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Buyers Guide to Fishing Reels

Buyers Guide to Fishing Reels

Carp angling is a captivating sport that has won the hearts of countless enthusiasts around the globe. With its unique blend of serenity, anticipation, and excitement, it offers a distinct and thrilling experience that sets it apart from other forms of fishing. To excel in carp angling and enjoy the true essence of this sport, it's essential to have the right equipment tailored to your specific needs. Among the vital components of your arsenal is the fishing reel, which is pivotal in enabling precise casting, efficient retrieval, and the successful capture of those elusive carp. However, with a multitude of options at your disposal, determining the ideal features and reel type for carp fishing can seem daunting. So, what should you be looking for in the best carp fishing reel?

What to Look for in a Fishing Reel


The material of the reel frame is a critical factor in determining its performance, durability, and weight. A well-constructed reel not only delivers smooth operation but also stands the test of time, making it a wise investment for any angler.

High-quality reels often feature frames made from advanced carbon materials, which provide exceptional strength and resistance to wear while maintaining a lightweight feel. Each manufacturer employs its own unique coding system to define the quality of the carbon materials used in their reels, so it's important to familiarise yourself with these terminologies when comparing different brands and models.

Lower-end reels typically rely on carbon composites or graphite materials. While these materials may not provide the same level of performance as their high-end counterparts, they can still deliver decent results at a more budget-friendly price point. For anglers just starting out or those on a tight budget, these reels can be an ideal option for gaining experience without breaking the bank.


The weight of a fishing reel directly influences the overall balance, comfort, and usability of your rod and reel setup. A well-balanced setup allows for more accurate and efficient casting and retrieval, reducing fatigue during extended angling sessions and ultimately enhancing your chances of success on the water.

Reels made from advanced materials such as carbon composites or magnesium alloys generally offer lower weights without compromising strength and durability. These lightweight reels are particularly beneficial for carp anglers who often engage in long sessions or need to cast great distances. A lighter reel also makes it easier to detect subtle bites, increasing your chances of hooking elusive carp.

However, it's essential to strike a balance between weight and performance, as excessively lightweight reels may sacrifice important features or durability. Consider the overall design of the reel, including its material, construction, and internal components, when evaluating its weight. 

Gears & Rotor

The gears and rotor of a fishing reel play a crucial role in its overall performance and efficiency, affecting everything from casting distance to retrieval power. Understanding the significance of these internal mechanisms will help you make an informed decision when choosing the ideal reel.

High-quality reels typically feature precision-engineered gears and rotors designed to ensure smooth operation, superior power transfer, and minimal energy loss. The alignment of the gears and rotor is critical, as it directly influences the amount of power you can exert through the handle, thereby affecting your retrieval capabilities. A reel with perfectly aligned gears and rotors will generally be stronger, more durable, and provide a smoother, more reliable performance compared to a poorly aligned reel.

Some reels feature high gear ratios, allowing for faster line retrieval, while others have lower gear ratios, providing increased torque for battling hard-fighting fish. Be sure to consider the gear ratio when choosing a carp fishing reel, as it will significantly impact your angling experience.


These small yet vital components play a huge role in the quality and longevity of your reel. Having a reel with high-quality bearings has two main benefits. First, it makes your reel run more smoothly, giving you cleaner casts and more pleasant retrieves. Second, it prolongs the life of the reel by reducing wear and tear on crucial components. 

There are various types of bearings you might come across when shopping for reels, such as stainless steel bearings, roller bearings (often abbreviated as RB), and corrosion-resistant ball bearings (or CRBB). Each type has its unique advantages, but they all serve the same purpose: reducing pressure points on the internal reel components and decreasing friction.

Generally, higher-quality reels tend to have more bearings, resulting in a smoother and more reliable performance. You might also come across reels with an 'anti-reverse ball bearing', sometimes known as a one-way bearing or a clutch bearing. This handy feature prevents any backward movement of the handle, offering more control and stability during retrieval.

Line Lay

Line lay refers to how the line is arranged on the spool. An even line lay is preferable for all anglers because it significantly impacts your casting ability. If the line is wound neatly and evenly on the spool, it will come off smoothly during the cast, reducing the chances of tangles and improving casting distance and accuracy.

Many factors can affect the line lay on a fishing reel, including the reel's design, the type of line you're using, and how the line was loaded onto the spool. Some reels have specific features to ensure a more even line lay, such as oscillating systems or slow oscillation technology. These systems move the spool up and down in a controlled manner during line retrieval, ensuring the line is wound evenly across the spool.

Different line materials and diameters may require different spool designs or tension settings to ensure even winding, so make sure to consider the type of line you plan to use and make sure the reel is compatible with that line for optimal performance.

Drag System

The drag system is responsible for applying pressure on the line and controlling the amount of tension as a fish fights during the retrieve. A good drag system allows you to tire the fish out and reel it in without risking line breakage.

There are two main types of drag systems: front drag and rear drag. Front drag systems are located on the front of the spool, while rear drag systems are situated at the back of the reel. Both systems have their advantages, and the choice between the two often comes down to personal preference.

Front drag systems tend to be more robust and durable, as they usually have larger drag washers, resulting in smoother performance and greater resistance to wear and tear. As a result, these systems are often preferred by anglers who target larger, stronger fish, as they can handle the increased pressure.

Rear drag systems, on the other hand, are known for their convenience and ease of use. They allow you to make quick and easy adjustments to the drag settings without removing your hand from the reel handle. This can be particularly helpful when you're fighting a fish and need to make adjustments on the fly.

Types of Carp Fishing Reels

Big pit reels 

These reels are specifically designed for carp anglers who require greater casting distance and line capacity. Their name derives from the large, deep spools they possess, which allow for the storage of more line and facilitate longer casts. This feature is particularly useful when targeting carp in larger bodies of water, where casting distance can be crucial in reaching prime fishing spots.

Big pit reels often come with a higher gear ratio, enabling you to retrieve line more quickly, which is helpful when reeling in from long distances or when dealing with a fast-moving fish. Many of these reels also offer a variety of advanced features, such as advanced drag systems, multiple ball bearings for smoother performance, and sturdy construction materials for durability.

Fixed spool reels 

Known for their versatility, ease of use, and suitability for various skill levels, fixed spool reels are a popular choice for carp anglers. These reels have a stationary spool and a rotating line guide, making them simple to operate and less prone to line tangles. They are an excellent option for both beginners and experienced anglers alike, as they offer a balance of performance, reliability, and affordability. Fixed spool reels are available in a wide range of sizes and capacities, allowing you to choose the perfect reel for your specific needs.

Baitrunner reels

Baitrunner reels, also known as freespool reels, have become increasingly popular among carp anglers due to their unique design and functionality. These reels incorporate a secondary drag system that allows the line to be released freely when a carp picks up the bait. This feature is particularly advantageous in carp fishing, as it reduces the chances of the fish becoming spooked or dropping the bait before you have an opportunity to set the hook.

A baitrunner reel typically features a switch or lever that can be easily engaged or disengaged, enabling the angler to quickly activate the freespool mode when needed. The freespool tension can often be adjusted, allowing you to fine-tune the resistance according to the fishing situation, whether you're fishing near snags or in open water.

When considering a baitrunner reel for carp fishing, take into account the size of the reel and its line capacity, as well as the range of features it offers. Look for models that provide a smooth and easily adjustable baitrunner system, along with a robust main drag, sufficient line capacity for your needs, and a sturdy build that can withstand the rigours of carp fishing.

Spod reels

Spod reels are specifically designed for carp anglers who employ spodding techniques as part of their baiting strategy. Spodding involves using a spod or bait rocket, which is a device attached to the line that allows you to accurately deliver large quantities of bait to a specific area in the water. Spod reels are purpose-built to handle the demands of this technique, providing the power, capacity, and durability required for successful spodding.

These reels are typically larger and feature a strong, robust construction to withstand the repeated casting and retrieval of heavy spods. They often have a large line capacity, ensuring you have enough line to reach your desired fishing spots, even at long distances. Additionally, spod reels usually feature powerful gearing systems that deliver fast retrieval rates, allowing you to quickly bring in your spod and minimise the time spent baiting up.


Choosing the right carp fishing reel is an important decision that can significantly impact your angling experiences. By taking the time to assess your specific needs, preferences, and fishing style, you will be well on your way to selecting a reel that enhances your time at the water's edge and increases your chances of landing those highly sought-after carp.

Contact us today to learn more about our extensive range of carp fishing reels and other essential gear.

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