​How to Choose a Fishing Reel?

How to Choose a Fishing Reel

​If you walk into a fishing ​tackle store, you will find fishing reels in many varieties. With so many choices, perhaps it can be confusing when you go to buy reels, especially for amateur or newcomer anglers. 

Choosing a fishing reel is easier if you know the main features and components because each reel is different than others and maybe better than another similar product. 

Knowing your specific fishing needs, area, and fishing situation/condition will help you to make a clear decision when purchasing your fishing gear. Below are things that you can consider when shopping

Table of Contents

​How to Choose a Fishing Reel

​There are some factors that you have to consider besides a reel’s main features.

First, you have to know about the fishing situation or application. There are tons of fish in the water and you need to match the right tackle to the style of fishing.

Which one do you want to catch? What is the size of those fish? Is it a big, medium or small fish? Regarding the pound-test line that you will use, what is your angling technique? Casting lures or bait, trolling or bottom fishing?

You have to know about this. And make sure you choose a proper fishing reel based on its size and type in order to catch the specific kind of fish that you want. Resolving all questions above will help you search for a fishing reel faster and accurately.

Discover the basic category of a fishing reel that you desire to use later.

A spinning reel is probably easier for a starter or an amateur angler to cast and fish. It’s simpler and has no problem with backlash.

For a skilled caster, conventional reel or baitcasting combos are better gear with additional adjustable casting control. It will help you to maximize your casting distance and performance during fishing time.

However, choosing a reel category is not just about experience. Everyone has their own and favorite preference.

​Many pro anglers still choose spinning preference because that way works best for them. The most important parts are the comfort of use and operation.

You can use whatever type of reel you want; just make sure you are comfortable when using it. This will give you the best performance. Fishing is all about enjoyment and refreshing yourself.

Understanding Drag Systems

Another important aspect that you have to look at is the drag system. During the fishing battle, it will help to give pressure to a hooked fish and let your fishing line out.

With a high-quality and smooth drag, the risk of losing a fish can be minimized. To get the best results, you have to choose a fishing reel with a smooth drag system. Whatever tension setting that you are using, the fishing line has to go out steadily.

Drag ​Types

There are two drag models: front drag and rear drag types (if you prefer to use spinning reels).

Generally, a front drag model is larger and has multiple disc drag washers for whoever wants a higher level of performance and durability. On the other hand, rear drag spinning reels are better for convenience and ease of use.

Against a big fish, it probably won’t stand up for a long just like the other one. It’s really important to look at the smoothness and precision of a drag system. Whatever model you like, ensure the drag can be tightened immediately in small increments.

Another thing you have to watch for is consistency. Make sure the pressure remains constant when pulling on the fishing line in any special drag setting all over the spectrum. An inconsistent system will cause you to lose your big catch someday.

​Ball Bearings

​A ball bearing’s function is to give smoothness, support, and stability to your fishing reel. There is a roller bearing in the line roller. You can find it in most spinning reels.

Usually, the more bearings in a reel, the smoother the fishing reel will perform. (Stainless steel is preferred for anyone who is looking for control and durability.)

However, it also depends on your budget. If you can handle it, then choose a reel with the most ball bearings. I suggest you choose a reel with four ball bearings at a minimum.​

​Gear Ratio

Gear ratio is another important factor to consider before purchasing any fishing reel. It shows the number of revolutions that a spool makes each turn by the reel handle.

As the result, it also determines how rapidly the fishing line is rolling back when the angler cranks the handle.

Some reels, such as baitcasters, spinning reels, and conventional models, enable you to change gear ratios, ranging from slow retrieval speed (2-1 or 3-1) to a higher speed (4-1 to 6-1).

High-speed gear ratios work better if you need to roll back the fishing line faster in case a fish charges toward your boat. On the other hand, low-speed gear ratios give you more cranking power for bottom fishing.

If you need good, balanced retrieve speed and cranking power, consider using two-speed reels, although the price is a little bit more than a single-speed reel.

​Body and Frames

​There are two most-used materials for reel housing, aluminum, and graphite. If you are looking for a stronger and durable reel body, aluminum is the better choice. But aluminum material is heavier than graphite, of course.

Graphite reels are the solution for anyone who is looking for a light reel that is more resistant to corrosion. Compared to aluminum, graphite is weaker and less durable than an aluminum reel.

​If you choose to fish in freshwater, choose an aluminum reel. For saltwater, go for a graphite reel due to its anti-corrosion advantage.


​A spool is needed to hold the fishing line, which also affects the casting distance and smoothness during fishing. On the market, you can discover spools that are made with aluminum or graphite.

Similar to the frame and body, a graphite spool tends to be lightweight while aluminum is better in strength and rigidity. Two basic spool styles that you can find are internal and skirted.

Internal spools are old; manufacturers still make a few models but not many. Internal spools have one disadvantage where the fishing line can become entangled with the reel’s housing easily.

As a solution, skirted spools were made to solve this problem. With the skirted spool, you can choose to use a standard spool or shallower and a “long cast” spool. In the real life, a long-cast spool has less line friction and greater casting distance.

In the end, make sure you check the spool to see whether it can hold a sufficient amount of pound-test line before purchasing any reels.

​Anti-Reverse Handle System

​When looking for a good spinning reel, you need to look at its anti-reverse handles. This part is important in order to avoid the handle spinning backward accidentally and make the hook sets stay powerful and accurate. If you notice any sort of backward motion, I suggest you look at another model.

In addition, make sure your reel has a big arm and knob. It will help you to find the handle quickly and reduce slippage during wet weather or in case your hands are sweaty.

Conclusion: Choosing a Reel

​At first, choosing a reel can be a tough decision. But soon, by learning and doing, you will know it better than ever. 

If you are serious about fishing and want to get full satisfaction from this hobby, choose the best reel that you can afford. By having the best product, you also will get the best result in the end.