A fishing reel is a device used for the deployment and retrieval of fishing line using a spool mounted on an axle. Fishing reels are traditionally used in the recreational sport of angling. They are most often used in conjunction with a fishing rod, though some specialized reels are mounted directly to boat gunwales or transoms. The earliest known illustration of a fishing reel is from Chinese paintings and records beginning about 1195 A.D. Fishing reels first appeared in England around 1650 A.D., and by the 1760s, London tackle shops were advertising multiplying or gear-retrieved reels. Paris, Kentucky native George Snyder is generally given credit for inventing the first fishing reel in America around 1820, a bait casting design that quickly became popular with American anglers.
Mainly used for fly fishing.The fly reel or fly casting reel has traditionally been rather simple in terms of mechanical construction, little has changed from the design patented by Charles F. Orvis in 1874. However, in recent years improvements have been made with the development of better reels and drags for fighting larger fish. A fly reel is normally operated by stripping line off the reel with one hand, while casting the rod with the other hand. Early fly reels often had no drag at all, but merely 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"). Later, these click/pawl mechanisms were modified to provide a limited adjustable drag. Although adequate for smaller fish, these did not possess a wide adjustment range or the power to slow larger fish.
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.
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.
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.
Saltwater fly reels are designed specifically for use in an ocean environment. Saltwater fly reels are normally much larger in diameter than most freshwater fly reels in order to provide a large line and backing capacity designed 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. A 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).
The centrepin reel is also used for coarse fishing, where one can use it to trot on a fast flowing river. Normally, the float would be pulled under because of the fast current, but the centrepin reel automatically releases line, thus making the float not go under.
Spool tension on most modern bait casting 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. Each time a lure of a different weight is attached, the cast control must be adjusted. 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.
A variation of the bait casting reel is 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. Big game reels are not designed for casting, but used for trolling or fishing set baits and lures on the open ocean.
Bait casting reels are sometimes referred to as conventional reels in the U.S. They 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). Bait Casting Reel Operation A bait casting reel and rod is cast by moving the rod backward, then snapping it forward. During the forward cast, the weight of the lure pulls the line off the reel. The thumb is used to halt the lure at the desired location and to prevent spool overrun. Though modern centrifigal 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.
Though spinning reels do not suffer from backlash, the line can be trapped underneath itself on the spool or even detach from the reel in loose loops of line. 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). Most anglers who use a spinning reel also manually reposition the bail after each cast in order to minimize line twist.Fixed Spool Reel Operation Fixed spool reels are cast by opening the bail, grasping the line with the forefinger, and then using a backward snap of the rod followed by a forward cast while releasing the line with the forefinger at the same time. On the retrieve, 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.
With a fixed spool, spin cast reels can cast lighter lures than bait cast reels, although friction of the nose cone against the unspooling line slightly reduces casting distance compared to spinning reels. Spin cast reels also generally have narrow spools with less line capacity than either bait casting or spinning reels of equivalent size. However, this tends to reduce line snare issues. Like other types of reels, spin cast reels are frequently fitted with both anti-reverse crank levers 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 1950's and into the mid 1960's, 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 beginners.Spin Cast 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.
Drag is a mechanical means of applying variable pressure to the turning spool in order to act as a friction brake against it. It can be as simple as a flat spring pressing against the edge of the spool, or as sophisticated as a complicated arrangement of leather and Teflon discs. Properly set drag allows larger and more powerful fish to be safely brought to boat and landed, as the drag will "slip" below the breaking point of the line, but in combination with the angle of the rod, it puts relentless pressure on the fish, quickly tiring it. As a rough general rule, drag is nominally set at about one-half of the line's breaking strength. It can be adjusted up or down as needed by the fisherman while playing a fish, though it takes practice to do this without adding too much drag which frequently results in a broken line and a lost fish.