What Does Gear Ratio Mean on a Fishing Reel


Fishing is an extraordinary outdoor activity that is fun and exciting. It is one of the most exhilarating ways to enjoy nature. Although it is a fun ride, some jargon hinders a beginners’ fishing experience. There are tons of factors/terms that are difficult for beginners to understand. One major question that definitely arises is What does gear ratio mean on a fishing reel?

Out of all, mostly the term ‘gear ratio’ confuses the vast majority of the anglers. You might have seen gear ratio ranging from 4 to 9 on the specification part of a fishing reel. But very few understand what that means. So what does gear ratio mean on a fishing reel? This, for sure, is a question that newbie fishers scratch their head over.

If you are reading this, I suppose you want some thorough clarifications on this too. And for all the beginners, you don’t need to worry about it anymore. To save your time, I present to you the complete and rigorous explanation and the functionality of the gear ratio in a fishing reel.

What Does Gear Ratio Mean on a Fishing Reel?

Whar does Gear Ratio Mean on a Fishing Reel

Here we are about to mention what you need to know about gear ratio. Gear ratio is a common term in the fishing industry. Among many other aspects like types of rod, ball bearings, materials used for making rod/reels, etc., gear ratio stands out as the real deal.

In simple terms, gear ratio determines the speed of the rotation that picks up the line by one complete turn of the handle. Depending on the types of baiting, and the depth/size of the fish, gear ratio functions differently.

The times of rotation each spool make with one turn of the handle determines the gear ratio. For example, A fishing reel with a gear ratio of 8.3:1. What that means is with a complete turn of the handle, the spool rotates 8.3 times.

Similarly, a 4.1:1 gear ratio means the spool rotates 4.1 times with a complete turn of the handle.

A lower gear ratio (i.e., 4.1:1) takes less time to pull up the line whereas a high gear ratio (i.e., 8.3:1) takes more time to pull back the line.

When you’re jerk baiting or using Texas/Carolina rigs, you might want to go for high range gear ratio. On the other hand, while you are crank baiting or deep water spin baiting, a lower gear ratio is more useful and practical.

Generally, you can categorize gear ratio into a slower, mid-range, and high-speed range.

Slower Gear Ratio falls between 4 to 5. And it plays a significant role in the deep diving crank baiting. Subsequently, when the baits resist a lot, the torque and power of the lower gear ratio come to the rescue. The deep-diving baits are tough to work. As a result, you need that extra boost of power to outperform the resisting force of the bait. For these reasons, spinning reel with a lower gear ratio is the best.

Thus, such gear ratio is for the big swimbaits or the deepwater spinnerbaits that makes recovering your line harder. Because of the power of this gear ratio, you have to put less effort into retrieving the line. And trust me, that makes the whole of your fishing time a fun adventure.

Mid-range Gear Ratio: Similarly, the mid-range gear ratio (i.e., between 6 and 7) lies on a sweet spot. Therefore, it is an all-rounder. It performs fine with a variety of baits. The baits can be square bills, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, or any other.

Overall, it performs fine with all forms of baits. It has the common feature of a little bit of power of lower gear ratio and a little bit of speed of higher gear ratio. So, if you want a general gear ratio that works fine with all sorts of situations, this is the one.

Conclusively, it is mainly for medium-depth crankbaits, shallow spinner baiting, and while using shallow rigs.

High-Speed Gear Ratio: On the speed category, the higher speed gear ratio sits on top with the maximum speed of all. Ranging between 8 and 9, it performs excellent when you need to pull back the line faster and throw another one. You might use a soft, or hard lure or maybe even a heavy jig. Even with all kinds of lures, you can pull back faster than others.

Moreover, for pitching and flipping, these gear ratios are an ideal one. The farther you are baiting, the handier this gear ratio is. The quick speed of these high-speed gear ratio is top-notch. Consequently, if your lure gets bit by the fish (let’s say 40 yards away), you can pull back the line faster.

Conclusion: Hopefully, you had your answer to What Does Gear Ratio Mean on a Fishing Reel. The gear ratio is all about the rotation of the spool with each turn of the handle. It determines how fast you can retrieve back your line slower gear ratio retrieving the line slower and vice versa.

But on the other side, a slower gear ratio has more power/torque to deal with resistance than a higher gear ratio. Therefore, different gear ratio has their respective functions and practicability.

So, next time you buy a fishing reel, don’t forget to choose the right one for you.

Related article: How to put fishing line on a reel