Tips on Buying a New Reel

Edited by Admin
Tips on Buying a New Reel

Tips on buying a new Reel

With all of the fishing shows and spring time fishing sales coming it’s a great opportunity to good deal on fishing equipment but one of the hardest decision to make is what type of fishing reel to buy. But don’t worry, I got you covered.

When picking a reel the main factor is what you are going to fish for, where you are fishing from and what type of bait that you will be using. 

 First I will cover the reel components, then I will get into gear ratios and what baits are most effective with those gear ratios.


 Ball Bearings

Ball bearings reduce friction between the internal moving parts of the reel, helping keep your reel moving freely and smooth when you are retrieving or reeling a fish. Many experts recommend getting the reel with the most ball bearings that you can afford, but I would not get anything less than five bearings. I think that five bearings is is an ideal amount because you’ll get plenty of smoothness at a decent price, Most of the time you cannot tell the difference between five bearings, eight bearings, or even ten bearings. Keep in mind that the number of bearings in a reel does not reflect the quality of the reel.


Anti-reverse Handles

 Anti reverse handles prevent any backward movement of the reel handle. If you can move the handle backwards even a little, it can prevent a powerful and accurate hook set, greatly reducing your fishing success.

There should be no play at all when you want to stop the reel. You can test this by moving the reel handle forward, then gently trying to reverse it. If the handle backs up, move on to a different fishing reel.




The drag system puts pressure on fish and allows you to give out line when needed. A smooth, high-quality drag system is essential for a good spinning reel. The drag system should let out line smoothly and seamlessly. If the drag allows the line to jerk or pull the fish or your lure could be lost.


Casting reels usually have a star drag system which is a star shaped wheel on the inside of the handle. Spinning reels can have either a forward or rear drag system. The forward drag system is found on the top of the spool and the rear drag system is found on the bottom of the reel. No matter which drag system you choose, make sure the drag can be increased or decreased in small increments.


Housing and frames

Most reel housings are composed of either aluminum or graphite. Each of these materials has its advantages and disadvantages. Reels made of anodized aluminum are generally stronger and more durable than graphite models, however, they are heavier. Graphite-bodied reels are light and corrosion resistant, yet they normally don’t offer the same strength and durability as die-cast or forged aluminum reels.

Spinning reel body designs are composed of multiple pieces. Many conventional reels are also constructed in the same fashion, however, some manufacturers have introduced one-piece graphite frames. This design increases the overall integrity and strength of the reel, while maintaining the lighter weight.


Casting controls – bait casting reels

Bait casting reels come with some kind of built-in casting control system. The system will control how fast the spool will spin when you cast. These systems can be centrifugal or magnetic and are either internally or externally adjustable. While casting control systems can go a long way in helping to maximize casting distance and minimize backlash, they are not a cure-all when it comes to preventing backlash. It’s important for the angler to realize that no reel is 100 percent backlash-free, regardless of how advanced the casting control mechanism. The angler still needs to apply light thumb pressure to the spool in order to prevent backlash.


Gear Ratio

 The gear ratio is the measurement of how many times the spool turns with one turn of the handle on a bait casting reel or how many times the bail rotates around the spool per one turn of the handle on a spin casting reel.

The lower the gear ratio the slower the reel is, but keep in mind that the lower gear ratio the more torque the reel has. Let’s look at Carrot Stix casting reel CCX2001-C2. This reel has a gear ratio of 6.3:1. To break this down the spool turns 6.3 times when the reel handle is turned 1 full rotation (Spool turns 6.3 = 1 reel handle turn). The gear ratio can usually be found printed somewhere on any reel. 

Carrot Stix also has taken an innovative approach to the gear ratio of spinning reels. Specifically looking at Carrot Stix Spinning Reel CSX3000-S2, the gear ratio can be changed from 4.7:1 over to 6.7:1 by rotating a gearbox switch that is located where the body connects to the handle. This allows you to change the gear when reeling in a fish or so you can fish a different lure without dragging along another rod reel combo.

Slow (low) gear ratio is usually 4.1:1 to 5.4:1
Medium gear ratio is usually 6.1:1 to 6.4:1
Fast (high) gear ratio is usually 7.1:1 to 8.1:1


Line Recovery

 Line recovery is how much line is retrieved with one full rotation of the handle. Line recovery is dependent on the size of the spool, reel handle and internal gearing. Carrot Stix is nice enough to publish this specification for their reels so we do not have to manually measure and figure this out. The recovery for Carrot Stix casting reel CCX2001-C2 is 27 inches per one handle rotation. So let’s say I was using this reel for a square bill crank bait. I know that one full turn moves my bait about 27 inches.

Knowing the line recovery allows me fish my bait more effectively. Let’s say I was using a slow retrieve method, I know how far I am moving the bait. Then I get a hit or catch a fish. Because I know how far the bait is moving or speed I can easily duplicate the retrieve and increase my chances of catching that fish or more fish. In turn I can also pick up another rod reel combo that may have a different gear ratio/line recovery, do a little math and still hit that speed that the fish want.  


What gear ratio do you select.


For the slow (low) gear ratio you would use for heavy baits, baits that deflect a lot of water or for slow presentations.  Deep diving crank baits, big swim baits and deep water spinner baits would be used on a reel with a low gear ratio. The low gear ratio gives you more torque and requires less effort to retrieve the lure or reel in the fish. If you used a high gear ratio reel for a bait like this, you would have to reel must faster to keep the bait in the strike zone and you would wear yourself out if you were casting all day.

For the medium gear ratio you would use baits like square bill crank baits, medium depth crank baits and shallow spinner baits.  A medium gear ratio allows you to maintain retrieval decent speed and use some different retrieval techniques while keeping your bait in the strike zone. If you are looking for one reel to cover most of your fishing techniques, a medium gear ratio is the way to go.  


For the fast (High) gear ratio you would use baits like, jigs, shaky heads, top water baits, jerk baits, lipless cranks and worms that are rigged Texas or Carolina style. These styles of fishing require slack to be in the line, with the fast gear ratio the slack can be reeled in quickly helping you set the hook before the fish spits out your bait. A fast gear ratio also helps you get the fish away from cover before they tangle your line around some underwater structure or cause it to rub and break off.


This information should help you make an educated purchase and remember don’t be afraid to ask questions.


Dominic Hall
Carrot Stix Pro Staff

Dominic Hall
Carrot Stix Pro Staff
Dominic Hall
Carrot Stix Pro Staff
Dominic Hall
Carrot Stix Pro Staff
Dominic Hall
Carrot Stix Pro Staff
Level 1 (XP: 0)
8 years ago
Great article full of very useful tips.