Open Face Reel Guide, How to Choose?

Suddenly, choosing the best spinning reel (open face reel) might be a real headache. Especially when you are not familiar with a reels technical aspects.

The amount of different fishing reels today’s market has to offer is outstanding. The more options the better, right? 

In most cases probably not. Often times the freedom of choice will mislead and confuse us much more than necessary. Combining it with all the advertising and its promises and claims you may just be left with a headache. Below we try to help guide you through this process and hopefully make it a much easier decision in the end.

open face reel for sale in tackle shop

Hmm, which reel to pick?

Spinning Reel(Open Face Reel) Parts Breakdown:

Every fixed spool reel consists of the following:

  • open face reel body with spool in front of it
  • a handle
  • gears
  • bail and drag

Now we are going to take a closer look of each of these parts and how they affect reel overall performance.

Open Face Reel Body

Body is key element in determining fishing reel quality. Body of the open face reel can be made from different materials, most popular are aluminium and graphite. Graphite weighs less and thanks to that they put less strain on wrist and forearm, when spending a long time on water, but it is not as strong material as aluminium.

Aluminium weighs more, but it is much stronger and firmer than graphite. Graphite is the way to go when saltwater fishing thanks to it`s non-corroding elements. More on saltwater vs freshwater reels here.

Open Face Reel Spool

Around the spool is the place where fishing line is stored. Spool will affect the casting distance and dragging smoothness. The size of spool plays a role too. This won’t be that big of a  factor when catching smaller species like bass. However, off-shore fish like coral trout or even tuna require larger spools because you can bet that their runs are long and aggressive.

In addition you should be mindful of how far you cast your bait and keep and eye on depth of the water. Failing to do these may result in your spool running out of line if some bigger fished got hooked. A newer open face reel may have line capacity rings to alert you but they cannot save you from already lost battle.

Open Face Reel Handle

Handle should have a big enough arm and knob, so it will be comfortable for an angler to keep a hold of it. It would also be good if the handle was coated in rubber. This will furthermore improve contact with your hand. Nowadays it is a must to buy an anti-reverse handle. That means that fishing reel handle can’t turn backwards, that will help against the line going slack and makes hooking the fish easier.

open face reel and its parts names.

Illustration to show different reel parts.

Open Face Reel Gears

Gears or gear ratio refers to the amount of circles bail will do around the spool with a single turn of handle. A 2:1 ratio means 2 circles around the spool with a single turn of handle. There is no good or bad ratio. Each one has its purpose depending on lure and your presentation.

  • Gear ratios in 6.0 range are most universal, they are great for multiple techniques and they tend to be most popular among anglers. Spinnerbaits, medium-depth crankbaits and buzzbaits work well with this ratio.
  • Higher gear ratios start in 7.0.They work best with lures which primary mover is rod itself. They are great for checking through large area of water very fast, making a lot of casts. Jerkbaits, jigs and topwaters are perfect for this ratio.
  • Lower gear ratios like 4.0-5.0 work best with big, heavy baits. They are meant to slowly swim the bait, putting focus on keeping the bait in strike-zone instead of retrieving the lure fast. Deep crankbait lures and other big and heavy swimbaits are the way to go with this ratio.

Open Face Reel Bail

Bails(only found on an open face reel) will not different much from each other and you should not make buying decision based on them.

Open Face Reel Drag

Drag job is to apply pressure to fish and to control how much line is released. High quality drag is the most important piece of good spinning reel and smooth drag was voted the single most important spinning reel factor by 42 pro anglers. Without it, broken lines and lost fish will be common sight.

Drag should always be smooth and non-restrictive no matter what the tension level is. We have two main drag types in today`s tackle market, front and rear drag:

  1.  Front drag will offer more reliability and performance.
  2. Rear drags are easier to modify when fighting with the fish and are very rarely used in baitfeeder type reels.

We hope these explanations will make understanding the Spinning Reel (open face reel) along with the others, a little bit easier. We also review popular spinning reels. So check on some of those HERE.  Lastly, take your time choosing the right reel because it’s gonna be beside you for years. At least that is when you make the smart and right buy, which we hope you do.

One comment

  1. I have used a wide variety of reels–My best and most long lasting experience was with a DAM 220 quik reel. Off shore fishing is a real exciting experience and requires heavy gear that most open face reels do not provide–Fishing Bays and freshwater fishing are the best application of open face reels–I have fished the water from the midwest town lakes to the deep water in the Gulf of Mexico—Zebco reels for kids are the bomb—A few brand names that stand the test of time and misuse are Penn,Dam quik, shakespeare. Brand names have taken a real hit in the fishing world so purchase with care—

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