod for you. Handle assembly is a very important part of getting that best fit, since this is your primary contact point with the fishing rod. If you’re not comfortable, you’re not going to be confident with each cast. Reel seat positioning often depends on the fore grip and what you find most comfortable.

Your perfect handle starts with the best grips and the right reel seat for you. One of the challenges that you will find is the vast number of options you have in custom rod building, between your favored grips and the reel seats you like. So where do you start?

Casting vs. Spinning

Casting reel seats are usually preferred down-locking and most spinning reel seats can be flipped to work in either direction. This is where the debate starts: “What’s better for me–up-locking or down-locking?”

And, as mentioned earlier, the answer is “It’s up to you!”

Case in point: If you prefer not to touch the reel seat threads when fishing and your palm may loosen the hood during casting and reeling, then a down-locking reel seat may be a better option for you, to ensure that your fishing reel will always be perfectly secure.

Reel Seat Debate: Up-Locking Vs. Down-Locking

However, if you choose a particular foregrip and seek to trim down the threads, providing for a sleek final appearance, the up-locking reel seat position can create a better look and feel in your hand.

Reel Seat Debate: Up-Locking Vs. Down-Locking

It truly depends on you. Comfort will always impact your fishing performance, so make sure that your handle assembly is what you like and what you need.  

Reel Seat Position & Rod Balance

Comfort doesn’t just depend on your grip configuration and how the handle feels in your palm, it also depends on the balance of your rod. Rod balance is an important element of custom rod design that is often neglected.


A balanced fishing rod provides for enhanced feel and reduces fatigue, allowing you more time on the water and more opportunity to land that prized fish.

Reel Seat Debate: Up-Locking Vs. Down-Locking

So, how does reel seat positioning affect the balance of your rod? The reel seat’s location (where the reel is placed on the rod when fishing) can determine if the reel’s weight in the handle will throw off the rod’s overall balance.

The typical fly rod reel seat, for example, is up-locking. However, there are times where a fly rod will use a down-locking seat in order to ensure the balance of the overall rod. Considering the weight of the reel as you design your custom rod will enable you to find the perfect reel seat location (laterally on the rod) and in the case of this fly rod example, determine whether it is best to have an up-locking or down-locking reel seat. This reverse from a traditional fly seat position, although subtle, can have serious impact to the rod’s balance and your enjoyment and time on the water.

Custom Rod Building Is for You!

Every angler seeks to be out there longer, have a better feel for that first hit, and wants absolute confidence with every hook set. Building custom fishing rods makes all of this possible, and everything you need–the equipment, components and instruction–is available from Mud Hole Custom Tackle.

Off-the-shelf, factory-made rods have many limitations. Most importantly, they are not customized to the preferences of the individual angler. Building your own fishing rod lets you customize every performance characteristic, every color, and every design element to your personal preference.

Start building today with Mud Hole!

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