The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Best Baitcasting Reel

Baitcasting Reel

Baitcasting reels, also known as overhead reels, have been around for over a century. The first patent for a baitcasting reel was filed in 1810 by an American inventor, Joel White. However, the baitcasting reels as we know them today were developed and improved throughout the years, with the first successful commercially produced baitcasting reel made by Paul H. Young in the early 1890s. Since then, baitcasting reels have been a popular choice among anglers and have undergone many improvements and advancements in design and technology.

Baitcasting reels are also known as overhead reels, conventional reels, level wind reels, and baitcast reels. They are sometimes referred to as casting reels or simply "baitcasters.", are popular among experienced anglers due to their precision and power. However, they can also be challenging to master and are not always the best option for beginners. This article will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using baitcasting reels and provide tips for those interested in trying them out.

Advantages of Baitcasting Reels

  1. Precision: One of the most significant advantages of baitcasting reels is their precision. Because the spool is mounted above the rod, the angler has more control over the amount of line released. This allows for more accurate casting and placement of the bait or lure.
  2. Power: Baitcasting reels are designed to handle larger and heavier fish, making them popular among bass and saltwater anglers. The reel's design, along with the larger line capacity and drag system, allows for more power when fighting larger fish.
  3. Speed: Baitcasting reels can retrieve lines quickly, which can be beneficial when trying to retrieve a lure or fighting a fish. This is especially useful when the fish is making fast runs, or the angler needs to quickly recover to avoid snags.
  4. Variety: Baitcasting reels come in various sizes and styles, from small freshwater reels to large saltwater reels. This variety allows anglers to choose a reel suitable for their specific needs and preferences.

Disadvantages of Baitcasting Reels

  1. Difficulty: Baitcasting reels can be challenging to master and may take some time to get used to. The spool spins as the line is released, which can cause the line to "backlash" or tangle if not used correctly. This can be frustrating for beginners and may discourage some from continuing to use baitcasting reels.
  2. Cost: Baitcasting reels can be more expensive than other reels, such as spinning reels. This can be a disadvantage for those on a budget or for those wondering if they will continue to use a baitcasting reel in the long term.
  3. Maintenance: Baitcasting reels require regular maintenance to ensure they are in good working condition. This includes cleaning the reel, lubricating the bearings, and adjusting the drag system. Please properly maintain a baitcasting reel to avoid poor performance and damage to the reel.

Tips for Using Baitcasting Reels

  1. Practice: The key to mastering baitcasting reels is practice. Start with a light lure or bait and practice casting in an open area. As you become more comfortable with the reel, you can increase the lure's weight or bait's weight.
  2. Adjust the settings: Baitcasting reels have several settings that can be adjusted to suit the angler's preferences. These include the brake system, the tension knob, and the spool tension. Experiment with these settings to find the right combination for you.
  3. Be patient: Baitcasting reels can take some time to get used to, so be patient with yourself. Remember that everyone makes mistakes when learning something new and that it takes time to master a new skill.
  4. Learn from experienced anglers: Find an experienced angler willing to teach you how to use a baitcasting reel. They can provide valuable tips and advice to help you become more comfortable with the reel.

About Gear Ratios

Gear ratios in baitcasting reels refer to the number of times the spool rotates for every complete turn of the handle. The gear ratio is expressed as a number, such as 5.1:1, which means the spool rotates 5.1 times for every turn of the handle.

Gear ratios are important because they determine how quickly the line is retrieved. A higher gear ratio means the reel will retrieve the line more quickly, which can be beneficial for catching fast-moving fish. For example, a gear ratio of 7.1:1 means the spool will rotate 7.1 times for every turn of the handle, which allows for faster retrieval. A lower gear ratio, such as 5.1:1, will retrieve the line more slowly, which can be beneficial for fishing in heavy cover or for larger fish that make strong runs.

About Braking Systems

There are two main types of braking systems for baitcasting reels: magnetic and centrifugal.

  1. Magnetic Breaking System: This type of braking system uses magnets to control the spool's rotation. The magnets are adjustable, allowing the angler to fine-tune the braking system to suit their needs. Magnetic braking systems are generally more precise and provide better control over the spool, making them a popular choice among experienced anglers.
  2. Centrifugal Breaking System: This type of braking system uses friction to control the spool's rotation. Friction is applied to the spool by using brake shoes that are located on the spool's rim. Centrifugal braking systems are generally more forgiving and easier to use, making them a popular choice among beginners.

Both systems have pros and cons, and the choice between them is usually based on personal preference and the type of fishing you plan to do. Magnetic braking systems are generally more precise and provide better control over the spool, making them a better choice for experienced anglers and fishing situations requiring more precision. Centrifugal braking systems are generally more forgiving and easier to use, making them a better choice for beginners and fishing situations requiring more forgiving.

Ultimately, choosing whether to use a baitcasting reel depends on personal preference, the type of fishing you plan to do, and your experience level.

Tight Lines!


Jay Galvin is the owner of www.fishandsave.com, an online discount fishing tackle store serving the die-hard wholesale and retail fishing communities worldwide since 1997.


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