Reel Gear Ratio: What Is It and How to Choose It? (Summer 2022)

Whether you regard fishing as a hobby or a sport, choosing the best equipment is crucial to how successful you’re going to be. It’s also essential to understand how everything works and what you should do to get the most out of your gear. Reel gear ratio is one of the top factors you should be aware of before you head out to your favorite fishing spot.

This article takes a look at what gear ratio is and why it’s important to your next fishing trip. We’ll also highlight the difference between high and low reel ratios. Additionally, we’ll share the best types of lures to use with both ratio types. Keep reading for answers to a few popular reel ratio questions!

What is the gear ratio on a fishing reel?

Simply put, gear ratios determine the speed at which the reel picks up a line. It’s important to note that the gears connect the crank handle with the fishing line spool. When you spin the crank, the gears turn, which in turn makes the spool spin. The gear ratio is, therefore, how much the spool moves every time the crank turns.

What gear ratio to look for when buying a reel?

When you’re just starting out, fishing experts recommend opting for a mid-range ratio. Essentially this means you’re looking at something around 6.2:1. Each time you crank the handle, the spool will spin 6.2 times. Commonly, both baitcasting and spinning reels feature different gear ratios depending on what type of fishing you’re going to do. Since your gear ratio determines your performance in the water, it’s important to decide on the types of fishing you want to do before you pick a reel with a specific ratio. Not having a reel with the right gear ratio could leave you struggling at the most crucial moment!

Fishing reel gears come in two different categories – high and low gears. Experts often suggest starting with a lower gear until you’ve mastered the experience required to manage a faster, higher geared reel. On the other hand, if you prefer jumping into the deep end, you could easily start with high gear. On the plus side, this will get you used to their strength early on.

It's crucial to consider another factor referred to as reel IPT (Inches Per Turn). Inches Per turn measures the quantity of line that you place into the reel with a single turn of your hand. When IPT is inconsistent, you might be dealing with a reel that’s actually not a high gear reel as implied. Let’s delve into what else you should take into consideration when choosing the best gear ratio reel.

When to use a high gear ratio reel?

Generally, high gear ratios are ideal for use when you’re looking for precise control over line tension. Having a higher gear ratio allows you to make swift and sudden movements if necessary. Another reason high gear ratio reels are so popular is that you do less reeling. Usually, this is because it’s quicker to retrieve these reels when you’re chasing a faster fish. The general instances to use a high gear ratio reel include a few of these:

  • Fishing in a smaller area: It’s easier to reel the bait back to your boat faster, allowing you to cast the next lure much quicker. This is especially effective if you’re fishing in a smaller strike zone.
  • Using different techniques: Often, a fast technique is crucial, especially when you're dealing with a fast-moving fish. Speed will also matter with certain techniques, such as pitching, worming, or even flipping. As you become more experienced, you could find that moving from a lower gear to a higher gear reel actually improves techniques.
  • Targeting fast-moving fish: With high gear ratios, you get better speed but, unfortunately, much less power. While this is great for reeling in smaller fish, it can be tough to reel in heavier fish.
  • Using artificial bait: Some fishermen prefer using artificial bait because it minimizes the need to re-bait after each catch. In this instance, you’ll need a higher gear ratio for better efficiency between each cast.
  • Depends on the rod: Pulling the bait with the tip of your rod will make it easier to pick up the slack in a rush.

What is considered a high gear ratio?

A fishing reel with a high gear ratio lies between 7.1:1 – 8.1:1. In some instances, you can see gear ratios as high as 9.1:1. Some experts suggest opting for a reel with a gear ratio of 6.4:1, which will be low enough for you to get used to the process. It will allow you to get used to faster-moving situations much easier.

One of the more popular high gear ratio reels that are a firm favorite among expert and novice anglers is the SHIMANO SLX Baitcasting Reel. This model features a regular gear at 6.3:1, high gear at 7.2:1, and extra high gear at 8.2:1. The fact that it's available in both left and right-hand models means anyone can use it.

Some of the other impressive features you’ll get with this model include a durable metal reel body and 6 Pin VBS adjustments. There’s also an incredible 150 PowerPro line capacity to look forward to. Since this reel is 22% more compact, it’s easier to manage in any situation. It’s a great option for beginners!

What types of lures to use with a high gear ratio?

One of the advantages of high gear ratio reels is that they work remarkably well with many different lures. Some of the more popular options include the following:

  • Big worms
  • Texas rigs
  • Jerkbaits
  • Carolina rigs
  • Lipless crankbaits
  • Shaky heads
  • Jigs
  • Artificial lures

As these types of lures need particular techniques, higher gear ratios are ideal. Higher gear ratios let you create extra slack in your line when necessary.

When to use a low gear ratio reel?

While high gear ratio reels are generally more popular, there are still many fishermen who rather opt for a low gear ratio. A few of the general reasons you could need a low gear ratio reels to include the following:

  • Cold water fishing: As any fisherman knows, cold water fishing has a slower pace. This means the slower speed of a slow reel can actually increase the chances of catching a fish. These reels are great for keeping baits in the strike zone longer.
  • Deep water fishing: Effective deep water fishing requires considerably heavier baits and little pressure on the line. By opting for a low gear ratio reel, you’ll have more control on the line.
  • Fishing for slow swimmers: Fish that swim slower can easily be scared away by the sudden movements of a high gear ratio reel. It’ll be easier to catch these fish with a slower reel.

What is considered a low gear ratio?

Primarily, a low gear ratio falls between 4:1 and 5.4:1. The most common option on the market is 5:1, but some anglers prefer the edge that a 5.4:1 model offers. If you're looking for an "all-around" gear ratio that allows for different lure use and fishing techniques, many avid fishermen suggest opting for 4.9:1.

Avid anglers who enjoy the benefits of a low gear ratio reel often opt for the Piscifun Alijoz Baitcasting Reel. Two gear ratio options of 5.9:1 and 8.1:1 make it easy to find the perfect option for your fishing needs. The Piscifun design boasts a quality aluminum frame and gear side plate. This means you’ll be guaranteed superior durability and strength when wrestling a big freshwater fish. More good news is that this reel can easily handle big fish as well as swimbaits. It’s easy to see why this model is making waves on the pro fishing tournament scene!

What types of lures to use with a low gear ratio?

Unlike a high gear ratio reel, the lower gear option is great for bigger and heavier baits. The main reason for this is that they have better water resistance which in turn creates the right amount of pressure on the line. For better control over the line, you’ll want to opt for a low gear ratio reel. The best lures to use with a low gear ratio reel include the following:

  • Big swimbaits
  • Deep crankbaits
  • Deep water spinnerbaits

Final thoughts

With a clearer understanding of these two-reel types, we should emphasize that there’s no wrong or right option. Essentially, it comes down to where and how you're going to fish. It depends on your level of experience and preference. Before choosing a reel, decide on the type of fishing you will be doing. Aligning your reel gear ratio accordingly will ensure every fishing experience is a success!


Scroll to top