by Rob Edwards
If your like me and you pay attention to the various trends in fishing equipment, you may have noticed that over the years battles for “who can put the most bearings in a reel” or who makes lightest weight reel have popped up and are argued about by anglers off and on the water, the current trend that is starting to take over is: “who can make the fastest reel”, but what some companies don’t tell you is lighter and faster does not always translate into better!, so don’t get caught up in the hype of “my reel is faster then yours” and simply focus on what speed will best suit you and your style of fishing.. here is a brief breakdown of popular speeds and how they are best used.
5.1 – Slow and Powerful
Depending on your personal brand preference a 5.1 speed reel will often mean that with each rotation of the handle your reel will pick up approximatly 23 to 27 inches of line. When opting for slower reels there are a few things to keep in mind, first and foremost the slower reel means it will take longer for a crank or diving bait to hit it’s optimal depth, this means you bait will be in the strike zone for a shorter period of time. The slower pick up on a 5.1 can also cause trouble for anglers working heavier cover, if you are trying to muscle a big fish out of heavy cover the more line you pick-up on each crank the quicker you will gain control of the situation. Often companies tag a lower speed reel as a “power reel” which I find a little odd as usual when power fishing I may be moving the bait slow but once hooked up I want that extra speed to pull the fish home
What it’s good for?: A 5.1 is perfect for baits that require constant slow retrieves, like big swim baits and even jigs that you are dragging and hopping along structure. These baits notoriously force anglers to slow down their retrieve, but by opting for a 5.1 your letting the reel do the work for you
6.3 – The Standard is set
Like the 5.1 a 6.3 speed reel varies in the amount of line it picks up per turn, but you can safely bet that on average a 6.3 will fall between 28 and 30 inches depending on the size of the spool.
This is the most commonly used reel speed by anglers, and it is perfect for many techniques including crank bait fishing, top-water, spinner bait fishing, worming and much more. In all honesty there is nothing this speed reel can’t do, it allows you to slow down or speed up when required, thus making it the best all around choice for those in the market for your first or 100th bait casting reel
7.1 – Fast & Furious
Picking up on average 32-37 inches of line per turn, a 7.1 speed reel is often know as a burner (or it was until the 8.1 came along), these reels stepped up the game of the 6.3 offering anglers some extra line pick-up for those times when big fish and heavy cover make you sweat!
Like a 5.1 the 7.1 reel is not for everyone or every bait, its faster retrieve can and will alter the way your bait was designed to swim, so when using one for the first time, keep an eye on your retrieve and your bait to ensure it is performing as expected. 7.1 Speed reels are perfect for baits that do not required a constant retrieve, but often require some added pick-up once the fish is hooked.. Dock fishing is a good example, a 7.1 speed reel allows you extra pick-up to pull the fish out before he gets you wrapped up and it also allows you to bring the bait back to the boat quicker then ready to make a next cast
Note: Although this goes against what I just typed, I have fell in love with a 7.1 speed reel paired up with my Dobyns DX744 for spinnerbait fishing, I find it allows me to use one size bait (1/2oz) in various situations
8.1 – Whoa Did you see that?
All the rage in 2013 the 8.1 speed reel steps up to the table offering the angler a average 34+ inches of line per rotation, this speed is pretty crazy and makes we wonder where it will all end.. that being said there is a place for this reel in your arsenal especially if your a Frog fisherman.
No other technique is better suited to an 8.1 then frog fishing, the massive amounts of line this style reel eats up on the retrieve allows frog fisherman to cast their baits further with the confidence that their rod and reel will bail them out when battling a fish at long distance (A good rod like the Dobyns 736c is also key in these situations and will help ease the pressure put on your reel).
Frog fisherman are known to burn baits back to the boat quickly once the frog is out of the targeted strike zone, or when they miss a blow up and want to throw a follow-up bait, an 8.1 reel will help you eat up valuable seconds in both these situations making sure you keep your bait wet longer.
When I started writing this article I was pretty sure I had the bases covered, but a quick look at the cover of the In-Fisherman 2014 gear guide, I noticed that one company is out to break the speed limit and will be releasing a 9.1 in 2014.. Whats next?
About Rob Edwards
Rob has been fishing most of his life but began considering himself a diehard angler at the age 18. Rob spends all 12 months of the year chasing down various species with four of those months doing some on the ice. “From December through March I get on the ice as much as I possibly can, and once the ice is gone I move over to soft water crappie fishing and finally to bass when the season opens in Ontario in late June.”
Rob began getting his feet wet in tournament angling by initially fishing single events as a replacement angler (filling in for guys who had to drop out for one reason or another). In his second ever event, he fished to a second place finish and cashed “the big fish check.” Since 2011 Rob has been fishing tournaments on a more regular basis splitting time between BBTS, Quinte Bass Champs as well as Top Bass.
You can follow Rob on the following boards including his blog ”BassJunies Fishing Addiction”
Visit Rob on Facebook.
*This article originally appeared in NationalProStaff.com