There are thousands and thousands of fishing reels on the market and for good reason. The reel is an essential piece of fishing gear because, without it, you can’t really fish. The problem with this is, well, thousands of them to choose from! Reels come in all different shapes, sizes, types, and more, so it is extremely confusing to get one that both works great, but is the right size for your rod. All reels are not the same, and some will have more features than others, so it is important to look at some of the following points to choose the right one for your rod.
Keep in mind that all reels should work the exact same way, and what I mean by that is that they should all hold your line, release it when you cast and spool it back when you reel it in. You could get some with better drag features, or reel forward and backward, or maybe even have different gears and ball bearings. As time moves on, fishing gear, like everything, gets more sophisticated. Take a look at some of my bullet points when selecting a reel, and then look at some of my favorites.
things you want to look for in a reel
Body – The body of a reel can be made out of things like aluminum, or graphite, and is usually a personal choice for the angler. I like aluminum reels because they are more heavy-duty, but they can be a little bit heavier than graphite reels. Gauge where you want to fish, and what you want to fish for, and make a personal choice. You may find that an ultralight rod works best with a graphite reel, and a heavier rod you might like an aluminum body.
Size – Reels come in all different shapes and sizes, so picking the right size will completely depend on what type of fish you want to catch. There are sizes ranging from 1000 to 4000 and up. Each size will be for the weight of the line and the ease of reeling when you have a certain size fish on. For example, I normally use a 2500 reel when fishing for bass, and works well up to 8-10 pounds (the biggest I have caught). Watch your size when looking at reels and make sure you don’t put too heavy, or light on your rod.
Gear Ratio – Gear ratio is going to be important because it’s going to tell you how many times the bail rotates around the spool in a rotation. What I mean by that is, if you have a 5:1 gear ratio, it is going to go around the bail five times for every full reel you do. I use a 5:1 or 6:1 if I am using lures because it is going to reel a bit faster, and that’s what you will need if you are constantly bringing the line in. If you are going to let the line sit for a long time, a 4:1 ratio might be the best for you. My suggestion is to keep it in the 5:1 ratio for a smooth fast reel ratio.
Drag – Settings for drag are extremely important because this will make or break a catch. Drag is the way of releasing line out of the reel when a fish surges, instead of bearing all the weight on the line which causes it to snap. Even though mono will stretch, when you have a big bass on the line and it decides to turn directions, it could snap the line, hurting the fish, and losing your catch. You also want to make sure that you don’t have the drag set too low, or you won’t be able to reel in the line. Some reels have lots of settings for drag, while others just have a small turn dial.
Types of Reels
Spinning reels are the most common reel that there is out there, and there are a lot of them. I love the Penn Battle II Spinning Fishing Reel on my rods because of all the features that it has. First, no matter what size rod you have, they have a size to fit your needs. It comes in a 1000 series, all the way up to 8000, so no matter what type of fish you are after, they have you covered.
Reasons I love this reel:
- Carbon fiber drag system so switching to lighter or heavier drag is super easy.
- 6 Ball-bearing sealed system so dirt won’t get in and muck up your smooth reeling.
- Gear ratios from 5 and 6 to 1 will mean that you are going to reel line in effortlessly.
- Rubber backing so you can spool line directly onto it. This means that it is braid ready, and you don’t need to mess with backing it with the line.
- Full Metal body. I love how rugged this reel is with a metal body so if you drop it, there will be no cracking.
This reel is just awesome because of all the features, and design series. You can grab a 1000 for ultralight or 2500 for bass and catfish. Its also not going to break the bank in the checkout line.
It is no secret that I love Abu Garcia rods, but for baitcasting, I am loving the Abu Garcia Revo SX Low Profile Fishing Reel for my reel of choice. This reel is almost unstoppable when it comes to having a baitcasting setup.
Reasons I chose this reel:
- 9 stainless steel ball bearings. This reel operates extremely smoothly because of the bearing system.
- X2-Craftic is the alloy that they used to make this reel, so it virtually noncorrosive.
- The power stack drag is going to help when the fish surges.
- Brass gears that are never going to wear out over time, and gives a ton more strength to the reel.
You can’t go wrong with Abu Garcia no matter what, and I am really loving this reel on my baitcasting rod. It reels smooth and has a coating on it that really reduces the friction when I am fishing. You will be impressed with this reel, I promise.
When it comes to spincast, there really aren’t a ton of options like you would have for spinning and baitcasting, but the one I use on my rod is the Daiwa Goldcast Spincast Reel. I have a spin-cast rod for crappie and bluegill, and I have to say that this reel has really held up to the challenge. I first bought this reel because I love Daiwa rods, and thought I would take a chance, and man have I been satisfied.
Reasons for loving this reel:
- It is a Daiwa. Yes, that name said it all for me, and if you have fished with Daiwa rods, I hope you can agree. They make an excellent product.
- Full metal body. I let my kids fish with this reel, and it is extremely durable. If you drop it, you aren’t going to have to worry about it breaking.
- Multi-disc drag. This reel has a very easy to use drag system on it, so you won’t have to worry about fussing with it.
- 4:1 Gear ration. With a 4:1 ratio, it reels as smooth as some of my spinning rods which says a lot for a spincast reel.
With the choices I had to choose from, I am very impressed with the way this reel has held up. Its very fluid in reeling, and easy to use for kids. Its also not made of cheap plastic, so it’s not going to break the first or second time out.
Fly reels are not extremely ordinary, so when I was looking for one, I read a ton of reviews to help me and I finally settled on the Waterworks-Lamson Fly reel. I had never fly fished before, and I have to say that this reel is just awesome.
Reasons for choosing this reel:
- Machined. This reel is machined instead of die-cast, so it is durable and sturdy.
- It has a sealed conical drag for easy drag handling. Its also fully enclosed, so you won’t be getting debris in it.
- Lightweight. This reel is so lightweight you will barely feel it on your rod, and balances really well.
This reel really does handle all the different elements and keep ongoing. I have dropped my rod in streams, rivers, and dirt, and it still reels smoothly. Its made in the USA so it has a great warranty for returns. I also like how you can buy a three-pack of line spools, so you can interchange them with ease. This is a great reel for the price point.
Will Any Reel fit Any Rod:
Technically, yes, you could probably make any reel fit on any rod, but the general answer to this is NO. You really can’t put a spinning reel on a baitcasting rod because the guides are opposite, and the same thing goes for putting a fly reel on a spinning rod. Each reel is meant to go on the rod it was designed for, but there are cases like baitcast and spincast rods and reels that could interchange. It is going to be a huge benefit to keep the same rod and reel combo that it is designed for. Different reel sizes you should also keep an eye out for because you don’t want to put an ultralight reel on a heavy rod because it just won’t be able to keep up. Try to balance your rod and reel combo to be the same type and you will be fishing without problems.
Choosing a reel to go on your rod is extremely important, but it shouldn’t be super stressful. They come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be a little confusing, but you really can’t go wrong with any newer reel. If you still haven’t chosen a rod yet, take a look at my recommended gear page here and see if one of them might fit your needs. The rod and reel combo is going to make or break your fishing days, so it is important to have a good setup.