I remember my first fishing real. Zebco 33. It did everything that I needed it to, at the time. Now if I used to to catch catfish, it wouldn’t be the best option. We all go through this time when we are making the adjustment from fishing for one fish to another, where we wonder what it the best reel to be using. Just think about how tough it is to choice a reel when you are moving from bream fishing to catfishing.
When you are looking for a fishing reel you should focus on a few easy to identity elements. This is catfishing. Its easy, reasonable, and straight forward.
- Gear Ratio
- Line Capacity
This is a pretty simple list that will cover most all of your needs. But being a 101 series article, I will dive a little deeper into these areas to find the exact answer for you.
Think about when you are trying on a new pair of shoes. Some of too narrow. Others are too big or too small. You must search for that perfect one. Comfort is a must in this line of work. You’re hands need to be able to handle the reel for extended periods of time. You must be able to cast smoothly and handle cranking big catfish back in.
When picking a reel size, you must think about the size of your hands. I have medium sized hands so I can’t handle big saltwater reels well. But a 6’6″ man can probably work comfortably with them. Low Profile reels are great for younger people and small handed people. They don’t hold a lot of line, but they can be cast easily all day.
What I would suggest for most people is a round baitcaster such as the Abu Garcia 6500. Its size covers most purposed. Larger people and big fish specialist can enjoy a Penn Level Reel to much success. Small handed people need to look at bass fishing options for low profile reels. The catfishing market is still old school when it comes to reels. Quantum makes great low profile reels at a reasonable cost.
Speaking about Costs!!
We all know that money is tight now a days. If I could find you great deals, I would constantly let you know about them but they market is tough. So we must find the best quality for the price range that we have. I see now reason to spend more than $100 on a reel. I also see no reason to buy a new to market reel. Catfish don’t care about your reel, they want your bait. As a catfisherman, we don’t cast as much as other fishermen do so a extremely smooth casting is not an issue. Not to mention, we aren’t in the business of precision casting.
Also the stress that is placed a the drag systems is great but its not a selling point. The old star drag system work great and don’t cost a penny more. I would encourage any body to try to find a reel that has been on the market for atleast two years or more. This way you can find honest reviews of each reel. I’m looking for the good and the bad. The more detail that I can learn about a reel better. It makes for better decisions.
Now I am still very price conscious, but if I find a reel that is very good and close to my price range I’ll try to find a used one. Many catfishermen don’t put a beating on their reels. If the reel is just a few years new to the market, you may find that the cost is well work the quality that you get. Remember to keep it the price within your budget, but buying used is still a viable option. Otherswise, check online and find the best price for the reel that you want.
Torque is power, in this business. When you are studying a reel, you need to know what its gear ratio is. The gear ratio will tell you how much line that you crank in per turn of the handle. 5:1 is 5 inches to one turn of the handle. But you can also learn the power of your reel because lower gear ratios ( such as 3:1 to 5:1) are more powerful that higher gear ratios(7:1)
Think about a winch for when your truck get stuck. It moves slow but it’ll pull your truck out of any hole. While a kid on a bike can move pretty fast but will come to a halt when it tries to pull that same truck. Medium power gear ratios such as 5:1 are what I suggest for your average fisherman. If you can in this to catch a ton of catfish and have fun, you don’t need too much power. But on that same note, if you hook a 30 lbers you’ll be wishing that you had a atleast some power.
As a catfisherman, we will generally use bigger lines that most fishermen. 30 pound test is a must for those catfish in heavy cover. We are also known to make long casts with heavy weights into 30 feet or more of water. This means that we need a reel that can hold a lot of line. Low profile reels typically don’t have the line capacity to do this consistently ( don’t worry though, I have a tips for that). Round Baitcasters and saltwater spinning reels are the option to look into. But some of those are too bulk for castfish.
I prefer for my reel to hold around 200 yds of 12 lbs test. That will handle off of your line issues while allowing you to cast comfortably. Backlashes happen when you over spool a reel. Oh back to the low profile reel. Let’s say you found this reel that you love. Its in your budget, its super comfortable, and the gear ratio is just right…but it doesn’t hold a lot of line. Forget the monofilament and flourocarbon and Grab the Braid! Braid is such a small diameter and has super strength. This will beat any line capacity issues that you may have.
You might be thinking: ” but catfish will see the line and not bite my bait”. I completely understand that thought but think about how well trotlines work. We use large Nylon lines for those and they are extremely visible. I think catfish have a case of tunnel vision when it comes to food.
To end this section I want you to be able to find a durable reel. Remember earlier when I was talking about waiting two years before you buy a reel that hit the market. This is enough time to see how well the reel holds up over a lifetime. I prefer to buy reels that will last me ten to twenty years. I live on a tight budget. I buy used and fix my toys. I keep reels working by replacing small parts and not buying new reels.
I’ve had a few abu Garcia 6500 and 5500 for over 10 years. I just repaired one that was 20 years old. How long did it take to repair this reel. One hour! I had to clean it and replace the Level Wind Pause ( a $10 item). You can literally use these reels none stop for a decade and only spend a few dollars a year to keep them going. Thats what I talk about when I talk about durable. Do yourself a favor and invest in a durable reel and take care of it. I don’t spend hours cleaning my reels but every once and awhile I clean the grit out of them. Its that simple. You’ll have a good reel last a long time that way.
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