A good saltwater reel is the foundation for successful saltwater fishing. Today’s saltwater reels are high-tech tools that use space-age materials and precision workmanship to handle tough elements and tough fish.
Saltwater fishing reels are classified as high-speed or low-speed. High-speed reels use a gear ratio greater than 6:1 to retrieve baits at breakneck speed. Low-speed reels, with a ratio less than 4:1, offer more power for fighting big fish. Some reels allow anglers to switch from high speed to low speed with the push of a button.
Another quality to consider when picking out a reel is line capacity, which will usually be marked on the body of the reel in feet or yards per pound test of line. Drag pressure is measured in pounds and should be adjusted to one-third the breaking strength of the line.
Use a saltwater reel that matches the recommended line weight marked on the rod. There are several different types of reel actions, and some reels are better suited to catching certain fish species, or to fishing in certain saltwater locations. Baitcasting reels, for example, are commonly used for casting heavy lures and lines, and for landing large game fish. Spinning reels are used to land small to medium sized saltwater fish. Spincasting reels are used to land small to medium sized fish, but not suitable for Deepwater fishing.
Many anglers prefer spinning reels for working lures such as top-water poppers and high-speed plugs. Also, spinning reels can cast lighter saltwater lures and baits than conventional reels.
A spinning reel is mounted to the underside of a saltwater rod, with the handle on the left-hand side. The spool inside the spinning reel is stationary. The line uncoils from the spool and is released from the reel, but the spool does not move. This means that the line is very unlikely to snag or tangle. Spinning reels are not used for large fish because they are not robust enough. They are better suited to catching small to medium-large fish. Landing large game fish with a spinning reel is possible, but exerting prolonged force against the gears risks damaging the internal components of the reel.
Spinning reels are often equipped with an anti-reverse locking mechanism. This prevents too much line paying out if a fish bites and runs, and prevents snags and line fouling. It also prevents the line paying out too rapidly if the hook snags when trolling the bottom of the water.
Spinning reels suffer from loops in the line called "wind knots" when the line becomes twisted or is not retrieved under pressure. This problem can usually be solved by adding a small swivel between the line and the leader.
Baitcasting reels are very popular in saltwater fishing. They are the reel of choice for experienced anglers, those fishing in deep water, and for those using heavy lines and lures hoping to land game fish and large specimens. These reels are suited for bottom fishing, jigging, and fighting large game fish for long periods, and successfully landing them without the reel mechanism or line suffering damage.
A baitcasting reel has a revolving spool and sits on top of the baitcasting rod, which has smaller eyes than a spinning rod. They usually have a drag system that lets users determine how much extra line is pulled off the spool and at what speed. The baitcasting reel system works with the weight of the line and lure, pulling off the appropriate length of line when casting. Thus, a heavy line with a large, heavy lure, gives a longer, more powerful cast.
An offshore baitcasting reel is designed for use in deep saltwater and is often mounted on a sports fishing boat. They are heavy-duty and designed for catching large Deepwater fish. Offshore trolling reels are available, which are not cast. Instead, the line is dropped, and the reel plays out the desired amount of line. As the boat moves, the line trolls toward the bottom of deep water, to land extra-large fish, such as shark, marlin, and tuna. These reels are very large and tend to be very heavy, often connected to a boat-mounted fishing rod.