Between The Lines - Ch 02: The Gear
A game reel is essentially a complex geared winch used to store enough line to cope with the long runs the targeted fish are capable of.
There are many sizes available. The reasons for this are that different line classes are of different thickness and to get 1,000 yards onto a reel needs different sized spool sizes to accommodate them. Many of the reels are also used for stand up fishing so weight is a factor.
It should also be able to retrieve the line under pressure which is controlled by the gearing. Many aid in this retrieve power by offering multiple speeds. Though there is a great deal of difference between brands and models of the power transferred through them.
The reel will be in high speed most of the time. The low-speed gear is used to put maximum pressure on if using the high-speed gear is not easily gaining line under load. When line is gained easily at low speed, resume high speed.
Power is the effort taken to wind the handle against the pressure of the line. The smaller the spool and the higher the gear ratio, the harder it is to wind the handle.
The greatest factor regarding reel, or rather size is inertia. That is the force it takes to spin the spool when it is at rest. The heavier the spool the more the inertia, though newer materials have decreased the weight size ratio significantly. With many of the fish, we are targeting this is very important as the initial acceleration on strike is quite formidable. This aspect of the balance of line class and reel size is most critical.
Ideally, you want the largest spool the line class is capable of coping with. In many cases, this is a reel one size up from the class nominated i.e. 15kg line on a 24kg reel. A plus in this is that the larger reels generally have more power and are easier to wind under load and the larger spool also increases the speed at which line can be recovered.
Speed is very important. Generally the larger the reel, the larger the spool, the faster the retrieve is. This makes it easier to get gear in and keep a tight line while backing down and when fish swim towards you. However, if you intend free spooling baits then you want as small and light as spool as possible to minimise spool inertia and weight.
The reel should be able to allow a fish to take vast amounts of line through controlled release mechanism called the drag. The drag should be adjustable through a vast range of pressures and maintain these pressures at a constant rate and cope with the vast heat generated by the friction caused.
The preference is for lever-drag reels. These allow you to set a known drag in a known position on their drag lever arc. They often have strike buttons and markings for your preferred settings. This type of drag allows you to fight by increasing or decreasing pressures as the fight progresses - while always knowing where your predefined setting is.
The harness lugs on top of the reel are a necessary part of heavy tackle fishing. They are also an advantage on lighter tackle. Even light tackle can take its strain on an angler in a long fight. A harness is a welcome accessory in these circumstances. They are also very useful when fishing solo or short-handed, as once you've got a harness on your hands are free to help get lines in, drive, tag, trace etc.