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How To Pick A Baitcaster 101


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#1 retiredbosn

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Posted January 20 2013 - 05:50 PM

With all the threads wanting recommendations on this reel or that, add to that the amount of request for information from new anglers I thought it may be helpful to have a thread on the essentials of picking a reel. I've been buying baitcasters for years now and just last week I found myself asking questions about a reel, so this may prove helpful to more than just new anglers. First and foremost and let’s get this out of the way right at the start, IMO you will not get a quality reel less than $80 NIB, period; unless you find them on sale at closeout. This isn't to imply that a quality reel is out of anyones budget, I hardly ever pay full price for my reels.  I typically get everything on sale, last week I purchased a reel at 60% off of retail, a $120 reel for $50 bucks. I find this time of year to be one of the best times to find a deal, you have overstocks, last years models, etc that stores are clearancing to stock the latest model. 

 

The Frame:

First and foremost make sure it is one piece, and aluminum.

The frame is the foundation of the reel, bad frame bad reel, no matter the bearing count or how smooth it feels. IMO regular graphite framed reels are not worth the money, and some of these frames are found on reels costing almost a $100. I corresponded this week with a reel manufacturer about this very thing, the tech rep tried to help me understand the differences in graphite but I can’t say it helped, lol. There are basically four types of graphite frames, graphite, reinforced graphite, composite, and composite reinforced.  From my correspondence with the rep, composite reinforced graphite are as good as graphite gets, but it is still weaker than aluminum. His opinion was that it would suit a weekend angler, with no chance of hooking a large long running fish.  For 10-20 dollars more, I think it is worth getting aluminum.

 

Bearings:

Here it is quality over quantity.  How many bearings does a reel need?  3 bearings are enough for long casts and smooth operation.  4 is better, after awhile I really don’t know where they are putting them.  I have reels with as many as 11 bearings, a quick scan of the schematic shows, 2 bearings on each end of the spool shaft, a bearing directly under the pinion gear, under the spool,  at the handle paddles, one on the worm gear (for what purpose I have no idea), etc.  The point is there is absolutely no need to buy a reel based just on bearing count.  A reel with 4 quality bearings will out perform a reel with 12 low quality bearings.  Bearings are rated by ABEC 1 is standard up to 9 being NASA quality, fishing reels use 1, 3 , 5 and 7. A good reel technician can update shaft bearings in a quality reel with grade 7 bearings and it will make a big difference in casting distance. Google Bearings 101 and there is a good article there that is helpful and informative.  Thanks Tom, WRB.  What is important with bearings is quality; stainless steel minimally, some ppl like ceramic, or some type of hybrid.

 

Spools

I don’t think I remember seeing anything but anodized aluminum, or machined aluminum.  The point is you want a metal spool.

 

Gears, Gearing and Speed

Obviously gears should be made out of metal, brass being pretty much standard, each manufacturer has their own take and alloy.  Some of the real low end reels have plastic gears, avoid them like the plague.  Gearing is the ratio of spool evolutions to handle, a 5.4:1 means the spool rotates 5.4 times per handle turn. The lower the ratio the more torque the reel has, increase the ratio lower the torque.  Speed which is measured by Inches of line recovered Per Turn (of handle) or ipt. Contrary to popular belief this is not dictated by gearing alone, spool size comes into play, amount of line on the reel, etc.Do not confuse gearing and speed, though related they are not the same. Today a standard speed is something in the 6.2 to 6.5 :1 gearing, with anywhere from 24-28 ipt. It is interesting to note though at one time a 5.4:1 bringing in 20 ipt was described as high speed, you will still read old articles where a pro states you need a  high speed reel for DD’s, again  these are old articles from the era that 21ipt was high speed. DD Crankbaits require a low ipt, somewhere around 20-23 ipt, shallow and lipless Crankbaits 23-26 ipt, Spinnerbaits can be slow rolled to burned.  The newest thing is high speed, reels bringing in 30-34ipt, mainly used for jigs, pitching, burning buzzbaits etc.  Soft plastics and the like can be fished on any speed you like. 

 

Anti-Reverse

Most reels today have instant anti-reverse through the use of a crankshaft sleeve and roller bearing, some have a pawl backup that catches on the trip ratchet under the gears.  Some have just the pawl with multiple stops, this is handy for crankbaiting according to some professionals. 

 

Brakes

A good braking system makes casting these reels so much easier.  Two types of brakes dominate the market; the magnetic system and centrifugal system.  Within the past few years it is possible to get a dual brake system, and even more recent a twin centrifugal system.  Each system has its pro’s and cons, supporters and detractors.  A quick explanation of each seems in order.  Centrifugal brakes typicall consist of anywhere from 4-6 brakes, that can be turned on and off.  These brakes work during the first part of the cast to keep your spool from overspinning and thereby reducing the dreaded over-run, as the spool slows these brakes reset.  Magnetic brakes typically work on the back end of the cast and slow the spool to keep over-runs at the end of the cast. Some brand's mag brakes provide braking for the duration of the cast. Dual brakes obviously work during the first and second half of the cast, some of these can be set to where it would be almost impossible to over-run.  Flukemastr has a video pinned at the top on how to setup a baitcaster, and the information in the video is great.

 

Maintenance

Gears get a little grease, bearings a drop of oil.  If you purchase a quality reel, maintain it and it will last you for years, maybe a lifetime. 

 

Manufacturers

Although there are allot of different brands there are not that many factories producing reels.  I asked a reel smith a question recently about construction and he was very informative. Pflueger and Abu Garcia are Pure Fishing reels, the factory also manufactures BPS reels. I also suspect that Lews are made here too, as all of these brands look like they share the same DNA.  Some parts interchange between a Revo and a BPS Pro Qualifier! So in reality although you may have your favorite brand, that doesn’t mean the factory only makes that brand.  I’m not going to bash or degrade any brand there are good products being produced by every major manufacturer. 

 

Also note, some but not all of the manufacturers offer composite reinforced graphite frame.  Others offer reinforced graphite and a couple do not state anything but graphite.  Like I’ve already written a composite reinforced graphite frame will last awhile, perhaps longer than I’m willing to give them credit for, but when I can get an aluminum frame for 10-20 bucks more I’ll go with aluminum.

 

So to recap, in a reel you want a one piece aluminum frame, quality bearings, brass gears, in the speed and gear ratio to suit your fishing style.

 

I'm sure there are things I forgot, please add your advice.


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#2 Crappiebasser

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Posted January 20 2013 - 06:02 PM

The easier way is to look for the one that says 'Shimano' on the box. Just kidding, great information. I never knew BPS was made by Pure.

#3 deep

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Posted January 20 2013 - 06:17 PM

Good stuff OP. I'd like to add a little about the price aspect. This is geared towards those members (like me!) who don't always have $$$ to spend on a baitcaster and are somewhat new to baitcasting. You know what you're looking for in a reel (frame, bearing etc). Now try to buy used reels with those specs and save a few bucks. I'm partial to Shimano reels myself; so I won't know about other brands. But an excellent condition Curado B/ Citica D will cost you around $60 shipped if you can shop around. An used "good" reel is a better deal than a NIB "junk" reel that'll fall apart after a season, or worse yet, when fighting that big fish.


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#4 Goose52

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Posted January 20 2013 - 06:18 PM

A good writeup - E for Effort.

 

Centrifugal brake shoes are not normally spring-loaded.

 

Standard magnetic brakes (not to include Daiwa Magforce V and Z which is a whole 'nother topic) affect the spool rotation throughout the cast - not just at the end of the cast.

 

For the zillionth time - BPS baitcasting reels are not made by "Pure Fishing."


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#5 retiredbosn

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Posted January 20 2013 - 07:02 PM

Centrifugal brake shoes are not normally spring loaded.
For the zillionth time - BPS baitcasting reels are not made by "Pure Fishing."




Revo and BPS reels have springs on the brakes, to reset the brake. The centrifugal force has to be enough to allow the brake to compress the spring to engage. When the spool slows the spring pushes the brake off. One of the features you find on most reels produced in that factory. Edited brake section

 

My point there was to illustrate how one factory makes several brand. You are correct that BPS reels are not rebranded Pure Fishing reels, they are made in the same factory to different specs. Though the Pflueger, Revo, BPS brands have many similarities and interchangeable parts. Cabella's reels aren't Quantums but that's who makes them, my point was that one factory produces different brands. Also edited the manufacturers section. Thanks


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#6 WRB

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Posted January 20 2013 - 07:08 PM

I don't where some of this information is coming from! All the reels you mentioned are made off shore, most by Okuma in S.Korea or China...not in the USA , Sweden or Japan.
The original Ambassador 500 red reels had centrifugal breaks!
I fully agree with high quality bearings, few if any of the reels mentioned come stock with high quality bearings.
Daiwa, Shimano, both made in Japan use highest quality bearings and Ardent is the only bait caster made in the USA and has high quality bearings. The legacy reels had 2 to 4 bearings on the spool shaft, level shaft and bushings in the end caps. The modern reels add bearings to the crank handles and may have 2 piece crank shafts with addional bearings. High quality bearings are important and add expense.
There isn't any reason to anodize a fresh water reel spool, used in salt water it's a good idea to have a corrosion preventative coating, like anodize.
The legacy reels often used brass nickel plated frames with aluminum end caps, today's frames are usually aircraft (7075-T6) machined aluminum alloy and incorporate composite end caps to reduce weight. You don't want a reel with cast aluminum frames that reduces cost. The reel mounting seat should be an integral unit to the frame.
Today's anglers rely on brakes, our generation relies on an educated thumb!
The modern have wonderful drags compared to the legacy reel and the high end reels have state of the art drags, although most bass anglers do not utilize them effectively.
The modern reel have close tolerance fit between the spool and frame that prevents small diameter line from getting inside the reel, legacy reels don't.
The reason I am mentioning legacy reels is today's state of the art becomes tomorrow's discount reels.
Tom

#7 LgMouthGambler

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Posted January 20 2013 - 07:10 PM

Most important, look for the Shimano name and the words Curado or Chronarch as well.
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#8 Goose52

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Posted January 20 2013 - 07:15 PM


Revo and BPS reels have springs on the brakes.

 

The dual-braking systems used on those reels have spring-loaded shoes.  Centrifugal-only systems, going back 60 years to the Ambassadeur 5000 (as Tom just mentioned) and moving forward, to include Shimanos, and the Revo S for instance, do not have springs on the brake shoes - they free-float.

 

Not trying to nitpick - you did a GREAT job...but some of your declarations are not true for all systems...


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#9 retiredbosn

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Posted January 20 2013 - 07:24 PM

Good stuff OP. I'd like to add a little about the price aspect. This is geared towards those members (like me!) who don't always have $$$ to spend on a baitcaster and are somewhat new to baitcasting. You know what you're looking for in a reel (frame, bearing etc). Now try to buy used reels with those specs and save a few bucks. I'm partial to Shimano reels myself; so I won't know about other brands. But an excellent condition Curado B/ Citica D will cost you around $60 shipped if you can shop around. An used "good" reel is a better deal than a NIB "junk" reel that'll fall apart after a season, or worse yet, when fighting that big fish.

 

 

I agree absolutely.  I don't normally pay full price for any of my reels.  You can with some creative shopping buy a quality reel for 59 bucks NIB.  I purchased a NIB Accurist for 59 once, and last week I purchased a Kinetic for 50 NIB. Deals can be found, and there is no need for anyone to be handicapped by a bad reel, even on a budget.  Then as you stated the flea market here is a great place to get a gently used reel for a great price. 


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#10 retiredbosn

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Posted January 20 2013 - 07:36 PM

I don't where some of this information is coming from! All the reels you mentioned are made off shore, most by Okuma in S.Korea or China...not in the USA , Sweden or Japan.
The original Ambassador 500 red reels had centrifugal breaks!
I fully agree with high quality bearings, few if any of the reels mentioned come stock with high quality bearings.

Tom

 

Help me out Tom, I'm a little confused. My intent wasto start a thread that could help point people in the right direction when purchasing a reel.  I know all the reels I mentioned are made in China or Korea, didn't realize I implied differently, let me know where so I can edit that portion.  I have some old knuckle busters that have no brakes at all, they are in storage now, they are Pflueger I think with patent dates of 1897 or something like that.  Maybe they aren't classified as baitcasting???  On the bearing issue, the first baitcasters I purchased were discount chain specials, Shakespeare Axiom and something else, anyway the bearings in those were not even stainless.  I wanted to help others avoiding some rookie mistakes that I have made, and stainless bearings are better than regular steel. 


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#11 retiredbosn

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Posted January 20 2013 - 07:52 PM

The dual-braking systems used on those reels have spring-loaded shoes.  Centrifugal-only systems, going back 60 years to the Ambassadeur 5000 (as Tom just mentioned) and moving forward, to include Shimanos, and the Revo S for instance, do not have springs on the brake shoes - they free-float.

 

Not trying to nitpick - you did a GREAT job...but some of your declarations are not true for all systems...

 

 

Thanks Goose, I really want a lot of input on this, its educational for me and others as well I'm sure.  I appreciate all the comments, and  think through a collective effort I can gain much needed knowledge, and maybe help someone else out too.  On the brake thing, my Gen 2 Winch has springs on the shoes, of course the pitch ones do not.  Do you think I could set it up with one pitch brake and one spring loaded? Or at times during the cast would the spool be a little unbalanced from having just one brake applying pressure. Also let me know if the braking section is better after the edits.  Thanks


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#12 WRB

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Posted January 20 2013 - 08:38 PM

It goes under no good deed goes unpunished and I also support your effort.
Google Reel bearings -101 good article online. Bearing are rated by ABEC 1 is standard up to 9 being NASA quality, fishing reels use 1, 3 , 5 and 7. A good reel technician can update shaft bearings in a quality reel with grade 7 bearings and it will make a big difference in casting distance.
For example I still fish with 3 Daiwa 103HTS1A's from the mid 90's that cost $165 back then. The reels have been upgraded with grade 7 ceramic hybrid bearings and Shimano drag disk, perform and cast as good as any reel on the market today. If you buy good quality, the reel will last a long time with care and upgrades.
The reason I dislike anything made in China is they ignor our laws, patents, regulations and will counterfeit parts.
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#13 bassinbrian

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Posted January 20 2013 - 09:02 PM

Most important, look for the Shimano name and the words Curado or Chronarch as well.

:puke:
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#14 aavery2

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Posted January 20 2013 - 09:11 PM

Most important, look for the Shimano name and the words Curado or Chronarch as well.

 

 

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#15 Broke bass fisherman

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Posted January 20 2013 - 09:19 PM

Thanks. That helps explain a lot as I look into BC in the future. Thank you so much!!




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