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BaitCaster Gear Ratio



I had mentioned in a earlier article that I would come back and write a article on Baitcaster Gear Ratio.

Gear ratios on reels never meant a whole lot to me until one day I was fishing with a guy and we were using the same baits and he was spanking me with all the Bass he was catching. 

I was using a older model that had like a 4-7-1 and he was using a Shimano Curado with a 6-2-1. What was going on was after the fish hit the bait and was coming to the boat I was not able to keep up with the fish swimming toward us and it caused slack in my line enough to let the fish get off.

My buddy with the 6-2-1 was able to do this and that is why he was loading the boat up.

The break down would be like this, let's say you've got a reel with a gear ratio  5-1-1. What this determines is that the spool will rotate 5 times in one turn.

The general rule is that a slower reel is a good choice any time you are going to work a bait with the reel, while faster is preferred for lures that the rod will be working.

With a crankbait or spinnerbait where you are actually cranking, you might want  a slower retrieve for a more acurate presentation. When you are slow rolling, you gain more sensitivity with a 5-1-1.

However if you are fishing with a jig or worm, you want a reel that will allow to recover the slack line faster and move the fish out of cover more quickly.

When using a fast gear ratio such as a 6-2-1 Shimano Curado, I can get 25 to 50  more cast a day than if I were using a slow gear ratio reel. If I am not getting a bite, I can reel it in faster and throw it back out, or if I get a tap and miss the fish, a 6-2-1 will allow me to get it in and back to the same spot.

A lot of folks believe that the higher the gear ratio the more line you haul in, but there is another factor that you do not think about....and that is the spool size. If you have a reel that has a large spool, you will haul in more line than if I have a reel that has a smaller spool.

You might say it is a gimmick to get you to buy the high speed gear ratio and I guess some of that is true, such as you could have a reel that is a 5-1-1, but has a large spool and it will haul in as much line as a 6-2-1.

A lot of folks want to know what kind of line I am getting in per turn and I have  to say that on a lower gear ratio you would bring in 19 to 23 inches of line per turn and the 6-2-1 about 27 inches of line per turn.

I will tell you I have one 5-1-1 gear ratio and the rest are all 6-2-1 gear ratios. I have done a lot of reading up and have come to the fact that if I am on a lake fishing and I decide to tie on a crankbait and all I have with me is a 6-2-1, I can always slow down my bait, but if I have a 5-1-1, I would work myself to death if I had to keep a buzzbait up on top of the water.

Review the picture I've included on the page.  

BaitCaster Gear Ratio

The top reel is a two speed reel that was not a big hit so a lot of them no longer are on the market. They were good for the power to get the fish out of the cover, but I think you can see all the little parts that could and would go bad.

The bottom reel is a typical 6-3-1 ratio reel which is the one that I would recommend.

I hope that this has not confused you even more, but wanted to explain the gear ratio to you. Most of all if you have a reel that is working for you and you are catching fish don't worry about the gear ratio.

Keep the Hooks Wet!

Steve McGoldrick


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