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Best gear ratio for trout fishing

Welcome. This guide aims to provide the best gear ratio for trout fishing. I will also give a brief explanation of the role which gear ratio plays in fishing. If you are new to fishing, and just want to know what is the best ultralight reel to buy then I have written a guide here where I have reviewed 12 popular trout reels.

Gear ratio plays two key roles. It helps determines how quickly a reel recovers line and the cranking power of the gear themselves.

A high gear ratio, recovers line quickly. While a slow gear ratio recovers line slowly but with much more power.

The angler themselves can also greatly influence the retrieval rate by the speed they wind in the reel.

A gear ratio of between 5.0 : 1 to 5.2 : 1 is well suited for trout fishing

When targeting trout, a slow retrieve it usually the most productive. Wither you are bouncing spoons, jerking Rapalas or simply straight retrieving an inline spinner. In most of these cases, you want a slow retrieve to give the trout the most opportunists to strike. Trout are lazy fish, they do not like going on high speed chases.

For these reasons, I usually recommend reels with a slow or average gear ratio. Somewhere within the range of 5.0 : 1 to 5.2 : 1 generally works fine, but you are not going to be at much of a disadvantage by going higher. I certainly do. This also just happens to be the range where most ultralight spinning reels set.

But things are not quite that simple. The gear ratio, is only one factor which determines the rate of line retrieval. Which is often abbreviated to Line Per Crank or LPC.

Lets take the Pflueger president as an example. I, and many other trout anglers consider the president to be an excellent trout reel and it’s gear ratio is 5.2 : 1 , with a line retrieval rate of 20.2 inches per crank of the handle. This makes t one of the slowest retrieving reels on the market.

I am going to compare it with the Daiwa Regal LT, another excellent trout reel which sets within the same price range. The Regal also has a gear ratio of 5.2 : 1 but has a LPC of 25.5 inches.

Despite having the same gear ratio, the regal retrieves line about 20% faster. Why is that, well the Daiwa features and oversized spool which assist in retrieval rate and a longer handle which means more line is retrieved per rotation.

A powerful cranking reel is not needed for trout

Virtually all modern spinning reels are powerful enough to fight trout. Yes, a slow gear ratio means more power. Which makes fighting trout easier. But, trout are small fish and we typically target them with 4lb line. There is simply no need to be winching them in, and in doing so just increases the risk of break of or gear failure.

In trout fishing, there are always exceptions, which means the extra power of a low ratio might come in handy for some niche cases. For example pulling massive Lake Trout from the depths or wrestling obese trout from under fish farms.

It is easier to reel a high ratio slow, than a low ratio fast

I also need to make it clear. It is not difficult to trout fish with a high gear ratio reel. Trout are not powerful fighters, and generally speaking. We do not brute force them in by cranking the reel. For these reasons, even a reel with a high gear ratio say the Stradic FL (6.0:1 and LPC of 30in) works fine for trout, while maintaining the flexibility of rapid retrieves if the situation requires. I use my Stradic for both trout which requires a slow retrieve, but also for saltwater pelagic where rapid retrieves are often required.

Which ultralight reel has the highest line retrieval rate?

ModelLine Per Crank (inches)Gear Ratio
ShimanoStradic C14+ FB316.0 : 1
Shimano Ultegra FB316.0 : 1
Daiwa KAGE MQ LT30.56.2 : 1
Daiwa Kage LT30.56.2 : 1
Daiwa Tatula LT30.56.2 : 1
Daiwa Procyon LT30.56.2 : 1
Shimano Stradic FL306.0 : 1
Abu Garcia Revo SX306.2 : 1
Abu Garcia Revo X306.2 : 1
Okuma ITX Carbon28.76.0 : 1
Abu Garcia Elite Max28.26.2 : 1
Shimano Spirex FG286.2 : 1

Which Ultralight Reel has the highest Gear Ratio?

ModelGear RatioLine Per Crank (inches)
Shimano Spirex FG6.2 : 128
Abu Garcia Elite Max6.2 : 128.2
Abu Garcia Revo X6.2 : 130
Abu Garcia Revo SX6.2 : 130
Daiwa Kage LT6.2 : 130.5
Daiwa Procyon LT6.2 : 130.5
Daiwa Tatula LT6.2 : 130.5
Daiwa Kage LT6.2 : 130.5
KastKing Valiant Eagle6.2 : 1

Which ultralight reel has the lowest line retrieval rate?

ModelLine Per Crank (inches)Gear Ratio
Shimano IX194.1 : 1
Pflueger Monarch Ice19.74.2 : 1
Pflueger President20.25.2 : 1
Abu Garcia Max STX20.55.2 : 1
Abu Garcia Max Pro20.55.2 : 1
Mitchell 30020.55.2 : 1
Abu Garcia Max X20.55.2 : 1
Pflueger President XT215.2 : 1
Pflueger Trion215.2 : 1
Lews Laster Lite215.0 : 1
Lews Wally Marshal SS215.0 : 1
Okuma Ignite A215.0 : 1

Which ultralight reel has the lowest Gear Ratio?

ModelGear RatioLine Per Crank (inches)
Shimano IX4.1 : 119
Pflueger Monarch Ice4.2 : 119.7
Okuma Aria A4.8 : 124
Okuma Alaris4.8 : 123.9
Daiwa Strikeforce-B4.9 : 121.2
Daiwa SS Tournament4.9 : 122
Daiwa Exist LT4.9 : 124.1

Disclaimer:  Some of our pages contain affiliate links. At no cost to you, Troutresource may receive commission from purchases made through such links.  Here at Troutresource we try are hardest to give unbias advice and gear recommendations independent on whether we earn a commission or not. 

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