Selecting Your Fishing Reel
Fishing is a rare sport that combines serenity with fierce competition. When looking for the perfect fishing reel, first determine your experience level followed by the type of fish you want to catch. DICK'S Sporting Goods takes the guesswork out of finding your ideal fishing reel. You will be able to focus on the fish knowing your reel is of superior quality and design.
In this guide, we will supply you with the necessary tools for a straightforward breakdown of fishing reels by reel type and fishing preferences. Our selection of reels provides smooth casts to stand up to the nastiest water conditions and have a strong body to win the battle against those large fish.
Find Your Perfect Freshwater/Saltwater Reel
When you are setting out on your fishing adventure, first determine the type of reel you will be using on the water. Freshwater reels are designed to land fish found in lakes, rivers and streams, while saltwater reels work best in bays and oceans. The reels come in three basic styles: casting, spinning and fly reels. Whether you might be setting out to target largemouth bass, scrappy trout or a school of crappie, understanding the way these reels work improves your chances of landing a nice catch. Below is a breakdown of the three styles available:
Baitcasting/Conventional reels: Works with the weight of the bait or lure as it pulls on the line and turns the spool to release more line. These are typically preferred by more experienced anglers, especially when using heavier lures and lines designed for bigger fish. Here are some more features and benefits:
- Most baitcasting reels now incorporate a drag system designed to adjust the resistance or drag on the spool to control how much resistance is needed to pull the right amount of line off the spool.
- Many fishermen prefer baitcasting for fighting bigger, stronger fish over an extended period, especially big game fish in saltwater.
- Baitcasting reels are offered in one-piece designs, which lessen the corrosive effects of saltwater.
There are five styles of freshwater/saltwater baitcasting reels available to fit your specific needs:
|Offshore reels||Fight large fish from a boat
|Trolling reels||Drag live bait or a lure as you troll in a boat
|Casting reels||Benefit of precision casts
|Jigging reels||When the lure sinks near the surface bottom, this reel allows to be pulled up in a swift motion
|Bottom reels||Fish from stationary boats and go down deep
Spinning reels: Beginners and less experienced fishermen appreciate the lack of complexity that spinning reels offer. Spinning reels mount on the underside of a spinning rod, and the handle is on the left instead of the right. The spool on a spinning reel is parallel to the rod and does not rotate when you cast, reducing the chances of tangles to almost zero. Here are some more features and benefits:
- Spinning reels can handle smaller bait, featuring anti-reverse, a simple mechanism you set by letting go of the bail wire after casting. This keeps your line from spooling off once you get a strike from a fish.
- The anti-reverse lock is usually a lever mounted on the gear housing cover. It prevents the reel handle from turning in reverse when you hook a fish and it runs or when you are trolling.
- Saltwater Tip: In saltwater spinning reels, you may prefer a skirted spool which increases line capacity, allows longer casts and reduces tangles. It also protects the reel's inside workings from the saltwater and moisture.
Spincasting reels: With these reels, the line comes off the top of the spool when casting with the spool enclosed by a cover that has a port in front where the end of the fishing line exits the reel. The spool remains stationary until you use a thumb button to cast. When you release the button, your bait or lure propel your line. The ease of spincasting reels makes them a good choice for beginners both for the in ease of casting and their reliability.
Understanding Reel Materials and Construction
DICK'S Sporting Goods makes choosing the correct reel size an effortless decision by providing you with a simple breakdown of reel structure. The lighter the line you intend to use, the smaller the reel you should acquire. Here is a breakdown of the construction of a reel:
|Part of the reel that holds the line
|A detachable component of the reel
|Graphite designed to be lightweight and resists water corrosion
|Aluminum enhanced durability and resists water corrosion
|Gives a reel its shape
|Made of either graphite or aluminum
Line capacity: Is vital for selecting a reel. Reels can handle as little as 15 yards to as much as 900 yards. The amount of
fishing line you'll need depends on your fishing. For example, fishing in a pond or stream will require only minimal line capacity. If you plan on fishing in a lake, you may need more line capacity to handle the water's depth and the type of fish that may run with your line.
Gear ratio: With a fishing reel, turning the handle on the reel engages gears that turn a shaft on the spool. The faster the handle is turned, the faster the spool rotates. Lower ratios provide more power for bringing fish from deeper depths, while higher gear rations benefit when pulling fish from closer to the surface.
Ball bearings: Ball bearings are used to help reels work more smoothly by supporting the moving parts; the more ball bearings, the smoother the reel works, especially under pressure.
Level winds: A level wind makes it so that when you reel in your line it is distributed evenly over the spool. Level winds found on baitcasting reels will evenly guide the line back on to the spool after casting.
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Freshwater and Saltwater Reels.
Fly fishing is an art requiring a specialized technique of casting a lightweight fly to a specific location. To achieve an accurate cast, you must learn how to use the
fly-fishing reel. Choosing a fly-fishing reel can appear overwhelming with the wide range of sizes and styles to match the fishing conditions. The best fly-fishing reels combine a functional design with durable materials.
Size: Larger spools offer quicker line retrieval, better line handling and enhanced drag pressure control. If you're palming, which is a technique where you press the palm of your hand against the spinning reel of the spoon as the fish takes line, make sure the reel also fits your hand as comfortably as possible as well.
Find Your Fit
When looking for your ideal fly fishing reel, it's important to understand your fishing preference and level of experience. It's also essential to keep in mind the size fish you are looking to catch. Below are the reel types available:
Single-action: This is the simplest and most common, a good choice if your a beginner. The fly line is stored on a spool and the handle attaches directly to the spool rather than a gear system found on most fishing reels. One crank of the handle provides one revolution of the spool.
Automatic: This reel allows you to simply flick a lever to retrieve line, a big plus when you have a lot of line out in the water, helping with line control.
Mid-Arbor: This style spool is a great compromise between a large arbor fly reel and a standard arbor design. Anglers can take advantage of the over-sized multi-disk drag systems that are mounted through the center of the spool arbor, yet they still get the advantage of a slightly larger diameter spool for line retrieval and additional line capacity. A mid-arbor design gives you a large line capacity plus the added benefits of rapid retrieve and reduced line coiling.
Large-Arbor: The main advantage is that the overall diameter of the reel is large so you can increase your line retrieval and gain line capacity. For anglers targeting larger fish or venturing into saltwater, the large arbor design incorporates a very efficient, over-sized multi-disk drag system. Fly fishers are able to consistently strip off long lengths of slack line for casting, and then reel it up quickly when playing a fish or moving to a different spot. Bigger coils of line coming off the reel allow for easier casting with fewer tangles. Also, a large arbor reel's drag works more soundly, as a fish pulls out line, the effective spool diameter remains nearly constant.
Saltwater fly reels: Designed specifically for use in an ocean environment. Saltwater fly reels are normally much larger in diameter than most freshwater fly reels in order to provide a large line and backing capacity designed for the long runs of powerful ocean game fish. To prevent corrosion, saltwater fly reels often use aerospace aluminum frames and spools, electroplated and/or stainless steel components, with sealed and waterproof bearing and drive mechanisms.
Drag systems apply friction to the spool. This helps when you cast and when you are attempting to bait a fish, especially a larger one. Here are some important factors to consider:
- Older models traditionally have a fixed drag that cannot be adjusted.
- Spring and pawl drag systems offer some adjustment and have a distinct clicking sound when the line is pulled off the reel.
- Disc drag systems provide the smoothest type of drag and are used in many modern fly reels.
- Adjustable disc drags allow the fishermen to make fine adjustments to the amount of drag pressure.
You can select from three types of drag systems:
Spring-and-pawl: This type of system is also known as "click-and-pawl" or "ratchet-and-pawl." A spring pushes the pawl into a gear on the reel spool to create drag. The "spring-and-pawl" is best-suited for lighter fishing, such as trout and pan fish This system will work on larger fish if you want a challenge and are skilled at working a reel by palming, a technique where you press the palm of your hand against the spinning reel of the spoon as the fish takes line.
Caliper: This option falls between the "spring-and-pawl" and disc system in the way it performs. A caliper pad pushes against the braking surface on the spool. This friction then slows the way a reel spool spins.
Disc: A disc drag pushes a large-diameter pad against the reel spool's braking surface and pressure is applied directly increasing control and overall efficiency. Cork or synthetic materials such as Teflon are used in disc drag systems. Cork provides a smoother, more consistent pressure and can be adjusted more precisely. You can also further increase control by selecting a reel that incorporates an exposed palming rim, a built-in feature on reels with a disc drag. Disc drag systems are ideal for fighting big, powerful fish since you get extra control and more consistent drag pressure.
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Ice Fishing methods have changed dramatically over the past two decades, but Ice Fishing gear has remained highly specialized for a safe and successful experience. The proper equipment will give you confidence to perform at your peak in the intense weather conditions. Below are the types of ice fishing reels available:
Spinning reels: Have high gear ratios and an open spool design work well with lighter lines.
Spincasting reels: More weather resistant and effectively handle light- to medium-sized game fish.
Baitcasting reels: Often used by anglers, they provide larger line capacities and super-fast gearing: allowing them to fish in deeper water for larger game fish with faster retrieves of hooked fish.
Ice fishing reels are best suited to fishing vertically in the water column through holes drilled through thick ice on lakes, ponds and reservoirs. DICK'S Sporting Goods selection of reels are sensitive enough to detect even the lightest strikes in cold weather, yet strong enough to bring in game fish.
Use ice fishing reels to fish with jigs, spoons or other artificial or natural baits at different depths within the water column through a hole in the ice. For fishing in deeper water, use reels with higher gear ratios to provide faster line retrieves, which help keep a tight line and prevent fish from throwing the hook.
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Ice Fishing Reels.
Reel Cleaning Checklist
|Give the reel a smoother frame and spool with a high-quality coating of DICK'S Reed Oil for long lasting lubrication.
|Quick spray of DICK'S chemically engineered solvent cleaner for easy cleaning that won't damage any part of the reel. It dissolves dirt while drying clean leaving a protective barrier.
|Wash the reel in fresh water if used in algae or wash it in your shower after saltwater use.
|Strip the line off to clean the spool. Back off the drag and set up the reel to dry overnight.
|Remove the line from the reel and soak it in mild soap and water.
|Wipe its entire length with a soft cloth and rinse with clear water.
|All your equipment should be stored in a cool dry environment.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is Spinning better than Baitcasting? Baitcasting is generally used for heavier lines and in instances when you need a good drag. It is preferred for trolling, flipping heavy jigs (on oz and up), etc when you need to "winch" fish in. Spinning, though you can still reel in some hefty ones, is more for finesse and lighter line presentations. It can be used for 1/8 oz jig and plastic, smaller cranks, rigging for walleye etc. Neither is better per se, each is used for a different type of fishing.
2. Why is it easier to cast a heavy load on a conventional reel? The drag on a spinning reel carries the load of the cast. If the drag isn't set heavily enough to hold the load during a cast, the drag will slip. On a conventional reel, the thumb holds the spool. Most casters can hold a heavier load with their thumb than with the reel drag.
3. What about the level wind? Do I need one? Does it make my cast short? The level wind makes a lot of sense for fishing with lures. Without a level wind, you must spread line back and forth on the spool with your thumb. If you don't have to do that, you'll notice more about the water in front of you. The level wind saves you work. Anglers who fish with live bait, or use very heavy mono, or who absolutely have to get that last yard of distance on a long cast, may prefer an open faced reel without a level wind. It's easier to get a really strong grip on the spool without a level wind in the way, so open faced reels are the tool of choice for maximum distance casting.
4. Do I need a disc drag reel? If you are fishing for small to medium sized fish, the answer is no. If you are going to be chasing bonefish and tarpon on salt water, the answer is definitely yes because it provides more control to your cast.
5. What is the benefit of a single action reel? This direct drive system has no gears and is unlike spinning reels and others where one turn of the handle usually results in multiple turns of the pickup spool. It is generally a trademark of simplicity and strong design that results in reliability.
Conquer the competition with decisive fishing reel gear. DICK'S Sporting Goods will provide you with the skillful edge for the ultimate in fishing performance!
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