What Gear Ratio Baitcasting Reel Should I Buy?
If you came across this article this is a good sign! It means you are starting to get more serious about becoming a better angler and catching more fish! So let's get right to it by answering a common question we get a lot here at The Reel Shot, "what gear ratio baitcaster should I buy?"
Understanding the benefits of specific gear ratios is actually a really important aspect to any serious fisherman. Finding the right gear ratio reel can help you become more efficient on the water by presenting baits at the right speed and water depth!
Yet the big question remains….What gear ratio baitcaster should you buy? Well first you need to ask yourself what will you be fishing for and what baits do you intend to use with it? However, before we get into that, let’s go over the basics of what gear ratio really is.
Fishing Reel Gear Ratio Basics
The 13 Fishing Concept A baitcasting reel is a great starting point for any angler![/caption] In the most basic form, the gear ratio of a baitcasting, or any fishing reel, determines how many times the spool turns in relation to one full turn of the handle. For example, if you purchase a baitcasting reel with a 6.6:1 gear ratio, this means that the spool is turning 6.6 times for every one full handle revolution. Now, most baitcasting reels hover in range of 6 spool turns per handle turn, but some offer gear ratios as low as 4 spool turns per handle turn. The lower the gear ratio the slower the bait retrieve and ultimately the less physical effort it takes to bring in your bait, because a lower gear ratio equals more torque. Low gear ratio reels are ideal for anglers that throw baits with huge blades for specific species like musky or for those that know they need to be very lethargic and slow with their presentation. On the other end of the spectrum, some reels come in high-speed models with gear ratios in the 7’s. These reels are popular for baits that need to be worked rather quickly and many anglers turn to these high speeds to help rip fish and baits out of very thick cover as quickly as possible.
Another important specification to note when deciding what baitcasting reel to buy is the reel’s inches-per-turn (or IPT) of the reel. This confuses a lot of people and is often over looked when deciding which reel is right for them. Just because you find the highest gear ratio on the market doesn’t mean that is the reel that will bring your bait in the fastest. Size, depth and width of the reel's spool all play a big part in how fast or slow your reel will bring in your bait.
Higher IPT = Faster Bait Retrieve
What types of baits match up with baitcasting gear ratio retrieves?Since primarily bass anglers focus of baitcasting reels, we will match up some bass fishing lures with what reel gear ratio works best! Note, you can obviously use a baitcasting reel for other species of fish like walleye, northern pike, musky just to name a few. If you have a specific question regarding what reel is right for you based on your purpose and species of fish you wish to target, feel free to contact us directly and we would be happy to point you in the right direction!
Gear Ratios in the 6’s
Choosing a baitcasting reel with a gear ratio somewhere in the low to mid-6’s is what we recommend to most angler’s who wish to start using a baitcasting reel. Why? Well its pretty simple, starting in the middle gives you the most flexibility to experiment with different kinds of baits and techniques. A baitcasting reel with a gear ratio in the 6’s also is ideal for the wide-variety of baits and tactics. Gear ratios, in the 6-range work perfect for baits such as:
- Shallow Running Spinner Baits
- Squarebill Crankbaits
- Medium Depth Crankbaits
If you are on the fence about where to start, a mid-6 gear ratio is a great choice and gives you the most flexibility to slow and speed up the presentation when you need to. Reels with gear ratios in the 6’s also make fishing in popular 6-14ft depths more manageable.
Gear Ratios in the 5’s
Choosing a reel with a lower gear ratio somewhere in the 5’s is ideal for baits that need to be worked slow or that maybe physically harder to retrieve than others. For example working baits like:
- Deep Diving Crankbaits
- Deep Water Spinnerbaits
- Large Swimbaits
Gear Ratios in the 7’s
For the speed demons out there, fortunately there is a time and place for fast retrieves. When working in heavy cover or bombing casts far from the boat, having a high-speed reel can be your best friend. This is because you can quickly take control of your line and avoid possible places where big fish like to run for cover after a hook set. High-speed reels also allow for quicker and more powerful hook sets because you can reduce slack line quicker. Another time to consider a high gear ratio in the 7’s would be if your rod is dictating a lot of the lure action. High-speed reels work best for baits such as:
- Large Plastic Worms
- Shaky Heads
- Topwater Baits
- Lipless Crankbaits
- & Texas Rigs
Ready to start catching more fish with a technique-specific baitcasting reel? Be sure to shop our full assortment of reels online! If you have any questions about our reels and would like to contact a TRS professional one-on-one, visit us here!