Buying a fishing reel isn’t difficult, but it does require a little bit of thinking and consideration about what you will be using the reel for exactly. Different kinds of fishing and different kinds of fish require different reels. This article will give you 6 key pointers on buying your next reel so that you get exactly the one you need.
1) Good Grips
You want to be sure that the are non-slip grips on both the hand-crank and on the arm of the reel (where you non-cranking hand rests). This ensures that when your hands get wet (which they will), you can still have solid control over the reel and don’t have to worry about it slipping out of your hands.
2) Ball Bearings
Ball bearings are one of the most important parts of any reel you buy. Basically put they control 2 things, 1) the smoothness of the retrieve, and 2) the stopping speed of the reel. Essentially, the more ball bearings you have in the reel, the smoother the retrieve will be. Two is common in low-end reels, 3-4 in mid-range reels, and 5 or more in top end reels. The other factor that ball bearings influence is how much the reel spins backward after you stop winding in your line. You want this to be as little as possible since it affects your control over the line and lure. One simple test is to simply reel in a little line, and let go of the crank handle. Now pull line out of the reel. If the handle turns backward, you will have less control. More ball bearings mean that this ‘unwinding’ is reduced – which is very important.
3) Line Capacity
You need to check the line capacity of any reel for 2 key bits of information. First, the maximum lb. test the reel will hold, and then how many yards/ meters of line can be put on the reel. You want to have a reel that is designed for the line weight you are going to use. Trying to put 20 lb. test line on a reel designed for 6 lb. test will only give you headaches.
4) Type – Level Wind (Baitcaster) or Spinning
The type of reel you use affects the type of fishing you will be doing. Reels are designed for different purposes and produce different effects on the lures and bait that you use. If you are fishing large plugs and bait style lures, which are commonly used with bass fishing, a baitcasting (or level wind) reel is probably what you’re looking for.
These reels don’t produce too much action in the lure and allow very accurate casting control. Spinning reels, on the other hand, are designed to transfer action into the lure from the reel, and are used commonly with trolling, and casting spoons and spinner type lures.
5) Type of Fishing/Size of Fish
This relates back to point #4. The type of fishing you plan on doing is important, but so is the size and type of fish you are going after. Different species are not only different in size, but also in their overall strength and fighting attitude. Basically a 3 lb. musky will react differently than a 3 lb. smallmouth bass and as a result different reels could or should be used. Likewise, if the areas you fish are loaded with underwater hazards and structures that will snag hooks, you may want to get a sturdier reel than if you always fish in open, clear waters.
6) Size & Weight
This isn’t overly critical as most reels are within a few ounces of each other in weight. However, if you’re going to be out casting all day long on a regular basis a lighter reel can be a reel blessing. The same holds true if you’re buying a reel for your children. Be sure to try it out on a rod in the store to see how it feels. Then make sure that it feels comfortable and you are able to reach the casting mechanisms and tension controls easily and without having to make awkward stretches.