When heavy work is involved, you want a reel that can handle the load and stand up to years of cranking in big fish. That type of demand calls for a casting reel, and this buyer’s guide is intended to help you decide which reel is the perfect one for your level of experience and angling ambition.
Baitcasting, or simply “casting” reels are ideal for many different presentations, and they’re a pleasure to use if you’ve selected the right model for the species you’re targeting. Consider buying a baitcasting reel if you’re throwing heavy lures such as large crankbaits or big jigs, or if you’re going after large species of fish that require a lot of cranking power and significant line capacity. Fishermen going after freshwater species such as big northerns or muskie and just about any of the larger saltwater species prefer baitcasting type reels.
Baitcasting reels are mounted on the top of the fishing rod and are often referred to simply as casting reels. This style of reel is designed with a spool that turns at a right angle to the reel seat, or rod. Casting reels works best with lines of 8-pound test or larger, although lightweight reels are available that will handle line as low as 4-pound test. Larger versions can take the heaviest line weights for battling bigger fish in both freshwater and saltwater.
Right-handed reels are the most common configuration, where the reel is held in the left hand and cranked with the right. Models are available with the opposite arrangement for those that prefer to cast with their dominant right hand and reel without switching it over to the other hand for reeling. Larger versions are available to handle the heaviest lines and heartiest species.
Bird’s nests or backlashes have always been the stumbling block for anglers considering the addition of a casting reel to their selection of fishing gear. I call them professional overlays. It makes them sound like it wasn’t a major intervention into your catching rate. Untangling is time consuming but it only takes a few times to learn how to eliminate the problem.
Traditional manual intervention with the thumb while trying to maximize casting distance and eliminate backlashes is a difficult technique to master if you don’t do it on a regular basis. The trick is to control the speed of the spool and synchronize it with the line as the lure pulls it out through the air.
I’ll admit it; I’m somewhat of a technology freak. But who isn’t, when it comes to innovations that make our lives easier. The only downside is that the latest and greatest is usually a little pricey. If you’re considering stepping into the casting reel arena, or want to upgrade the old reel you’ve been using, here are a few considerations to evaluate before casting your fate to the wind.
If you aspire to own something state of the art, the latest engineering marvel to hit the fishing industry is Shimano’s Calcutta TE® DC. This is the first reel to utilize a digitally controlled circuit board to brake the reel automatically every 1/1000th of a second, based on your selection of eight pre-programmed settings. The Calcutta TE® DC is the world’s first self-energizing electronic digital braking system. The increased efficiency of line management has the potential to add significant distance to your casts with less effort and fewer backlashes. If $500 is beyond the realm of possibility, there are many others to select from. The question is always which features are worth the money, and which do you really need? Here are some guidelines that will help you decide which reel is best for you and the way you fish.
As with any fishing gear, where you intend to use it is a major factor as well as the size of your target species. When looking for quality, don’t be swayed by the total number of bearings that a reel uses. The number of bearings isn’t as important as the quality of the steel used in their construction. If you’re fishing in brackish or saltwater environments, make sure you choose a reel with stainless steel bearings that are exposed to water, to protect your investment against corrosion. On casting reels, the bearings that support the reel’s spool and level wind are the most critical relative to corrosion.
Gear ratio can be an issue, depending on target species as well, but it’s more an issue of your style of fishing. Reels with a ratio of 5.5:1 to 6.3:1 are fast retrieve reels. If you need more cranking power, choose a reel with a lower ratio, 3.1:1 to 4.1:1. The numbers are simple to understand.
The first two are the gear ratio and the last indicates the number of turns of the reel handle. Therefore, the spool of a reel with a 6.3:1 ratio will turn around 6.3 times for every turn of the reel’s handle.