TIPS FOR NEWBIES BEFORE BUYING A FISHING REEL
The more you get into fishing, the more you will appreciate what all the fuss is about and why fishing reels can cost as much as they do. If you are planning on buying a fishing reel for the first time, this introduction gives an alternative perspective to fishing reel features to help you make the right choice. As you get higher up the price and class range, there are huge pressures on the business end your fishing outfit, with some pretty amazing creatures that you can only really appreciate if you have battled one of them. Now that is not to say an all-round spinning reel backed by a solid fishing brand name is not great quality, it’s just that it is not designed for big game fishing, for example.
FORGET ABOUT BEING NEW TO FISHING FOR A MOMENT
If you are reading this article, you are probably looking for some help with buying a fishing reel. This article is going to give you some help by taking you down a different route. We’re going to jump right in the deep end and taking a look at a high-end reel and some tough fishing situations to highlight the functions of different reel features. It’s not absolute, of course, nothing in fishing ever is.
Let’s go with a high-speed fishing reel, something that is at the very top of what is available on the market today.
HIGH-SPEED FISHING REEL
A high-speed game fishing reel is a reel that is suitable for chasing Bluefin Tuna, GT, Tarpon, Wahoo and other very fast pelagic species. The Wahoo’s maximum speed is said to be around 48mph, that’s pretty close to 80kmh. Sailfish are powerful apex predators and can reach 68mph, that’s over most state speed limits at 110kmh. Bonito are said to be capable of speeds of about 40mph when leaping.
Fishing reels that are designed for game fishing at this level are very sophisticated. Each one of them is actually slightly different. You have to hand it to the fishing reel brands, they really know how to make us anglers love another reel for what it delivers over what we have while at the same time still loving the reel we have for what it is too. Every reel is slightly different, and the brands are the masters of setting that up for us so we have a lot of excuses to keep buying fishing reels. Well, hey, I want another one, don’t you? Here is a look at fishing reel features and then some considerations for this hypothetical.
HIGH GEAR RATIO
The gear ratio of a reel is defined by how many times the spool turns for each single turn of the handle. So, making a single turn on the handle of a 6.2:1 reel will spin the spool 6.2 times. Some high-speed game reels have ratios higher than 8:1. It’s that kind of ratio that defines a high-speed fishing reel for what it is. A reel is roughly considered higher speed when it has gear ratios over 6.2.
When fishing with a high-speed fishing reel, anglers are normally using top baits and lures. They could be working any lure that requires a lot of work retrieving a lot of fishing line at speed.
A fast reel also helps for fighting a fish that will pull you into the mess of structure when estuary fishing, for example. Topwaters, jerkbaits, jigs, plastics and even lipless crankbaits also warrant the use of a high-speed reel because they also create a lot of slack in the fishing line. You could be casting at distance from a boat in the calm waters of a large dam when you get a bite over 30 metres away from the boat. It’s then when a high-speed reel will be extremely helpful for getting and keeping that hookset in such a case.
Imagine yourself game fishing off the back of the boat when a Sailfish takes your bait and then decides it is coming directly at you. If you don’t get all that fishing line back on your spool really fast, that beast could fly past and bust of your gear in a flash.
High-speed fishing reels are very suitable for fishing situations and techniques that require the fast retrieval of fishing line. A higher gear ratio is better for doing just that. However, a high gear ratio is just part of the story.
High gear ratios aren’t everything if you don’t have a high cranking power. The gear ratio defines the number of revolutions the spool will make per crank of the handle, but the cranking power rating (also known as the Line Retrieval Rate) refers to how much fishing line each crank of the handle retrieves onto the spool. This can differ greatly from reel to reel, and well, indirectly, we are talking about spool design and size.
BEARINGS AND GEARS
Driving that cranking power and gear ratios are your bearings. There’s no room for error when there are pressures and torques comparable to holding onto a power boat. Bearings need precision sealing, awesome lubricants, amazing build quality and the more the better. As for gears, some of the best gearing systems are even made without any cutting tools to create those teeth, they are that smooth.
Spool size defines how much line capacity your reel can cold. There’s no point going after pelagic species if your line can only hold 120 yards of monofilament fishing line. That practically halves when you switch to braid. Spool size and design will have a lot to with the way your line comes off the spool and goes back on the spool. You want your line off the spool faster for further casting and you want your line tidier when you are putting back on the spool during the retrieve.
WHAT ABOUT THAT ROTOR ARM
You are going to have that rotor arm in your hand all day long and you will be working it really hard. You need comfort as well as something that can take the pressure of extended use. There’s nothing worse that a handle that gives you cramps in your hand before too long.
High-speed ratios combined with huge spool capacity and high crank power ratings are great but if turning that handle is like trying to get a rusty nut off a tractor tire, it won’t be much good. That crank weight needs to be smooth and powerful, no matter how much pressure is on that fishing line. Remember, you could have 30kg max drag set on a fish that weighs a whopping 15kg fish that can swim at 50 knots, whether you are trying to tame it or to keep up to speed, that rotary action needs to feel lightweight and stay that way all day. This means great bearings, lubrication systems and a central pinion that doesn’t flex.
Most high-end bodies are made out of a single piece of alloy. They are designed super strong so they don’t flex. A reel body that flexes every time you crank or you pull hard on a boat rod won’t deliver consistent results. Another feature in modern high-end reels is the fact that the design reel moves the centre of gravity closer to the fishing rod butt, giving the angler more comfort and more stamina. You can see why a day’s fishing is seriously hard work.
Drag is an important feature when you are fighting tough fish. It’s like a clutch so if you or the fish pull too hard, the clutch slips and your line doesn’t break. Drag is something you need to work well, smoothly and have a lot of easy control over. Advanced features include a smooth grab and even drag throughout the curve.
The list continues and by no means is this a comprehensive look at all the details that expert fishos will go into when examining a reel but hopefully, it highlights the what makes a reel a great reel.
Other issues to consider are corrosion resistance, easy maintenance, support and service and of course, a great reputation.
Even with the most affordable reels, the same build concepts and performance issues are important, just not a huge deal because the fishing is not as intense. As long as you are choosing a reel from a well-known brand name, you can get a great fishing reel for under $50.
Is there anything you can add to help newbies buying a fishing reel? We’d love you to share your thoughts and experience with the community here at OnDECK through the comments section below.