Fishing Reels


Types of fishing reels vary according to whether you need a fly, spinning or casting reel to pair with your fishing rod. Moreover, fishing line capacity, drag and gear ratio are three other important factors worth considering before purchasing a fishing reel. Different parts of a fishing reel may also include a fishing line handle, bail or ball bearings. Furthermore, a variety of fishing reel sizes and shapes are available to choose from, depending on your type of rod. For instance, spinning reels must be paired with spinning rods and allow for more flexibility.

Fishing reels parts typically vary according to each product type. However, reels are generally mounted to the top or bottom of fishing rods. For example, a fishing reel spool is mounted to the bottom of fly or spinning rods. Conversely, spincasting or baitcasting rods feature top-mounted reels. To explore the additional parts of a fishing reel and find the optimal gear, review the sections below.

What are the different parts of fishing reels?

Fishing reels parts vary by specific type. However, different parts of a fishing reel generally include a drag, reel handle and reel foot. Other fishing reel parts names include a spool, thumb button, cover, bail and release. For example, if you look at the spin cast fishing reel parts diagram, you will find the following:

  • Thumb button
  • Reel foot
  • Handle
  • Cover
  • Drag

Conversely, a spinning reel has different parts. Thus, if you look at the spinning fishing reel part diagram, you will find:

  • Reel foot
  • Handle
  • Open-faced spool
  • Bail
  • Drag adjustment

Moreover, bait casting and trolling reels have different parts. The fishing reel parts for those tools include:

  • Spool
  • Drag
  • Reel foot
  • Handle

What is the spool?

A fishing reel spool is typically constructed from anodized aluminum or graphite materials. For example, fishing reel spools with anodized aluminum materials are generally stronger and more durable. Conversely, torqueing can cause graphite spools to crack or break. Furthermore, a fishing spool with a chrome, stainless steel or bronze finish can provide you with greater durability.

In general, a fishing spool is designed to hold your line as you cast. However, the way in which the line moves will vary depending on the reel type. For instance, the fishing spools on spinning reels are designed to spin as you turn the handle. In order to evenly distribute the fishing line, the spool moves up and down at the same time. On the other hand, bait casting fishing reel spools spin as the handle cranks. Thus, the line guide and pawl move the line along rather than the spool.

What is fishing line capacity?

A reel’s fishing line capacity determines the maximum amount of line you can get on your reel at a time. For instance, the line capacity of spin cast reels is generally lower. Conversely, bait casting reels can generally handle stronger and heavier fishing lines. In general, it is important to refer to your reel’s ownership manual in order to understand line capacity. However, there are general guidelines you can follow, such as:

  • If your reel’s fishing line capacity is 8/250, your spool can hold 250 yards of eight-pound test line.
  • A reel with monofilament line capacity listed as 8(180), 10(155), or 14(110) can hold 180 yards of eight-pound test line, 155 yards of 10-pound test line or 110 yards of 14-pound test line.
  • If your reel’s braided fishing line capacity is listed as 30(190), 50(120) or 65(80), your spool can hold 190 yards of 30-pound braided line, 120 yards of 50-pound braided line or 80 yards of 65-pound braided line.

Additionally, you may use a fishing line capacity estimator to determine the amount of line your reel can hold. For example, fishing line capacity estimators include apps such as the Top Shot Calculator and the Fishing Line Calculator.

What does level wind mean?

Fishing level wind reels feature an added level wind mechanism, which helps to automatically distribute line evenly throughout the spool. In general, level wind reels are only available on certain bait caster models. However, this mechanism is a convenient feature, as it keeps you from manually guiding the line as you crank. On the other hand, a level wind reel tends to wear more quickly after regular use than non-level wind reels. Thus, this may negatively affect your ability to cast.

What is the bail mechanism?

A bail trip mechanism is a small, semicircular metal lever that wraps fishing line around the spool. Generally, a closed bail mechanism is designed to hold your fishing line in place and release the line when lifted. Therefore, the bail must be used before and after you cast with an open-faced spinning rod and reel.

For instance, a bail trip mechanism must be lifted with your index finger before you cast with a spinning reel. Moreover, the bail must be closed after you complete your cast. Furthermore, bail mechanisms are designed to guide fishing line onto the spool when the bail is closed. At the same time, they help to release the fishing line when the bail opens.

How does the fishing line handle work?

A fishing line handle is the knob you use to turn or crank your reel in motion. When you turn your line handle, you will retrieve the fishing line and transport it back onto your rod. In general, fishing line handles are available in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials. However, those constructed from soft plastic or rubber materials are best long-term, as they tend to be more comfortable.

What is an ideal gear ratio?

Your fishing gear ratio indicates the specific number of times your spool rotates during each turn of your handle. For example, a gear ratio of 6:4:1 indicates that a spool rotates 6.4 times whenever you turn its handle. Generally, fishing gear ratios range from 5:1:1 (low) to 8:1:1 (high).

Specifically, low gear ratios range from 5:1:1 through 5:4:1. Moreover, a medium fishing gear ratio ranges from 6:1:1 through 6:4:1. Furthermore, a high ratio ranges from 7:1:1 through 8:1:1. Thus, the ideal gear ratio on baitcasting reel equipment varies depending on the type of lure you use. For instance, higher fishing gear ratios are ideal when using jerkbaits, jigs or larger worms as baits. When finding the ideal gear ratio for a baitcasting reel, it is important to use:

  • Deep crankbaits, deep-water spinnerbaits and large swimbaits with low ratios.
  • Shallow spinnerbaits, shallow-castable umbrella rigs and medium-depth or squarebill crankbaits with medium ratios.
  • Lipless crankbaits, topwaters, jigs, large worms, shaky heads, jerkbaits and Texas or Carolina rigs with high ratios.

Additionally, it is important to remember that reels with lower gear ratios will be slower than those with higher ratios. For example, a fishing gear ratio of 5:1:1 is slower than a ratio of 7:1:1. That is because ratios of 5:1:1 rotate 5.1 times per handle turn, whereas ratios of 7:1:1 turn 7.1 times per handle turn.

What are ball bearings?

Fishing ball bearings are designed to reduce rotational friction while supporting axial and radial loads while reels are in use. Therefore, ball bearing uses in fishing reduce friction whenever a knob, spool or level wind mechanism spins or rotates. This allows for a smooth and enjoyable angling experience. As such, ball bearings are found in various spinning and bait casting reels.

In general, the number of fishing ball bearings in a single reel ranges between three and 11. Moreover, ball bearing sizes are typically small. Each bearing contains four parts, including an inner and outer race, a shield retainer, plastic or stainless-steel cages, and stainless steel or hybrid ceramic balls. Additionally, various ball bearing types include stainless steel or ceramic bearings.

Stainless-steel ball bearings are the most popular types among today’s anglers. However, they are susceptible to surface wear and typically do not last as long as ceramic bearings. As a whole, a stainless-steel fishing ball bearing is inexpensive to produce, while ceramic bearings are more expensive. Furthermore, ceramic ball bearing types are lighter than stainless-steel balls and are more resistant to corrosion and surface wear.

What is the anti-reverse function?

The anti reverse reel function is found on many modern-day spinning reels. This function is also known as also known as continuous or instant anti-reverse functions. In general, the main use of an anti reverse reel is to prevent the reel, handle and bail from “back-reeling.” In other words, to prevent them from turning backwards and letting off additional line.

By using an anti-reverse reel, you experience a stronger hookset and reduce the risk of losing fish. Furthermore, the anti-reverse function is generally a small “on”/“off” lever located near the bottom of the reel. If you activate the anti reverse function, the gears will not allow the spool to turn backwards. If you do not use this function, you will be able to back-reel the spool.

Most high-end gear offerings have an instant anti reverse reel already installed. While most anti-reverse reels prevent back-reeling, your reel may feature an “off” switch if you want to back-reel. The reverse function allows you to turn your handle backward and release additional line while targeting large fish. However, not all reels come equipped with an “off” switch.

What does the crank do?

The main crankbait use is to target deep-water or top-column fish while using a cranking fishing reel and rod. In order to use crankbait, you need to consistently cast and retrieve your fishing line. This practice is also known as “cranking,” and doing so will help you to attract fish known as voracious predators. Depending on each instance, your cast and retrieve strategy may need to be slower or faster.

Furthermore, an extended cranking handle is useful if you are using crankbait with a bait casting reel. The extended handle can give you the additional power you need when using larger baits or targeting deep-water fish. Moreover, crankbait use is ideal for casting and trolling. Popular cranking methods include the following techniques:

  • Straight Slow
  • Straight Slow Improved
  • Wait and Go
  • Slow Wait and Go
  • Stop and Go
  • Mixed Retrieve

How does the drag mechanism work?

Many novice anglers wonder, “What is the drag mechanism and how does it work?” The fishing reel drag mechanism is similar to a brake pad. Thus, the drag creates tension in your line and keeps it from pulling off the spool or snapping in half. As such, the drag mechanism allows for greater line control when catching fish. Additionally, a reel’s drag mechanism can:

  1. Prevent a line from breaking as you reel in heavier species of fish. For example, if you catch fish that are heavier than the specified tensile strength of your line, the reel drag mechanism can keep the line from snapping.
  2. Allow fish to swim against the pressure of the drag before being reeled in. It will be easier to reel in fish after they have exhausted themselves from swimming against the drag pressure.

In general, a fishing reel drag mechanism is designed to hold the spool to the shaft. Thus, adjustments may be made using the knobs located near the front or rear side of the reel. The drag mechanism knob is also known as the star drag, tension, click-drag, front or rear drag. In any case, your drag pressure must equal between one-third and one-half of your fishing line’s tensile strength. For example, if setting a reel’s drag mechanism for a 10-pound test line, the drag pressure must be four pounds.

Fishing reel drag mechanisms are featured on most types of reels. However, they are not generally used with certain types of ice fishing or fly reels. Therefore, these reels require you to apply the manual back-reeling technique when necessary.

What are the different types of drag?

Several types of reel drags are available, depending on the type of fishing rod and reel you wish to use. For instance, different reel drag options include centrepin, bait casting, spinning and spincast drags. Consider the following tips in order to control these different types of drag:

  • To control the drag of a centrepin reel, use your thumb or the palm of your hand.
  • In order to control the tension on a bait casting reel, use its adjustable drag system or “clicker” mechanism.
  • To adjust the tension on a spinning reel, use its rear- or front-mounted drag system.
  • In order to control the drag on a spin casting reel, use its “star wheel.”

What are the different fishing reel sizes?

Different reel sizes are better suited for different species of fish and types of baits. Moreover, sizes vary depending on each reel manufacturer. However, fishing reel sizes are generally divided into four categories: small, medium, large and largest. As a general rule, a smaller spinning reel size is ideal for using lighter fishing lines. Conversely, larger reels pair well with lines of higher tensile strength. To learn more about spinning reel sizes, review the information below.

  • A small fishing reel size ranges between 1000 (or 10) and 3500 (35 or 350). This size is ideal for angling in freshwater environments such as rivers, lakes or streams. Moreover, a small reel can be used to catch lightweight fish such as trout, bream, flathead and bass.
  • A medium spinning reel size ranges between 4000 (40) and 5500 (55). This size is ideal for short, offshore angling trips. Medium reels can be used to catch heavier fish such as snapper, cod, bone fish, tailor and mowing.
  • Large fishing reel sizes range from 6000 (60) to 10000 (100). These sizes are ideal for fishing in offshore environments or when angling around rock. Large reels can be used to catch larger and heavier fish species such as tuna, king fish and salmon.
  • The largest of these different reel sizes may range up to 10500. Generally, they can be used to catch large fish species such as mackerel, shark and tuna. However, the largest reels are more difficult to cast with, making them more suitable for experienced anglers.

How much do fishing reels cost?

Fishing reels prices vary significantly according to each type. In general, fishing reels costs are often lower for spin casting, spinning or underspin reels. Conversely, baitcasting, fly reels and centrepin reels are often more expensive. For example, top-rated spin casting fishing reel prices on Amazon range from $29.99 for the Pflueger Trion to $99.95 for the Zebco ZB310BX3 Bullet. Moreover, you can pay $29.95 for the Daiwa Crossfire Front Drag or $97.86 for the Penn Battle II.

Underspin fishing reel costs range from $12.99 for the Zebco Micro Trigger-Spin 11MTS Fishing Reel to $83.75 for the Daiwa Underspin-XD Series. Furthermore, bait casting fishing reels go from $47.33 for the Abu Garcia BMAX3 Max Low-Profile Reel to $376.36 for the DaiwaTatula. In addition, centrepin reels sell for $42.99 for the Channelmay CNC MachinedAluminum Reel or $499.99 for the Okuma Sheffield Drag Float Reel.

Where can you buy fishing reels?

Popular places to buy fishing reels include retailers like Cabela’s, Walmart, Bass Pro Shops, Amazon, eBay and DICK’s Sporting Goods. Most fishing reels stores sell spin casting, bait casting, spinning, underspin, trolling and fly rods. However, centrepin reels are often more difficult to find. To learn more about where to find fishing reels such as these, you may search online through Amazon, Walmart, Bass Pro Shops, FishUSA or Sierra Trading Post.

What are the best cheap fishing reels?

The best cheap fishing reels are available from brands such as Bass Pro Shops, Cabela’s, Zebco/Quantum Smoke, Lew’s and Daiwa. For example, economic fishing reels from Bass Pro Shops include the Johnny Morris CarbonLite Spinning Reel. Moreover, cheap reels from Cabela’s include the Verano Spinning Reel. Other fishing reels for fishermen on a budget include the following:

  • Abu Garcia Revo Winch
  • Quantum SmokeS3
  • Lew’s Mach Crush
  • Daiwa Ballistic LT

What are the best high-end fishing reels?

High end fishing reels are available from brands such as Shimano and Daiwa. For instance, expensive fishing reels from Shimano include the Sustain FI and Exsence reels. Moreover, Shimano has casting reels such as the Antares, Metanium MGL, Aldebaran 50 and CalcuttaConquest. Furthermore, high quality fishing reels from Daiwa include the Certate Spinning Reel and the SV TWS Casting Reel. Other high end reels are available from Abu Garcia, such as the REVO MGX or REVO MGXTREME2 Casting Reel.

What are the best fishing reel brands?

Shimano, Daiwa, Abu Garcia, Penn, Lew’s, Zebco and Pflueger are fishing reel brands that manufacture top-rated angling products. Moreover, top fishing reel brands on Amazon also include KastKing, Piscifun, Sougayilang and PLUSINNO.

What are the best fishing reels for beginners?

The best beginner fishing reels are spincast reels. These are generally closed-faced, inexpensive and easy to use reels. Moreover, open-faced spinning reels are other examples of great fishing reels for beginners. In general, the best beginner reels include:

  • Shimano Spin Reel Clam
  • Penn Battle II Spinning Reel
  • Pflueger Trion Spincast Reel
  • ZebcoSpincast Fishing Reel

Can I rent a fishing reel?

Fishing reels rental services are available for anglers who do not own their own equipment. Additionally, rental services are great if you wish to test a product before purchasing it. Moreover, gear rentals are generally necessary if you embark on an out-of-state fishing trip.

In general, you may rent a fishing reel through local tackle shops or marine retail stores. Additional places to rent fishing reels include retailers such as the Tackle Warehouse. For instance, fishing reels for rent are available through the Tackle Warehouse Demo Program, giving you the opportunity to demo as many as four reels over a seven-day period.

What are the different types of fishing reels?

Various types of fishing reels can be used with your spinning, casting or fly fishing rod. In general, different types of angling reels include bait casting, centrepin, fly casting, spin casting, trolling and underspin reels. For example, a spin casting fishing reel is ideal for beginners. Conversely, bait casting or fly reels are best used by experienced fishermen, as they are more difficult to operate. Furthermore, many types of fishing reels can also be used with telescopic, pen or ultra-light rods. To learn more about the different types of fishing reels available, review the sections below.

What are bait casting reels?

Bait casting reels are excellent tools for experienced anglers who wish to catch larger saltwater and freshwater fish. In general, these reels allow fishermen to cast longer distances with greater accuracy. Moreover, they give anglers better line control while targeting fish. However, it is important to note that bait casting fishing reels can only be used with casting rods. Thus, they are not well-suited for spinning rods. Additionally, these tools are more difficult to use than spinning or spin-casting reels, thus requiring extensive practice.

What are centrepin reels?

Centrepin reels are used during the process of float or centrepin fishing. Centrepin fishing reels are optimal for catching freshwater fish such as trout, salmon or steelhead in large streams or rivers. However, before purchasing a centrepin reel, it is important to read customer reviews and compare prices. Generally, centerpin reels are more expensive than other reels on the market. When purchasing a centerpin fishing reel, you must also choose between manual or mechanical drag systems. For example, experienced angler can benefit from a mechanical drag system. Conversely, novice anglers may want to choose a manual one.

What are fly casting reels?

Fly casting reels can be used in both saltwater and freshwater environments. However, fly casting fishing reels with anodized finishes are best for fighting corrosion from saltwater habitats. In general, fly fishing reels are used to catch smaller fish species such as bass, trout, salmon or steelhead. However, a fly casting reel can also be used to catch larger fish, such as tuna, sharks or marlin. Thus, when choosing a fly fishing reel, be mindful of your target species and their body of water.

What are spin casting reels?

A spin casting reel is one of the easiest fishing reels for anglers to cast with. This reel features a single push-button, which releases the fishing line once pressed. Additionally, spin casting reels feature closed-face, stationary spools to reduce line tangles. Generally, these reels are optimal for catching small fish such as panfish or bass. Moreover, they allow you to use a variety of bait, lures and bobbers. Other spincast reel advantages include affordability and user-friendly capabilities. As such, spin cast fishing is ideal for beginner fishermen, children and casual anglers.

What are spinning reels?

Spinning reels are some of the most popular types of fishing reels on the market. They are versatile, easy to use and pair well with commonly-used spinning rods. Additionally, spinning fishing reels are great options for both novice and veteran anglers. With this reel, anglers can use lighter lures and baits to catch a variety of saltwater and freshwater fish. For instance, a spinning reel can be used to catch species such as redfish, bass and mahi-mahi.

What are trolling reels?

Trolling reels are specialty types of gear that are well-suited for trolling for fish. Thus, these reels are not particularly optimal for casting techniques. With a freshwater or saltwater trolling reel, anglers can catch large fish species such as marlin, tuna, muskellunge and salmon. Moreover, trolling reels with line counter capabilities generally make a fishing experience more productive and enjoyable. Popular brands for trolling reels include Penn, Okuma and Shimano, which are sold at Walmart and Cabela’s. In addition, Penn trolling reels and other top-rated brand names are available on Amazon.

What are underspin reels?

Underspin reels are perfect for novice fishermen and children, as they are lighter and easier to use than other reels. However, an underspin fishing reel can also be used by experienced fishermen. Common underspin reel uses include light tackle, which is optimal for saltwater fishing environments. Moreover, newer models contain advanced features such as enhanced handles and drag systems.


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