What makes a fishing reel good?

With the huge variances in price I’m curious as to what makes a $100 reel better than one that’s half the price.Or even one that $300.

I fish for bass carp and channel cats ranging from 1-5lbs.How does my question pertain to the kind of fishing I’m doing?

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6 thoughts on “What makes a fishing reel good?

  1. the quality of the materials used. the workmanship. whether they are stamped out or machined on cnc machines. the bearings – whether they are ball and roller bearings or just bushings. even quality differences in ball bearings. you can probably find a shimano curado or a daiwa TD series for under 200 dollars. both are excellent quality reels. lots of others. you will see and feel big differences between these and a 50 dollar reel.

  2. I agree, it’s the quality of the materials used. Some cheap, unreliable spincast and some cheap spinning reels have gears made of plastic. Most reels’ gears are made of metal, but when a beginner see’s a Zebco 202 for 7$ he just has to get it. Doesn’t he? That’s an example of a reel with plastic gears. If you don’t know what gears are, they are the piece in a reel that brings the line back into the reel as you reel the line in. With a fish too big, it could tare a plastic geared reel up. They shouldn’t be used for anything except sunfish, perch or crappie. Also, i’ve even had fishing reels made of glass! Also, made by Zebco. Hey, they had a deal at Wal-Mart! If you drop it on accident it’s gone, it’s not a good choice for kids. I’ve owned everything from $7 Zebco’s to $75 Shimanos. Which at 75$, it isn’t a high-priced reel. I’m just too cheap!!! I also fish for carp, channel catfish and bass too.

  3. There are various things that affect pricing of reels. # of bearings, how smooth the reel is, how light weight it is, gimmicks (fancy paint jobs etc), amount of drag, etc. If you want a good reel try out the Shimano line, if you dont like those try quantum (you should be able to find the previous models on sale, since there is a new line set to come out). I personally do not like Daiwa and Abu reels, but some people love them, so it doesnt hurt to try those out also. Also be sure to look at the retrieve rate of the reel, what types of bait you are using will determine the speed you are going to want. Hope this helps.

  4. seems that the more pricey reels have more ball bearings. the machined parts make a smoother reel. good question, sometimes I think they are over priced.

  5. First, having more ball bearings does NOT make a reel better. I have a Shimano Biomaster (5 bearings) and it’s 10x smoother than the TD Sol I have that’s got 7 bearings.

    It’s all about the tolerance allowed when machining parts (basically, how well they fit together – space between parts, slop in the gears, etc.), bearing TYPE and quality (also, the lubrication used in the bearings will change the performance and feel of the reel – ie. thicker lube will cause the reel to feel slower/more “tired,” and thinner lube will cause the reel to be fast), the materials used will also play a big part in how the reel feels.

    Aluminum will break down over time as material rubs together. If you have a “cheaper”/less expensive reel, they are typically made with unhardened aluminum and tend to become sloppy and noisy as the age – a direct product of losing metal due to pressure and direct connection in the gearing and housing. If a reel uses brass or hardened aluminum, that problem is SIGNIFICANTLY decreased and sometimes altogether eliminated.

    Drag washer/disc composition will change as you climb the price ladder. Manufacturers will use cheaper material like felt in the low end reels, and in the higher end reels, they will often pack them with proprietary drag concepts – ie. dartanium and carbon.

    The difference between a $50, $100, and $300 reel is usually frame/rotor material (graphite vs. aluminum vs. magnesium etc.), internal material (plastic vs. aluminum vs. brass vs. “other”), bearing type/quality (ABEC rating, lube application, and overall quality control – ie. swiss made (best) vs. chinese (crap) vs. japanese (decent) etc. ), and lastly, how well those pieces fit together.

    As for the type of fishing you’re doing, it’s not going to be too hard on a reel. I ask a lot from my reels, as they are manufactured with trout in mind, and I fish them for much larger fish. Fish in the 1-5lb range are not going to be able to test ANY drag, so that’s out as a factor. They aren’t going to exert TOO much force either. If a person takes even the slightest of care of their reels, then they’ll last a while in this kind of fishing. It’s not heavy enough to damage gears, bend spool shafts, of dislodge pinions. It’s going to come down to personal feel. Smoothness and feel are personal preferences. Some people don’t care that their reel is a silky as a baby’s butt. Others need that unparalleled feeling. A $19.99 (Shimano AX) dollar reel can land a fish….so can a $550.00 reel (Daiwa Steez)…. If you have the money, then don’t waste time with the cheaper stuff – just buy what you can based on what you feel in the reel.

    Compare the feel IN HAND – it’s the only way to truly know the difference.

  6. There has been some excellent answers already but i would like to add one small point. The actual reels lifespan, you will find cheap reels last for only a few years,a good quality reel will last you a lifetime.

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