Buying a new fishing reel deciding what to get

Buying a new fishing reel is not something I do very often, but when one of my old reels broke, I had no choice but to replace it. Deciding which to get is not easy when there are so many to choose from. While hunting for a replacement float reel, I thought I would get a feeder fishing reel too.

Buying a new fishing reel

Best float fishing reel

When float fishing for silvers, no matter what time of year, I use main lines of either 2½lb, 3½lb or 4½lb breaking strain. Knowing the range of line strengths I am going to use makes it easier to choose the size of reel.

Float reel size

I think a 2500 reel might be a little too small for the 4½lb main line I use float fishing for tench. The problem is not how much line a 2500 reel can hold, but the stiffness of the line. Small reels have small diameter spools and thicker lines have a tendency to spring off a small spool unexpectedly.

I decide on a 3000 size fishing reel. It will have a spool big enough for the 4½lb line, but is still be small and light enough to use with the lighter lines. A 3000 will do for all of my float fishing, but could also be used for light ledgering.

Best feeder fishing reel

Unlike float fishing where there is a limit as to how far out you can effectively fish, a feeder can be used at distance of 100m or more. By knowing how far you expect to cast, the weight of the feeder, the power of rod and the size of the reel are determined.

I expect to do most of my feeder fishing on local club waters. The largest of the lakes is about nine acres, a cast of 50m will get me halfway across from any of the pegs. On the smaller club lakes I regularly fish, a cast of about 25m is usually enough. On most trips I expect to cast weights of 15g to 30g, the heaviest bomb or feeder I might use is 45g.

To effectively fish all my local waters, I need a 4000 size fixed spool reel. A 4000 will suit my 10ft feeder rod which has a casting weight of 30g and an 11ft which can cast up to 60g. I will also need three spools, two deep spools for 6lb and 8lb mono and a shallow spool for 0.10mm braid.

I now know the two sizes of reel I need, a 3000 for my float fishing and a 4000 for feeder fishing up to about 50m.

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Fishing Rigs Book

Fishing reel specifications

Drag (clutch) system

Most modern reels use a carbon fibre drag system allowing for smooth release of line when playing a good fish. Many manufacturers specify a maximum drag at which the reel will smoothly let line out. Drag powers of 15lb to 20lb are common for the sizes of reels I’m interested in, way more than I will ever need with the line strengths I use. Maximum drag value doesn’t matter to me, all I need are reels that let the line out smoothly.

Front or rear drag adjuster

For me there is no question, it has to be front drag. I like to play a fish with one hand on the spool to help control the release of line if a fish runs hard. I don’t want to have to move my hand, or look down at the reel to make adjustments in the middle of playing a fish.

Number of ball bearings

The more ball bearings a reel has, the smoother it operates. The number of bearings is expressed by two numbers, 4+1 or 9+1 for example. The first value is the number of bearings used in the mechanism of the reel. The +1 part refers to a roller bearing which also forms part of the infinite anti reverse mechanism. As a rule of thumb, the more bearing a reel has, the better the quality and more expensive.

Anti reverse

Virtually every fixed spool reel made these days has infinite anti reverse, which simply means the anti reverse engages instantly in any position. With anti reverse switched on the reel cannot be wound backwards to let line out. If a fish runs hard, the drag will slip letting line out as opposed to the angler back winding. Most fixed spool reels have a switch to engage or disengage the anti reverse, but there are some that don’t. I always want the option to backwind, even if it’s just to let a little line out to cast or for a little slack to bring a feeder to my bait tub.

Fishing reel gear ratio

Fishing reel gear ratio

Gear ratios describe the number of rotations of the rotor arm for each turn of the handle. Low ratios are better for reeling in end tackle that offers some resistance. High ratios are good for quick retrieval.

Common gear ratios between 4.3:1 to 4.8:1 provide an overall good line retrieval rate.

High-speed ratios of 5.0:1 to 5.5:1 provide a quick retrieval rate for distance feeder fishing.

The amount of line retrieved depends on the gear ratio, but also the diameter of the spool. I notice that some manufacturers now state the retrieval rate for each reel, which is perhaps a better guide to how fast line is retrieved.

Retrieval rate rough guide:

  • 70cm or less – Slow line retrieve
  • 80 to 90cm – Medium line retrieve
  • 100cm plus – Fast line retrieval.

Reel specs I settled on

For my float fishing I settled on a 3000 size reel. It has an aluminium frame, 9 + 1 bearings, carbon fibre drag system, stainless steel main shaft and brass pinion gear. The line retrieval is 89cm with a gear ratio of 6.2:1.

The feeder fishing reel is exactly the same make and model, but in 4000 size. All specs are the same except the line retrieval rate which is quicker at 96cm.

What did I buy?

There are very many reels which all look very similar. I could not make my decision on just the brand name, or who uses one or even the specs. So I took other things into consideration.

As someone who spends a lot of time working with the internet, I appreciate a business that has a good website. I want a company that shows pride in their products and can tell me everything I need to know about their products. Finally, I want to see a range of products that apply to me.

Cadence CS7 fishing reels

Eventually I decided on two Cadence CS7 fishing reels, a 3000 and a 4000, each with a spare spool. Cadence Fishing are a British company who sell direct to the angling public. I wanted to buy from them because they are committed to getting kids fishing and teaching angling in the UK.

I am not sponsored by Cadence and don’t expect to be. There are of course plenty of other companies that make fishing reels.

Arbor knot to tie line to a reel spool

Float fishing a great way to catch fish

Feeder fishing – hook bait and feed together


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