Behind a successful bass fishing endeavor is a baitcaster reel. This type of reel is well-liked by professional anglers for its precision and added strength.
Although it is a bit tricky for amateurs, getting acquainted with its components and features is all it takes to advance from the beginner level.
If you do not already know the parts of a baitcaster reel, this is your chance! Here, we will look at all the bits and pieces that make up the baitcaster reel. You can get the information you need and use it to venture into the advanced level.
What Are The External Parts Of A Baitcaster Reel?
Let’s explore from the outside to the inside. Here are the 10 exterior components of a baitcaster reel:
Foot & Seat
This is the point that attaches the reel and the rod. It is a firmly fixed rectangle or square at the top of the rod.
The foot of the reel pairs with the seat, which houses the reel and is usually accompanied by a movable threaded keeper.
This is the “house” of all the internal parts of a baitcasting reel. Hence, in a way, it is what holds everything in place.
The reel cage keeps the gears, ball bearings, and other parts, all of which we will touch on in the second section. It can collect salt, sand, dust, and dirt. So, it is very crucial that it is cleaned and taken care of routinely.
The brakes are on the side of the reel, right by the angler’s hands. They have two parts: the initial brake, which is larger and more adjustable, and the deceleration brake. A reel can have one of two brake systems: centrifugal or magnetic.
The former uses blocks to reduce friction, while the latter uses moving magnets to manipulate electromagnetic forces and slow the speed of the spool down.
The magnetic brakes system is typically more expensive but easier to operate.
This is the “portal” to the internal components of the reel. You can remove it to gain access to the reel’s interior for cleaning and maintenance.
There are four small screws that you will need to remove in order to take off the side plate. It is important to do this from time to time because salt buildup can cause a lot of problems and eventually even destroy your reel if not addressed.
This is a knot located on the right side of the reel, near the cast control knob and the tensioner. Most drag control knobs are shaped like starfish. You can use it to set your drag properly and control backlash. Here is a video on How to Set the Drag-On a Reel. It will also explain to you the rule of tension for controlling backlash.
Cast Control Knob
As said in the name, this knob controls the cast so that it can be smooth and free of backlash. More specifically, you use it to adjust the speed of the line coming off of the spool. Usually, the cast control knob is right by the reel handle, sporting the same color as the reel body.
However, they are replaceable. So, the color can change depending on your preference. Knobs come in different sizes as well.
Watch this short but well-made video to get more detailed information on Setting Cast Control.
Spool Release Button
This part does exactly what is implied in its name. It is the button you press if you want to release the spool from your reel.
It is a newer innovation; back in the old days, you would have to whip the rod to cast while holding the spool with your thumb. The spool release button allows you to roll out a line with a single press.
Spool Tension Knob
This component is at the bottom of the reel body. Its function is to ensure that the spool stays fixed to the body of the reel while the line moves freely on and off it.
If you are having a hard time differentiating the spool tension knob and the cast control knob, remember that the former is a bit smaller.
This part sits in front of the spool itself. Its purpose is to enable the line to move in and out of the water freely in a cast or retrieve.
It ensures that spontaneous unspooling and tangling do not occur. As a result, it also plays a huge role in minimizing friction and line breakage.
This is the part you use to turn the spool of the reel and cast or retrieve. You will be touching the handles regularly, so comfort is the key area of concern. Many well-designed handles will have knobs for a cushioned but improved grip.
The standard material for reel handles is aluminum, but you can also find ones made of reinforced metals. Now that you know the components on the outside of a baitcaster reel, let’s move on to looking at the internal parts.
What Are The Internal Parts Of A Baitcaster Reel?
This is the “heart” of the reel. It is where the fishing line is stored. The pool of a baitcaster reel rotates rather than moves up and down, so it can accommodate the heavier set-ups for big game fish.
This component is typically made of aluminum or metal alloy that is lightweight, corrosive-resistant, and water-resistant. Spools come in many sizes; larger ones can hold more lines and heavier pound-tested ones, including braid lines and monofilament lines.
The spool rolls on the ball bearings of the reel, which is the component we will take a look at next.
Inside a reel, ball bearings are located between a center axle and a moving wheel. The ball bearings facilitate circular motion and allow the spool of a reel to move quickly while simultaneously limiting friction. As a result, the ball bearings ensure efficiency.
There are also ball bearings that assist the handle of the reel. Without the ball bearings, casting and retrieving will be very difficult. Most reels will have at least four ball bearings, and the ball bearings themselves have different parts.
- Ring: This is what holds the ball bearings. It is also commonly referred to as a raceway. In a reel, there are two of these: an inner and an outer ring/raceway.
- Cage: This is in between the inner and outer ring/raceway. It is a light and thin piece of metal that keeps the ball bearings evenly spaced.
- Balls: They serve as “gates” for the spool—preventing unwinding while casting and allowing for glide-backs while retrieving.
- Shields: These are discs on one or both sides to keep out potentially disruptive debris. Ball bearings can be single-shielded or double-shielded.
Gears are the toothed wheels that “run” the reel. They can be made of a variety of materials, such as brass, zinc, aluminum, and stainless steel.
They also come in many sizes, which is why there is always the concern of choosing the “best” gear ratio.
What Are The Parts Relevant To The Functions Of A Baitcaster Reel?
Although all parts contribute to the functions of a baitcaster reel, there are a few that we must pay extra attention to while purchasing.
Spool – Inches Per Turn (IPT)
With the spool, you must look at the inches per turn or IPT. This is the length of the line spooled for a single rotation of the handle.
It is important to consider this along with a reel’s gear ratio to choose the reel best suited for your fishing needs.
Ball Bearings – Quantity & Quality
As mentioned earlier, ball bearings help ensure that all the rotating parts of a reel move smoothly. The general rule of thumb is that the more bearings there are in a reel, the better. But it is critical to remember that quality still triumphs quantity; a reel with four low-quality bearings is not as good as a reel with three high-quality ones.
To determine the quality of a reel’s ball bearings, check for the ABEC rating. This is the industry-accepted standard that goes from 1 to 9; the higher the value, the better quality it is.
More durable ball bearings not only last longer but also deliver smoother movements.
However, the ABEC rating is only one of the many indicators of quality. Be sure to check the material of the ball bearings and whether they have corrosion and water resistance.
Gears – Gear Ratio
When choosing a reel, it is important to consider the accompanying gear ratio, which is the relationship between the handle’s rotation and the spool’s rotation.
Gear ratios determine the speed at a reel picks up the line.
For a baitcasting reel, ratios range from 5.0:1 to 9.1:1; the lower the number, the slower it is and vice versa. A high gear ratio is necessary when working with jigs, live baits, and jerk baits, while a low gear ratio is preferred for spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and crankbaits.
Drag – Max Drag
The maximum drag of a reel is another factor that you do not want to overlook. Trust us; don’t learn this the hard way.
You should never be dragged by a fish, have all the line on your spool pulled, and then have it snapped too.
Your drag setting depends on the size of your line and the species you are going for. If you do know one of those two things ahead, make sure that your reel has generous settings for adjusting.
Specifications From The Manufacturer
There are many baitcasting reel manufacturers in the market, and they can each provide distinct specifications. Here are several that are worth considering:
Type of Profile
There are three types of a profile when it comes to baitcaster reels: low profile and round profile.
The former is smaller, lighter, less likely to handle big fish, and has less line capacity than the latter. However, the latter is less expensive, making it more suitable for anglers on a budget.
Reels come in many different weights. Light reels are easier on small hands and do not cause wrist fatigue. It is more portable and convenient to carry around as well.
However, some users get peace of mind with heavier reels; they tend to be more durable and long-lasting. The weight is also necessary for some big fish species.
Line capacity refers to the maximum length of line a reel’s spool can hold. It is measured by lb per yard. Typically, the range is from 12/65 to 12/330.
The line capacity can also include mono capacity and braid capacity, depending on the type of line that you are using. Lower line capacities tend to go with lower reel sizes.
Hence, lower liner capacities are more suitable for (ultra) light fishing.
Retrieve Per Turn
This is another term for a previously mentioned concept—IPT or inches per turn. A lot (but not all) manufacturers use the term “retrieve per turn” when delineating their reels’ specifications. An example of a manufacturer who does use this term is Shimano.
Congratulations! You now know all the parts of a baitcaster reel, both inside and outside of it. How many of these parts did you already know? Were there parts that surprised you?
Let us know in the comments below. Hopefully, you were able to pick up a lot of useful information.
Once you have an idea of the “anatomy” of the baitcasting reel, you should be one step closer to advancing to the next level of using reels in particular and fishing in general.
That being said, good luck with your fishing endeavors!
Born in Lakeland, Florida, Daniel has started fishing since he was just a tiny little kid. His father was a real good fisherman, as he taught Daniel tricks and tips to catch the fish better. From those childhood memories, Daniel has built up his love for fishing. Until now, he has been participating in several bass tournaments and currently serves as the Chief Editor of fishingonsunday.com to share his precious knowledge and experiences with many more people.