Revolving spool reels have much to offer the saltwater caster.
The low profile baitcaster. A reel born into the bass fishing scene some years ago. Anglers were looking for an ergonomic reel that was light and comfortable for those long days on the water. Nowadays, you’re hardpressed to find a bass angler without a handful of low pros on their boat.
Ergonomics weren’t the only benefit of these palm-sized work horses, and the saltwater anglers recognized this. Companies did, too, and started producing reels that could withstand the corrosive environment. In the past ten years, these have pretty much put the old “round” baitcasters to rest when it comes to the inshore scene.
Do you fish a low profile when targeting your favorite inshore species? If not, here’s a few more reasons you might want to.
Unlike spinning reels, many baitcasters are offered in various gear ratios. This means you are able to tailor your reel to a specific application. Similar to bass anglers when flipping and pitching, a high ratio, such as 8:1, is perfect for hitting pockets along a mangrove shoreline. Once your lure is out of the strike zone, this high gear ratio gets your bait back to you quick. This means more casts, more fish.
On the flip side of the coin, you can drop to a low-geared reel, say 5.2:1, and really slow down your presentation. I really like fishing topwater plugs with baitcasters, working them REALLY slow. A low ratio reel can ensure that, without making me feel like I’m watching paint dry, or that I’m pulling it away from the fish. If you’re looking for a do-it-all reel, a 7:1 ratio is a happy medium.
A prime example above, different techniques and applications dictate your tackle. The standard 200-sized low profile baitcaster isn’t always going to work, especially when fishing larger plugs or heavy jigs for snook and tarpon. Many companies offer larger reels that can handle 300 yards or more of 50-pound braid. Back that up with max drag over 20 pounds and you can catch anything that swims inshore.
FINE TUNE AND CONTROL
Baitcasters offer something spinning reels don’t—the ability to fine tune the reel. Cast control settings allow you to tighten and loosen the tension on your spool when casting. The early morning topwater bite is over? Time to switch to a weightless jerkbait. Back off your cast control and still achieve the distance you need. Some reels even open, allowing you to fine tune the braking system even more and avoid backlash.
With the spool in the palm of your hand, and the ability to “feather” it with your thumb when casting, accuracy and control is unmatched with baitcasters. Get good with it and you can skip a lure way up under a dock, or deep into the mangrove roots without a backlash or snag. Many professional bass anglers can cast a lure into a cup from across the yard. FS
Published Florida Sportsman Magazine October 2019