How To Choose The Right Fishing Reel

How To Choose The Right Fishing Reel

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Different Types of Fishing Reels Available and How to Choose One

As many have found out the hard way, how to choose the right fishing reel for your needs and your situation can be very difficult. This is true even if you are an experienced fisherman. For the new fishermen looking to find their perfect reel, this makes it even that much more imperative that you put the right amount of thought and energy into making sure you realize how to choose the right fishing reel for your needs. This will ensure that you can go out fishing with total confidence.

Father and Son and Brother enjoying Fishing From the Dock at Sunset

Sadly, buying a good high-end fishing reel can often set you back hundreds of dollars. Since your fishing reel will be a very large and important purchase, you’ll want to make sure that you make the right choice in figuring out how to choose the right fishing reel for your needs. Failing to choose the right reel will mean that you will either end up having to suck it all up and buy a new reel later on – spending money that you may or may not have – or put up with continuing to use the one which isn’t quite right and always feels off. Trust me when I say that the latter option can be very annoying. The wrong reel often results in a noticeably decreased fishing performance.

What sort of things do you need to think about when buying a fishing reel?

Reel size:

The size of the reel that you need will depend on a number of things, including the type of fish that you are targeting, where and when you will be fishing, and how experienced you are at fishing in general. Fishing in places like rivers, lakes, and off of jetties usually calls for lighter gear and smaller reels, but heavier gear may be necessary if you are targeting big fish or fish in deeper waters. On the other hand, things like surf fishing and offshore game fishing usually call for big fishing reels with heavy line. Still, some anglers may choose to use smaller gear in all situations so as to enhance the sporting aspects of the game. Consider the size of your reel when figuring how to choose the right fishing reel for your needs.

Reel quality:

If you aren’t planning on using your fishing reel more than a couple of times per year, then there is probably no point in buying an expensive and top of the line model. You will be fine with a more general and affordable reel. However, if you are an experienced angler who enjoys fishing quite often, then you may choose to spend more on your reel so as to ensure you’re not wasting all of your time fishing with an improper set-up. Keep in mind that saltwater fishing reels generally need to be of a higher quality due to the tough conditions that they must be used in, being exposed to high quantities of salt and sand.

Line capacity:

This goes hand in hand with the size of your reel. You will probably need a reel that can hold at least a few hundred meters of line If you are targeting large game species in the open ocean. On the other hand, fishing in small lakes and streams probably won’t require more than a small reel that doesn’t necessarily have to have all that huge of a line capacity. It all depends on where you go and what you’re going to be doing.

Do you already have a rod:

If you already have a fishing rod, then you need to think about making sure you pick a reel that is accommodated by it. Otherwise, you are going to have to get a new rod that works with the reel you want. Make sure that you buy an appropriate size reel and the right type of reel for the rod you have if you want to avoid troubles. If you do not have a rod yet or are perhaps buying a new one for other reasons, make sure that you buy one which matches the reel you have in mind so that they sync up right out of the gate.

The type of reel you need:

The type of fishing reel you want is possibly the most important thing to think about before you hunker down and buy a new reel. There are a range of different types of fishing reels on the market and each one is suited to use with different types of fishing in different locations. Many reels are even favored towards targeting different species using entirely different fishing methods. You need to carefully consider how to choose the best fishing reel for your needs and situation.

The types of fishing reels:

Closed Face Fishing Reels:

Click here to see the top Closed Face Fishing Reels on Amazon

Closed face reels are an excellent starting reel if you are a beginner. They are especially great for kids as they are very easy to use and very hard to mess up.

Closed Face Style of Fishing Reel

This style of fishing reel is called closed face because the entire fishing reel face is closed, the spool and the fishing line are all inside of the reel.  They feature a simple click button on the back side of the reel that you can hold in when you are ready to cast and then let go as you cast to allow the line to flow out of the reel.

The simplicity does come at a cost though, these types of reels since they are for beginners are often inexpensive and cheaply made so they will likely break down sooner then other reel types.  Also since the spool and line are all enclosed the line has more resistance coming off of the reel so the casting distance is limited compared to other reel types.

If you are just getting into fishing though and you want to learn the basics these are a great starter fishing reel because of their ease of use and typically how inexpensive they are to purchase.

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Fly fishing reels:

Click here to see the top Fly Fishing Fishing Reels on Amazon

Fly fishing reels are very specific, and should only be used for fly fishing. They are designed to make casting and working your fly simple and straightforward. They should only be paired with an appropriate fly rod.

Fly Fishing Style of Reel

Fly reels are typically single-action, meaning each turn of the handle denotes one single rotation of the line spool. Other fly reel options that have been available are multiplier reels and automatic reels. Multiplier fly reels exceed one spool rotation per handle turn and allowing for the reel to take line in faster. Automatic fly reels have a lever that switches to automatically pull line back into the reel. While these two other types of fly reels had their time in the spotlight, nowadays the attention has shifted almost fully back to what is called the manual, or single-action, reel. The innovations offered by other reels just does not compare the the lightweight simplicity of the single-action reel for most people. As well, the slow reeling is better suited to gently pulling in your fly and baiting it across the water.

Using the Drag System

The fly reel sometimes has a drag which gives large amounts of line slowly as the fish fights, preventing breakage and tiring the fish out in the process. Line is able to be given at adjustable speeds. For this reason, fly reels are perfect for catching big game fish who may put up a good fight. The function that allows the fly reel to give line is called the “drag”, in which the reel is designed to bleed fishing line at exactly what would be the point of breakage, or as otherwise indicated. The drag system also comes into function when casting, as casting with a fly reel requires a good amount of line to be stripped from the reel. Since line can get easily knotted, it is important some tension remains on the line, which is allowed by the given drag.

There are various types of drag systems used in fly reels, the most common of which is the center-line drag. The center-line drag is widely considered the most effective drag system because it applies the given pressure at the focal point of the spool. The other types of drag systems typically used in fly reels are disc drags, ratchet-and-pawls, and caliber drags. These all have their pros and cons.

Fly Fishing Rod Caught a Steelhead trout

There are many different sizes of fly reels available, as well, and the larger the fish is that you plan to catch, the larger the fly reel should be that you plan on purchasing. Consider, however, that the larger the reel is, the more expensive it will be. Also consider that the larger the fish is that you plan to catch, the more imperative it is that you get a high-quality reel, which can increase the price of the best reel for you even more.

Click here to see the top Fly Fishing Reels on Amazon

Spinning reels:

Click here to see the top Spin Fishing Reels on Amazon

Spinning reels – also known as eggbeater reels or fixed-spool reels – are probably the most common type of fishing reel being used nowadays, most likely because they are just so easy to pick up and handle. This type of reels are located below the rod for lightweight handling. They are often the most popular reel of choice for beginners. They are also exceedingly popular among experienced anglers. Spinning reels are simple, easy to use, and can hold a reasonable amount of line. They are also easy to cast your line out with and are very well suited to either surf fishing or river fishing.

Most Popular Reel Type

Spinning reels are likely so popular because they are designed to be lightweight and demand low resistance on the user. These reels were created in part as a solution to the problem of baitcasting reels not being able to properly cast bait below a certain weight, such as the tiny lures designed to mimic insects. Spinning wheels were created with the intention of nixing the backlash caused by other reels, as well. Backlash is what happens when the spool continues spinning after the lines has stopped, causing line to lash out and become tangled around the spool. Spinning reels stopped this by making it so the spool does not rotate, hence the name “fixed-spool” reel.

Line is released through the reel starting at the farthest edge of the stationary spool. Launched line can be impeded manually by applying pressure from the fingers upon the line over rod or reel when casting. Line is brought back onto the spool from a manual pickup, which spins around the spool and rewinds the line. It is the manual pickup that allows much lighter bait to be used with the spinning reel as the line is more easily propelled from the spool through the reel. Spinning reels do have adjustable drag, though not as powerful or advanced as on the fly reel.

Has it’s own issues, line twist

The spinning reel has other problems with messy lines despite its honorable intentions of dealing with backlash. Clumps of line can fall off the spool, causing a mess that is very much like backlash, and is not solved any more easily. The line also becomes twisted fairly easily when compared to other reels. This can result in a lot of annoying toying with the spool and the reel. Generally speaking, however, many beginners still find spinning reels to be their preferred reel. Consider this when figuring how to choose the right fishing reel for your needs.

Click here to see the top Spin Fishing Reels on Amazon

Baitcasting reels:

Click here to see the top Baitcaster Fishing Reels on Amazon

Baitcasting reels, also known as revolving-spool reels, are generally known not to be a good choice unless you are a seasoned angler. This is because baitcasting reels are notorious for being cumbersome and often difficult in some ways to use. However, if one is open to mastering them, baitcasting reels are capable of being extremely accurate and actually very controllable. The advantages of baitcasting reels make them a very good choice for the right fisherman when they are planning on fishing in small spaces like streams or rivers.

Baitcaster Style of Fishing Reel

Baitcasting reels are multiplying reels, meaning that for each turn of the handle there are multiple turns of the spool, allowing for some pretty fast line retrieval. This type of reel are found located above the rod, as compared to spinning reels that are located below the rod to alleviate the weight of the reel upon the users wrist. The reels are often made with some amount of drag available for use when catching larger fish.

Best for a little larger bait

Baitcasting reels require the lure to have some amount of decent weight, as the line needs weight to be pulled from the reel. The gear ratio determines how many rotations of the spool correspond to one turn of the handle. The higher the gear ratio, the more turns of the spool correspond to one turn of the handle. When catching larger fish, it is best to have a smaller gear ratio. This is because higher gear ratios often are slightly weaker due to their finer machinery.

Most baitcasting reels have some form available for adjusting the spool tension so as to decrease the likelihood of backlash and other entanglements. There are some variations of baitcasting reels made specifically for very large fish that require two hands to hold. Other variations are made to favor conditions in which you must cast a very far or deep distance. There are different varieties of baitcasting reels available for a wide range of situations any fisherman may face.

Backlash Is the Key Downside

When casting with a baitcasitng reel, you have to be very careful to avoid backlash. A lot of finesse is required in figuring out exactly how to cast the reel without the spool going wild as your hand is made to manually stop the line. Also, the spool has a tendency to start spinning faster than the rate the lure is pulling line out, resulting in too much line being let loose from the spool.

Best for Professional Anglers

While baitcasting requires a careful touch to perfect, the control allowed makes the baitcasting reel, once perfected, one of the most widely preferred choices for all range of professional fishermen. If you have the time and patience, or if you are already skilled, baitcaster reels should be carefully considered when determining how to choose the right fishing reel for your needs.

Click here to see the top Baitcaster Fishing Reels on Amazon

Overhead Reels:

Click here to see the top Overhead Fishing Reels on Amazon

Overhead reels are popular among boat fishermen and are usually designed for trolling or bait fishing. These forms of fishing don’t typically have to involve much casting. Overheads generally hold a lot of line, and are usually the favored reel for big game fishermen.

Overhead reels are generally found most often on boats. This type of reel has a lot of things in common with baitcasting reels, including similar positioning above the rod. Overhead reels are called as such because they are dropped “overhead” from a boat.

Great for Big Game, Especially Ocean Fishing

Overhead reels are traditionally used for catching very large fish, so there are some very large overhead reels available for catching the biggest fish that you can imagine. Generally and correspondingly, overhead reels will have incredibly large spool capacity. This allows the line to be dropped all the way to the bottom of some very large bodies of water, which is necessary when going after some of the largest fish.

Overhead reels generally have some advanced drag systems given that the main aim of the overhead reels is to do battle with very large fish. Given that overhead reels are often tasked with wrestling the biggest and strongest fish, the fishermen must become carefully accustomed to the drag settings on their overhead reels in order to ensure they are the victor against their white whale.

Click here to see the top Overhead Fishing Reels on Amazon

Electric fishing reels:

Click here to see the top Electric Fishing Reels on Amazon

Electric fishing reels are a relatively new innovation when it comes to recreational fishing, but they have been used for years by commercial fishermen across the world. The reason for their delayed introduction to the consumer market is that their price has been a major downside in the past for those wishing to procure one. Recently, more affordable models have been released that are designed for use on overhead rods in deep water – taking the work out of deep dropping as well as providing many other benefits.

Daiwa Tanacom 1000 Big Game Electric Fishing Reel

Automatic Reeling

Where electric fishing reels excel the most is in reeling in your line. This is done fast and with no energy required from the fisherman. With the push of a button, your reel will start pulling in line faster than you ever could cranking your hand, allowing for large amounts of slack to be picked up in seconds and keeping your catch from getting away while you are fumbling about with a large amount of line loose between you and them.

Mostly Used in Commercial Fishing

The reason electric fishing reels have proven to be such an important part of commercial fishing is because they can greatly increase both speed and efficiency of commercial fishing operations. Electric fishing reels should be carefully considered for anyone who is looking to catch a large amount of fish in as little time as possible. For those doing deep sea fishing and dropping line great lengths into the water, as well, electric fishing reels might prove an inevitable necessity because they will allow you to bring the line all the way up in mere seconds without much effort put in.

Daiwa Tanacom Power Assist Electric Fishing Reel

Great for Elderly or those with Handicaps

Electric fishing reels are also great for those fishermen getting on in years and still wanting to get the most out of the sport without having to hurt their bodies in the process. Electric fishing reels are a must for anyone suffering from arthritis or any other physical ailment that may prevent them from pushing themselves too much when doing battle with the largest catch of the day.

There are electric fishing reels that can be switched from manual to electric for those fishermen who would still like the option of doing things the old-fashioned way while keeping that cushion to fall back on just in case they get worn out by some exceedingly rowdy fish. It would be sad for someone to have to lose a catch just because the fish might’ve gotten the better of them in a poorly-timed wrestling session. Now, you can give up and just press the button on your electric fishing reel and the job will be finished for you. The fish will tire itself out on your electric motor while you sit back and relax, working up your energy for the next catch.

Click here to see the top Electric Fishing Reels on Amazon

Alvey Reels:

Alvey Reels, unlike the other mentions, denotes a brand name that has become synonymous with its signature sidecast reel. In Australia Alvey reels are extremely popular as that is where they are manufactured. They are designed to be extremely durable and long-lasting. They have few small parts, enabling easy maintenance. Alvey reels are similar in look and function to a fly reel, but much much larger, which means that they can have a huge line-capacity. This makes them useful for targeting big fish from the shore.

Alvey Side Cast Fishing Reel

Great For Longs Casts and Very Sturdy

Alvey Reels have great popularity in their home country because they are favored for situations in which the line must be cast out a great distance and are also incredibly sturdy. This makes them great for some of the wild conditions in Australia a fisherman may encounter. You can foul up your reel in all sorts of ways and all you have to do to clean it is dunk it in some water and shake it off. The simplicity of the Alvey Reel also makes it very long-lasting and versatile. They can be quickly disassembled and reassembled for cleaning and oiling purposes, making sure your reel is in tip-top shape for when you make your trip, whether to the Outback or otherwise.

Chinook-Salmon-BC-Canada using a Alvey Side Cast Reel

They Do Have Their Own Problems

Problems that some people have with Alvey Reels include line twisting, although Alvey Reels are not the only reels that have this problem, and the fact that Alvey Reels have exclusivity to certain rods. If you wish to try an Alvey Reel, it is going to mean that you get a properly tailored rod, which can cost a pretty penny. Since Alvey functions out of Australia, for many people the cost of importing a rod for their Alvey Reel might make the prospect a little too expensive for their tastes. Still, this reel has persevered in popularity over the years and has its fan base.

Sockeye-Salmon caught Using an Alvey Side Cast Reel

Popular fishing reel manufacturers:

There are literally hundreds of fishing reel manufacturers across the world. Some of the more popular and reputable brands include Penn, Shimano, Daiwa, Abu Garcia and the aforementioned Alvey Reels. Meanwhile, smaller brands like KastKing and our own High Altitude Brands also offer very high quality products. All of them have different things to offer, so research is always necessary in figuring out how to choose the right fishing reel for your needs.

Basically, the most important thing to keep in mind when choosing your new fishing reel is the importance of doing an appropriate amount of research before you make your purchase. Don’t make any purchases on impulse, don’t buy outside your budget range, and, most importantly, don’t buy an extremely cheap reel. Cheap reals are likely to break on you as soon as you hook your first good fish. Now, with that in mind, good luck!

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