When purchasing a new reel you may wonder what features you should be comparing. One of the most important features to consider is the gear ratio. Each manufacturer has a specific set of ratios they typically follow and comparing a 7.1:1 from one brand vs a 7.4:1 from another isn't going to make a big difference. But what does this number even mean?
This ratio is the number of spool revolutions that will occur for every handle turn. In other words its a measure of how fast you can retrieve your bait! Much like gears on a car the higher the gear ratio the faster it may go but the less power it will have. Reels are the same way. A high gear ratio is fast but does not have much power (gears will bind and damage with resistance) while a low gear ratio is slow but has a lot of power for reeling against a lot of resistance.
Low gear ratio reels are primarily only used for high resistance baits like big blades (6 and up), and big lipped crankbaits. Low gear ratios are anything in the 5:1 to 6:1 range.
High gear ratio reels are used in most applications as they allow a high rate of retrieve, pick up of slack, and maintaining line tension while fighting fish. It is also easier to reel in more slowly on a high gear ratio reel than speed up on low gear ratio reel. High gear ratios are anything upwards of 7.1:1.
Consider this information the next time you purchase a new reel or decide which setup to use a particular rod on and you might just have more success!
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