Knowing how to choose the best gear ratio fishing reel for yourself might be somewhat tricky at first. It’s because of the sheer amount of different gear ratios that are offered amongst spinning and baitcasting reels. I’m here to help you find the most suitable gear ratio fishing reel by giving examples of which ones are used in certain situations.

Choose a slow gear ratio reel (5.4:1) for crankbaits, a medium gear ratio reel (6.4:1) for worms, jerkbaits and spinnerbaits, and a fast gear ratio reel (7.1:1 and up) for short casts and fast action situations like pitching or flipping. This is the rule of thumb in choosing the best gear ratio.

This, however, is the core overview of how to choose the best reel for yourself. Let’s get deeper into the topic and talk about why it’s important to pick the right gear ratio for your fishing real.

What Does Fishing Reel Gear Ratio Mean?

When choosing a spinning or baitcasting reel for your fishing rod, there are numbers to determine the difference between said reels. These are in most cases 3-digit combinations showing how many rotations the spool makes in one complete turn of the reel’s handle.

Let’s take a 6.4:1 gear ratio fishing reel for an example. In this case, every time you turn the handle of your reel one complete turn – the spool of the reel, which holds the fishing line, makes exactly 6.4 turns. This is due to the output gear (connected to the spool) being bigger than the input gear (connected to the handle).

Accordingly, if you want to retrieve the bait slower most times, it is reasonable to pick a slower gear ratio real. Vice versa, if you need to retrieve the bait faster and don’t necessarily want to crank your handle like a machine, you should go for a faster gear ratio fishing reel.

Is Gear Ratio the Same for Spinning and Baitcasting Reels?

I have seen people asking about whether the spinning reel gear ratio is the same as with baitcasting reels. The short answer for it is YES.

The numbers on the fishing reels always mark the same relation of the handle and spool speed. it is not important which way the spool is positioned – as you know, baitcasting reel spools are positioned crossed with the rod and spinner reel spools are positioned parallel with the rod.

Gear ratio does also not depend on the size of the spool. For example, 6.3:1 gear ratio on is still going to be a medium-speed reel – doesn’t matter if you’re using a spinner reel or a big-spool casting reel meant for the see.

The Importance of Gear Ratio for Different Lures

Let’s talk about the logic behind choosing the right gear ratio for different lures you might want to use. There are some things you might want to consider before buying a certain reel.

Now, don’t get me wrong, you can use all sorts of lures with all gear ratios, but I’m just pointing out what gear ratio reels work best for different types of lures.

For example, using a deep-diving crankbait on an 8.4:1 reel, while possible, isn’t probably the best idea. That’s because an 8.4:1 is an extremely high gear ratio reel and with normal-paced cranks, you will reel your lure really deep into the water hence making reel-in harder and giving more tension on your reel, as well.

Low Gear Ratio

Low gear ratio reels are best for: 

  • Deepwater Crankbaits
  • Deepwater spinnerbaits
  • Big swimbaits

Lower gear ratio means that the spool in the reel rotates at a slower speed.  Therefore, it is possible to reel in the lure at much lower speeds while keeping a normal-speed motion.

I recommend using these kinds of reels in longer casts with plenty of open space. Low gear ratio reels are also good if you need to play the bottom of the lake or river. Lower ratio reels as 5.1:1-s are known to be used in getting the lures to their maximum depths. This is very important when you’re trying to catch a monster pike on a warm day.

A low gear ratio reel is the perfect choice when you mostly use crankbaits. As said in the previous paragraph, low-speed reels get your lures deeper into the water giving you wider ranger and a higher probability of catching a pike.

Low gear ratio reels also work really-really well with big swimbaits. Let’s say you’re fishing on a river with a faster stream. If it’s a sunny and warm day, you’ll want to play your lure in the bottom of the river. A low gear ratio reel helps you control your motion much better hence teasing the pike more effectively.

When it comes to controlling the speed of your spinnerbaits, a lower gear ratio might come in handy as well. That’s because it helps you keep your spinnerbait at a steady pace.

Medium Gear Ratio

Medium gear ratio reels are best for:

  • Shallow running spinnerbaits
  • Squarebill crankbaits
  • Jerkbaits
  • Medium depth crankbaits
  • Shallow castable umbrella rigs

Medium gear ratio means that that the spool of the reel spins in a moderate speed as you turn the handle. Medium-speed reels, like 6.3:1, are real workhorses when it comes to pike fishing.

I would say that medium gear ratio fishing reels are the most universal reels out there. This is why so many fishers like to use them as a daily driver. If you are looking for a one and only reel, I would, in most cases, recommend a medium gear ratio reel to you.

The reason is simple, you can imitate the actions of high gear ratio and low gear ratio reels with a medium-speed reel. This allows you to use a larger variety of lures and different techniques without any problem. That being said, there are lures that work especially well with medium gear ratio reels. 

Although medium gear ratio reels work well with a variety of lures, it’s best suited for jerkbaits, spinnerbaits, and medium depth crankbaits. All of those types of lures are very well known for their pike cathing capabilities.

High Gear Ratio

High gear ratio reels are best for:

  • Jigs and big worms
  • Shaky heads
  • Texas rigs
  • Topwater baits
  • Jerkbaits
  • Lipless crankbaits

As you can probably already tell, high gear ratio means, that the spool in the reel turns in a higher speed and collects more line on the spool with every turn of the handle.

High-speed reels are really great for when you’re fishing in tight canals or places that have either a lot of overgrowth or vegetation. The reason being, there is simply more mistakes to be made.

There are lots of times you can cast your lure to a place you didn’t mean to cast it – e.g. you cast it in waterweeds but don’t have a weedless lure on. In this case, you’d want to reel in the lure as fast as possible, before getting it stuck. Therefore, having a higher gear ratio reel can help you reel the lure in at a higher speed.

High gear ratio reels can also be very useful with techniques like pitching and flipping – as they allow you to make fast and short casts while letting you turn your reel handle at a much lower speed. This helps with wrist fatigue and thus lets you fish longer.

Best lures to use with a high gear ratio reel are jigs and big worms, topwater baits, lipless crankbaits, and jerkbaits. High-speed reels are also used amongst bass fishers with a bait setting technique called Texas rigs – it’s also very effective in pike fishing.

Best Gear Ratio Reel for Pike Fishing

In my experience, the most universal gear ratio reels are medium gear ratio fishing reels. With these, you are able to test a bigger variety of lures while fishing and they will mostly play as they should. That will, in turn, increase your chances of catching a big pike.

If you have the budget or you’re looking for a second reel with a different gear ratio, the low gear ratio will help you reel from the bottom of the water while the high gear ratio will help with topwater fishing. I hope this information helps you decide, based on your previous fishing preferences, which gear ratio fishing reels will be best suitable for you.

If you’re looking for a great budget-friendly baitcaster reel under a $100 price tag, I strongly recommend the Abu Garcia Pro Max Low Profile baitcasting reel. It’s a 7.1:1 gear ratio lightweight and silky smooth reel with 7+1 ball bearings.

The user experience of this reel is comparable with a $200+ baitcasting reel. The body of the reel is very durable and can take a beating. The low profile and fairly light weight keep your hand from exhaustion so you fish longer.

Before buying, you should also read some of the reviews on Amazon – that’s what convinced me. Look at the latest price here on Amazon.

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