Fishing reel is primarily a fishing line reservoir that allows the angler to fish at a greater distance. A reel is a machine engineered to help the angler to cast and retrieve fishing line, and also wear down a fish using a drag system. Popular fishing reel brands are Daiwa, Shimano, Penn and Abu Garcia.
How to choose the fishing reel you need?
Fishing reel selection takes into consideration the fishing line weight, reel type, reel specification and reel construction and material. Good reel at a minimum needs to be smooth when retrieving, no backlashing, able to hold enough line and comfortable to use.
Line, Reel and Rod Matching
The first rule of choosing any reel, rod and line combination is making sure that the weight specification of the fishing reel and rod match the weight of your intended line. If you have a 40 pounds weight fishing line, then you want to make sure you have 40 pounds weight reel and a 40 pounds weight rod. Having the right weight combination will ensure that lures can cast smoothly and failures of these components can be minimized.
Deciding which type of reel is best for you depend mostly on how you fish, and what techniques you prefer. Two of the most common reel types are the revolving spool type and the fixed spool type.
Revolving spool types are the baitcasting reel or multiplier and fly reel. Baitcasting reel was conventionally used for a wide variety of techniques, including freshwater baitcasting, surfcasting and big game fishing. Baitcasting reels which easily get entangled when the spool moves faster than the line, are more difficult to use than a spinning reel. These reels are not recommended for beginner. Fly fishing reel needs to be lightweight so that it can cast and move smoothly. Fly reel usually doesn't have gears so when the handle turns once the spool also turns once.
Fixed spool types are the spinning reel and closed-face reel. The spinning reel line is wound by a rotating bail on a static spool that only moves forward and backward on a rotor to ensure the line is laid evenly. As the design of the spinning reels improve to handle heavier weight, these reels are starting to replace the baitcasting reels on many applications. Spinning reels are preferred for beginner because they are easier to cast and fish with compared to a baitcasting reel. Closed-face reel uses the same concept and are specially designed to prevent tangling for light lines.
Reel Features or Characteristics
Reel characteristics are the amount and weight of line it can hold, ease of use, smoothness and drag during a fight. The specification that determined these characteristics are the reel capacity, drag system, gear ratio and bearings.
Reel line capacity or reel size is determined by the fishing line size you intend to use most often coupled with the fishing line length. The heavier the line intended, the bigger the reel you should purchase. The more line the reel can hold offer a bigger range for the reel to perform. Most manufacturers use numbers to indicate the size and capacity. Some manufacturer use the numbers 3000, 4000, 6000 and so on to indicate the size of the reel, while others use 025, 030, 035, 040 and so on.
The drag system is similar to a disc brake system that allows the reel to catch a wide range of fish sizes. The drag mechanism is responsible for tiring down the hooked fish by converting the energy from the fish into heat in the drag system. The drag is always set below the breaking strain of the line to prevent broken line and lost fish. The line should pull out steadily without constriction at whatever tension the drag is set. There are also front drag and rear drag models for spinning reels. Front drag spinning reels generally had a higher level of performance and durability because larger washer can be fitted. Rear drag spinning reels are easier to use but sometimes don’t stand up to bigger fish. So for for big fish and saltwater species a front drag is preferred.
Gear ratio refers to the number of times the bail rotates around the spool with a single turn of the reel handle. For example, on a reel with a 5:1 gear ratio, the bail rotates around the spool five times for every turn of the handle. Higher gear ratio will allow the angler to reel in the line faster but low gear ratio provide more torque for reeling in large fish. This is similar to a vehicle. Lower gear is for torque and power. Higher gear is for speed.
Bearings are critical to ensure that the reel works smoothly and stably by supporting the moving parts. In general, the greater number of bearings a reel contains the smoother the reel retrieves and stops. Quality reels typically feature at least two stainless steel ball bearings. Bearings are more important on spinning reels than baitcasting reels because of the design. Spinning reel spool are aligned parallel to the rod while baitcasting reel spool are perpendicular, so it takes more bearings to drive the gears smoothly on spinning reel.
Most spinning and baitcasting reel have anti reverse mechanism to prevent from cranking the handle the wrong way and mess up the fishing line.
Baitcasting reel common feature includes the level-wind mechanism that guides the line back and forth across the spool as you reel it in. This keeps the line distributed across the spool.
Reel Construction and Material
Reel housings are mostly composed of either aluminium or graphite. Each of these materials has its advantages and disadvantages. Reels made of anodized aluminium are generally stronger and more durable than graphite models. Graphite reel housing is lighter than aluminium and corrosion resistant, but they normally don’t offer the same strength and durability as the aluminium reels.
Saltwater and freshwater reels are constructed differently using different material and should be considered when choosing a reel. Salt water fishing reels are typically made from stainless steel, aluminium and resin, which will last much longer when exposed to saltwater. For saltwater spinning reels, skirted spools which increase line capacity can allow longer casts and reduces tangles. This construction method also protects the reel's internal mechanism from saltwater and moisture.
Typical reels are right-handed meaning the crank is on the left side of the reel but there are also left-handed versions.