Spinning Reel Ratios (High V Low)- choosing the right speed

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By Chris Dixon

When it comes to spinning reels, and most importantly for myself larger spinning reels, making sure I have the right gear ratio reel for what I’ll be using it for can make a huge difference to my fishing. I think it’s an often overlooked but important part of choosing the right reel for what you're likely to be chasing. There certainly is no right or wrong when it comes to ratios but as anglers we are all trying to make sure we get the most out of our gear.

High or low speed and understanding their uses can make your purchase a pleasure or a pain to use. Anything with a ratio below 5:1 I would consider low (like a Catalina 5000 with its 4.9:1 ratio) and 5.2:1 and above being high-speed. Extra high can be over 6:1 with reels like the new 20 Saltiga 14000 XH being a 6.2:1 speed. What that means is how much line with each turn of the handle comes onto the reel, and in some cases it can be over 30cm of line put back onto your spool every full turn of the handle. It doesn’t sound like a lot but it adds up quickly. So what ratio for which task?

I find it very hard to use a high-speed reel for jigging for kingfish or winding in sinkers when surf casting, and at the other end trying to spin metals for mackeral or tuna with a low-speed reel can be tiring as I’m having to wind a lot faster to get my lure moving fast enough.

Low-speed reels lend themselves towards heavy jigging for big kingfish, surf casting or tasks where pulling power comes as a priority to line retrieval. Lower speed is a good compromise and can be used for most tasks while still being comfortable and easy to use.

High-speed reels tend to be used more for lure casting that require a lure to be worked quickly like spinning for mackeral with a metal lure or when line needs to be recovered between sweeps, such as when popping for GT’s. Fast retrieval of lures from shallow ground littered with reef or quickly turning fast fish to regain line when needed are other great choices for a high-speed reel.

The easier my gear is to use the more enjoyable I find my fishing to be. So when making a decision on your next reel choice, after choosing what size you are likely to use have a look at the gear ratio next. Doing so will help make your fishing more enjoyable and efficient. Happy fishing!

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