Whether you have a need for speed or want the power to go deep, choosing a fishing reel with the right gear ratio will help you achieve your goal.
Gear ratios determine the speed at which a reel picks up line. Fishing reels with a gear ratio of 6.3:1 means the spool rotates 6.3 times for every 360-degree turn of the reel handle. Baitcast reels offer a wider range of gear ratios than spinning models for spinning rods. Most spinning reels feature a gear ratio of 5.2:1 to 6.2:1 although some manufacturers are now offering models with a 7.0:1 gear ratio for bass anglers who want to quickly retrieve drop shot rigs or tube baits when fishing in deep water.
Gear ratios on most brands of baitcast reels range from 5.0:1 to 9.1:1. The pros use high speed models (7.1:1 to 9.1:1) for most applications because they know it is easier to slow down a retrieve with a fast reel than it is to crank faster with a low-speed model.
Bass fishing anglers are gearing their tackle so much to their lures so there is a demand for a wider range of gear ratios for baitcast reels now. Crankbait specialists like the power of a low-speed reel such as a 5.0:1 model for winching deep-diving crankbaits to their maximum depths. Whereas guys who like to rip lipless crankbaits through vegetation or keep a buzz bait skittering across the surface prefer reels with 7.1:1 or higher gear ratios.
Beginning anglers should select a lower gear ratio baitcaster for slow-rolling spinnerbaits and any other presentations requiring a snail-like retrieve. It takes experience to fish slowly with a high-speed reel so buying a middle-speed model in the 5.4:1 to 6.2:1 range allows novices to fish both slow- and fast-moving baits easier. They can wind the reel slow enough to slow-roll a spinnerbait or run a deep-diving crankbait without overworking the lure. The middle-speed reel also allows them to crank fast enough to get good performances from buzz baits or lipless crankbaits.
Once you gain experience with the lower speed reels you can graduate to the higher gear ratio models to get the best results for high-speed tactics such as burning buzz baits along the surface, ripping lipless crankbaits through vegetation or crashing square-bill crankbaits into wood cover. Then you can also work on that special touch the pros have for employing a slower retrieve on a high-speed reel.
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