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Spinning reels explained

Over the years spinning reels have grabbed more and more market share and their popularity continues to grow. Ease of use, casting distance with braided lines, and light weight builds have been just some of the reasons for this increased interest. However the major driver has been the massive move toward casting small lures and more particularly soft plastics. All day sessions casting and retrieving can make even a moderately heavy outfit start to feel more like very hard work than a fun fishing day. A switch to a high modulus rod and matching light weight spinning fishing reel and all is good with the world again.

Currently and for some years previously the dominant forces in the Australian spinning reel market have been Daiwa and Shimano. So much so that many good quality alternatives have languished in the shadows. Internationally Penn, Okuma, Zeebass, Quantum, and a whole range of others have died, been reborn, been taken over or merged with others living on in name but under very different conditions than their origins. Companies that were once minor parts suppliers are now players and some past mega manufacturers no longer even make most of their own reels, instead only branding OEM offerings.
spinning reels from various manufacturers
There is a size of spinning reel to fit any type of fishing with colours and styles to match.

This isn't necessarily a bad thing it simply adds to the confusion if you start to delve below the surface. It can be amusing watching someone's face when telling them their pride and joy isnt made by the name on it but an OEM who they just claimed only made carp :)

Lets look at the components of a spinning reel and what is important about them. If you swallow the marketing hype the number of ball bearings is the be all and end all. Is a 10 ball bearing reel better than one with only 3 bearings? Maybe, maybe not. Are those bearing shielded, sealed or even needed and just an additional extra that can go wrong just to get the count up. What makes a good reel is good engineering. So a reel with 3 strategically well placed bearings could easily be better than a 10 baller. So ignore the bearing count for the most part as it is like saying the red ones go faster.

The internals
Deleted some stuff that sounded like a school lesson in metallurgy. Maybe I will redo it at a later time in the things to make your eyes glaze over section. Instead lets keep it simple but important things.

The drag
Very very important. The drag is what is going to lose you the most fish if you abuse it. As a ball park figure what I like to see in a reel is a maximum drag capacity approximately equivalent to the likely breaking strain of the line to be used. So for 3kg line a max 3kg drag would be worked around 1kg or less and offer some fine tuning. If it was a 10kg the initial start up friction "in general" I would expect to be higher and have a great potential for break offs. I know there are some very good reels that will make a liar of me on that hence the "in general". SO what do we set the drag pressure at? Again some personal choice comes in here and how you fish. A set and forget 25% of breaking strain over clean country means a longer more zzzzzz fight with almost no chance of line breakage. 33% is the tweekers pressure and offers a shorter fight however be prepared to back off a tad if the spool empties too far and when the fish is close after an extended fight. If you are in stop them or lose them country then anything from 50% to otoh something is going to explode locked up can be called for, just don't blame me.


The spool
The reels spool effects us in a few ways. Line lay influences how braid or even mono friendly a reel might be and kind of indirectly the spool design can complicate this. Spool width and depth size and design determines lengths of specific sized line. This should be taken into account when buying a reel as a reel with 500m capacity can add unnecessary cost if fished in shallow waters for non long running fish. Why? well to work to its best and smoothest casting capabilities a spinning reels spool needs to be filled to a few millimeters short of the spool lip. So you need to put on excessively more line than needed which also equates to more weight. Under filling with cheaper line is an option but the weight is still there. Casting distance and retrieval rates are influenced by spool size and how well it is spooled to capacity. 


The gear ratio
The higher the gear ratio the better and faster the reel retrieves line right? Sorry but this is another maybe answer. Same size and type reel with a higher ratio will certainly retrieve line faster than its lesser ratiod brethren, but once you complicate matters with differing size spools then the waters become clouded. The two major influences here are spool (line) diameter and ratio while handle size can also play a part. I'll deal with the handle size first, for me at least and I suspect you also it is easier and faster to turn an 8cm handle than a 15cm handle so potentially a faster retrieve rate. The other two actually come together in this (rough) mathematical equation, 22/7 (pi) times diameter times ratio. So a 7cm wide spool on a 5.0 gear ratio spinning reel is 22/7 x 7 x 5 = 110cm theoretical. It is overstated and only a theoretical number because it changes with the amount of line that is off the spool at time of measurement, so use it as a ball park guide.

 

Fishing Reels

Reel Choices

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Spinning Reels

Understanding Spinning Reels

Alvey Reels

Banax Reels

Daiwa Reels

Penn Reels

Shimano Reels