There are a few things to consider when selecting the best bass reel for the style of fishing you want to cover. But the main thing you want to know is the types of lures you plan to fish with it.
This doesn’t mean you can’t repurpose a reel down the road, but knowing what you intend to use the reel for is a great place to start. The first thing it does is determine if you should be getting a baitcaster or a spinning reel.
This page breaks down everything you need to know about bass fishing reels, giving you the information you need to find the right reel for the lure you’re fishing.
Types of Bass Fishing Reels
The two best reels for bass fishing are baitcasting reels and spinning reels. Each style excels when used in certain applications, and every bass fishermen should or will own both at some point.
They are paired with two different style bass fishing rods. Very simply, a spinning reel goes with a spinning rod, and a baitcasting reel goes with a casting rod. The way to tell the difference is spinning reels are seated below the rod and baitcasters are seated on top. Also, only casting rods will have trigger built in to the rod handle.
When making the comparison baitcaster vs spinning reel, it mainly comes down to three factors: Technique, lure style, and lure weight. Lets go over both types of reels and what each excels at.
Baitcasting reels are the workhorses of the two, and the ones that bass anglers do the majority of their fishing with. If you are serious about bass fishing you will likely own one or more baitcasters.
They are designed to handle heavier line, in the ten pound test range and up. These reels will likely handle the majority of your lures, but some sizes and gear ratios are better suited for certain lures.
Baitcaster Gear Ratio
The reel speed on a baitcaster is measured by its gear ratio. The gear ratio is the number of revolutions the spool makes after one full turn of the reel’s handle. So when you see a reel with a gear ratio of 6.4:1 for example, that means the spool is turning 6.4 times for every one full handle turn.
Speed ratings get as fast as 8:1 and as slow as 4:1, with the more commonly used speeds falling in between. The difference between an 8:1 gear ratio and a 4:1 gear ratio is very noticeable. But when you start comparing fractions of a spool turn it’s nearly impossible to notice a difference.
Determining the best reel speed depends mostly on the kind of baits you plan to use with the reel. You also need to consider how fast you personally reel your reels. Everyone has a natural reeling speed that’s second nature, and everyone is different.
Mid Speed Baitcasters
Mid speed reels like in the 6:1 and 7:1 range handle the majority of bass fishing. One of the most used and arguably best gear ratio for bass fishing is a 6.4:1, but really anything in that range. These reels are good for swim jigs, spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, or any power fishing lures like these.
In reality, you could get away with only using reels in this speed range. So if you’re only going to own one or two reels, you should stick in the mid speed range.
Slow Speed Baitcasters
Slow-speed reels, like in the 4:1 and 5:1 range, are your cranking reels. These are ideal for bigger baits that displace a lot of water. A couple examples would be deep diving crankbaits or big swimbaits.
Low gear ratio reels have more torque, so it’s much easier cranking in these big baits that have more resistance in the water. It might sound crazy but cranking big baits can take it out of you. A low gear ratio baitcaster will significantly help keep you from tiring yourself out.
High Speed Baitcasters
High speed reels like 8:1 and higher are good for flipping and pitching, or anytime you want to get the bait back quick like with jigs, texas rigs, or punch rigs. In this style of fishing it’s all about flipping the bait to a spot and retrieving it and flipping to another target quickly.
Is this to say you couldn’t fish a jig with a mid speed reel? Of course not, but this is just explaining how a high speed reel can make you more efficient on the water.
If you’re just here for a suggestion on a good baitcasting reel then you can’t go wrong with the Shimano Curado K. This reel comes in three speeds: the standard one (6.2:1), the HG (7.4:1), and the XG (8.5:1). If you are planning to use this as a general purpose reel then go with the 6.2:1 standard model.
Spinning reels are what most fishermen start off using, since they are much easier to use than a baitcaster. But that doesn’t make them any less valuable to the sport of bass fishing. There are times when a spinning rod will far exceed the results of a baitcaster.
Spinning reels are better suited for lightweight lures, which makes them especially great for finesse fishing. Finesse lures require light line, and spinning reels excel when spooled with lines in the two to fourteen pound test range.
Spinning Reel Sizes
Spinning reel sizes are measured in thousands, and the higher the number the larger the reel. A size 1000 being the smallest and getting as high as 8000. The size spinning reel you need is mostly dictated by the line you intend to use with it.
Spinning reels in the 2500 to 4000 size range are the best spinning reels for bass fishing. If you intend to use the reel for finesse fishing then lean towards a smaller reel, if you plan to fish ten inch rubber worms then you will need stronger line so up the size of the reel.
Spinning Reel Gear Ratio
The reel size will also affect the gear ratio of the spinning reel, but the difference is usually fairly minimal. When you start comparing different spinning reel sizes you’ll notice they offer a small range of speeds.
Spinning reel gear ratio is not as big of a factor as it is with baitcasters. So although the reel speed will increase with the reel size, it’s usually not a significant increase and it doesn’t happen with every single size increment.
In other words, the biggest reel size of a particular spinning reel model will usually be faster than the smallest size of that model. But, the 2500 size may have the same gear ration as the 3000. This will vary across different makes and models, but the point is don’t invest too much thought into it.
Best Spinning Reel
For a spinning reel, the Penn Battle II in either 2500 or 3000 is a great choice for bass fishing. Spinning reel size dictates the line capacity. So these two sizes are perfect for the pound test line you will be using in bass fishing, which is in the six to fourteen pound test range.