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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone, another question since I'm considering trying out a baitcaster reel I wasn't sure what everyone's opinion or advice would be with them. I've been using an open bail spinning rig almost all of my time fishing since I was younger and really haven't had any experience with anything else. But after seeing a lot of others using baitcasters and they can a lot of times be a little better on the bigger fish just didn't know if the pros outweighed the cons. Also just any advice on what to look for in a baitcaster and brand? I was looking on BP's website and they seem to range in price from about $40 to over $300 and I would like to if I can stay under $100 but not get a "cheap" one. It does seem like most baitcasters want higher #test line then spinning rigs and usually heavier rods as well, so I figure I'll probably have to get a new rod too. Any advice would be great :) Thanks.
 

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Well, the setup that I have I love and I wouldn't give it up for the world! My reel is an ABU Garcia D6 6600 ($120) and my rod is a Fenwick IM7 ($75). They have served me well and I have no complaints other than the line guide on the reel doesn't move with the line when you cast. I first thought that it was a defect but I went back to Sportsman's warehouse and checked out all of the reels of the same model and they all were like that. It hasn't caused any problems with casting and I don't seem to lose any distance because of it tho, it was just the first time that I have ever seen a baitcast reel that did that. I'm happy with it tho, it is a great reel and I have given it quite a workout and it has never let me down so far.
 

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I use baitcasters on a daily basis. Out of about 85 rod-reel combos, I only own 6 spinning outfits. With a baitcaster, I feel I have much more control and can cast a lot farther. On the other hand, I fish with a guy who uses only spinning equipment and  he has great control and he can cast a country mile. I guess it's just a matter of personal taste. I often fish with mattsabasser and he does extremely well fishing for bass with a spinning outfit. When you are selecting a baitcaster there are many things to consider, but here are the most important:

Reel Body
Most baitcasting reels look similar in style and design, however, the material that is used in manufacturing the reel body and components can vary significantly. The two basic materials used for the housing component of a reel are graphite and aluminum.

Graphite reels are lighter in weight and corrosion resistant (great for saltwater applications), yet less strong and durable when compared to aluminum models. Graphite is also great for lightweight applications such as panfish or small trout. For all other styles and types of fishing (especially when chasing strong and powerful fish) nothing can compare to an aluminum constructed reel.

Ball Bearings
All baitcaster's contain ball bearings or bushings hidden inside the body of the reel itself. These provide smoothness and stability during cranking, allowing higher performance and output from the reel. Between the two types, sealed stainless steel ball bearings outperform bushings for smoothness and overall output.

When shopping for a reel, the easiest thing to remember is this: the more ball bearings, the smoother the reel will be. Don't settle for less than two ball bearings when purchasing a reel. This is the minimum in my book for reel performance. Ideally, if your finances will allow it, choose a reel with upwards of four to six bearings for the best results and the most efficiency from you reel.

What's the Best Gear Ratio?
All baitcast reels come with a specified gear ratio. It can either be a low gear ratio (2:1, 3:1) or a high ratio (5:1, 6:1). What these numbers represent is how many times the spool revolves during one complete turn of the reel handle. For example, a reel with the gear ratio of 6:1 will have the spool turn six times during one full rotation of the handle. Obviously, the more times the spool revolves, the higher the retrieve speed will be and the more line you can reel in with the least amount of effort. For applications that require high-speed retrieves - buzzbaits, spinnerbaits etc. - choose a reel with a high-speed ratio. (This is also mandatory for powerful fish that charge the boat, as you will need to quickly reel in slack line!)

A low-speed gear ratio provides a higher cranking power, ideal for trolling, working a worm or jig and bottom bouncing.

The Drag System
One of the most important functions that a baitcasting reel possesses is its drag system. When a fish is pulling on your line, the drag is set to apply tension in order to "fight" or control the fish.

A smooth drag system is paramount for catching and landing fish. When a hooked fish runs with your lure, you want an immediate and fluid discharge of line from your spool. Any hesitation in your drag system will result in a broken line and a lost fish.

When comparing reels, set the drag at various degrees of tightness and proceed to pull on the line. The line should smoothly and freely come out during this exercise. Any undue tightening, hesitation or noises is in my mind a reel that is best left alone.

Anti-Reverse Handles
Virtually all reels out on the market contain an anti-reverse handle, although some of the older or less expensive models will still not have this necessary feature.
Anti-reverse handles simply prevent the reel handle from moving backwards at all, which helps assure a positive hook set in the fish's mouth. When picking up a reel, make sure that there is no play or backward movement in the reel at all. The handle should only turn forward, without any sloppiness or movement other than in a forward motion.

Casting Controls
Many people that shy away from owning a baitcasting reel do so for fear of the "birds nest" or "professional backlash." These occurrences happen when the line continues to come off the spool after the lure has hit the water or come to a halt.
The majority of baitcast reels have advanced magnetic breaking mechanisms that help alleviate or cut down on line snarls and overruns. These magnets can be either internal or external, although all reels come standard with an external casting knob that will control the line tension.

Make sure the reel you are purchasing has a high-quality magnetic breaking device, one that is easy to set and maintain. (If it is internal, make sure you are shown the proper way to adjust and configure the setup to suit your own style of casting and fishing.)

Not matter what type of magnets or casting controls a baitcasting reel contains; no reel on the market is 100% backlash-free. Although these controls will limit the severity of line overrun, learning to cast properly and applying light pressure with your casting thumb will go a long way in achieving fishing satisfaction.

Specialty Reels
Although the general baitcast reel will work for most situations and fishing conditions you encounter, there are some specialty reels that are worth investigating for the functions they provide.

For those that do a lot of "flipping" or "pitching," look for a reel with a flip switch that allows the spool to be disengaged and engaged again without having to turn the reel handle. (This saves time and is more advantageous for this style of fishing.)

Trolling reels also fit a niche as they are larger, stronger and more adapt to the conditions you will face. If you take trolling seriously, look into a trolling baitcaster for increased performance.

There are also "species specific" reels available to the angler that are tailor-made for different types of fish and techniques. Most manufacturers have a line of musky, bass and walleye reels that are designed and tested specifically for that specie and style of fishing.

Tips for Choosing

Make sure that the reel fits comfortably in your hand. Your thumb should be able to effortlessly reach and work the casting mechanism.

Ensure that the reel is rated for the pound-test line you will be using.

Ascertain whether the reel handle will be "non-slip" when out in the field, especially in rainy weather.

Make sure that the reel will be easy to lubricate and grease.

---There is a reel right now at Dicks Sporting Goods in Park Meadows that is an incredible deal!!! It's a Daiwa Capricorn--9 bearing reel--low-profile baitcaster.

This the exact reel I use on the circuit except for mine has 12 bearings. Dick's Sporting Goods has this reel made exclusively for them by Daiwa and is usually $149.95. It's on sell right now for $79.95 and they only have 4 or 5 left. I cannot tell the difference between the 9 and 12 bearing model---it's that smooth!---Good Luck and remember---with a baitcaster--PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT.........
 

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I think that's absolutely the best run-down on baitcasting reels I have ever read. Wonderful job!

If the forum ever starts an archive section containing only the "best-of" posts, I would nominate this one to start it.

W. E.
 

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Thanks W.E.! I truly appreciate the kind words.--Wayne
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I totally agree. Thank you very much for the information, it'll be quite helpful when looking into what I may look to get. Looking on BP's website the one thing that is mentioned in the stats of the reels are of course the gear ration and line # test rating, but what is the line rec wt (oz) part all about. Example would be 6.3:1 28" 7.9 OZ what is that 28" part all about? I guess the big thing that might come down to what makes my decision on whether I need a baitcasting reel or not is if I were to go after some pike, not REAL big pike but moderate, I only now have a spincasting reel that is rated with 6lb test for 175 yrds and a medium action 6'6" graphite rod rated for 8 to 17lb line. The reel came with an extra spool so I can put some other line on and trade when I need to but if the spool itself is only rated for about 175 yrds of 6 lb, I don't think I could get very much 12 or 15lb test on there, and I don't think my rod would be up to the challenge as well. I wouldn't be fishing for big fish like pike all the time, I'm more the bass/panfish/trout fisher but wouldn't mind having the experience of pike fishing. Would just a bigger spinning rig be the way to go or still consider baitcasters?
 

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The 28" would be how many inches of line the reel brings in on a full handle rotation. This number can be different even though the ratio is the same between two reels, because if you have a larger spool in the reel as opposed to a small one---Good Luck!!------By the way, that reel at Dicks I told you about will handle about anything you can get into in Colorado...
 

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Derajaman said:
The reel came with an extra spool so I can put some other line on and trade when I need to but if the spool itself is only rated for about 175 yrds of 6 lb, I don't think I could get very much 12 or 15lb test on there
If you want to convert reel capacities for different line weights, you can use an approximation as follows:

Old line test X Old line capacity / New line test = New capacity

For example using your numbers,

175 yd X 6 lb / 15 lb = 70 yd

So a reel that holds 175 yd of 6 lb line should hold (about) 70 yd of 15 lb line.

W. E.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Ah, thank you very much W.E. I definitely was wondering if there was an easy conversion for that. Then according to that I would only get about 70 yards of line and I would have to bet a fish could probably rip that off pretty quickly or I would have to be replacing it quite a bit as I use the line up.
 

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I have a couple of Ambassaduer C4s on my Pike rods. They are good reels for a reasonable price. I like 7' Medium Heavy action trigger sticks.
 

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Great advice so far... Fan of the Shimano Curado 6:2:1 myself ($120), excellent all around reel.  I've had a bunch of them on St Croix med and med-heavy rods for many years.  If you think you might prefer the left handed variety for an easy transition to baitcasting, you're options get a bit more limited b/c not all mfrs offer them so may need to consider that (Curado has one).  One other thing to note, it also depends on the type of fishing and lures you'll be mostly using the reel for.  If you throw a lot of lightweight lures (say 1/16 -  3/16),  then you will probably be in for a big learning curve of backlashes unless you get a reel that is more specialized for that (unfortuantely a good one of those will be about 2.5x your budget so prob. not an option).  Whatever you get, just practice as suggested in your yard, house, etc, and you'll be good to go in no time! 
 

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The Curado is not a bad reel...It's just not as smooth and built-to-last as others. I had three of them sent to me and they were ready for new bearings and a tune-up in about 8 weeks.
 

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Bassmaster, that is some good information. I wonder if they could use an article like that in the magazine? Sorry I can't help much with the baitcaster debate, I generally only use them for trolling, not much casting. The old Shimano 10Xsg has been my favorite for the little bit of casting I've done. Good luck. Jeff
 

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fishinlooney said:
Bassmaster, that is some good information. I wonder if they could use an article like that in the magazine?

Heh, heh, heh... In the current issue (the November issue that you should all be receiving any day now) there is a good article about Baitcasters and how to cast with them, written by yours truely. In the December issue there will be a review of three baitcasting reels, including the Shimano that bassfiend mentioned.
 
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