Fishing reel

A fishing reel is a cylindrical device attached to a fishing rod used in winding and stowing line.[1]

Modern fishing reels usually have fittings aiding in casting for distance and accuracy, as well as retrieving line. Fishing reels are traditionally used in the recreational sport of angling and competitive casting. They are typically attached to a fishing rod, though some specialized reels are mounted directly to boat gunwales or transoms.

The fishing reel was invented in Song dynasty China, where the earliest known illustration of a fishing reel is from Chinese paintings and records beginning about 1195 AD. Fishing reels first appeared in England around 1650 AD, and by the 1760s, London tackle shops were advertising multiplying or gear-retrieved reels. The first popular American fishing reel appeared in the U.S. around 1820.

Fishing reel
A spinning reel


Origins in China

Angler on a Wintry Lake, by Ma Yuan, 1195
"Angler on a Wintry Lake," painted in 1195 by Ma Yuan, featuring the oldest known depiction of a fishing reel, although the oldest description of a fishing reel in China dates to the 3rd century AD

In literary records, the earliest evidence of the fishing reel comes from a 4th-century AD[2][3] work entitled Lives of Famous Immortals.[4][5] The earliest known depiction of a fishing reel comes from a Southern Song (1127–1279) painting done in 1195 by Ma Yuan (c. 1160–1225) called "Angler on a Wintry Lake," showing a man sitting on a small sampan boat while casting out his fishing line.[6]

Another fishing reel was featured in a painting by Wu Zhen (1280–1354).[6] The book Tianzhu lingqian (Holy Lections from Indian Sources), printed sometime between 1208 and 1224, features two different woodblock print illustrations of fishing reels being used.[6] An Armenian parchment Gospel of the 13th century shows a reel (though not as clearly depicted as the Chinese ones).[6] The Sancai Tuhui, a Chinese encyclopedia published in 1609, features the next known picture of a fishing reel and vividly shows the windlass pulley of the device.[6] These five pictures mentioned are the only ones which feature fishing reels before the year 1651.[6]

Development in England

Ustonson advert
Trading card of the Ustonson company, an early firm specializing in fishing equipment, and holder of a Royal Warrant from the 1760s.

The first English book on fishing is "A Treatise of Fishing with an Angle" in 1496. However, the book did not mention a reel. A primitive reel was first cited in the book, "The Art of Angling" 1651.[7] Fishing reels first appeared in England around 1650, a time of growing interest in fly fishing.

The fishing industry became commercialized in the 18th century, with rods and tackle being sold at the haberdashers store. After the Great Fire of London in 1666, artisans moved to Redditch which became a centre of production of fishing related products from the 1730s. Onesimus Ustonson established his trading shop in 1761, and his establishment remained as a market leader for the next century. He received a Royal Warrant from three successive monarchs starting with King George IV.[8]

Some have credited Onesimus with the invention of the fishing reel - he was certainly the first to advertise its sale. Early multiplying reels were wide and had a small diameter, and their gears, made of brass, often wore down after extensive use. His earliest advertisement in the form of a trading card date from 1768 and was entitled To all lovers of angling. A full list of the tackles he sold included artificial flies, and 'the best sort of multiplying brass winches both stop and plain'. The commercialization of the industry came at a time of expanded interest in fishing as a recreational hobby for members of the aristocracy.[9]

Modern reel design had begun in England during the latter part of the 18th century, and the predominant model in use was known as the 'Nottingham reel'. The reel was a wide drum which spooled out freely, and was ideal for allowing the bait to drift along way out with the current.

Nottingham reel
'Nottingham' and 'Scarborough' reel designs.

Tackle design began to improve from the 1880s. The introduction of new woods to the manufacture of fly rods made it possible to cast flies into the wind on silk lines, instead of horse hair. These lines allowed for a much greater casting distance. A negative consequence of this, was that it became easy for the much longer line to get into a tangle. This problem spurred the invention of the regulator to evenly spool the line out and prevent tangling.[10]

Albert Illingworth, 1st Baron Illingworth a textiles magnate, patented the modern form of fixed-spool spinning reel in 1905. When casting Illingworth's reel design, the line was drawn off the leading edge of the spool, but was restrained and rewound by a line pickup, a device which orbits around the stationary spool. Because the line did not have to pull against a rotating spool, much lighter lures could be cast than with conventional reels.[10]

Development in the United States

Geared multiplying reels never successfully caught on in Britain, but had more success in the United States, where models were modified by George Snyder of Kentucky into his bait-casting reel, the first American-made design in 1810.[11]

The American, Charles F. Orvis, designed and distributed a novel reel and fly design in 1874, described by reel historian Jim Brown as the "benchmark of American reel design," and the first fully modern fly reel.[12][13] The founding of The Orvis Company helped institutionalize fly fishing by supplying angling equipment via the circulation of his tackle catalogs, distributed to a small but devoted customer list.

Types of fishing reels

Fly reel

A fly reel is a single-action reel, normally operated by stripping line off the reel with one hand, while casting the rod with the other hand. The main purpose of a fly reel is to store line, provide smooth uninterrupted tension (drag) when a fish makes a long run, and counterbalance the weight of your fly rod when casting. When used in fly fishing, the fly reel or fly casting reel has traditionally been rather simple in terms of mechanical construction, and little has changed from the design patented by Charles F. Orvis of Vermont in 1874.[14] Orvis first introduced the idea of using light metals with multiple perforated holes to construct the housing, resulting in a lighter reel that also allowed the spooled fly line to dry more quickly than a conventional, solid-sided design.[14] Early fly reels placed the crank handle on the right side of the reel. Most had no drag mechanism, but were fitted with a click/pawl mechanism intended to keep the reel from overrunning when line was pulled from the spool. To slow a fish, the angler simply applied hand pressure to the rim of the revolving spool (known as "palming the rim").[14] Later, these click/pawl mechanisms were modified to provide a limited adjustable drag of sorts. Although adequate for smaller fish, these did not possess a wide adjustment range or the power to slow larger fish.

At one time, multiplier fly reels were widely available. These reels had a geared line retrieve of 2:1 or 3:1 that allowed faster retrieval of the fly line. However, their additional weight, complexity and expense did not justify the advantage of faster line retrieval in the eyes of many anglers. As a result, today they are rarely used, and have largely been replaced by large-arbor designs with large diameter spools for faster line retrieval.

Automatic fly reels use a coiled spring mechanism that pulls the line into the reel with the flick of a lever. Automatic reels tend to be heavy for their size, and have limited line capacity. Automatic fly reels peaked in popularity during the 1960s, and since that time they have been outsold many times over by manual fly reels.

Modern fly reels typically have more sophisticated disc-type drag systems made of composite materials that feature increased adjustment range, consistency, and resistance to high temperatures from drag friction. Most of these fly reels also feature large-arbor spools designed to reduce line memory, maintain consistent drag and assist the quick retrieval of slack line in the event a hooked fish makes a sudden run towards the angler. Most modern fly reels are ambidextrous, allowing the angler to place the crank handle of the reel on either the right or the left side as desired.

Saltwater fly reels are designed specifically for use in an ocean environment. Saltwater fly reels are normally large-arbor designs, having a much larger diameter spool than most freshwater fly reels. These large arbor reels provide an improved retrieve ratio and considerably more line and backing capacity, optimizing the design for the long runs of powerful ocean game fish. To prevent corrosion, saltwater fly reels often use aerospace aluminum frames and spools, electroplated and/or stainless steel components, with sealed and waterproof bearing and drive mechanisms.

Fly reel operation

Fly reels are normally manual, single-action designs. Rotating a handle on the side of the reel rotates the spool which retrieves the line, usually at a 1:1 ratio (i.e., one complete revolution of the handle equals one revolution of the spool). Fly reels are one of the simplest reels and have far fewer parts than a spinning reel. The larger the fish the more important the reel becomes. On the outside of the reel there are two levels of knobs these are the spool release and the drag adjustment.

Fly reel drag systems

Fly-reel drag systems have two purposes 1.) They prevent spool overrun when stripping line from the reel while casting 2.)Tire out running fish by exerting pressure on the line that runs in the opposite direction. There are four main drag systems that are used with the fly reel and these are the ratchet-and-pawl, caliper drags, disc drags, and center-line drags. The ratchet-and-pawl drag clicks automatically while the spool is spinning. The caliper drag causes the calipers to brush up against the reel spool. A disc drag is when pressure is applied on the plates which then applies pressure on the spool. Center-line drags also known as the best kind of drag because the pressure is directly on the spool close to the axis of rotation.

Centrepin reel

The Leeds Centre-Pin reel
A centrepin reel

The centrepin reel (or centerpin, center pin, or float reel) is one which runs freely enough on its axle (its "centrepin") to permit distance casting by allowing the line to be drawn off by the momentum of the cast from the rotating reel. The centrepin reel uses a large diameter spool typically mounted to a 12–17 foot surfcasting rod. A bracket attached to the reel that allows it to be rotated 90° to the rod for casting and returned to a position to retrieve line. In the casting position the spool is perpendicular to the rod, opening the face of the reel allowing the line to run off the side of the spool when released in the cast.

The centrepin reel is historically and currently used for coarse fishing. Instead of a mechanical drag, the angler's thumb is typically used to control the fish. Fishing in the margins for carp or other heavy fish with relatively light tackle is very popular with a 'pin' and is often used for 'trotting' a method in which a float on the line suspends a bait a certain depth to flow with the current along the waterway. During the 1950s and 1960s, many anglers in England began fishing with a centrepin reel. Despite this, the centrepin is today mostly used by coarse anglers, who remain a small proportion of the general fishing population.

Centrepin reels remain popular with anglers in Australia for all forms of fresh and saltwater fishing. Most common is the use of centrepin reels in Australia for surf casting off the beach.[15]

Baitcasting reel

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur baitcasting reel
A baitcasting reel

The Baitcasting reel or revolving-spool reel, like the conventional reel, is a multiplying reel[16] – that is to say that the line is stored on a bearing-supported revolving spool that is geared so that a single revolution of the crank handle results in multiple revolutions of the spool.[14] The bait casting reel is mounted above the rod, hence its other name given to it in New Zealand and Australia, the overhead reel. The baitcasting reel dates from at least the mid-17th century, but came into wide use by amateur anglers during the 1870s.[14] Early bait casting reels were often constructed with brass or iron gears, with casings and spools made of brass, German silver, or hard rubber.[14] Featuring multiplying gears ranging from 2:1 to 4:1, these early reels had no drag mechanism, and anglers used their thumb on the spool to provide resistance to runs by a fish.[14] As early as the 1870s, some models used bearings to mount the spool; as the free-spinning spool tended to cause backlash with strong pulls on the line, manufacturers soon incorporated a clicking pawl mechanism.[14] This 'clicker' mechanism was never intended as a drag, but used solely to keep the spool from overrunning, much like a fly reel.[14] Baitcasting reel users soon discovered that the clicking noise of the pawls provided valuable warning that a fish had taken the live bait, allowing the rod and reel to be left in a rod holder while awaiting a strike by a fish.[14]

Most fishing reels are suspended from the bottom of the rod, since this position requires no wrist strength to overcome gravity while enabling the angler to cast and retrieve without changing hands.[14] The baitcasting reel's unusual mounting position atop the rod is an accident of history.[14] Baitcasting reels were originally designed to be cast when positioned atop the rod, then rotated upside-down in order to operate the crank handle while playing a fish or retrieving line.[14] However, in practice most anglers preferred to keep the reel atop the rod for both cast and retrieve by simply transferring the rod to the left hand for the retrieve, then reverse-winding the crank handle.[14] Because of this preference, mounting the crank handle on the right side of a bait casting reel (with standard clockwise crank handle rotation) has become customary, though models with left-hand retrieve have gained in popularity in recent years thanks to user familiarity with the spinning reel.[17]

Many of today's baitcasting reels are constructed using aluminum, stainless steel, and/or synthetic composite materials. They typically include a level-wind mechanism to prevent the line from being trapped under itself on the spool during rewind and interfering with subsequent casts. Many are also fitted with anti-reverse handles and drags designed to slow runs by large and powerful game fish. Because the baitcasting reel uses the weight and momentum of the lure to pull the line from the rotating spool, it normally requires lures weighing 1/4 oz. or more in order to cast a significant distance.[18] Recent developments have seen bait casting reels with gear ratios as high as 7.1/1. Higher gear ratios allow much faster retrieval of line, but sacrifice some amount of strength in exchange, since the additional gear teeth required reduces torque as well as the strength of the gear train.[17] This could be a factor when fighting a large and powerful fish.[17]

Spool tension on most modern baitcasting reels can be adjusted with adjustable spool tension, a centrifugal brake, or a magnetic "cast control." This reduces spool overrun during a cast and the resultant line snare, known as backlash, colloquially called a "bird's nest" or "birdie". This backlash is a result of the angular momentum of the spool and line which is not present with a fixed spool or spinning reel. Each time a lure of a different weight is attached, the cast control must be adjusted for the difference in weight. The bait casting reel design will operate well with a wide variety of fishing lines, ranging from braided multifilament and heat-fused "superlines" to copolymer, fluorocarbon, and nylon monofilaments (see Fishing line). Most bait casting reels can also easily be palmed or thumbed to increase the drag, set the hook, or to accurately halt the lure at a given point in the cast.

Baitcasters are known as multiplier reels in Europe, on account of their geared line retrieve (one turn of the handle resulting in multiple turns of the spool). Two variations of the revolving spool bait casting reel are the conventional surf fishing reel and the big game reel. These are very large and robust fishing reels, designed and built for heavy saltwater species such as tuna, marlin, sailfish and sharks. Surf fishing reels are normally mounted to long, two-handed rods; these reels frequently omit level-wind and braking mechanisms in order to achieve extremely long casting distances. Big game reels are not designed for casting, but are instead used for trolling or fishing set baits and lures; they are ideal for fighting large and heavy fish off a pier or boat. These reels normally use sophisticated star or lever drags in order to play out huge saltwater gamefish.

Baitcasting Reel Operation

To cast a baitcasting rod and reel, the reel is turned on its side, the "free spool" feature engaged, and the thumb placed on the spool to hold the lure in position. The cast is performed by snapping the rod backward to the 2 o'clock position, then casting it forward in a smooth motion, allowing the lure to pull the line from the reel. The thumb is used to contact the line, moderating the revolutions of the spool and braking the lure when it reaches the desired aiming point. Though modern centrifugal and/or magnetic braking systems help to control backlash, using a bait casting reel still requires practice and a certain amount of finesse on the part of the fisherman for best results.

Advantages of Baitcasting Reels

While spincasting and spinning reels are easier to operate because fishing line leaves the spool freely during a cast, baitcasting reels have the potential to overrun: a casting issue in which the reel's spool does not spin at a rate equal to the speed of fishing line leaving the reel. Professional fishermen, however, prefer baitcasters because baitcasting reels allow anglers more control over their casts. Since a baitcaster's spool spins along with the fishing line leaving the reel, a simple flick of the thumb can stop a cast early or slow a lure while it is still in the air. This grants anglers such as bass fishermen more accuracy in their casts. Furthermore, a baitcaster's design allows a fisherman to make casts at a faster rate, even with heavier baits.

Conventional reel

The conventional reel or trolling reel is similar to the baitcasting reel. There are two types of trolling reels, star drag reels and lever drag reels. Star drag reels are like baitcasters, but you move a little lever to put it into free spool. They have a star drag and you have to keep your thumb on them to keep off backlash. The lever drag reel uses the drag to put itself into free spool. It is very difficult to cast a conventional reel, most often line is dropped behind a boat and left to drift. Conventional reels are for really big fish and are usually used offshore. They are designed for trolling but can also be used for butterfly jigging and Deep-sea fishing ("deep drop"). They are mounted on short rods.

Fishing reel
Parts of a spinning reel: 1: Pick up or bail 2: Reel seat 3: Reel foot 4: Handle 5: Support arm 6: Anti-reverse lever 7: Skirted spool 8: Fishing line 9: Drag adjustment knob

Spinning (fixed-spool) reel

Spinning reels, also called fixed spool reels or egg beaters, were in use in North America as early as the 1870s.[14] They were originally developed to allow the use of artificial flies, or other lures for trout or salmon, that were too light in weight to be easily cast by bait casting reels.[14] Fixed-spool or spinning reels are normally mounted below the rod; this positioning conforms to gravity, requiring no wrist strength to maintain the reel in position. For right-handed persons, the spinning rod is held and cast by the strong right hand, leaving the left hand free to operate the crank handle mounted on the left side of the reel. Invention of the fixed-spool or spinning reel solved the problem of backlash, since the reel had no rotating spool capable of overrunning and fouling the line.

The name of Holden Illingworth, a textiles magnate, was first associated with the modern form of fixed-spool spinning reel. When casting the Illingworth reel, line was drawn off the leading edge of the spool, but was restrained and rewound by a line pickup, a device which orbits around the stationary spool. Because the line did not have to pull against a rotating spool, much lighter lures could be cast than with conventional reels.

In 1948, the Mitchell Reel Company of Cluses, France introduced the Mitchell 300, a spinning reel with a design that oriented the face of the fixed spool forward in a permanently fixed position below the fishing rod. The Mitchell reel was soon offered in a range of sizes for all fresh and saltwater fishing. A manual line pickup was used to retrieve the cast line, which eventually developed into a wire bail design that automatically recaptured the line upon cranking the retrieve handle. An anti-reverse lever prevented the crank handle from rotating while a fish was pulling line from the spool, and this pull can be altered with adjustable drag systems which allow the spool to rotate, but not the handle. With the use of light lines testing from two to six pounds, modern postwar spinning reels were capable of casting lures as light as 18 ounce (3.5 g), and sometimes lighter.

With all fixed-spool reels, the line is released in coils or loops from the leading edge of the non-rotating spool. To shorten or stop the outward cast of a lure or bait, the angler uses a finger or thumb placed in contact with the line and/or the leading edge of the spool to retard or stop the flight of the lure. Because of the design's tendency to twist and untwist the line as it is cast and retrieved, most spinning reels operate best with fairly limp and flexible fishing lines.

Though spinning reels do not suffer from backlash, line can occasionally be trapped underneath itself on the spool or even detach from the reel in loose loops of line. Some of these issues can be traced to overfilling the spool with line, while others are due to the way in which the line is wound onto the spool by the rotating bail or pickup. Various oscillating spool mechanisms have been introduced over the years in an effort to solve this problem. Spinning reels also tend to have more issues with twisting of the fishing line. Line twist in spinning reels can occur from the spin of an attached lure, the action of the wire bail against the line when engaged by the crank handle, or even retrieval of line that is under load (spinning reel users normally pump the rod up and down, then retrieve the slack line to avoid line twist and stress on internal components). In order to minimize line twist, many anglers who use a spinning reel manually reposition the bail after each cast with the pickup nearest the rod in order to minimize line twist.

Fixed spool reel operation

Fixed spool reels are cast by grasping the line with the forefinger against the rod handle, opening the bale arm and then using a backward swing of the rod followed by a forward cast while releasing the line with the forefinger. The point of release should be trialled to find optimum angle for your casting. The forefinger is then placed in contact with the departing line and the leading edge of the spool in order to slow or stop the outward cast. On the retrieve, one hand operates the crank handle, while the large rotating wire cage or bail (either manually or trigger-operated) serves as the line pickup, restoring the line to its original position on the spool.

Fixed spool advantages

Spinning reels were originally developed to better cast light-weight lures and baits. Today, spinning reels continue to be an excellent alternative to baitcasters, reels which have difficulty casting lighter lures. Furthermore, because spinning reels do not suffer from backlash, spinning reels are easier and more convenient to use for some fishermen.

Spincast reel

Abu Garcia Abumatic spincast reel
A spincast reel

The first commercial spincast reels were introduced by the Denison-Johnson Reel Company and the Zero Hour Bomb Company (ZEBCO) in 1949.[19][20] The spincast reel is an attempt to solve the problem of backlash found in baitcast designs, while reducing line twist and snare complaints sometimes encountered with traditional spinning reel designs. Just as with the spinning reel, the line is thrown from a fixed spool and can therefore be used with relatively light lures and baits. However, the spincast reel eliminates the large wire bail and line roller of the spinning reel in favor of one or two simple pickup pins and a metal cup to wind the line on the spool. Traditionally mounted above the rod, the spincast reel is also fitted with an external nose cone that encloses and protects the fixed spool.

With a fixed spool, spincast reels can cast lighter lures than bait cast reels, although friction of the nose cone guide and spool cup against the uncoiling line reduces casting distance compared to spinning reels. Spincast reel design requires the use of narrow spools with less line capacity than either baitcasting or spinning reels of equivalent size, and cannot be made significantly larger in diameter without making the reel too tall and unwieldy. These limitations severely restrict the use of spin cast reels in situations such as fishing at depth, when casting long distances, or where fish can be expected to make long runs. Like other types of reels, spin cast reels are frequently fitted with both anti-reverse mechanisms and friction drags, and some also have level-wind (oscillating spool) mechanisms. Most spin cast reels operate best with limp monofilament lines, though at least one spin cast reel manufacturer installs a thermally fused "superline" into one of its models as standard equipment. During the 1950s and into the mid-1960s, they were widely used and very popular, though the spinning reel has since eclipsed them in popularity in North America. They remain a favorite fishing tool for catfish fishing and also for young beginners in general.

SpinCast Reel Operation

Pressing a button on the rear of the reel disengages the line pickup, and the button is then released during the forward cast to allow the line to fly off the spool. The button is pressed again to stop the lure at the position desired. Upon cranking the handle, the pickup pin immediately re-engages the line and spools it onto the reel.

Underspin reel

Underspin reels or Triggerspin reels are spin cast reels in which the reel is mounted underneath a standard spinning rod. With the reel's weight suspended beneath the rod, underspin reels are generally more comfortable to cast and hold for long periods, and the ability to use all standard spinning rods greatly increases its versatility compared to traditional spin cast reels.

Underspin Reel Operation

A lever or trigger is grasped or rotated (usually by the forefinger) and this action suspends the line in place. During the forward cast, the lever/trigger is released, and the line flies off the fixed spool. When necessary, the lever can be activated once again to stop the lure at a given point in the cast.

Reel mechanisms

Direct-drive reel

Direct-drive reels have the spool and handle directly coupled. When the handle moves forwards, the spool moves forwards, and vice versa. With a fast-running fish, this may have consequences for the angler's knuckles. Traditional fly reels are direct-drive.

Anti-reverse reel

In anti-reverse reels, a mechanism allows line to pay out while the handle remains stationary. Depending on the drag setting, line may also pay out, as with a running fish, while the angler reels in. Bait casting reels and many modern saltwater fly reels are examples of this design. The mechanism works either with a 'dog' or 'pawl' design that engages into a cog wheel attached to the handle shaft. The latest design is Instant Anti-Reverse, or IAR. This system incorporates a one-way clutch bearing or centrifugal force fly wheel on the handle shaft to restrict handle movement to forward motion only.

Drag mechanisms

Drag systems are a mechanical means of applying variable pressure to the line spool or drive mechanism in order to act as a friction brake against it. This supplies resistance to the line after hook-up to aid in landing the fish without the line breaking. In combination with rod flex and fishing technique, this allows larger fish to be caught than the straight breaking strength of the line would suggest.

The mechanics of drag systems usually consist of any number of discs (drag washers) arranged in a stack on the spool shaft or in some cases, on the drive shaft. There is generally a screw or lever mechanism that presses against the washers—the higher the pressure, the greater the resistance. Drag washers are commonly made of materials such as steel, Teflon, carbon fiber, other reinforced plastics or metal alloys. Since large fish can generate a lot of pulling power, reels with higher available drag forces (which generate greater heat) for higher-test lines will use stronger and more heat-resistant materials than reels designed for low-test lines. A good drag system is consistent (generates the same force over and over), durable and smooth (no jerkiness).

Spinning reels have two types of drag: front or rear. Front drags, which have the adjustment located on the spool itself, are mechanically simpler, usually more consistent in performance and capable of higher drag forces. Rear drags, with the adjustment screw on the back of the reel, are more complicated mechanically and usually not as precise or smooth as front drags since the drag itself is often part of the drive shaft and not the spool. They are however, easier to adjust in mid-fight.

Conventional overhead, trolling or baitcasting type reels usually use one of two types of drags: star or lever. The most common and simplest mechanically is the star drag—so-called because the adjustor wheel looks like a star with rounded points. Star drags work by screw action to increase or decrease the pressure on the washer stack which is usually located on the main driving gear. Reels with star drags generally have a separate lever which allows the reel to go into "freespool" by disengaging the spool from the drive train completely and allowing it to spin freely with little resistance. The freespool position is used for casting, letting line out and/or allowing live bait to move freely.

Lever drags work through cam action to increase or decrease pressure on the drag washers located on the spool itself. Most lever drags offer preset drag positions for strike (reduced drag to avoid tearing the hook out of the fish), full (used once the hook is set) and freespool (see above). Lever drags are simpler and faster to adjust during the fight. And, since they use the spool for the washer stack rather than the drive gear, the washers can be larger, offering more resistance and smoother action. The disadvantage is that in freespool, there can be residual and unwanted resistance since the drag mechanism may not be completely out of the picture without resorting to more complex mechanics.

Setting the drag

Proper drag setting depends on fishing conditions, line test (break strength) and the size and type of fish being targeted. Often it is a matter of "feel" and knowing the setup to get the drag right.

With spinning reels, closed-face reels and conventional reels with star drags, a good starting point is to set the drag to about one-third to one-half the breaking strength of the line. For example, if the line is rated at 20-pound-force (89 N) test, a drag setting that requires 7–10 pounds-force (31–44 N) of force on the line to move the spool would be appropriate. This is only a rule of thumb. For lever drag reels with a strike position, most anglers start by setting the drag at the strike position to one-third the break strength of the line. This usually allows the full position to still be safely under the line rating while providing flexibility during the fight. Depending on the conditions, some anglers may leave their reels in freespool then setting the anti-reverse or engaging the drag on hookup.


See also


  1. ^ [Shorter OED 1993]
  2. ^ Birrell (1993), 185.
  3. ^ Hucker (1975), 206.
  4. ^ Ronan (1994), 41.
  5. ^ Temple (1986), 88.
  6. ^ a b c d e f Needham (1986), Volume 4, Part 2, 100 & PLATE CXLVII.
  7. ^ The World Book Encyclopedia Volume 7. Field Enterprises Educational Corp. 1968.
  8. ^ "Welcome To Great Fly Fishing Tips".
  9. ^ "Fishing Tackle Chapter 3" (PDF).
  10. ^ a b "fishing". Encyclopædia Britannica.
  11. ^ Andrew N. Herd. "Fly Fishing in the Eighteenth Century".
  12. ^ Brown, Jim. A Treasury of Reels: The Fishing Reel Collection of The American Museum of Fly Fishing. Manchester, Vermont: The American Museum of Fly Fishing, 1990.
  13. ^ Schullery, Paul. The Orvis Story: 150 Years of an American Sporting Tradition. Manchester, Vermont, The Orvis Company, Inc., 2006
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Henshall 1881
  15. ^ Using Alvey Reels
  16. ^ Henshall 1881, p. 244. A multiplying reel uses gearing to produce two or more revolutions of the central shaft (spool) for every revolution of the crank handle.
  17. ^ a b c Schultz, Ken, Schultz's Essentials of Fishing: The Only Guide You Need to Catch Freshwater and Saltwater Fish, John Wiley & Sons, ISBN 9780470444313 (2010) pp. 147-150,154.
  18. ^ Parsons, P. Allen, Complete Book of Fresh Water Fishing, New York, Harper & Row Inc., ISBN 0060715006, 9780060715007 (1963), pp. 71-73
  19. ^ Bashline, Jim, The Spin-Cast Reel: It's Not Just For Beginners Anymore, Field & Stream Magazine, ISSN 8755-8599, Vol. 85, No. 2 (June 1980), p. 98
  20. ^ Netherby, Steve, Johnson Wax Outdoors, ISSN 8755-8599, Vol. 84, No. 10 (February 1980), p. 80


Further reading

ABU Garcia

ABU Garcia, originally AB Urfabriken, then ABU Svängsta, is a fishing reel and fishing equipment company founded in Sweden, and is now owned by Pure Fishing of the United States.


Angling is a method of fishing by means of an "angle" (fish hook). The hook is usually attached to a fishing line and the line is often attached to a fishing rod. Modern fishing rods are usually fitted with a fishing reel that functions as a mechanism for storing, retrieving and paying out the line. Tenkara fishing and cane pole fishing are two techniques that do not use a reel. The hook itself can be dressed with bait, but sometimes a lure, with hooks attached to it, is used in place of a hook and bait. A bite indicator such as a float, and a weight or sinker are sometimes used.

Angling is the principal method of sport fishing, but commercial fisheries also use angling methods such as longlining or trolling. Catch and release fishing is increasingly practiced by recreational fishermen. In many parts of the world, size limits apply to certain species, meaning fish below and/or above a certain size must, by law, be released.

The species of fish pursued by anglers vary with geography. Among the many species of salt water fish that are caught for sport are swordfish, marlin, tuna, while in Europe cod and bass are popular targets. In North America the most popular fresh water sport species include bass, pike, walleye, muskellunge, yellow perch, trout, salmon, crappie, bluegill and sunfish. In Europe a large number of anglers fish for species such as carp, pike, tench, rudd, roach, European perch, catfish and barbel.


Arbor or arbour may refer to:

Arbor (garden), a landscape structure

Arbor (tool) or mandrel

Arbor, a grove of trees

Arbour (surname)

Arbor, a counterweight-carrying device found in theater fly systems

Arbor, the central post of a fishing reel to which fishing line is attached

Arbor knot, a knot commonly used to attach fishing line to a fishing reel

Arbor Drugs, a defunct Detroit, Michigan-based drug store chain

Arbor knot

The Arbor knot is a typical fishers' knot. Its primary use is to attach fishing line to the arbor of a fishing reel.

Bite indicator

A bite indicator is a mechanical or electronic device which indicates to an angler that something is happening at the hook end of the fishing line.


Bowfishing is a method of fishing that uses specialized archery equipment to shoot and retrieve fish. Fish are shot with a barbed arrow that is attached with special line to a reel mounted on the bow. Some freshwater species commonly hunted include common carp, grass carp, bighead carp, alligator gar, and paddlefish. In saltwater, rays and sharks are regularly pursued.

Braided fishing line

Braided line was one of the earliest types of fishing line, and in its modern incarnations it is still very popular in some situations because of its high knot strength, lack of stretch, and great overall power in relation to its diameter. Braids were originally made from natural fibers such as cotton and linen, but natural fiber braids (with the very rare exception of braided silk) have long since been replaced by braided or woven fibers of a man-made materials like Dacron, Spectra or micro-dyneema into a strand of line. Braided fishing lines have low resistance to abrasion, sharp objects can easily cut braided line. Their actual breaking strength will commonly well exceed their pound-test rating.

Braided lines often have 1/3 to 1/4 the diameter of mono or fluorocarbon lines at a given test breaking strength. Therefore, it is easy to fit much longer braided line on a spool than monofilament or fluorocarbon line for the same strength. This is very important for deep sea fishing, since reels don't have to be very big to accommodate long lines. Also, thin braided lines provide less resistance to sea currents.

Braided lines have very little stretch, making fishing rigs very sensitive to fish bites; This is very important for both deep sea fishing and when targeting fish with a gentle bite. Due to the minimal stretch of braided line, hard-hitting fish will frequently cause the line to break. Thus it is very important to set the drag on reels on very low values.

Braided fishing lines are very flexible and can be easier to cast long distances. Braided line typically floats, and as such, is a common choice for topwater rigs, etc.

One drawback of braided lines is that they are highly visible in the water, and thus visible to fish. Hence, it is common to attach a monofilament or fluorocarbon line to the end of the braided fishing line to serve as a leader and to reduce the high visibility of the braided fishing line.When cutting braided line to tie new lures, it's best to use a sharp pair of scissors rather than a nail clipper. The clipper will leave frayed ends because of the multi-stranded braided line. A clean cut is possible with sharp scissors.Due to their flexibility, lack of stretch and most important, slippery surface, braided lines are hard to knot properly. There are several knots that can be used with braided lines: Palomar knot , Berkley Braid Knot, San Diego Jam Knot, Trilene knot, Albright knot etc. It is very important to tie the knots very carefully.

Braided lines, particularly the newer synthetics, can be successfully used on any type of fishing reel, but are perhaps most well known as excellent lines for bait casting reels, in particular for trolling where they remain especially popular among many fishermen.

Clonk (fishing)

A clonk is a fishing tool which has been used in Europe to fish for Wels catfish. It consists of a stick with three parts: handle, fork and heel. Originally it was made of wood but nowadays there are clonks made of plastic or metal too because they are easier to produce than wood.

The process of clonking may look an easy job at first, but it requires some practice. The air bubble produced when the clonk strikes the water is cut by the fork and this produces a unique sound similar to opening a wine bottle. This sound stimulates the defensive instinct in nearby catfish and they attack the "intruder", which in this case is the bait.

Fishing lure

A fishing lure is a type of artificial fishing bait which is designed to attract a fish's attention. The lure uses movement, vibration, flash and color to bait fish. Many lures are equipped with one or more hooks that are used to catch fish when they strike the lure. Some lures are placed to attract fish so a spear can be impaled into the fish or so the fish can be captured by hand. Most lures are attached to the end of a fishing line and have various styles of hooks attached to the body and are designed to elicit a strike resulting in a hookset. Many lures are commercially made but some are hand made such as fishing flies. Hand tying fly lures to match the hatch is considered a challenge by many amateur entomologists.

Modern commercial lures usually are often used with a fishing rod and fishing reel but there are some who use a technique where they hold the line in their hands. Handlining is a technique in which the line is held directly in the hands versus being fed through the guides of a fishing rod. Longlining also can employ lures to catch fish. When a lure is used for casting, it is continually cast out and retrieved, the retrieve making the lure swim or produce a popping action. A skilled angler can explore many possible hiding places for fish through lure casting such as under logs and on flats.

Fishing tackle

Fishing tackle is the equipment used by anglers when fishing. Almost any equipment or gear used for fishing can be called fishing tackle. Some examples are hooks, lines, sinkers, floats, rods, reels, baits, lures, spears, nets, gaffs, traps, waders and tackle boxes.

Gear that is attached to the end of a fishing line is called terminal tackle. This includes hooks, leaders, swivels, sinkers, floats, split rings and wire, snaps, beads, spoons, blades, spinners and clevises to attach spinner blades to fishing lures. Sometimes the term fishing rig is used for a completed assembly of tackle ready for fishing.

Fishing tackle can be contrasted with fishing techniques. Fishing tackle refers to the physical equipment that is used when fishing, whereas fishing techniques refers to the manner in which the tackle is used when fishing.

The term tackle, with the meaning "apparatus for fishing", has been in use from 1398 AD. Fishing tackle is also called fishing gear. However the term fishing gear is more usually used in the context of commercial fishing, whereas fishing tackle is more often used in the context of recreational fishing. This article covers equipment used by recreational anglers.

George W. Snyder

George W. Snyder (1780–1841) was a watchmaker and inventor.George W. Snyder was a 19th-century reel maker from Paris, Kentucky. He is credited for inventing the very first American-made fishing reel in 1820.

Hawaiian sling

The Hawaiian sling is a device used in spearfishing. The sling operates much like a bow and arrow does on land, but energy is stored in rubber tubing rather than a wooden or fiberglass bow.

Hip boot

Hip boots, or hip waders as they are sometimes called, are a type of tall boot initially designed to be worn by river fishermen. Hip boots are typically made out of rubber, and completely cover the legs, up to the tops of the thighs or all the way up to the waist. Hip boots are designed to protect the fisherman from water, and allow wading out into deeper waters in hopes of getting a bigger catch. They also help to keep the feet and legs warm in autumn and winter. Hip boots are also worn by many ecologists and environmental scientists who do tests in swamps or lakes to determine the quality of water.

Hip boots are necessary footwear during flooding, and can be a part of everyday city raingear in order to protect from heavy showers (currently most popular in Japan and Russia as female footwear, usually worn with jeans and raincoat).


In recreational fishing terminology, the hookset (setting the hook or striking) is a motion made with a fishing rod in order to "set" a fish hook into the mouth of a fish once it has bitten a fishing lure or bait. That is, in order to secure the fish on the hook, a sharp motion is performed to push the barb of the hook into the fish's mouth, preferably in the corner. If this motion were not performed, while it is possible for a fish to set itself, the likelihood of successfully landing the fish is minimal since, without the barb of the hook secured, the fish could shake the hook out of its mouth. The motion is usually a sharp, sweeping motion of the rod, either upwards or to the side, depending on the orientation of the rod at the moment the fish bites. Some fishermen will perform several hooksets in quick succession to ensure that the fish is securely hooked, especially on fish with tough mouths such as some saltwater species. In contrast, anglers using circle hooks needn't set the hook, since the hook's design allows it to set itself when the angler reels in.

Powder Her Face

Powder Her Face, Op. 14 (1995), is a chamber opera in two acts by the British composer Thomas Adès, with an English libretto by Philip Hensher. The opera is 2 hours 20 minutes long. It was commissioned by the Almeida Opera, a part of London's Almeida Theatre, for performances at the Cheltenham Music Festival.

The subject of the opera is the "Dirty Duchess", Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll, whose sexual exploits were the stuff of scandal and gossip in Britain in 1963 during her divorce proceedings. The opera is explicit in its language and detail.

It was first performed on 1 July 1995 in Cheltenham, with Jill Gómez in the leading role. Reviews were generally good, but the opera became notorious for its musical depiction of fellatio: British radio station Classic FM considered it unsuitable for transmission.

Power pro

Power Pro a type of braided fishing line made out of a material called Spectra fibers. It has an equivalent diameter of nearly 1/5 of monofilament. Thus the diameter of a piece of Power Pro testing at 50 pounds is equivalent to monofilaments' diameter testing at around 12 pounds. It lacks stretch that monofilament has, giving the fisherman a better "feel" and also helps set the hook faster. Environmentalists have criticized the use of spectra fiber, as it takes a long time to degrade thus harming the environment. Spectra is a form of gel-spun polyethylene.

One note in using Power Pro, the drag has to be set at a much lighter strength than compared to monofilament due to the propensity for Power Pro to dig into itself while fighting large fish.

Reel (disambiguation)

A reel is an object around which lengths of another material are wound for storage.

Reel may also refer to:

Reel (dance), a type of dance and its accompanying music

Reel (horse), a thoroughbred racehorse and prolific broodmare

Reel (people), an ethnic group of Sudan

Reel language, or Atwot, a Nilotic language of South Sudan that is closely related to Nuer

The Reels, an Australian rock pop group

"The Reel", branding of Colorado radio station KQZR-FM

Reel Cinemas, a cinema chain in the United Arab Emirates

Reel Cinemas (UK), a cinema chain in the United Kingdom

Reel Corporation, an Australian film distributor

Reel Theatres, a cinema chain in the USA

Fishing reel, a device used on a fishing rod to wind the fishing line up

Leica reel, a type of storyboarding device in animation

Showreel (actors), a piece of video or film footage that displays an actor's work

Reel, one of the rotating bands that form the main feature of a slot machine

Reel, a complex bird vocalization consisting of several short elements which are repeated regularly. It is a territorial song when used by fairy-wrens of the family Maluridae


Sandsinkers are lead-free fishing sinkers made of fabric and filled with sand. Although they do not cast as easily or as far for surf fishing, they are a healthy alternative to lead for fishing from jetties or any situation where casting distance is not a prime consideration.

William Shakespeare (inventor)

William Shakespeare Jr. (September 21, 1869 – June 25, 1950) was an American inventor.

Shakespeare was born to William Shakespeare, Sr. and Lydia A. Markley in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1869.He invented the level-winding fishing reel. Shakespeare also founded and was one of the key people of Shakespeare Fishing Tackle. which he founded in 1897, as a fisherman aiming to improve the fishing-reel mechanism.

He was a traveling salesman of patent medicines.In addition to numerous fishing-tackle innovations, Shakespeare also received patents for camera equipment. and a carburetor.

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