I was recently asked in regards to purchasing a casting reel "Why wouldn't you just buy the casting reel with the biggest gear ratio? Wouldn't you want to reel on your line as fast as possible to reduce the risk of losing your fish?" 

My answer was "Yes, you want to get your catch to you as fast as possible but if you are using an incorrect gear ratio, you might not ever get a bite." Let me explain.

The gear ratio has a lot more to do with how you work your bait than just how fast you can pull in line. This is why manufacturers have the same reel in multiple gear ratios at the same price. You don't have to pay more just because you want a faster gear ratio. 

Let's think about what gears do in vehicles. When towing a boat, you would use a lower gear. It generates more power from the engine and increases fuel efficiency, but you must travel at a slower speed.

When driving a race car, on the other hand, where speed is the main focus, you want to get to the higher gear ratios as fast as possible. Moving into these higher gears means you get less torque or power but you don't need much of it since your vehicle is already in motion. Now the engine can be used to generate speed instead of power. It also means engine efficiency as well. More travel per turn of gear means less wear and tear on your engine and better fuel economy at faster speeds.

Back to fishing.... so how does all of this relate to my next casting reel purchase. Simple, what lure will you be using? 

If you plan on fishing deep diving crankbaits, think about the amount of power you are going to need to drive that lure down and then to be able to crank it back to your boat.  That action displaces a lot of water and requires a high amount of power; otherwise you will feel like you are trying to move a ton of bricks with your reel handle. In this case you would opt for a casting reel with a lower gear ratio.

On the opposite end, let say you are just throwing top water baits or Texas rigs which require slack line. You don't really need to have power to drive something down because either you are sitting on top of the water or your Texas rig plastic lure is falling with gravity. In this case, you don't really need power since most of your lure's action will be created with your rod but you do need the ability to reel in slack line fast to avoid missing hook sets. In this case you would go with a higher gear ratio reel.

There is usually always a goldilocks option for when you are fishing medium to shallow baits. The medium gear ratio reels do just that. It provides just enough power for squarebill crankbaits at around 10 feet of water to have enough action to trigger that reaction bite. In addition, it still has a high enough speed that your lure can be pulled through water without feeling like its floating away from the intended strike zone.

So there you have it, our low down on gear ratios and selecting the right one for you. I personally would have two based on what I fish with the most. If I was being really budget conscious and could only purchase one, I would look at where I live, where I do most of my fishing and what types of lure my confidence baits are. For me, although I live within 1.5 to 2 hours from 5 large bodies of water in central Texas, the waters that I fish the most don't really go down further than 15 feet. Combine that with my love for throwing soft plastics and I would select a Shimano SLX150XG/SLX151XG rated with a 8.2:1 gear ratio.

We hope you have found this article to be helpful and as always, 10-4 Good Buddy!!