indepth fishing reel Gear ratio explained for all fishing

Fishing reel gear ratio

What Reel do you buy for your next trip? Do you own fishing reels without knowing the mysterious number on the Reel? The gear ratio is one of the principal codes to transform your fishing experience on the water from ordinary to extraordinary.

When reeling in your prized catch, are you puzzled about plumping speed or power? There are a lot of misconceptions regarding fishing gear ratio; therefore, I selected this headfirst intriguing topic to make you feel comfortable deciding between different power, speed, stealth, strength, and versatility of fishing reel gear ratio, and I want to see you a maestro of gear ratios.

Fishing reel gear ratio explained

Hey, fishers! Gear ratio is a numerical number that shows how many times your Reel’s spool rotates with the full turning of the handle at one time. That is an essential factor that may dominate the line retrieval speed or power to catch a fish. The gear ratio is time written in two numbers separated by a colon, like 7.2:1 or 6.1:1, in which the right number is always 1, which denotes one-time handle movement. In contrast, the left-sided number varies, showing the reel gear ratio. As 7.2 shows, the reel spool rotates 7.2 times for every revolution of a handle, and 6.1 shows the spool moves 6.1 times at 360 degrees at one turn of the handle.

As the gear ratio rapidly increases, the spool motion expands with faster line retrieval, and one thing to reminisce about is that a fast or high gear ratio works best for fast-moving lures.

If you want to trigger more heavy fish that require controlled movements, a low-gear ratio reel provides strength to deal with a high-weighted cast.

There are many reel types, but others outmatch spinning and bait caster reel have their gear ratios.

What are the different gear ratios in the market?

Gear ratio slow to fast explained

Gear ratio means line recovery rate. The diversity of angling expertise may vary from tranquil lakes to rivers and big bass to marlin. But one question popped up: Can one gear ratio conquer them all? We answer that every gear ratio has a unique performance in acute conditions. We grouped ratios into three sections.

  1. Low/ Slow gear ratio
  2. Medium/around gear ratio
  3. Fast/ High gear ratio

1- Low gear ratio (4.1:1- 5.4:1)

 Low-gear-ratio (4.1:1- 5.4:1) explained

A slow gear ratio means the spool rotates less time by turning the handle one time. It reduces the line retrieve but is best where you want more power and strength. You need some force to perform this task if you are targeting marlin or deep-dwelling fish. A low gear ratio provides more torque to control handle resistance at a slow speed. The power created by the low-gear Reel tired the fish, but they felt delighted to catch heavy prey.

What is the best gear ratio for bottom fishing?

The best gear ratio for bottom fishing is in between 4.7:1 and 5.4:1, a low gear ratio range for more cranking power with slow line retrieval. Contingent on the depth of the water, specific fishing techniques, and the size of the targeted fish.

Low gear ratio range

The gear ratio range depends on each angler’s personal preference and self-experiment. Some say its range started from 5.1:1, or for someone, the ratio (slow) clings to 4.1:1 and goes until 5.8:1, but honestly, all these variations are valid based on different reel models and manufacturers.

Low gear ratio application

I started my career as a bait caster, doing everything from weightless worms to spinnerbaits and crankbait to walking bait with a low gear ratio. Low gear ratio works in a situation where power and control matter over speed, such as:

  • Deep Sea Fishing: Battling with a large game fish underwater is possible with a low gear ratio, where controlled retrieve is vital.
  • Trolling: The slow gear ratio is handy for trolling fishing in which anglers control the big fish by sitting on a moving boat or at a static pace by putting an artificial lure on a target object by turning to slow, fast, or down-rigger fishing.
  • Ice-fishing: Ice-fishing is a practice of lining up lures and fish hooks by opening them in the water and is widely done at Lake of the Woods, Devils Lake, Oregon, or Chamber’s Lake in the USA and a slow gear ratio of 5.1:1 befitting even with 2-4lb line test to trap a heavy fish is easier because cold water fishes have slow metabolism, making them less likely to chase after fast-motion lures.
  • Dirty water: Highly stained or contaminated water where fish cannot detect the line, and slow retrieval is possible by exposing the soft bites of big fish.
  • Powerful fish: Reeling a heavyweight fish that resists being brought to the surface. You can wrench a big muskie,Pike, sturgeon, bass, or salmon with a low gear ratio between 4-5.

Advantages of low gear ratio

A low gear ratio reel means more torque or lure move to catch deep water fish. What are the possible good out-turn of slow gear ratio reels?

  • Steady pressure: Maintaining constant pressure during a prolonged battle to wear out a fish can be done effectively only with a low gear ratio.
  • Less line tangling: When you try to retrieve a line slowly, it has fewer line tangles and twists, saving your Reel from being wasted.
  • Less fatigue: A low gear ratio means the handle rotates slowly, and you never need to roll down the handle instantly and run short your arm—joy with a slow reel and exhaustion-free fishing.
  • Deep diving lures: Slow gear ratio potent for deep crankbaits, big swimbaits, deep water spinnerbaits, and big baits to keep them at a desired depth.
  • Fighting the current: Landing fish on a strong current can be a  deceitful task, as the current makes a fish break accessible, causing the line to bow or reducing bite detect-ability, but the torque and power of low gear ratio enable you to put unceasing pressure on the fish, making it harder to escape against the current.
  • Great Sensitivity: The low gear ratio comes in a mechanism that gives great sensitivity to anglers to feel the minor tug of a fish, which is a significant advantage.
  • Directed retrieval: It manages the speed or movement of a bait or lure by putting it on a fishing line. A controlled recovery of slow gear ratio allows you to inch your lure along, giving nearby fish ample time to strike due to bottom bouncing. You can also create suspense in water by a steady retrieve to trigger strikes.
  • Better hookset: A low gear ratio means more power and torque, which means more pulling power when you set the hook. Setting the hook means applying consistent pressure to the security of the hook penetration. The high power of the low gear ratio allows you to maintain even pressure, no slack of line, fighting currents, and pulling out a heavy fish without preventing the hook from tearing or slippage.

Disadvantages of low gear ratio

Low gear ratios have exceptions to specific characteristics that make the other two categories more famous. Why do people want to buy low gear ratio sparingly?

  • Reduce the efficiency of certain lures: Lures are designed with specific action and movement to mimic prey, but in low gear ratio, when you use a lure that needs to be dart, dash, or twitch hurriedly, it becomes less appealing to predator, and you can hardly generate fewer action bits from fish.
  • No adoption of multiple fishing techniques: The techniques that require speed and power to bring the deep water fish to trap by a quick action seem beyond with low gear ratio. Pitching and flipping, vertical jigging, trolling, freelining, or topwater lure action can only be done with a high-speed gear ratio.
  • Less engaging: A low gear ratio might be tiring for some anglers, especially those who make their hand in fast presentations. We hear many of them get bored by the steady and monotonous act of slowly cranking the handle with less line retrieval.
  • Time-consuming: Fishing with a low gear ratio is time-consuming; you can win one fish at a time while catching 3 to 4 fish using a high gear ratio.
  • Not for small fish: low gear ratio creates more torque to drag a fish, so what will it do to small fish? Of course, it’s a killer one. Using a low gear ratio for Panfish, Trout, Small Bass, Perch, Whitefish, and small freshwater Drums is an unsound idea.
  • Less coverage: You cannot cover a large area of water swiftly with a low gear ratio, and due to this limitation, also does not like this gear ratio because searching fish for expansive water bodies and exploring a wide range of place is going to be sturdy with a less gear ratio.

low gear ratio examples

Gear ratio also depends on the personal preference of anglers. So when I was searching on this topic to come to know other anglers’ views, I came across the example of a bicycle, which I am supposed to expound to you all that whenever you go to drive a bicycle in a hilly place, you need more power for torquing it with the less speed. At the same time, whenever you rush out to drive a bicycle on a flat-surface road, the speed might be 3x the prior speed. The low fishing gear ratio also works in that way.

Either sacrifice speed in low gear ratio


Torque and power in high gear ratio

Examples include:

  1. Penn Battle ll spinning Reel with 5.2:1.
  2. Shimano Sedona FI Spinning 2500 reel with 5.0:1
  3. Okuma Sedros CJ-65S Spinning REEl with 430/12 line capacity and 5.8:1 gear ratio.

2- : Medium gear ratio (6.1:1-6.4:1)

A medium gear ratio stands between a low or high gear ratio. So, what do we get from it? Of course, the power of low gear ratio and the speed of high gear ratio to some extent. I appreciated this range very much because of its ease of handling by the fledged/ newbie for everyday usage, and I also see many bass anglers who prey on bass with this medium gear ratio. With a moderate turn of the spool for every single turn of the handle, this Reel is versatile for a wide range of usage.

Medium gear ratio range

A medium gear ratio starts from 6.0:1 and goes back to 6.6:1, offering a middle ground between slow and high gear ratio. If you just stepped into the fishing world, these flexible range reels make you a better fisherman to look up for the next gear.

Medium gear ratio applications

For forcing an aggressive fist for a strike, I prefer using 6.4:1., though a medium gear ratio is a masterstroke in these applications.

  • Reaction baits: Reaction baits like Spinnerbait, Squarebill crankbait, Shallow Spinnerbait, Medium-depth crankbait, Chatterbaits, and Liplessbaits often amalgamate the action and retrieval to strike fishes. This ratio enables you to impart the desired lure action and swiftly retrieve the bait.
  • Multiple Lure techniques: Muti lure techniques on a single fishing trip are a good yes because of the medium gear ratio. If an angler wants to trigger active fish, he may use spinnerbait or lipless crankbaits, have an eye on finicky fish in-depth, go with a bottom-bouncing jig to provide fish more visual or sensory cues, you can combine soft plastic worm with jerk bait, and use multitudinous light and dark color lures to ensure effectiveness throughout the day.
  • Best retrieval speed: The adaptability of the medium gear ratio shines when you need various prey movements. Whether you are stimulating a baitfish’s slow flutter, a Crayfish’s crawl, or a baitfish’s darting escape, the medium gear ratio covers more ground than the low gear ratio.
  • All-purpose versatility: Medium gear ratio excels for many fishing techniques. Whether you target Bass, Trout, Panfish, or other freshwater or inshore species, a medium gear ratio works in every capacity.

Advantages of medium gear ratio:

  • Perfect line management: Throwing or casting lines is a balance for efficient line balance without being too slow or fast.
  • Adaptable to particular conditions: Medium gear ratio might glide better from calm water to light currents.
  • Reduces tiredness: With this middle gear ratio, your exhaustion level may decline due to a compromise between retrieval speed and energy expenditure.
  • Smooth lure presentation: The moderate retrieval speed provides finer precision, whether working a jerk bait with subtle twitches or slowly dragging a soft plastic along the bottom.

Disadvantages of medium gear ratio:

  • No specialization: When you want speed to move your fish from the water quickly, a medium gear ratio might excel in this technique.
  • May not workable: Medium gear ratio is between fast and slow, so whenever targeting a deep-dwelling fish, a high-speed gear ratio might excel, or when targeting heavy and bottom-dwelling fish with more torque, a low gear ratio might work better than a medium gear ratio.
  • Sub-optimal for specific lures: Lures are designed either very slow or a fast presentation to trigger the strikes. For instance, finesse fishing that demands a painstaking slow retrieve to mimic natural prey might be better done by the low gear ratio, while on the other part, lures that require erratic or flashy movement to provoke particular strikes will be performed more with a high gear ratio.
  • Pressure on rod due to larger fish: When hitting big fish with great strength, a medium gear ratio faces challenges controlling the fish during the fight because of its decisive run. It would help if you decided on a reel with a low or high gear ratio.
  • Long distance casting: In cases where casting distance matters most, primarily when you target fish far from the shore or boat, a high gear ratio is fetching to cover more ground with quick cast.

Examples of medium gear ratio:

A medium or versatile gear ratio examples are:

  1. Daiwa TTUCT100HL Tatula CT baitcast Reel (6.3:1)
  2. Abu Garcia Revo SX Spinning Reel (6.2:1)
  3. Shimano Stradic Ci4 + 4000XG FB Spinning Reel (6.0:1)

3- High-Speed Gear ratio (7.1:1- 9.1:1)

A high gear ratio reel, a big dilemma of the present time and a more demanding reel is widely accepted by all anglers. If you have much experience with the low gear ratio, jump on to the high gear ratio reel. With one turn of the handle, the fast-moving spool fits your needs.

High gear ratio range

This ratio is with you when you are trying for swift movement, jerky movement, and precise control online, and its range starts from 7.1:1 and goes to 9.1:1 with the advancement in fishing tools, Abu Garcia introduced a high-speed gear ratio in Revo Rocket Baitcasting Reel with 10.1:1 that is a remarkable success in fishing reels. For ultrahigh-speed, I used Shakespeare reel with 7.2:1, which I heard from my fellow angler, and the result was super smooth with fewer line tangles.

High gear ratio application:

High gear ratio is one of the essential ratios of fishing reel gear ratio suitable in these ways.

  • Best for trolling and power fishing: Trolling is a fishing technique in which the angler ties one or more fishing lines while sitting in a boat or any static position to sweep the line side by side, and with the help of a high gear ratio, you can entice reactions baits quickly.
  • Active fish area: When fish feed post-haste, a high gear ratio signals you to prey on these aggressive fish by provoking strikes.

The formula is simple:


  • Jigging and skipping techniques: Jigging is a method of fishing by attaching a jig lure, a weighted lure that jerk and jump in a vertical motion to attract the fish in fresh and saltwater. Due to the skipping technique, fish never see the presentation and allow you to hook that fish and retrieve it quickly.
  • Lure presentation: A high gear ratio is potent with dynamic lure presentations. What type of lure can you pair with a high gear ratio? This ratio is good for Jigs, Texas Rigs, Jerkbait, Crankbait, Inline Spinnerbait, Lipless Crankbaits, Topwater rigs, and Carolina rigs. These lures work on their way for deep fishing up to 110 feet down in water. Try muskie bucktails to catch it briskly.

Tip: Apply Flippin (fixed line out for placing lures in a tight cover), Pitching (release line to cast on a targeted fish), Froggin (using topwater frog lure in an aquatic vegetation area), or Worming techniques (plastic worm) while using high gear ratio.

High gear ratio advantages:

  • Time control: One of the biggest unmanaging things in this era is time. With a high gear ratio, you can cast more, cover a wide area, and make more lure presentations within a less time circle.
  • Less energy: Due to the rapid line retrieval, anglers’ fatigue chances are less, even during longer fishing sessions.
  • More casting distance: A high gear ratio sanctions the angler to cast further. I usually reach 35 yards to catch my bass, PikePike, and aggressive saltwater fish.

High gear ratio disadvantages:

  • Effective in worm water: In warm or high weather, fish become more active in search of food, typically on the upper water in the early morning or late evening, and by using a high gear ratio reel, you can trigger them. But what to do in cold weather? A major drawback.
  • High in price: The more features the baitcasting or spinning Reel gives, the higher the company charges—a big no for the pocket.
  • Missed subtle strikes: Fish that give caution strikes may not be detectable due to fast line retrieval of high gear ratio. It means you missed many chances of luring a fish.
  • Never catch a skittish fish: Some fishes might be frightened by the rapid movement of lures presented by the high gear ratio, causing them to shy away from biting.

High Gear ratio examples:

Here is a quick overview.

  1. Shimano Curado K 200hg Baitcaster Reel ( 7.4:1)
  2. Daiwa TATULA SV TW Baitcaster Reel ( 8.1:1)
  3. Abu Garcia Revo Rocket Spinning Reel (7.0:1)

What factors are considered before buying a gear ratio reel?

The primary factor that must be remembered is whether you are luring with a bait caster or spinning rods because both have tremendous advantages and some disadvantages.

Slow gear ratio: Moves the lure slowly: More grinding power

High gear ratio: Move the lure quickly: less grinding power

Always rely on those factors that suit your fishing style and proclivity. Some fundamental factors include:

What are the two main components of fishing Reel gear?

The gear of any reel is the main component that decides the working of the Reel. What is the best gear ratio for spinning Reel? The spinning reels are mostly used due to its versatility and ease of usage. They come in multiple ratios. Go with the 5.4:1-6.0:1 to get a perfect match between speed and power and 5.1:1 or less for slow action baits and lures. I used 6.1:1 after my friend’s suggestion and was happy with this. Two central gear systems are working inside the spool. One is the pinion gear, and the other is the main gear. So, explain it slightly concerning the fishing reel gear ratio.

1- Pinion Gear

A pinion gear is a smaller gear located at the center of the handle of the Reel and becomes part of the main gear. It is slightly smaller than the main gear but engrossed to transmit power from the Reel’s handle to the main gear. It comes in three material types; one is brass, the others are aluminum or stainless steel, and much of the line retrieval speed depends on the speed of the pinion gear. A precisely aligned gear ratio contributes best to the operation of a reel.

2- Main Gear

The primary gear ratio is positioned parallel to the spool and more prominent in diameter than the pinion gear and efficiently works splendidly to increase the power and torque of a reel. Its material is based on composite such as carbon or polymers. It curbs the helical gearing that distributes weight on all lines and reduces friction because of DLC ( Diamond-like carbon) coating. Some high-quality gears are corrosion-resistant against saltwater.

What is IPT, and how it matters?

As an angler, I give more value to counting IPT rather than gear ratio. IPT means inches per turn, or a line pick-up rate is a crucial meter that tells us how much line is retrieved with the complete 360 turns of a handle. A linear distance of the fishing line also affects lure presentation, line management, and the angler’s ability to control a fish. IPT is not a too desperate subject, but it is closer to the gear ratio.

Simple to remember:


     Larger Spool= More IPT

     Small Spool= Less IPT

How to measure IPT at home? In your left-hand game, you can do this by applying two formulas.

  • Line Retrieval  per handle/ Cranking reel handle one-time IPT


  • Spool circumference/ Gear Ratio= IPT

      5.25 (inches)/ 6.3 = 0.83.

IPT of a reel may be understandable if you have an IPT of 30; it is clear that with every turn of the handle, you can retrieve 30 inches of line, and the speed of gear ratio varies with the range of IPT. High IPT reels are favored for fast-action lures like crankbait, while low IPT reels are better for slow-movement techniques like jigging.

To manage a handy IPT, what steps should be followed?

After familiarizing yourself with the importance of IPT, you need to encounter these factors to optimize your fishing reel IPT.

  • Select the right Reel. A reel with a high gear ratio has more IPT, and vice versa.
  • Fill the spool with the right amount of Reel, not too low or too high.
  • The reel IPT must match the line.

Lighter lines mean more IPT.

Heavier lines mean low IPT

  • Adjust your handle turn speed with Reel’s IPT.
  • Always check the balance of your experience.

More experience (Use high IPT)

Newbie in the field ( Less IPT)

  • Manage your IPT according to the fishing conditions.

Windy condition/ Strong Current (High IPT)

Calmer condition ( Slow IPT is required)

Which ratio is meant for what purpose? Fishing reel gear ratio chart

As the fishing techniques transpose, the preference may also get altered. My cousin bought a Daiwa Fuego 2500 reel with 34.5 IPT 2017 but was shy to pair it with a suitable gear ratio. I suggested he buy a 5.3 gear ratio for cold water fishing or 6.2:1 if he would fish everywhere, and he loved to implement it. However, as per my personal experience and after many hours of research, I prepared a table or chart to clarify your enmesh thoughts.

Gear ratio
Ball Bearing
Max drag
Worm fishing
Beach fishing
Saltwater fishing
Bass Fishing
Spinnerbait fishing
Finesse fishing
Ice fishing
Live/dead bait fishing
Spinning reel
Fly Reel
Freshwater fishing

Note: Ball bearing, IPT, or a max drag may vary due to every manufacturer’s reel design. I give a rough estimate but have a profound research on gear ratio to pair with a reel.

Tip: If you want to discover saltwater species, buy a 7′ ST Croix Avid MH rod with 6.3:1 by setting Texas rigs on it.

People need answers

What does a gear ratio mean on a fishing reel?

A gear ratio represents the relationship between the pinion and main gear to interlock them in reels inside’s mechanism. It lucidly denotes how many times the gear will rotate on a single turn of a handle. For example, a gear of 7.1:1 clarifies that for every full-term movement of a handle, the spool will rotate 7.1 times to effect line retrieve and casting accuracy.

Which spinning reel should be paired with a 7.1:1 gear ratio?

If you rely on my experience, I favor the KastKing Speed Demon Elite Spinning Reel. It has been available in two sizes, 2000 or 3000, with IPT of 38.6(2000) or 42.1 IPT (3000), Max drag of 17.6lb, and in an Aluminium alloy frame.

What is the best gear ratio for Jig fishing?

It is a type of weighted bait that involves using a jig to catch a wide range of Bass and Walleye. When someone asked about the jig gear ratio, I answered all of them that a gear ratio in the range of 6.3:1-8.1:1 is a good choice for jig fishing, but I personally used 7.1:1 for jig fishing.

What is the 5:1 gear ratio?

As per the number’s science, the spool rotates five times for every turn of the handle, and this comes under a low gear ratio. This work is sumptuous for more cranking power, slow line retrieval, and control over bait or lure. Catching a big bass, catfish, bottom-feeding species, and inshore saltwater species is a child’s play.

What is the 6.6:1 gear ratio?

6.6 indicates the revolution of a spool, while 1 shows one turn of a handle. It is a medium gear ratio, and you can feel more tug of medium-depth water species that can run 8-16 feet.

In a nutshell

Now, I will give a summary of my topic.

  • For upper water/ warm/ Shallow water fishes ( Choose high gear ratio, 6/7/8/9)
  • For bottom/ deep/ cold water fish( choose low gear ratio, 3/4/5)
  • Look for gear ratio and IPT also; if the gear ratio is low, to give more IPT, go with it.
  • When you rely on one company and buy rod, Reel, and line spool from the same company, check out the gear ratio, but if you buy from diverse companies, you prefer IPT.
  • Select a low gear ratio for lures that are moved by shaking the handle and a high gear ratio for the lures that are displaced from their area due to the power of the tip of a rod.
  • For Barbel and PikePike, sort out on 4.3:1-4.8:1.

6:1 is better than 5.1:1 for catfish

4.9:1 works best for all saltwater fishing.

Use an artificial lure with a 6:1 gear ratio for bass fishing.

About Haseeb

Haseeb, a 35-year-old fishing angler, has dedicated 20 years to perfecting his craft. His passion for fishing was sparked at the age of 15 when his father instilled in him a love for the sport. Since then, Haseeb has immersed himself in the world of angling, acquiring extensive practical experience and a deep understanding of fishing techniques. With certifications, tournament wins, and a commitment to academic pursuits, Haseeb's expertise shines through as he continues to excel in various fishing environments, driven by his unwavering enthusiasm and genuine love for the sport

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