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The Rooster

Can Less Bearings Be Better Than More?

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At BPS yesterday I took a look at the new Bionic Plus baitcast reel. It has 6 bearings. Normally one of those bearings is under the tension knob but this reel doesn't have one here. I took the cap off to see.

That got me thinking. Could it be possible this reel could maybe cast a few feet farther without this than it would with it?

Think about this. However small the startup resistance is in a ball bearing, it's still there. A reel having three bearings on the spool shaft has to overcome the resistance of three bearings at the start of every cast. One having only two bearings has 1/3 less bearing resistance. As long as the shaft extending through the pinion gear doesn't touch any other part or rub against the frame in any way then all else is equal. In theory, the two bearing spool shaft should have less resistance than the three bearing version. So then, how could the absence of a third bearing on the outer spool shaft end be a negative? The spool itself is supported up close on both sides with the two bearings it has. The rest of that shaft isn't doing anything but extending out to the tension knob to provide a slight resistance to slow the cast (some use it this way, like another brake) or to keep the spool from sliding left and right (I use it this way, no tighter than juuuuust barely touching to prevent sideways movement).

I looked close (close as I could) to see if there was any other support as the shaft passed through the crank handle side plate to touch against the tension knob and as far as I could see, the tolerance was tight but it looked like it just passed through a hole with a slight space all the way around the shaft. There was no bushing or any frame contact that I could see.

If the tension knob was tightened too much, then in theory the spool shaft could be forced slightly out of line and cause rubbing somewhere without bearing support at that end of it. But realistically, I don't think that's even possible. The tension would be so tight the reel wouldn't even cast in that scenario.

I know I'm talking about nearly microscopic units of measure here, with startup resistance of bearings and tension knob pressure, and all. Think of this as a brain teaser. Could it make any cast length difference, usable or not? This sort of makes me want to yank a bearing out of one of my reels and try it. Haha.

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While I don't have the answer to your particular question, I will say that bearing count in a reel is an overrated spec. Take for instance my Gen 3 STX and Gen 3 Revo S. My STX has 11 BBs. Four of those are in the grips to allow for better rotation of the grips lol. So that leaves 7 BBs "inside" the reel or on "crucial parts". My REVO S has 8 BBs, with 2 of those bearings in the grips, so that leaves 6 BBs "inside" the reel or on "crucial parts". So when you look at the boxes these reels come in and you see that the STX has 11 and the S has 8 you may think the STX leaves the S in the dust, but in reality the S has only one less bearing than the STX does where it counts. So IMO, I don't put a lot of stock in bearing count as it's a misleading specification. QUALITY of the bearings is a much more important factor. Let me know how that reel works out, as my wife was thinking of grabbing that combo.

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my wife was thinking of grabbing that combo.

That's a hellova good deal right there!! Mine still thinks worms are icky! Her idea of being outside is on a beach.

As for bearing count. I don't put any stock in bearing count. I've got reels with 5 and reels with 11.

My two Curado's have 5 and will outcast anything in my arsenal. Most of the time by 20 feet or more.

My Revo 3rd Gen S has 8 and next to the MGX I played with, is the smoothest feeling reel I've ever used.

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That's a hellova good deal right there!! Mine still thinks worms are icky! Her idea of being outside is on a beach. As for bearing count. I don't put any stock in bearing count. I've got reels with 5 and reels with 11. My two Curado's have 5 and will outcast anything in my arsenal. Most of the time by 20 feet or more. My Revo 3rd Gen S has 8 and next to the MGX I played with, is the smoothest feeling reel I've ever used.

Oh you have no idea bro. She's got four rigs and they are all bait casters, and some of the casts she makes is ridiculous! On top of that, she's a surgeon with a trolling motor, she dropped almost $100 at BPS this weekend, has 2 full worm binders, and was whining tonight that she needs a bigger tackle bag! Lol. And if that wasn't enough, she won the lunker award at a local tourney 2 years ago. She's definitely a keeper.

 

And back to bearing count, I have a Black Max 2 that has "only" 5 bearings, and it's as smooth as can be too despite being a "cheap" reel. 

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Oh you have no idea bro. She's got four rigs and they are all bait casters, and some of the casts she makes is ridiculous! On top of that, she's a surgeon with a trolling motor, she dropped almost $100 at BPS this weekend, has 2 full worm binders, and was whining tonight that she needs a bigger tackle bag! Lol. And if that wasn't enough, she won the lunker award at a local tourney 2 years ago. She's definitely a keeper.

 

And back to bearing count, I have a Black Max 2 that has "only" 5 bearings, and it's as smooth as can be too despite being a "cheap" reel. 

Ya I'm jealous!

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Come to TN and we will all take out the "party barge" lol.

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Come to TN and we will all take out the "party barge" lol.

Heck ya! As long as I can sport my Jayhawk swag I'm game!!

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Wear what you want bro lol. This is Vols country, so if we hear banjos I will just go faster lmao!

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Oh you have no idea bro. She's got four rigs and they are all bait casters, and some of the casts she makes is ridiculous! On top of that, she's a surgeon with a trolling motor, she dropped almost $100 at BPS this weekend, has 2 full worm binders, and was whining tonight that she needs a bigger tackle bag! Lol. And if that wasn't enough, she won the lunker award at a local tourney 2 years ago. She's definitely a keeper.

 

And back to bearing count, I have a Black Max 2 that has "only" 5 bearings, and it's as smooth as can be too despite being a "cheap" reel. 

 

I have 2 of those black max reels, and cheap as they are they work well. They are the only reel I have I can throw weightless against wind ect and not bird nest all the time.  

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While I don't have the answer to your particular question, I will say that bearing count in a reel is an overrated spec. Take for instance my Gen 3 STX and Gen 3 Revo S. My STX has 11 BBs. Four of those are in the grips to allow for better rotation of the grips lol. So that leaves 7 BBs "inside" the reel or on "crucial parts". My REVO S has 8 BBs, with 2 of those bearings in the grips, so that leaves 6 BBs "inside" the reel or on "crucial parts". So when you look at the boxes these reels come in and you see that the STX has 11 and the S has 8 you may think the STX leaves the S in the dust, but in reality the S has only one less bearing than the STX does where it counts. So IMO, I don't put a lot of stock in bearing count as it's a misleading specification. QUALITY of the bearings is a much more important factor. Let me know how that reel works out, as my wife was thinking of grabbing that combo.

Quality bearings is obviously more important but I can absolutely notice the difference in retrieve between a reel with bearings in the handle and not.

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At BPS yesterday I took a look at the new Bionic Plus baitcast reel. It has 6 bearings. Normally one of those bearings is under the tension knob but this reel doesn't have one here. I took the cap off to see.

That got me thinking. Could it be possible this reel could maybe cast a few feet farther without this than it would with it?

Think about this. However small the startup resistance is in a ball bearing, it's still there. A reel having three bearings on the spool shaft has to overcome the resistance of three bearings at the start of every cast. One having only two bearings has 1/3 less bearing resistance. As long as the shaft extending through the pinion gear doesn't touch any other part or rub against the frame in any way then all else is equal. In theory, the two bearing spool shaft should have less resistance than the three bearing version. So then, how could the absence of a third bearing on the outer spool shaft end be a negative? The spool itself is supported up close on both sides with the two bearings it has. The rest of that shaft isn't doing anything but extending out to the tension knob to provide a slight resistance to slow the cast (some use it this way, like another brake) or to keep the spool from sliding left and right (I use it this way, no tighter than juuuuust barely touching to prevent sideways movement).

I looked close (close as I could) to see if there was any other support as the shaft passed through the crank handle side plate to touch against the tension knob and as far as I could see, the tolerance was tight but it looked like it just passed through a hole with a slight space all the way around the shaft. There was no bushing or any frame contact that I could see.

If the tension knob was tightened too much, then in theory the spool shaft could be forced slightly out of line and cause rubbing somewhere without bearing support at that end of it. But realistically, I don't think that's even possible. The tension would be so tight the reel wouldn't even cast in that scenario.

I know I'm talking about nearly microscopic units of measure here, with startup resistance of bearings and tension knob pressure, and all. Think of this as a brain teaser. Could it make any cast length difference, usable or not? This sort of makes me want to yank a bearing out of one of my reels and try it. Haha.

Hey Rooster,

Many mfgs count bushing as bearings... :eyebrows:

 

Tight Lines!  :fishing1:

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Hey Rooster,

Many mfgs count bushing as bearings... :eyebrows:

 

Tight Lines!  :fishing1:

Yeah, they might but I'm not interested in bearing counts so much. That seems to be where this thread is heading. I'm more curious of whether having one less bearing on the spool shaft behind the tension knob could actually improve things a tiny, immeasurable amount by having less resistance (2 bearings, not 3). Not for real world use, just as something to think about only. But, as for counting bushings as bearings, if they advertise them as ball bearings then they better not be bushings.

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While I don't have the answer to your particular question, I will say that bearing count in a reel is an overrated spec. Take for instance my Gen 3 STX and Gen 3 Revo S. My STX has 11 BBs. Four of those are in the grips to allow for better rotation of the grips lol. So that leaves 7 BBs "inside" the reel or on "crucial parts". My REVO S has 8 BBs, with 2 of those bearings in the grips, so that leaves 6 BBs "inside" the reel or on "crucial parts". So when you look at the boxes these reels come in and you see that the STX has 11 and the S has 8 you may think the STX leaves the S in the dust, but in reality the S has only one less bearing than the STX does where it counts. So IMO, I don't put a lot of stock in bearing count as it's a misleading specification. QUALITY of the bearings is a much more important factor. Let me know how that reel works out, as my wife was thinking of grabbing that combo.

I didn't get the combo, I only looked at it. By the way, I want to say that all the individual reels on display at the counter were smooth, and worked as expected, but every combo I picked up had something wrong with the reel. I looked at 4 combos. All were either excessively tight to crank, even after adjustments, or the tension knob was very hard to turn, the gears felt gritty, the spool would spin just one second and stop dead, even with brakes set to zero and the knob backed off. Something was wrong on every single one of the combo reels. I took the knob completely off on the one it was so tight on, nothing wrong underneath that I could see. I put it back on and from the moment the threads connected it was tight again, almost like being cross threaded

I actually loved the reel but if I wanted one I'd first pay $80 for just the reel before paying $70 for the combo. I don't want to get rumors started about quality being off on the combo reels but my experience in store was that the same model reel from the box is better somehow. If you get one, check it thoroughly, and compare it to a singly sold reel also.

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Thanks for the info. I've swayed her into getting a revo s with the reel trade in deal, and a veritas with the rod trade in. 

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There's a whole lot more to reel performance than the bearing count.  Quality of the bearings, overall design of the reel, manufacturing tolerances, weight and quality control on the spool, the braking system, etc etc.  I like to see 6 bearings inside a reel:  2 spool bearings, 2 levelwind bearings, a bearing in the frame under the main shaft, and one in the frame around the pinion gear.  Anything more tends to be there to get the bearing count up and I begin to mark the reel down.  I don't much like bearings on reel handles.  They are exposed to abuse, water, dirt, etc and go bad faster than other bearings.

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Ask anyone that has done or has had a bearing upgrade done how many bearings were replaced. If they answered more than three, they were wasting money. Bearings in place of bushings add weight and the performance enhansment is so negligable that the majority of anglers wouldn't be able to tell the difference in either weight or performance of the same reel with or without those bearings.  Many quality reels are still made with only two spool bearings and one shaft (cranking) bearing. The Abu C3's and 4's are examples. 

I'm in no way implying that reels containing more than three bearings are a waste of money, just that good, quality, corrosion resistant bearings in the right locations are more important that the number of bearings.

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The Abu C3's and 4's are examples.

 

Adding bearings to both ends of the line guide pawl and a bearing supported replacement to the large plastic gear that is attached to the side plate will provide a HUGE improvement to casting ease and distance in the C series reels.

 

oe

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A low bearing count, in and of itself, is never better than a high bearing count.  However, a high bearing count does not necessarily equate to a better reel.  Case in point:  The Shimano Citica E VS the Shimano Caenan, which has more bearings but a graphite frame.  Those extra bearings won't stop the graphite reel from flexing under load.  I'd take a Citica over a Caenan any day of the week and twice on sundays.

 

I wouldn't mind seeing more reels like the Citica E, which is built with close tolerances but with only three ball bearings.  If you want more bearings, you can add them yourself, but the stock Citica is a sturdy and smooth platform.

 

Now, someone mentioned three spool bearings as being unnecessary.  I used to be of the same opinion, but now I'm not so sure.  On reels like the Citica and Curado with only two spool bearings, there's more potential for the spool shaft to bend.  When the reel is in gear it's fine, but put too much load on the spool when the pinion gear is disengaged and the shaft can bend.  Just the other day I was handed a Citica D to clean, and that particular reel has a warped spool shaft from too much pressure being exerted on it. Obviously this is not a common problem, and I'd guess that it happened while the clutch was disengaged rather than while fighting a fish.

 

On reels such as the BPS Extreme or Pflueger President baitcaster, the three spool bearings are located as follows:  One in the palm-side cover, one set between the spool and the frame on the handle-side, and a third bearing under the spool-tension knob.  One of those bearings isn't really necessary, but not the one you might think:  The bearing under the spool-tension knob.  Look closely at the spool shaft on such reels, and you'll see that it does not fit snugly inside the bearing.  This is intentional.  When the spool shaft flexes very slightly under load, that bearing comes into action and helps keep the reel running smoothly.  A bushing would probably serve instead, but it would have to be a metal bushing rather than nylon.

 

That third bearing has no effect on casting, so it doesn't really need to be upgraded if you want to increase casting performance.

 

Whether a three-spool-bearing design is more or less effective than a two-spool-bearing system is up for debate, but I'd be inclined to say that they're just different, and neither one is really "better" than the other.

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Yeah, they might but I'm not interested in bearing counts so much. That seems to be where this thread is heading. I'm more curious of whether having one less bearing on the spool shaft behind the tension knob could actually improve things a tiny, immeasurable amount by having less resistance (2 bearings, not 3). Not for real world use, just as something to think about only. But, as for counting bushings as bearings, if they advertise them as ball bearings then they better not be bushings.

The whole bearing question has been missed here, I understand your

question and will try to explain. when it comes to the bearings on the

main shaft, the center pinion and break cover bearing are the main ones

used in most reels for casting support. The outer shaft on many

manufacturers shafts, ( I wont name the different brands that are built

this way) have a slightly smaller end on the tension cap with the same

size bearing the brake side of the spool uses. This is not a bad thing

and allows for some less than perfect machining without compromising

casting performance or endurance, the only time the bearing in the main

cover at the tension knob gets a load is when fighting a fish or when

pulling large cranks and spinners when under torque on heavy cranking

pressure, if you use a bearing here it maintains smoothness, with a

bushing it would only loose efficiency on the retrieve and slightly more

effort to crank, not all that noticeable! when casting or retrieving

without a load on the gears you don't us it. 

 

But it would not be a good thing if you were using that reel as a deep diver

reel, then the bushing would be getting pressured all the time. I use a

reel made for heavy torque for a deep cranker and and big spinners, the

reel is the Calcutta. Shimano made this reel for 4x4 work and for

decades it has had no equal. 

 

The next time you check out a reel at the counter, take the tension knob off and turn the reel

with no load, you will be amazed at the manufacturers that use the

smaller end shaft to allow for larger tolerances without loosing smooth

and durable operation! The reels built this way only run .004 to .006

smaller than the bearing I.D. and don't acknowledge it as I have

confronted a few and that is not why they do it I am told. I clean and

tune reels commercially or would not have known this. It in no way

compromises performance, but if the reels were out of spec 2 or 3

thousandths from one end to the other, they would suffer performance

problems without this forgiveness built in, not to mention how much we

would pay for equipment built to "ROLEX" specifications!!

 

My suggestion would be to by a reel that has a bearing supported shaft at

the gear housing (tension knob) if it is going to be used for a lot of

heavy cranking, If you are using it for other applications it should do

fine.  Hope I explained what I was trying to say???

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That was a good explanation. I now know more about this bearing, why it needs to be a bearing vs. a nylon bushing, and what happens if there is none there. Having read that, I'm wondering if I could add a bearing in there and get the right size at all, being that according to the above description it's actually supposed to be a different size than the reel shaft. How would you order one to fill it? Mic the shaft and take off 0.006 for I.D.?

To address where this thread seems to have gone though, I think 4 bearings is all that is "needed" in a casting reel, and I like 5 myself, 3 on the spool shaft and 2 on the main crank shaft. 2 more would be nice on the worm gear, and 2 more on each handle paddle is even nicer to really slick it up for retrieving. I'm the type that wants new reels every few years anyway so it's of no real importance having bearings for longevity of the reel, only to make it smooth until trade up time.

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There's more to it than just counts, you got that right.  Bearing placement, and the mechanical structure of parts in action both when the reel is in freespool, and when engaged has a lot to do with it.  Although the basic concept of the baitcaster has remained unchanged for decades, the solutions engineered for each brand (or model, for that matter) has more to do with it. What galls me is the marketing over bearing counts.  More can sometimes mean worse. 

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Nigel Tufnel: The numbers all go to eleven. Look, right across the board, eleven, eleven, eleven and...
Marty DiBergi: Oh, I see. And most amps go up to ten?
Nigel Tufnel: Exactly.
Marty DiBergi: Does that mean it's louder? Is it any louder?
Nigel Tufnel: Well, it's one louder, isn't it? It's not ten. You see, most blokes, you know, will be playing at ten. You're on ten here, all the way up, all the way up, all the way up, you're on ten on your guitar. Where can you go from there? Where?
Marty DiBergi: I don't know.
Nigel Tufnel: Nowhere. Exactly. What we do is, if we need that extra push over the cliff, you know what we do?
Marty DiBergi: Put it up to eleven.
Nigel Tufnel: Eleven. Exactly. One louder.
Marty DiBergi: Why don't you just make ten louder and make ten be the top number and make that a little louder?
Nigel Tufnel: [pause] These go to eleven.
 

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It wasn't recorded in doubly.

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It wasn't recorded in doubly.

in BUBBLY I think

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