Get Your Bearings
Ever consider what that “+1” designation means when researching the number of ball bearings in a spinning reel? In general, the higher the number of ball bearings, the smoother the reel.
“The Penn Torque has seven ball bearings, so it has a 7+1 bearing system,” says Mike Rice, business manager at Penn Reels. “That ‘+1’ is a roller bearing.”
Roller bearings are under the rotor and keep it from spinning backward, says Rice. That’s why they’re sometimes called anti-reverse bearings.
One other feature, not to be confused with a roller bearing, is the line roller to which the bail arm is attached. Make sure your spinning reel has one — it helps prevent abrasion and twist when line enters or leaves your reel.
What’s the perfect gear ratio for your style of fishing? First off, let’s explain exactly what “gear ratio” means — it’s the number of times the bail rotates around the spool with a single handle turn.
For example, the Shimano Saragosa 25000 SW has a gear ratio of 4.4-to-1. That’s 4.4 rotations of the spool for every crank of the handle. The fewer the rotations per turn, the slower the speed of the reel, and fewer rotations of the bail mean that less line is added to your reel per turn of the handle.
“For bait applications, we go with a slower gear ratio to increase power within the reel, making it easier to turn under load,” says Robby Gant, part of Shimano reels’ product-development team. “For lure applications, we use a higher gear ratio.”
One might assume that a high-speed reel is the way to go. Heck, it gets your fish to the boat faster! But you walk a fine line when dealing with gear ratio and the amount of power your reel has, says Gant.
“You can have a fast reel with power, but the downside is durability,” says Gant. “You then drop the speed and gain durability.” Gant says that as a gear company, Shimano understands the mix of speed, power and durability.