Selecting a Fishing ReelLearn More
If it’s cranking power you want, select a conventional reel.
Unlike spinning reels which mount on the underside of a spinning rod with the axis of their spool parallel to the rod, conventional reels mount on top of the rod with the axis of their spool perpendicular to the rod. The mechanics of this arrangement gives conventional reels more cranking power compared to spinning reels, which makes them a popular choice for trolling and big game fishing.
Most all conventional reels have either a star drag or a lever drag, either of which serves to slow the speed the line that is paid out to a runaway fish. Both types of drags utilize drag washers to apply resistance to the spool. Reels with larger drag washers generally offer more stopping power when it comes to a fish that is making a run.
When shopping for a conventional reel, pay attention to the number of ball and roller bearings it has. The best conventional reels have up to six ball bearings and one roller bearing. In general, the more ball bearings a reel has, the smoother it will operate under load.
Another consideration is the gear ratio of the reel. “Gear ratio” refers to the number of times the spool rotates for each turn of the crank. Two-speed conventional reels enable anglers to shift up (example: 6:1) for a fast retrieve or down (example: 2:1) for greater power when playing a fish where “slow and steady” wins the day.
Some conventional reels include a level wind mechanism, which ensures that the line wraps evenly on the spool during a retrieve.
For deep, heavy-duty bottom fishing or kite fishing, some anglers opt for an electric, power-assisted conventional reel, which can help to reduce angler fatigue.
When shopping for a conventional reel, make sure it has the line capacity you need for whatever fish you are after. Reel spools are rated for line capacity (usually measured in yards) which can vary depending on whether you use nylon mono, fluorocarbon or braided line. Typical line weights range from 10 pounds for a small conventional reel up to over 100 pounds for a large, heavy-duty, saltwater, big game reel.
West Marine offers an outstanding selection of conventional fishing reels from suppliers such as Okuma, Penn, Shimano, Daiwa and Avet.