THE reel market is full of jargon and confusing numbers, but get your head around the basics and choosing the right one for you will be a doddle!
First, the size. The higher the number, the bigger the reel, from tiny 1000-sized reels for small lure rods, right up to 5000 and beyond for feeder and leger work on longer, heavier rods.
The drag mechanism nowadays is normally adjusted by a knob at the front (front drag), but can also be found at the back (rear drag).
If you are fishing with multiple rods then a freespool switch or dial is a must. This temporarily loosens the drag right off, but most commonly it automatically switches back off when you turn the reel handle.
Big pit reels hold loads of line for long-distance casts, while mini big pit reels are great for general carp or long-range feeder fishing. If you want to use your reel for multiple tasks, a spare spool is a must
The more you spend on a reel, the lighter it will be and the smoother the drag you will get. You will also expect better line lay which aids casting range.
A QUALITY budget reel is hard to find. With this one you don’t get a spare spool, and the clutch isn’t the smoothest ever, but 10 ball-bearings ensure a smooth and reliable action. In five sizes, from the tiny 1000 through to the modest 4000.
Price: £19.99, www.fish.shimano-eu.com
A LIGHT, compact reel for commercial carp. The 3000 size makes an ideal waggler reel, while the 4000 is better suited to feeder fishing. You get 6 + 1 ball-bearings and a 5.2:1 gear ratio.
A perfect match for any of Middy’s Bombproof, Battlezone or 5g rods.
Price: Pay £40 - £50, www.middytackle.com
KORUM ZELOS 6000 MINIPIT
THIS reel is a genuine bargain! Great looks and a steady performance make it the ideal choice for the occasional big fish or big cast angler.
A smooth drag system and carbon steel bearings deliver precise power, while the S-Stroke system gives great line lay.
Price: Pay around £49.99, www.korum.co.uk
OFFERING quality at an affordable price, the Ninja is a popular choice among serious match anglers and occasional dabblers alike. A graphite body and Air Rotor save on weight, while winding smoothness is maintained by four ball-bearings and an infinite anti reverse.
It comes with a spare spool, and is available in five sizes from 1500 to 4000.
Price: £62.99 - £65.99, www.daiwasports.co.uk
DAIWA BLACK WIDOW BR
SUPERB value freespool reel in four sizes, from the 3500 for smaller commercial carp on the Method, to big river fishing and specimen carp in the 5000 size. Silky-smooth front drag is coupled with a separate rear knob to adjust the freespool tension.
A cheaper reel, still retaining features such as Airbail and Twistbuster.
Price: £69.99, www.daiwasports.co.uk
SHIMANO SUPER GT RD
A RARE rear drag reel, packing a little more bulk and weight, but with the advantage of reduced cost and Fightin’ Drag – a lever to adjust the drag during a fight or to use the reel as a freespool without losing your initial clutch setting. A huge amount of winding power, and updated with an ARC spool and Aero Wrap 2, the chance of frap-ups is reduced and line lay improved. In 2500 and 4000 sizes, gear ratios 5.0:1 and 4.8:1 respectively.
Price: Pay around £99, www.fish.shimano-eu.com
PRESTON INNOVATIONS EXTREMITY
FOLDING handles, dual line clips and a reasonably fast retrieve direct the Extremity 520 and 620 reels towards match and serious all-round anglers.
The magnificent cranking power on the smaller body of the 520 makes it ideal for big fish at shorter range.
Price: £84.99 - £89.99, www.prestoninnovations.com
IDEAL for modern-day match and commercial fishing, this is part of a new breed of worm drive reels, with a perfect balance of winding power and speed. A compact yet powerful reel with an oversized spool, super-slow oscillation, and a spare die cast aluminium spool with dual line clips. Available in 320, 420 and 520 sizes.
Price: £109.99 - £119.99, www.prestoninnovations.com
SHIMANO ULTEGRA 5500 XSD
LOVED by long-range specialists, the bull-nosed spool offers little resistance on the cast, takes fine or strong line, and has bags of cranking power. Featuring a line clip, super-slow oscillation and a high-speed drag, the ultra-shallow spool holds 200m of 0.20mm line.
Price: £149.99, www.fish.shimano-eu.com
If money is no object...
THIS reel is the best money can buy! The Exist’s one-piece monocoque design reduces body size while increasing gearing capacity.
All Daiwa’s high-level technology is here, while Magsealed construction ensures a long and maintenance-free life. The drag is smoother than we thought possible and the winding is taken care of via no fewer than 12 ball-bearings.
In five sizes, plus a High Gear option, Exist is ready for any battle - saltwater, freshwater, large or small.
Price: £675-£775, www.daiwasports.co.uk
STILL a firm favourite with the traditionalist, and with no bail-arm or gearing to complicate things, buy a centrepin and you’ll have direct control over line release and retrieval. A smooth-running mechanism is needed to release line at a steady speed for trotting.
THIS 4.5ins diameter reel in machine-cut aluminium with two German HPB stainless ball-bearings gives virtually friction-free running. The ideal choice for those wanting a top product without the cost getting out of hand.
Price: Pay around £169.99, www.okumafishing.eu
DAM QUICK SHADOW
Affordable 4.3ins diameter pin with two sealed ball-bearings and ABS graphite construction. The purist might scoff at that, but the smooth action will see the thrifty angler or centrepin newbie more than pleased with their purchase.
Price: Pay around £74.99, www.dam.de