The most minor componets can make big differences on the water.

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Explaining Reel Numbers

Shopping for a new spinning reel can lead you down a rabbit hole of sizes, gear ratios, and drags. That's part of what makes getting a new reel so fun, but it's important to understand what all those numbers mean. In this article and video we are going to break down the main numbers you will see when shopping for a new spinning reel.

Reel Size

The first number is the size of the reel. The size of the reel is typically referenced in the model number. You will see models like the Shimano Stradic 5000Daiwa Saltist MQ 3000, or Van Staal VS150. The VS150 isn't too far off in size from the Saltist MQ 3000, but their naming convention is different. No matter the brand, the larger the number the larger the spool size. As the spool size increases the other components of the reel increase as well to accommodate for the larger spool.


The next number you may be looking at is the number of bearings. Manufacturers love to make this one complicated. Most spinning reels these days have an x+x number on them. To bring back the Stradic 5000, it has a 6+1 bearing setup. That is not a complicated way of saying 7. This means 6 ball bearings that the rotor spins on and 1 roller bearing. The roller bearing is what your line comes into contact with on your rotor. You can see the exact part in the image below. A roller bearing increases how smoothly your line will wind onto your spool. The more ball bearings turning your rotor the smoother it will spin.

stradic roller bearing

Line Capacity 

After the bearings you may start looking at the line capacity of the reel. Larger size spools will be able to carry more line. If you are planning on fishing deep water, or chasing fish that go on massive runs you will need a larger reel size. When looking at reel line capacity you will see two numbers, braid and monofilament. Braid is thinner than monofilament so you can fit more of it on the same spool. When deciding the best line to use its a good idea to get in touch with the local shop where you'll be fishing. 

Line Retrieve

Line retrieve is another important number to think about when selecting a reel for different types of fishing. The Stradic 5000 has a line retrieve of 40in per turn of that handle. That goes hand in hand with the gear ratio of the Stradic 5000. The gear ratio tells you how many times the rotor will spin around the spool per one turn of the handle. The Stradic 5000 has a 6.2:1 gear ratio, so it spins 6.2 times for every one turn of the handle. 


Reel drag may be one the most important numbers on a fishing reel. The drag refers to the amount of pressure the reel puts on the line as its being pulled from the spool. Pairing the right drag to the type of fishing you are doing ensures that you can actually catch the fish, and is important for catch and release fishing where short fights result in healthier fish. Higher drag numbers are going to be paired best with larger stronger fish.
Hopefully this information is helpful to you when you are picking out your next spinning reel. At The Saltwater Edge we are always around to explain any parts of the reel or help you pick the right reel for you.
Now that you know what to look for in a reel check out our article on picking a rod for surfcasting:

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