Gear Ratio on Fishing Reels

All fishing reels have a gear ratio that will help determine the type of fishing you will be doing. Gear Ratio can be a bit of a mystery but is important in the function of a fishing reel. There are some differences in speed, and torque for all fishing reels, and choosing the correct gear ratio for your fishing reel will go a long way to help you catch more fish. What is Gear Ratio on fishing reels?

Gear Ratio on fishing reels is broken down into 3 classes:
Slow (5:1 or lower) for Spinning reels heavy lures-live bait-crankbait & swimbait
Medium-(6:1 & higher) most common for topwater & uses most baits
Fast (7:1 & higher) for Baitcasters-pitching bass in close quarters, with rapid line recovery

All fishing reels no matter what type comes with a specific Gear Ratio which is a three-digit number that describes how many times its spool rotates every time you turn the handle once. Whether you’re fly fishing, slinging a bait caster, or casting a spinning reel, the Gear Ratio applies to each one.

What is Gear Ratio on fishing Reels


Main and Pinion Gears in a Fishing Reel

Gear ratio refers to the ratio of output torque to the ratio of input torque. Gear reduction reduces speed and increases torque. Fishing reels have these gears the pinion gear and the main gear that work together inside affecting torque and speed depending on the type of fishing you are doing and what performance you desire in the reel.

A higher ratio means more speed and a Lower Ratio means more Torque. The first number in the Ratio Gear results in the small Pinion Gear-The higher that number the faster it retrieves the line.

The Pinion Gear-This smaller gear comes into contact with the spool and turns it. The pinion gear has teeth-like grooves that link into the main gear.

The Main Gear-The main gear has grooves that link up with the pinion gear. As the main gear turns, it causes the pinion gear to rotate the spool and pull the bait. Each gear has teeth-like grooves which allow them to connect to each other to rotate the spool.

The numerical “gear ratio” of any fishing reel is determined by the number of teeth on each gear. Take the number of teeth on the larger drive gear and divide it by the number of teeth on the smaller pinion gear and you get that reel’s gear ratio. For example, a 72-tooth main gear and a 12-tooth pinion gear produce a 6:1 ratio.


Best Gear Ratio For Baitcaster


 Baitcasters are as the name indicates, these reels designed for casting baits. They give better accuracy in casting but not as much distance. If you are going to be fishing with swimbaits,  spinnerbaits, jerk baits, topwater lures over seabeds, and structures that you need to retrieve extremely quickly then you will want to increase this to a 7.1:1 gear ratio for some extra speed sometimes at the cost of losing some torque.

There are a few factors that determine the Gear Ratio on a fishing reel and what the anglers need for the type of fishing he/she is doing. Think of the Gear Ratio as a 10-speed bike and how raising and lowering the gears determines how hard you have to peddle the bike to make it move. The larger or higher the gear the easier it is to turn the back tire and the less you have to peddle to make the tire go around one full rotation.

The gear ratio worked like this principle without the advantage of being to change gears on a fishing reel. A gear ratio is a three-digit number that describes how many times its spool rotates every time you turn the handle once. For example, a 7.5:1 gear ratio means that the spool rotates 7.5 times for every single turn of the handle.

So, the higher the gear ratio, the faster the retrieve speed of your reel. In general, Casting reels are faster than Spinning reels, which usually go from 5.1:1 to around 6.5:1, while Baitcaster reels start around 5.5:1, and go all the way up to 9.3:1.


Baitcaster Gear Ratio Chart


The 3 main types or categories of casting reel gear ratios are slow, medium, and fast, which together cover all the different fishing tactics and applications.

Gear ratio Speed category Retrieve rate Main applications
5.5:1 to 6.6:1 Slow speed 23″ to 27″ Fishing heavy lures (e.g. big crankbait and swimbait)
6.7:1 to 7.9:1 Medium speed 28″ to 33″ Standard applications (e.g. spinnerbaits, swimbaits, plastic worms, bottom bouncing rigs, etc.)
8.1:1 to 9.3:1 High speed 34″ to 39″ Open water fishing, long casting, pitching/flipping, targeting bass close to cover



How do you Set the Drag on a Fishing Reel?

  • Locate Drag adjustment
  • Spin cast-behind handle
  • Spinning Reel-on top of the spool
  • Baitcaster’s combined braking system & star-shaped drag adjustment behind the handle
  • Find Line Breakage
  • Reel Drag is set to 20-30% of the breaking strength of the line
  • Pull line out-measure manually or use a Drag Scale
  • Set Drag .………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Read more


The most common reel on the market has a 6.4:1 gear ratio. This will allow you to work on both fast-moving presentations as well as slow ones. However, for certain techniques and applications, a very high or low gear ratio will often work best.

For instance, burning a spinner bait or buzz bait is best done with a 7.1:1 reel. Working a crankbait, on the other hand, is more effective with a slower gear ratio, such as 5.4:1. Higher gear ratios are often better when fishing areas of small strike zones, as they allow your bait to get back to the boat in preparation for another cast quickly and effortlessly.

Retrieve Rate or IPT which stands for inches per turn, is how many inches of fishing line are retrieved per turn of the handle. The gear ratio is how many times the spool turns per turn of the reel handle, a 6.4:1 gear ratio means that for every turn of the reel handle the spool turns 6.4 times.

The IPT is based on spool size and gear ratio, so a 6.4:1 reel with a larger diameter spool will have a higher IPT than another 6.4:1 reel with a smaller spool diameter. So it looks like this formula.

IPT = spool circumference X gear ratio

Two reels with the same gear ratio will have different IPTs if the spools are different sizes.  Larger (or fuller) spool = higher IPT.

Reels with a Gear Ratio of 7.0 or higher generally can retrieve 28 to 31 inches of fishing line with each complete crank of the reel’s handle. But this speed will sacrifice a loss of power.

Here is an excellent example of a High Gear Ratio Baitcaster for maximum speed available through Amazon called Shimano Chronarch MGL Low Profile Baitcasting Fishing Reels. It’s also available at a higher speed for your critical needs 8.1:1, 7.1:2 gear ratio, or slower gear ratio of 6.2:1, 7.1:1, 8.1:1


How Do You Re-Spool a Spinning Reel?

  • Open Bail
  • Tie string onto the spool with an Arbor knot
  • Run the Line through the first Guide
  • Stand over top of the new line
  • Apply resistance as you wind the line
  • Wind at least 100 + yds-1/8 to 3/16″ from the lip of the spool.
  • For Braided line-Use 1 layer of monofilament line
  • Use Uni Knot to tie both together …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….. Read more

Best Gear Ratio for Spinning Reel


Most fishermen believe that the best gear ratio for spinning reels is 6.0:1. This allows you to use this reel in a variety of applications from anything from spinnerbaits, jerk baits, topwater lures, and even jigging.

If you are intending on fishing for a very specific species or lure type then you may want to focus more intently on that requirement. Spinning reels are the most versatile and popular type of fishing reel. Because of their ease of operating they normally it your first type of reel.

They can be used for casting from the beach, trolling from a boat, bottom fishing, and casting lures or live bait all in one day. They can cast long distances and the angler can use lighter lines and lightweight baits.

Most spinning reels feature a gear ratio of 5.2:1 to 6.2:1 although some manufacturers are now offering models with a 7.0:1 gear ratio for bass anglers who want to quickly retrieve drop shot rigs or tube baits when fishing in deep water. This Penn Chart is a good example of comparing a Spinning reel Size, Retrieve Rate in inches, and Gear Ratio Chart:


Penn Spinfisher V & VI Spinning Fishing Reel Watertight spinning reel performs reliably in saltwater and sand Dur… | Fishing reels, Fishing storage, Spinning reels


Here is an excellent Spinning Reel from Daiwa Certate LT 19, G LT, Spinning Reel, Front Drag that is mid-sized and contains a 6.2:1 Gear Ratio made of Aluminum available now through Amazon.

  • Gear ratio: 6.2:1
  • yards/diameter millimeters: 164/0.23
  • Retrieval: 93 centimeters / 36.6 inches
  • Weight.: 225 grams / 0.50 pounds
  • Ball Bearings: 10

Hope you learned something! that’s the key to successful days on the water!


What Are Some Pros and Cons of Fishing with a Baitcaster Vs a Spinning Reel?

Baitcaster Reels:

  • Lighter & easier on your arm for casting lures
  • Offer precision casting
  • Have no bail system
  • Cons: Susceptible to Backlashing & Harder to use

Spinning Reels:

  • Easy to use
  • Can use lighter lures
  • Have interchangeable left/right handles
  • Less $ than Baitcasters
  • Cons: Not accurate & Susceptible to Wind Knot ……………………………………………………………………………….. Read more


JimGalloway Author/Editor


References: Bass Fishing and Catching-Gear Ratio

Bass Resource IPT vs Gear Ratio


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