What Gear Ratio for Fishing Reels and Lures? [2022 Update]


Updated on November 19, 2022 by
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The best gear ratio for a fishing reel depends on the type of reel, the style of fishing, and the target species.

Every fishing reel has a gear ratio, and the marketing makes a big deal about it. But what is the best gear ratio, and why does it matter?

Picking the correct gear ratio for your needs will go a long way to help you catch more fish and enjoy your fishing.

Different gear ratios impact the speed of retrieve and the reel’s torque – so you want to have a clear view of what type of fish species you are targeting and what kind of bait/lure you will be using. If you intend to catch multiple species, you may want to consider getting several different reels or selecting a more versatile gear ratio.

Let’s dive in!

Quick Summary – Best Gear Ratios

Type of ReelBest Gear Ratio
Spinning Reels6.0:1
Baitcasting Reels6.4:1
Conventional Reels5.0:1
Spincast Reel4.0:1
Electric Reel3.0:1
Chart of the Best Gear Ratio’s for Different Fishing Reels
Type of LureBest Gear Ratio
Spinnerbait6.3:1
Crankbait5.0:1
Topwater Lures7.0:1
Jerkbait6.3:1
Plastic Worm6.1:1
Jig4.5:1
Buzzbait7.0:1
Chart of the Best Gear Ratio’s for Different Lures
Fish SpeciesBest Gear Ratio
Bass6.4:1
Panfish5.2:1
Trout8.0:1
Catfish6.0:1
Redfish6.0:1
Walleye4.5:1
Crappie5.2:1
Tuna6.0:1
Shark4.2:1
Sailfish5.0:1
Marlin3.0:1
Chart of the Best Gear Ratio’s for Different Fish Species
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What is the Gear Ratio of a Fishing Reel?

The gear ratio is used to judge the retrieval rate and how much effort the fisherman needs to turn the handle to retrieve their bait.

For everyone one revolution of the handle, the spool will spin by multiple times. So for a gear ratio of 6.0:1, this means that for one revolution of the handle, the spool will spin six times.

The typical gear ratios for all fishing reels can be split into a few categories:

  • Low Gear Ratio – 4.0:1 to 6.0:1
  • Medium Gear Ratio – 6.0:1 to 8.0:1
  • High Gear Ratio – 8.0:1 to 10.0:1

Low Gear Ratio

You will want a lower gear ratio for slower retrieves like live bait or deep diving crankbaits.

You will also need a lower gear ratio for fishing reels that provide a lot of torque, like a big game fishing conventional reel.

Low gear ratio reels have the most torque and are perfect for slow, heavy baits that require a lot of effort to retrieve.

Medium Gear Ratio

Medium gear ratios are the most common you will find on popular fishing reels. They are the most versatile – you can always slow down or speed up your retrieve to give similar results to the other reels.

They are ideal for medium-depth crankbaits, spinnerbaits with smaller blades, and castable umbrella rigs.

High Gear Ratio

You will want a higher gear ratio when you want a faster retrieve such as a spinnerbait. High-speed reels are also helpful when you need to retrieve your line in a hurry, such as moving over sea beds or low resistance lures.

They are perfect for topwater lures, jigs, and lipless crankbaits. High-speed reels are becoming more and more popular among bass anglers as the technology keeps advancing.

Best Gear Ratio for Spinning Reels

The best gear ratio for spinning reels is 6.0:1.

The best gear ratio for spinning reels is a difficult question to answer – spinning reels are famous for being versatile and are available in almost all gear ratios.

From my point of view, spinning reels are the workhorse of the fishing reel world, and because of this, you should select a gear ratio that is also a workhorse.

This allows you to use this reel in various applications from anything from spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, topwater lures, and even jigging.

If you intend to fish for a very specific species or lure type, you may want to focus more intently on that requirement.

If you ask some anglers they will say that any spinning reel with a gear ratio higher than 7.0:1 will not have enough torque to handle large fish, but this is no longer true with newer technology and designs available. My recommendation for a top-class spinning reel is the Pflueger President.

Best Gear Ratio for Baitcasting Reels

The best gear ratio for baitcasting reels is 6.4:1.

Baitcasting reels tend to have a much higher gear ratio than spinning reels, and there is a simple reason for this – they have a smaller diameter spool. If you consider the difference in diameter spools, you will realize that a single turn of a baitcasting spool will retrieve significantly less fishing line than a spinning reel.

This is why baitcasting reels can have such high gear ratios.

A 6.4:1 baitcaster is the most common gear ratio available on the market, and as with above, it gives you the most versatility in lure types and presentation options. My recommendation for a baitcaster is the Shimano Curado – which I have personally owned and used for over a decade.

Best Gear Ratio for Conventional Reels

From my point of view, the best gear ratio for a conventional reel is 5.0:1, with a two-speed gearing option if you are hunting gamefish.

I personally use conventional reels most often when I have to target big game fish such as sailfish or marlin. This requires a very large and specialized reel.

These types of reels have a very large diameter spool and can retrieve a lot of fishing line in a single revolution. This means that they can have lower gear ratios while still maintaining high retrieve rates.

Big game specialist reels like a Shimano Tyrnos often come with a two-speed gearing system with a 5.0:1 for general retrieval and a high power 2.0:1 for when you are fighting monsters.

If you are chasing smaller but still speedy saltwater species like mackerel or barracuda, you will want a much higher gear ratio like 7.0:1.

Me using my Shimano Tyrnos Conventional Reel

Best Gear Ratio for Bass

The best gear ratio for bass is 6.4:1, particularly for baitcasting reels which have become the primary fishing reel among bass anglers.

If you are fishing with buzzbait or over seabeds and structure that you need to retrieve exceptionally quickly, you will want to increase this to a 7.1:1 gear ratio.

There are even newer bass reels on the market with gear ratios over 9.0:1. My personal recommendation for a baitcasting reel for bass is the KastKing Royale Legend II and a spinning reel for bass is the Abu Garcia Revo SX.

Best Gear Ratio for Trout

The best gear ratio for trout is 8.0:1.

This gives you a lot more control during your retrieve. If you are using a topwater lure and need to retrieve the slack between rod twitches quickly, then the high-speed gear ratio is a big advantage.

For other lure retrieval speeds, you may also want to take a more workhorse all-purpose gear ratio in the 6:1 to 7:1 range.

I would recommend a Daiwa BG as a top-quality Trout spinning reel.

Best Gear Ratio for Redfish

The best gear ratio for redfish is 6.0:1.

This gives the most versatility and widest range in lure options.

If you are going to be jigging or sight fishing for red drum, then this reel gear ratio will be ideal.

You could consider a higher range gear ratio, but this will prevent you from using too many deep-diving crankbait or large blade spinnerbaits. I suggest you pick a Penn Battle II spinning reel for redfish.

Best Fishing Reels for Redfish

Best Gear Ratio for Walleye

The best gear ratio for walleye is 4.5:1. A lower gear ratio is preferable if you are jigging for walleye.

Walleye can be timid so you don’t need to be retrieving a super fast buzzbait past them.

For walleye, the drag and the anti-reversing features are more important than the gear ratio, so I wouldn’t spend too much time focusing on this as long as you are in the general ball park range.

My recommendation for a walleye reel is the Penn Pursuit.

Best Gear Ratio for Crappie

The best gear ratio for crappie fishing is 5.2:1.

Crappie fishing uses very light fishing line, similar to other panfish. This often means that the reels are extremely small in size, resulting in smaller internal gearing. This reduces the complexity that is an option within a small reel body and normally comes with lower gear ratios.

A gear ratio of mid 5:1 is more than enough to handle anything a crappie can throw at you, so I wouldn’t hesitate to select this specification.

Best Gear Ratio for Spinnerbaits

The best gear ratio for spinnerbaits is 6.3:1.

This allows for both small and large blades to be retrieved without needing to speed up or slow down too significantly.

There is a wide range of spinnerbaits available, all of which come with different water resistance and target retrieval speeds, so please use your judgment about what is right for your own needs.

Best Gear Ratio for Crankbaits

The best gear ratio for crankbaits is 5.0:1.

This is a lower speed gear ratio than a lot of other applications.

Deep diving crankbaits have very large nose lips to get the lure down far enough – this lip also put a lot of water resistance against the lure during the retrieve.

You will need to retrieve the lure more slowly and have a reel with more torque through a lower gear ratio.

crankbait on a baitcasting reel

Gear Ratio Video

Bass Resource has put together this informative video explaining gear ratios:

Conclusion

Gear ratios may seem confusing, but they don’t have to be. You can always speed up and slow down your retrieve slightly depending on what lure you are retrieving. I hope we have helped to explain what gear ratio you may be interested in buying.

If you want some more information, Wired2Fish also have a good article for anglers.

If you have any thoughts of your own or questions to share, then please leave a comment below.

Happy fishing!


Photo of author

Russ Egan

Russ is an avid fisherman. He has fished all over the world for more than two decades, primarily for saltwater game fish but also for local trophy fish. Russ writes reviews for all of his fishing gear to help others achieve their own fishing goals. His favorite reel is a Shimano Curado Baitcaster. His dream is to catch a Black Marlin.