The spiral bar turns only when you are reeling in the line; not when the reel is in free spool. The 350 Leveline is a neat reel -- but also very dated. It has the same drag washers as a Penn 209 and a slow (3 to 1) retrieve. You'll also find it hard to get parts. If you need a level wind reel and like hour 350, get a 209. Better yet, look at a Shimano TR200-G. It's comparable, only $59 new, and a much smoother reel.