Baitcaster Gear Ratios – What You Need to Know For 2021

| Last Updated April 14, 2021

When diving into the fishing realm, we often get lost in the weeds when numbers start being thrown around. Nothing fogs the mind more than discussing baitcaster gear ratios.

This article will discuss the different baitcaster gear ratios and what they’re used for.

Baitcaster Gear Ratio 101

If you've never worked with gear ratios, this could be entirely new. Here is some info to help you better understand this. 

What Does Gear Ratio Mean On a Baitcaster?

Gear ratios on a baitcaster mean the speed of the reel. The more common gear ratios on baitcaster reels are 5.4:1, 6.4:1, and 7.1:1. 

The first set of numbers describes the number of revolutions the spool will make for each crank of the reel’s handle. With a 6.4:1 reel, the spool will turn 6.4 times with one crank handle. The greater the number, the more of the line retrieved with the same amount of work expelled.

What Is The Difference In Baitcaster Gear Ratio?

The main difference in baitcaster gear ratios is how fast we retrieve the lure. This is important when you use certain types of bait setups, also known as “rigs.” Some rigs require slower retrieval rates than others. 

These different rates can prove difficult for some anglers to master because they naturally crank too fast or slow. Different species of fish have different hunting styles, which affects what types of prey they hunt. 

For instance, largemouth bass is extremely aggressive and prefer to go for faster moving prey. So for bass fishing, you might need a higher gear ratio. However, catfish are bottom feeders and are very lethargic, prefer slower prey so that a slower gear ratio would be needed. 

Weather affects fish activity as well. If it’s cold out, fish will not want to expend too much energy, while a fast gear worked great in the summer for bass, you might need a slower crank speed in the winter.

Common Gear Ratios for Baitcasting

While many different combinations can be used, here are some of the most common:

6.1:1 Gear Ratio

The 6.1:1 gear ratio is probably the most common ratio used currently. The reason is it works well in most scenarios. If you need to slow, you lure down to coax a big catfish out of a hole you can without falling asleep. But if you need to work a faster rig to get a bass to strike, you won’t die of a heart attack because you feel like you just sprinted a mile. 

7.1:1 Gear Ratio

The 7.1:1 ratio if you know you’re going to be working spinnerbaits or buzzbaits all day and don’t want your arm to fall off before lunch. Bass fishing is a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work, but with this gear ratio, the reel shares the workload. 

5.1:1 Gear Ratio

The 5.1:1 is great for those frigid months or the sweltering months when fish might be a little lazier. In hot months the fish will be deep where the water is cooler, so having a ratio of 5.1:1 will help slow down the retrieval and keep the bait deep. In colder months, the fish don’t like to exert too much energy chasing down prey, so a slower crank speed will make this easier.

Overall 

There are several gear ratios to choose from, but knowing what you’re fishing for and what kind of mode the fish might be in will help you choose the right ratio for the right application.

How To Determine What Gear Ratio I Want On My Baitcaster

Determining what gear ratio you want on your baitcaster largely depends on your fishing style and what you’re fishing for.

If you have a natural tendency to reel too fast and are fishing for a fish species that aren’t typically known to react to fast-moving prey, then a slower gear ratio like a 6.1:1 or slower might be what you need. However, if you aren’t a fast reeler and you need to churn the water with a buzz bait or a spinnerbait, then a high gear ratio like a 7.3:1 or even an 8.1:1 might be the baitcaster gear ratio you need.

Choosing the right gear ratio requires self-reflection on your fishing style. Really break down how you reel the crank when you’re fishing.

If you constantly have to tell yourself to slow down or speed up, you might need to look for a gear ratio that matches your cranking speed. It’s also acceptable to have a few different setups for different fish species, different seasons, or even different fish moods. 

We have added a video that goes into this a little more to give a visual reference to the description above.

Conclusion

When choosing a baitcaster gear ratio, do some self-reflection next time you’re out on the water. If you’re fishing for bass and having to tell yourself to speed up or slow down, it might help to get a reel with a higher or lower gear ratio. If you run several lure setups and don’t want to keep changing your crank speed, then having multiple rods and reel setups with different gear ratios might be something to consider. We hope this article has helped you better understand choosing a baitcaster gear ratio; have fun on the water anglers and tight lines!

People Also Ask

No matter how hard we try, there are always some questions left unanswered. So below, we have done our best to think of some common questions and answer them. We hope we could include the question and answer you’re searching for.

Who Benefits From Faster Gear Ratios On A Baitcaster?

The anglers that benefit from a faster gear ratio are anglers chasing fish species that prefer faster prey like bass, pike, and walleye. Or have a slower cranking speed than other anglers and need to compensate with a higher gear ratio.

Photo Credit: TackleScout.com

When To Use An 8.5:1 Gear Ratio Baitcaster?

It’s best to use an 8.5:1 when using buzzbaits or lures that require being retrieved at a high rate of speed. Or when fishing for bass in shallow water. 

Baitcaster How To Tell The Gear Ratio?

The gear ratio of a baitcaster will be on the reel, but if it isn’t, you can determine the gear ratio by seeing how many times the reel spool turns in one crank of the handle. If you see 6 rotations of the spool to 1 crank of the handle, you have a 6:1 gear ratio.

Should I Have a Fast or Slow Gear Ratio?

Whether you have a fast or slow gear ratio depends on what you’re fishing for and your fishing style. Knowing the answer to as many variables as possible will help determine the best gear ratio for you.

Why Would I Choose a Slower Gear Ratio?

Slower gear ratios are suitable for applications requiring a slower retrieval speed. If you’re using a Texas Rig set up, use a slower gear ratio.



My name is Jeff and I have been hunting and fishing for over 40 years. I am an avid archery lover, bass fisherman, and all-around outdoorsman. Currently, I'm obsessed with elk hunting but I'm sure I'll move onto a different favorite soon. You gotta love hunting for that reason :) If you have any questions, or just want chat about your latest hunting score or big catch, you can reach me at admin@biggamelogic.com. Read more about Big Game Logic.