Baitcasting reels on a boat deck

How to Select the Right Gear Ratio Fishing Reel

What is a gear ratio?

The gear ratio of a reel measures how many rotations of the reel’s spool are produced by one full turn of the reel’s handle. A 7.0:1 gear ratio reel will spin the spool 7 full rotations for every one turn of the reel handle. 

Why is gear ratio important?

The gear ratio of your reel (sometimes referred to as the speed of your reel) affects how fast you can retrieve a bait, which changes your ability to work a bait, your ability to maximize the number of casts you can make in a day, your ability to fight fish in sticky situations, and more. 

Let’s look at the different gear ratios and how they can affect your fishing. 

High-speed reels

High-speed reels are generally anything over a 7.0:1 ratio, with 7.1:1 being the most common and the fastest reels on the market going all the way up to around 10.0:1. Super high-speed reels are generally designed specifically for flipping and pitching. Since you’re not actually working the bait when you’re reeling it in, the quick retrieve allows you to get to your next flip faster, which results in more flips over the course of the day. 

7.1:1 and above reels are usually preferred for any technique where the bait is worked with the rod only and the reel is primarily used to reel in slack. I like a high-speed reel for any bait that you drag on the bottom for this reason. You also want a high-speed reel any time you’re fishing with heavy tackle around thick cover, as you need to be able to get fish away from the thick stuff as quickly as possible. 

Top of the line high-speed Reel:

Abu Garcia Revo Rocket Low Profile Baitcast Fishing Reel
  • 10 plus 1 stainless steel HPCR bearing system
  • Rocket 10.1:1 gear ratio
  • Power Stack Carbon Matrix drag system
  • Infinite brake system
  • Infinite II spool

Budget Reel:

Abu Garcia 1430435 Revo x Low Profile Baitcasting Reel, 6.75: 1 Gear Ratio, 27" Retrieve Rate, 18 lb Max Drag, 8 Bearings, Right Hand ,Black
  • Carbon matrix hybrid drag system for super smooth reliable drag performance
  • Duragear brass gear for extended gear life
  • Carbon Matrix drag system provides smooth and consistent drag

Moderate-speed reels

A moderate gear ratio is generally anything between 6 and 7. I like a moderate-speed reel for any bait that you work with a combination of the rod and the reel, for example a spinnerbait or a swim jig. A 6.4:1 reel is fast enough that you can reel up slack, but not so fast that you overwork the bait. 

A 6.4:1 or 6.5:1 reel is a great reel to buy if you don’t have a ton of tackle. It’s a good multi-purpose speed that isn’t too specialized, so you can get by doing just about anything with it. 

Top of the line moderate speed reel:

Abu Garcia REVO4 SX-HS Revo SX Low Profile Fishing Reel
  • 9 stainless steel ball bearings plus 1 roller bearing provides smooth Operation
  • X2-Craftic alloy frame for increased corrosion resistance
  • C6 carbon side plates provide significant weight reduction without sacrificing strength and durability
  • Power stack carbon matrix drag System provides extreme drag pressures combined with unpatrolled smoothness
  • Dragger brass gear for extended gear life. Instant Anti-Reverse feature is available


Abu Garcia Silver Max Low Profile, Right-Handed (Box), Multi
  • 5 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing
  • Machined aluminum spool
  • Power Disk drag system
  • MagTrax brake system.Compact bent handle and star.Recessed reel foot.One-piece graphite frame.graphite sideplates.Flipping Switch
  • International products have separate terms, are sold from abroad and may differ from local products, including fit, age ratings, and language of product, labeling or instructions.

Low-speed reels

Low-speed reels are generally anything under 6.0:1. Almost anything this slow is considered a cranking reel, meaning it’s designed specifically for throwing crankbaits. High-resistance crankbaits in particular, such as 20+ foot divers, really demand a low-speed reel just for the sake of your arm. Throwing a high-resistance bait on too fast of a reel all day will wear you out. 

Your deep-cranking reel should be a low speed reel. Shallower crankbait fishing is more of a matter of preference of how fast you want to be fishing. Some anglers stick with low speed for all crankings setups. I personally like to go up a little for anything under 10 feet. It just gives you more options and it’s easier to slow down than it is to speed up. 

Top of the line low-speed reel:

Abu Garcia REVO4 WNCH Revo Winch Low Profile Fishing Reel
  • 8 stainless steel ball bearings + 1 roller bearing provides smooth Operation
  • Winch gear ratio allows for a slower presentation that is ideal for crankbaits and other high resistance lures
  • X2-Craftic alloy frame for increased corrosion resistance
  • C6 carbon palm side plate provides significant weight reduction while an aluminum handle side plate provides added strength and durability
  • Power stack carbon matrix drag System provides extreme drag pressures combined with unpatrolled smoothness

Budget: You will very seldom find any low-speed reels for under $100 on account of how specialized they are. 

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