Fishing Reel Gear Ratio Explained

Fishing Reel Gear Ratio

A fishing reel gear ratio can be confusing to understand. This article will break it down for you and explain why it matters when choosing a reel.

Gear ratios are important because they determine how many lines can be retrieved per crank of the handle. This is important because it affects how fast you can get your lure back in the water and how deep you can fish.

Different fishing applications require different gear ratios. For example, if you’re fishing for bass, you’ll want high gear ratio reels to get your lure back in the water quickly. If you’re fishing for trout, you’ll want a baitcasting reel with a low gear ratio so that you can slowly retrieve your bait through the water column.

Keep reading to learn more about fishing reel gear ratios and find the perfect reel for your next fishing trip!

What is the Gear Ratio on a Fishing Reel?

The gear ratio on a fishing reel is the number of times the spool turns for one handle turn. For example, a gear ratio of 5:1 means that the spool will turn five times for every handle turn.

Best Fishing Reel Gear Ratios

Now that you know what gear ratios are, it’s time to learn about the different gear ratios and which one is best for your fishing application.

Gear ratios are typically expressed as a ratio, such as 5:1 or 6.3:1. The first number is always the spool speed, and the second is the handle speed.

The higher the gear ratio, the faster the spool will rotate.

Gear Ratio For Inshore Fishing

You’ll want a fishing reel with a low gear ratio if you’re fishing inshore in either freshwater or saltwater. A low gear ratio is optimal for a slow retrieve of live bait, allowing the appeal to appear as natural as possible.

I particularly like a gear ratio of 4.9:1 on a spinning reel for flounder and red drum. While fishing with a Carolina Rig and live bait, you want to ensure that your gear ratio on your spinning reel will allow your appeal to stay as close to the bottom as possible while also allowing the bait to be presented naturally.

On the other hand, using artificial lures inshore calls for a medium gear ratio. A medium gear ratio will allow your lure or artificial bait to move at a natural speed. If a gear ratio is too slow while using artificials, you risk the presentation being unnatural and deterring a bite.

I recommend a gear ratio of 5.3:1 for using artificial bait while inshore fishing in saltwater and freshwater. If using live bait, a gear ratio of 4.9:1 is what I recommend.

Gear Ratio For Bass Fishing

Bass Fishing

The optimal gear ratio for Bass fishing is different than my inshore recommendations. The gear ratio you want to use for Bass fishing depends on your lure or bait and the depth you’re fishing.

For example, if you’re using a topwater bait, you’ll want a reel with a gear ratio between 5.3:1 and 6.3:1. This gear ratio will allow you to quickly retrieve your lure so that you can make another cast.

If you’re using a crankbait or chatterbait, you’ll want a gear ratio between 6.3:1 and 7.3:1. A high gear ratio reel will allow you to quickly retrieve your lure so that you can make another cast.

While my wide gear ratio range will require you to spend thousands of dollars on baitcasting reels with different gear ratios, there is a solution that will serve you well for all-around bass fishing. I recommend a fishing reel gear ratio of 6:1 for Bass fishing in general. This medium gear ratio will work with any style and lure and prevent you from stocking up on the full spectrum of gear ratios with your baitcasters.

Gear Ratio For Offshore Saltwater Fishing

Offshore Fishing

Offshore fishing in saltwater requires a gear ratio between 4.1:1 and 5.1:1. You want a gear ratio on the slower end of the spectrum to allow. This gear ratio will allow you to make long casts with heavy lures while maintaining a high level of control.

A low gear ratio is also excellent for retrieving your bait at a slow, steady pace – perfect for targeting sluggish fish like grouper or snapper.

I recommend a gear ratio of 4.5:1 for offshore fishing in saltwater.

Gear Ratio For Surf Fishing

A gear ratio while surf fishing will not have as much a factor compared to inshore fishing, bass fishing, and offshore fishing. That is because you will not be actively retrieving your bait or lure but instead let your bottom rig sit in place and wait for a strike.

You still want to consider the gear ratio when purchasing a surf fishing reel. A lower gear ratio of 3.5:1 to 4.5:1 is ideal for surf fishing with spinning reels. This gear ratio will allow you to make long casts while maintaining a high level of control over your fishing line.

I recommend a lower gear ratio of 4:1 for surf fishing.

Common Questions Related to Gear Ratio Fishing Reel

What is the best gear ratio for fishing reels?

The answer to this question depends on your fishing type and the bait or lure you’re using.

I covered the main fishing application above and the recommended fishing reel gear ratios. If you want a range to stay for all-around fishing, I recommend between 4.9:1 and 6:1.

What Is Considered a High Gear Ratio Reel?

A gear ratio is considered high if it’s over 6.3:1.

What Lures Work Best with a High Gear Ratio?

Lures that work best with a high gear ratio reel are fast-moving baits like topwater lures and crankbaits.

What are the benefits of using a Low Gear Ratio Reel?

A low-gear ratio reel is best used when fishing with live bait or slow-moving artificial bait. This fishing reel gear ratio allows you to retrieve your lure at a slow, steady pace.

What Is Considered a Low Gear Ratio?

A slow gear ratio is considered low if it’s under 4.9:1.

Does Gear Ratio Affect Casting Distance?

No, the gear ratio does not affect casting distance. The only factor that affects casting distance is the size of your reel’s spool and the type of fishing reel you are using.

What is the best gear ratio for Baitcasters?

The best fishing reel gear ratio for baitcasting reels is 6:1. This gear ratio will work well with any style, lure, or species.

What is the Best Gear Ratio For a Spinning Reel?

The best gear ratio for a spinning reel is typically between 5:1 and 6:1. That said, spinning reels can be used for just about any fishing application, so its’ best to refer to my recommendations above.

 Is Fishing Reel Gear Ratio Important?

Yes, the gear ratio is important because it affects the speed at which you can retrieve your bait or lure. The gear ratio also affects how much fishing line you can recover with each turn of the fishing reel handle.

You want to choose a gear ratio appropriate for the type of fishing you’re doing and the type of bait or lure you’re using.

Wrapping Up

Fishing reel gear ratio is an essential factor to consider when purchasing a fishing reel. The gear ratio affects the speed of your retrieve and the amount of fishing line you can retrieve with each turn of the handle.

When choosing a gear ratio, you want to consider the type of fishing you’re doing and the type of bait or lure you’re using.

I hope this article has helped you understand gear ratio and how it affects your fishing. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.

Tight lines!

Captain Tyler Brady

Captain Tyler Brady

Hi, I'm Captain Tyler Brady, founder of A Fellow Fisherman. Thank you for reading this post and visiting my site. I strive to provide the best information when it comes to fishing, whether it is myself or A Fellow Fisherman that is part of my team. Now stop reading and GO fishing!

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