How Fishing Reels Work: A Guide to Choosing the Best Fishing Reel



Fishing reels are the most important part of your fishing gear, bringing you the fish you catch. A fishing pole delivers your fake or live bait to the fish, while the fishing reel allows you to collect all your fishing gear and, if lucky, your fish. Two thousand years ago the great scientist Archimedes said “Give me a fulcrum and enough leverage, and I will move the world.” said. There is a well-designed reel mechanism inside the reel. This turns your arm strength into a gigantic force that, when appropriate, will fight fish up to 200-300 kilos. So how fishing reel work?

In fixed reel machines, the fishing line is wrapped around the reel with the help of the winding wire, the reel is wound in the shape of 8 by going back and forth during the winding, and therefore it provides an easy discharge of the fishing line from the reel during shooting. In the spinning wheel types, the fishing line is wrapped with a guide that ensures regular winding by going left to right along the shaft while winding to the middle shaft. Fixed reel machines have two types of brake systems. These are the same in principle but differ as to where the brake is located.



In some machines, the brake that adjusts the force of the brake is at the back, in some machines the brake system is at the front, but the operating systems are exactly the same. If the line is wound on the reel too much, it may jump off the reel during the throw, and if it is wound less, it becomes difficult to discharge and the long-distance throw may not be successful. Let’s examine the mechanics of fishing reels now.

Working Principles of Fishing Reels


When it comes to fishing reel, the spin type reel comes to mind immediately. This type of reels consists of a head mechanism on which the line is wound and a body that manages this mechanism below. However, fishing rod reels vary widely from country to country. Fishing reels in the order of prevalence in the world are Spin Fishing Reels, Baitcast Fishing Reels, Spincast Fishing Reels, Spinning Wheel-Trolling Fishing Reels, and Fly Fishing Reels. Fishing reel length is also called head length. Fishing reel size selection is one of the issues that require the least technical knowledge. If you are getting a reel from a reliable brand you know, all you have to do is to buy a reel in a suitable size for the fishing you plan and the reed in your hand.



Fishing reel size is generally divided into 3 main sections as small, medium, and large. Fishing reel lengths start from 200 and go up to 10000 and above. Fishing reel size does not have a globally accepted standard. Each manufacturer determines his own size options. Despite this, reel height information is now very close to each other. They are categorized as small which is between 200-3000, medium which is between 4000-5000 and large which is between 6000-10000. 10000 and above are used mostly in boat fishing to combat very large fish. In many reals, the reel size can be given as 40 instead of 4000, for example.

The Importance of Fishing Reel Balls


Although its technical name is Ball Bearing, it is only known as ball among amateur and sportive fishermen. Therefore, when it comes to the number of balls in the fishing reel, the number of balls is not really mentioned. When it comes to the number of balls, it is mentioned how many of the ball bearing you see above are located in the reel. A quality ball is very important in a fishing reel. The ball bearing relieves the friction of the parts of the reel that transfer power to each other. Thus, it gives you a more comfortable hunting opportunity. A comfortable hunt means hunting for longer periods without getting tired. It also extends the life of your ball reel. It reduces your need for maintenance.



So is the number of balls important? The number of balls in a fishing reel is of course very important. When manufacturers design fishing reels, they determine the most suitable number of balls according to usage area, need, and price performance. As the number of quality balls in the fishing reel increases, the price of the fishing reel increases significantly. Therefore, if you are going to shop within your budget, you should not consider your purchase decision only based on the number of balls. Buying a brand fishing rod that is not known to have a lot of balls will cause you to experience disappointment.

The number of balls is named according to the number of balls in the reel and between the arm and body of the reel. Generally, expressions such as 1 + 1 ball or 1 ball, 3 + 1 ball are used. The first number expressed here is the balls in the internal mechanism of the fishing line reel. The other number that is expressed after + is the return ball. This ball works one way and prevents the fishing rod reel from slipping back as long as you do not want it, which is one of the most important factors that prevent the fish from taking your bait and escaping. Now, 4 + 1 can be called an ideal number of balls for a fishing rod that has reached a certain level. But as we mentioned, the manufacturer has already made a choice that best suits your budget and your hunt while placing the ball into the reel. Remember that the quality of the ball used is much more important than the number of balls.

Drag, Cycle and Spin Concepts in Fishing Reels


Drag is the safety valve of not only your fishing reel but your whole fishing gear. Drag is a brake mechanism where you adjust the power to get on your fishing gear. If you tighten the drag too much, that is, if you press the brake too much, suddenly a huge load can land on your tackle and break your line or damage your fishing rod. If you leave it very comfortable, your fish may take your bait and go without you noticing. A reel’s drag is specified in KG or LBS (about half of KG). It is an important indicator of drag reel. However, buying a fishing reel with more drag than you need will not give you a plus advantage.

The important thing is to tune your tackle in drag, and the more you wear the fish, the more you press the brakes and finally bring the fish to you. For example, if you set a fishing reel with 5 kg drag capacity to half capacity (2-2.5 KG), start the hunt and stay patiently, and slowly after hitting your fishing rod, you can get fish up to 20-30 kg. On the other hand, if you fully squeeze the fishing rod with a drag capacity of 20 kg, you will probably lose your fishing rod, fishing line, and bait during the first fight of the fish.



Revolution is an indicator of how many times the rod of the fishing reel turns its reel head in one winding. For example, if the head wrapped around the fishing line turns four and a half times when you turn the handle one full turn, this reel is a 4.5: 1 rotation reel. We can briefly classify the turnover rates of the reels as between 4-5 and 5-6 and 6-7. Between 4: 1 and 5: 1 rev is slow, between 5: 1 and 6: 1 rev are medium, and between 6: 1 and 7: 1 can be called high-speed reels. The lower the revolution of a reel, the higher the power it applies. Conversely, if the speed is high, the power decreases, but this time the speed increases. The choice here usually depends on your target fish and the bait you use. If you plan to attract fish by pulling your bait with slow movements, you should prefer a low-speed reel.

However, if an aggressive and fast fish like perch is at your target, you will need to go to high speeds from time to time. If you don’t want to buy a lot of fishing reel or if you are just starting out, a medium-speed reel may be your first choice. For example, the spin fishing reel is a type of fishing reel that can be used on almost all pitches. There is a kind of spin reels suitable for boat fishing, shore fishing, freshwater fishing, sea fishing all. If we look at the general usage of the reels, we can classify them as Surf Fishing Reels, Spin (Throw-Pull) Fishing Reels, Jig Fishing Reels, Boat Fishing Reels, Bait Runner – Carp Fishing Reels.

Fishing Reel Types and How They Work


Fly Fishing Reels


The Fly Fishing reel is used to unload the rope with the fly rod in one hand, while the other hand unloads the required length of rope from the reel in a controlled manner so that it can move freely. The main purpose of a fly fishing reel is to collect the rope while tackling the fish for a long time, to provide smooth and uninterrupted drag, and to balance the weight of the fly rod during laying. The mechanics of fly fishing reels used in saltwater or freshwater are quite simple. So much so that technically little has changed since the patented design developed by Vermont Charles F. Orvis in 1874. The basic principle of Orvis’ design was to use very light metals in the construction of the reel and to make many holes in these metals. As a result, a lighter reel model has emerged that allows the fly fishing line collected on the reel to dry faster than models with a non-perforated flat surface.

In the first designed fly reels, the crank arm was placed on the right side and there was no drag system. Instead of the drag system, resistance was created with the help of a latch that clicks as the reel rotates. Before the drag system, the rope coming out of the reel was controlled by hand. Wanting to slow the fish down, the hunter would only put pressure on the mouth of the spinning reel with his hand (known as “palming the rim”). Later, instead of these latch click/mallet mechanisms, the “drag system” was developed to provide adjustable drag. Classic fly fishing reels have changed so little that, despite the production of 2: 1 or 3: 1 reel that wind at different speeds with each round with the gear systems developed for faster winding, the fishermen did not show much interest, thinking they were unnecessarily costly and confusing.



Instead, they preferred to use larger or smaller spools to adjust the winding speed. Unlike the old arms that can be mounted in one direction, these arms are designed to be attached to both sides in modern reels, and heat-resistant lightweight composite materials have been used instead of metal materials to avoid the heat problem caused by the developed drag system. The models of fly fishing reels developed for saltwater are specially designed for use in the ocean environment and have a much larger body and a larger diameter reel than freshwater reels.

They are designed to withstand the pressures and prolonged struggles of large ocean fish, using saltwater-resistant aluminum frames and reels, electroplated or stainless steel parts, sealed and watertight bearings, and drives to prevent corrosion. Fly reels are simple, manual, and monotone designs. By turning the lever next to the reel, you usually rewind at a 1: 1 ratio (one full revolution of the reel arm is equal to one revolution of the reel). Fly fishing reels are quite simple and have far fewer parts than other fishing reels. On the outside of the reel, there are two-level knobs used for reel release and drag adjustment.

Baitcasting Fishing Reels


Baitcasting Fishing reel (bait throwing reel – rotating reel machine) is a traditional fishing reel model, a reel model with a multiplier gear structure, a geared bearing supported rotating reel provides multiple revolutions of the reel with a single revolution of the crank arm. The bait ejector reel is mounted at the top of the bar. Baitcasting Fishing reel originated in the mid-17th century but was widely used by amateurs in the 1870s. The gears of the first Baitcasting Fishing reels were usually made of brass or iron, the casing, and reels of silver, brass or rubber and did not have an impinging gear system or drag systems, with each turn of the reel lever spinning 1 turn on the reel, and the fishermen were able to control the rope coming out of the reel by pressing their thumbs on the reel.



In the early 1870s, some models used bearings to mount the reel, but the use of the bearing and the freewheeling reel presented difficulties. A ratchet ‘click’ mechanism was used to put pressure on the reel to prevent the reel from swinging freely, but this was not intended as a drag. These ratchet fishing reels, which later increased in use, allowed the fishermen to hunt by leaving the fishing rod in a fixed place. The clicking sound that came out as the reel rotated caused the spinning reel to click and warn the fishermen as the fish caught the fishing line and pulled the rope. Most fishing reels are mounted suspended under the fishing pole, this is a very easy method of shooting and handling, and no wrist strength is required in this position to overcome gravity.

The reason the baitcasting reel was placed on the fishing pole was that it was controlled by pressing the reel with the thumb during shooting, and it was used in winding after the shot or inverted when the fish was caught. However, later on, many fishermen always preferred to use it on the top, and the crank arm and gear placement were made accordingly. The reason baitcasting reels are designed to be flat is to allow them to stand very close to the fishing pole. The reel on top tends to spin down continuously, which over time tires the wrist. For this reason, baitcasting reels are designed as flat and there is a trigger just below the reel bed of the baitcasting fishing rods, the thumb placed on the baitcasting reel, and a trigger placed on the lower trigger makes it easier to hold and ergonomics are gained.

Most of today’s baitcasting reels are manufactured using aluminum, stainless steel, and/or synthetic composite materials and self-closing spool mouth in rewinding, magnetic or centrifugal brake control controlling rope oscillation, adjustable drag system, (7.1 / 1) winding up to 7.1 in one round. They were equipped with technologies such as fast gear systems capable of doing. In baitcasting reels, the reel is moving, the reel is released during the throw, and the weight of the thrown bait pulls the rope and rotate the reel in the opposite direction, but the momentum created by the swing of the rope causes the reel to rotate even if the movement of the rope stops. In this case, the reel empties extra rope into the machine and knot problems, also called “bird’s eye”, arise.



The magnetic brake system setting allows the reel to stop by putting pressure on it and prevents knot problems, but since the weight of the bait shed will change the rotation speed of the reel, the shoot control system must be adjusted according to the bait. Options that can make fast winding with gear systems with different rotation ratios or produce high torque to cope with large fish have emerged. Baitcasting reels work well with almost all types of braided line or regular line. The baitcasting machine is very easy to use, but it may take some time to get used to it after other fishing reels, when you take your shooting position, press it with the latch that allows the reel to rotate freely and press the reel at the same time to prevent the reel from spinning.

Extend the rod back over your shoulder and swing it forward quickly. When the end of the reed comes in the direction you want to shoot, let the rope exit freely by releasing the reel you hold with your thumb. Although you adjust the auxiliary magnetic brake, keeping your thumb on the reel, gently press it to stop the reel when the bait reaches a sufficient distance. Although modern centrifugal and/or magnetic braking systems can help control the reel, some finesse and experience are required to use a baitcasting reel and achieve the best results.

Conventional Fishing Reels


Conventional Fishing Reels or Spinning Reels are systematically similar to baitcasting fishing reels, but their structure is quite large due to the hunting they are used. There are two different types of spinning wheels with “star drag” or “slide drag”. In the star drag models, you turn the arms in the shape of a star to adjust the drag. In the slide drag model, you can adjust the drag by moving the arm forward or backward. When you want to shoot, star drag models have a latch to release the reel, while models with slide arms have the reel released using the drag arm.



Conventional fishing reels are not designed for shooting. Even with small models, their balance and ergonomics do not allow shooting. They are usually dropped from the back of a boat while on the move, or used directly for deep-seated baits. Conventional reels have been developed for use in trolling or jigging fishing for use in large fish and open seas, and are mounted on short, thick-body trolling or jigging fishing rods.

Spin Fishing Reels


Spinning fishing reels, known as fixed reel fishing reels, were first used in North America in the early 1870s. Spinning reels were developed as baitcasting reels could not throw light baits and Fly fishing reels were inadequate to throw heavier baits. Since they are mounted on the lower part of the fishing pole, Spin Fishing reels, which are very comfortable to use and ergonomic compared to other reels, give very good results in weight balance. Unlike moving rollers of the same weight, fixed roller models with much more reel capacity have become widespread rapidly, as they are lighter but stronger and they avoid the frequent bird-eye problems with moving rollers.

The fact that the rope or fishing line does not have to turn the reel to spill during the shot, the rope or fishing line is freely discharged from the reel that stands perpendicular to the direction of the shot made it very easy to throw lighter baits. In spin machines, the reel does not rotate around its own axis, it stays fixed and moves only forward and backward thanks to the gear system inside. A wire mechanism that rotates around the reel takes over the winding process. When you turn the handle, the wire that turns around the reel wraps your rope or fishing line to the reel standing in the center. The reel, which moves back and forth, stacks the winding rope or fishing line on the reel tightly and neatly.



The rope or fishing line is controlled with the index finger to adjust the distance the bait will travel at the moment of shooting and to slow or stop the exit of the rope. When winding in spin reels, it is stacked more tightly on the reel and there is no loose rope or fishing line, and this prevents problems such as knots or tangling, but when the reel is wrapped more than it should, problems that we call vomiting to occur. Spinning Fishing Reels, which come up with many alternatives from 500, 1000 to 30,000 sizes, have been developed over time and have gained the advantages of all other fishing reels. Their use has become widespread in many hunting disciplines, from LRF hunting with the lightest gear to OFFSHORE hunting.

Open the guidewire of your Spin Fishing reel, grasp the rope or fishing line with your index finger, and then extend your rod to the back. Swing your straw in the direction of throwing the bait. Release your fishing line or fishing line that you grasped with your finger when the bait gains momentum and your rod is pointed in the direction of shooting. Keep your index finger close to press the rope or fishing line again when you want to slow down or stop your bait. To rewind, you just need to turn the crank handle, the wire will turn off automatically when you turn the handle, but it will be healthier for your machine to close the guidewire with your hand before starting to wind.

Spincast Fishing Reels


Spincast Fishing reel is a design aimed at solving the problems of looseness and balance encountered in baitcasting reels while reducing complaints such as vomiting and knots encountered in traditional fixed reel spin fishing reels. We can call these reels a blend of Spinning and Baitcasting Fishing Reels. As with spin reels, the rope or fishing line comes off freely from the fixed reel and can therefore be used with light baits. However, it eliminates the guidewire mechanism used for shooting or winding. In the spin-cast reels that can be mounted on the lower or upper part of the fishing pole, there is a cone outside the reel that protects the reel and passes through the center of the fishing line. Inside the cone, there is another inverted spool that provides spool and winding. Is it a little complicated?



Consider a fixed reel such as spin spools, a rotating cover that encloses it, and a cone outer cover that protects it completely. During winding, the reel stands still, the cover surrounding the reel rotates and the nail on the cover grasps the rope or line and wraps it on the fixed reel in the center. During the shot, we deactivate this claw by pressing a latch and it comes out freely without the rope being attached. The rope or fishing line rubbing against the cone or inner reel during the shot can reduce the throw distance compared to spin reels, but we can achieve sufficient performance in terms of distance. As the reel capacity, we can wind less rope or fishing line than other reels of the same size, but this does not create a big disadvantage in freshwater fishing, but it does not meet our needs in long-distance or deep water fishing.

Like other reels, they make use and hunting easier by incorporating technologies such as drag, anti-reverse, and magnetic braking. Spincast reels, which are ideal for beginners, especially because of their ease of use and preventing problems with rope or fishing line, can also be preferred for comfortable hunting in difficult areas with the advantages of one-handed use. Pressing a button on the back of the reel disables the line take-up process and then the button is released during the forward jump to allow the line to exit the reel. The button has been pressed again to stop its charm at the position you want. After turning the handle, the take-up pin immediately goes to the line and winds it on the reel.

Correct Fishing Reel Selection


  • Reel Turnover Rate

If we formulate the reel turnover ratio briefly, we reach the formula below.

reel speed ratio = head size + gear size and number of gears

Generally, when amateur fishermen talk about the effect of reel turnover on the speed or power of the reel, they do not take into account the head size of the reel. Head size plays a complementary role to the reel’s gears. Therefore, gears and head size together determine the speed and strength of the reel.

  • Effects of Gears on Reel Speed ​​and Power

After getting the necessary information about the basic working principle of gears, we can start to learn about the effects of gear systems on a fishing reel. The basic principle here is this. If we increase the speed of the reel, we decrease the reel power called torque. By increasing the gear ratio of a reel it is possible to increase the rotation rate of the head when the lever turns one turn. This decreases the traction power of the reel while increasing the line winding rate, that is, the speed of the reel.



On the contrary, it is possible to increase the power of the reel by decreasing the gear ratio of the reel. However, in this case, the winding rate of the reel decreases. There are 2 basic gears in fishing reels. Traction gear, which is larger in size that the rotational force from the handle first reaches and is called drive gear. The other gear is the pinion gear, which is smaller in size and transmits the rotational force from the arm to the head.

  • IPT (Line winding speed)

The amount of line the reel wraps in a turn does not depend entirely on the turnover rate. Another important point here is the head size and depth of the reel. The winding speed of the 50 and 60 fishing line reels with the same turnover ratio will not be the same. For this reason, most fishing equipment manufacturers also specify both the turnover rate and the line winding speed in their reel characteristics. It is necessary to consider these two properties together in reel selection.

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Savaş Ateş

When I was a kid I had a small aquarium in our home. I had different kinds of fishes. I like fishes. Then I started to research all kinds of fishes and fishing too. I read lots of books about them. I like to share my experiences.

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