A fishing reel is a cylindrical device attached to a fishing rod used in winding and stowing line. Modern fishing reels usually have fittings aiding in casting for distance and accuracy, as well as retrieving line. Fishing reels are traditionally used in the recreational sport of angling and competitive casting.
From constructive point-of-view and field of usage reels are classified as:
(Some other constructive types exists, like spincast reels, centrepin reels or fly-fishing reels, but these are not included in the game, so we postpone discussions about them.)
Most important part is the drag mechanism, a mechanical means of applying variable pressure to the line spool or drive mechanism in order to act as a friction brake against it. This supplies resistance to the line after hook-up to aid in landing the fish without the line breaking. In combination with rod flex and fishing technique, this allows larger fish to be caught than the straight breaking strength of the line would suggest. The mechanics of drag systems usually consist of any number of discs (drag washers) arranged in a stack on the spool shaft or in some cases, on the drive shaft. There is generally a screw or lever mechanism that presses against the washers—the higher the pressure, the greater the resistance. Drag washers are commonly made of materials such as steel, Teflon, carbon fiber, other reinforced plastics or metal alloys. Since large fish can generate a lot of pulling power, reels with higher available drag forces (which generate greater heat) for higher-test lines will use stronger and more heat-resistant materials than reels designed for low-test lines. A good drag system is consistent (generates the same force over and over), durable and smooth (no jerkiness). Spinning reels have two types of drag: front or rear. Front drags, which have the adjustment located on the spool itself, are mechanically simpler, usually more consistent in performance and capable of higher drag forces. Rear drags, with the adjustment screw on the back of the reel, are more complicated mechanically and usually not as precise or smooth as front drags since the drag itself is often part of the drive shaft and not the spool. They are however, easier to adjust in mid-fight. Conventional casting reels usually use one of two types of drags: star or lever. The most common and simplest mechanically is the star drag—so-called because the adjustor wheel looks like a star with rounded points. Star drags work by screw action to increase or decrease the pressure on the washer stack which is usually located on the main driving gear. Reels with star drags generally have a separate lever which allows the reel to go into "freespool" by disengaging the spool from the drive train completely and allowing it to spin freely with little resistance. The freespool position is used for casting, letting line out and/or allowing live bait to move freely.
Proper drag setting depends on fishing conditions, line test (break strength) and the size and type of fish being targeted. Often it is a matter of "feel" and knowing the setup to get the drag right. With spinning reels and casting reels with star drags, a good starting point is to set the drag to about one-third to one-half the breaking strength of the line. For example, if the line is rated at 20-pound-force (89 N) test, a drag setting that requires 7–10 pounds-force (31–44 N) of force on the line to move the spool would be appropriate. This is only a rule of thumb. For lever drag reels with a strike position, most anglers start by setting the drag at the strike position to one-third the break strength of the line. This usually allows the full position to still be safely under the line rating while providing flexibility during the fight. Depending on the conditions, some anglers may leave their reels in freespool then setting the anti-reverse or engaging the drag on hookup.
Choose wisely the reel, having in mind fishing conditions and target species. This table gives you some hints about advantages and disadvantages of each type:
||No line twist
Difficult to cast
|Targeting big fish
|Spinning reel||Rare backlashes
||Line twists||Smaller baits