A fishing reel is a cylindrical device attached to a fishing rod used in winding and stowing line.
Modern fishing reels usually have fittings aiding in casting for distance and accuracy, as well as retrieving line. Fishing reels are traditionally used in the recreational sport of angling and competitive casting. They are typically attached to a fishing rod, though some specialized reels with pressure sensors for immediate retrieval are equipped on downrigger systems which are mounted directly to an ocean-going sport boat's gunwales or transoms and are used for "deep drop" and trolling.
The earliest known fishing reel was apparently invented during the Song dynasty China by a known illustration of an angler fishing with reel from Chinese paintings and records beginning about 1195 AD. Fishing reels first appeared in the Western Hemisphere in England around 1650 AD. An incident is disclosed in an excerpt from author Thomas Barker found in his book, The Art of Angling: wherein are discovered many rare secrets, very necessary to be knowne by all that delight in that recreation:
.... The manner of his Trouling was, with a Hazell Rod of twelve foot long, with a Ring of Wyre in the top of his Rod, for his Line to runne thorow: within two foot of the bottome of the Rod there was a hole made, for to put in a winde, to turne with a barrell, to gather up his Line, and loose at his pleasure; this was his manner of Trouling....
In the 1760s, London tackle shops were advertising multiplying or gear-retrieved reels. The first popular American fishing reel appeared in the U.S. around 1820.