When it comes to choosing the best saltwater fishing reel for your needs, there are a number of considerations to take into account. Naturally, price is a biggie. Construction quality, the smoothness of the drag, and how smooth the reel feels while you’re cranking are also important details. And with some research, you can find answers to all the questions you might have regarding these items. But there are some things you simply can’t discover with research or a quick shopping trip – unless you know the inside scoop. So when you choose your next saltwater fishing reel, after performing the required research also use these three tricks to make sure you end up buying the best one for your needs.
- Always test out a reel while its mounted to a rod. Holding the reel in your hand throws everything out of balance, and doesn’t imitate the way a reel will truly feel when it’s being used. And if at all possible, use the very same rod you fish with. That’s the only way to get a good representation of how the two will feel together, out on the water. If you already own the rod just bring it into the tackleshop with you, and alert someone working there as you do so. They’ll understand completely, and won’t have any problem letting you get a feel for how the reels they’re selling will match up.
- Whether you’re looking at a conventional or spinning reel, hold the rod in one hand, give the handle a good spin with the other, and let go so the reel continues spinning on its own. The hand holding the rod will tell the rest of the story – this is a good way to expose rotor wobble in a spinner, and poorly-balanced handles and/or spools on a conventional reel.
- To check for drag smoothness, wind some line on the reel and thread it through the eyes of the rod. Then have someone hold the end of the line, as you pull with the rod to apply pressure until drag comes out. While it’s pretty easy to feel a drag’s jerkiness or smoothness by simply turning the spool by hand, it’s very hard to to judge whether a drag is “sticky” (difficult to get turning in the first place, then smooth once it starts turning) or not unless you apply pressure in this realistic manner.
One more bit of advice: don’t cheap out. With saltwater fishing reels you usually get what you pay for, and cheap models often become corroded and useless in short order.