Inshore insights: Understanding various reel gear ratios

Tips on selecting the right reel for the technique you’re fishing

In this day and age we have plenty of fishing reels to choose from. They come in all sizes, shapes and types, with multiple gear ratio options.

This is how I use each gear ratio range to best suit different techniques proven to catch speckled trout and redfish.

8:1 Gear Ratios

I use a high-speed reel for any technique that involves lots of slack line. These include, but are not limited to, topwater lures, jerkbaits and jigs.

To be clear, by “jigs” I mean a jighead, usually 1/8- to1/2-ounce, with a 3-inch soft plastic on it, typically a paddle-tail like a Deadly Dudley or Matrix Shad.

Having the fast gear ratio is important because it will achieve more inches-per-turn on each wind of the reel.

This will quickly take up slack between twitches, jerks and jigs of the rod tip, improving my odds of landing fish when they do strike.

7:1 Gear Ratios

This is my favorite for swimbaits, ranging from 4 to 7 inches in length. I love using this reel for sight-fishing redfish, because it strikes that perfect balance I need.

A 7:1 is not so fast that it will hamper the action of the swimbait, maybe causing it to rise to the surface or swim at an odd angle. But it is fast enough to quickly burn in a bait and re-cast to a sighted red.

6:1 Gear Ratios

This slower gear ratio is the workhorse for my lipless crankbaits (like a Rat-L-Trap), spoons and especially spinnerbaits.

Again, it’s not so fast that it interferes with a bait’s action, and has the extra cranking power for slower lures like a spinnerbait with big Colorado blades.

What if I could only pick one?

If I could only have one reel, then it would make sense to spend my hard-earned dollars on a 6:1, with the rest for gas to run the boat.

A 6:1 can do it all, including jigging and sight-fishing redfish. And an 8:1 would be aggravating to work with when throwing slower lures.

What kind of gear ratios do you use in different scenarios to catch specks and reds? Comment below.

Editor’s Note: Devin Denman is an avid inshore fisherman who writes the Louisiana Fishing Blog. To read more of his articles, visit