Getting the Most From Your Spinning Reel

Saltwater Fishing - Helping you catch that fish of a lifetime

Getting the Most From Your Spinning Reel

by Capt. Terry Rand

Working in a full service tackle shop, customers present you with a multitude of questions and requests regarding their spinning reels. Most commonly, folks always want to know if they can spool the reel with heavier line, how to improve their casting distance and what line choice is best for their fishing needs. Fortunately, there are solutions to all of the questions.

In the springtime, our shop sees a huge increase in clientele as the striped bass invade our local river system. Many anglers realize the need for stronger fishing line to handle the brutish stripers and they will request to have their reels filled with 20 lb. test line or sometimes even heavier line. The issue comes when they ask to re-spool a small 2500 series reel with heavy monofilament. Smaller reels such as these are just not designed to handle heavy monofilaments and casting distance will be impaired substantially if heavy lines are used.  

One thing the angler should realize is that printed on the side of every spool is a recommended line size along with how many yards of that size line the spool will hold. The truth of the matter is that if you exceed the maximum recommended line size your casting ability will be impacted. The reason is the small spool size in relation to the diameter and rigidity of heavy monofilament lines. Monofilament retains line memory, meaning that once it is wound onto a spool in the factory it conforms to the spool and retains coils. The heavier the line, the more rigid it is and the more coils it will memorize. The result is usually line springing off the spool when opening the bail and because of those rigid coils, the line slows down during the cast as it creates friction against the rod guides, slowing down your cast and leaving the angler with a short cast and a mess on their spool.

Ideally, every angler should have a fishing reel that meets the needs of their intended quarry. My first suggestion is to purchase a reel that will handle heavier lines. If that is not an option, my next recommendation is to use braided line. Most 20 lb. test braided lines now have a diameter equivalence of a 6 lb. test monofilament line. This thin diameter line will allow an angler to spool up with a line of heavy breaking strength while not compromising their casting distance. The thin diameter, lack of line memory and the slick coating of the braid may actually greatly improve casting distance. One compromise here is that braid is much less abrasion resistant than mono so it is suggested that a 3-4 foot mono or fluorocarbon leader is used.

Another common issue I see is under filled spools. A fishing reel that has less than a full spool of line will suffer from impaired casting ability. The reason is that when the line is cast, friction is created against the outer lip of the spool as the line is trying to unravel. This friction slows down the line causing shortened casts. If the line on the spool is above the recommended line size, casting will be impaired even further. Keeping your spool topped off to just an 1/8th of an inch below the lip of the spool will solve this problem.

Finding solutions to the performance of spinning reels really isn’t a science, once you understand the basic concepts of how the line and reel work together. Remember, keep your spool full, use recommended line sizes and if you have to increase your line size above the manufacturers recommendation, use a premium braided line whose diameter matches the recommended diameters for your reel. Keep your reel happy and your reel will keep you happy!

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