Fishing Reel Review Process

How We Review Fishing Reels

There are 4 main attributes/components we test when reviewing a fishing reel. These are not only key for the overall performance of the reel but they also take into account what’s important for the modern-day angler. Here’s what we test:

  • Build quality
  • Casting ability
  • Drag/Clutch
  • Value for money
Here’s a bit more detail on what we exactly look for in these components:

Build Quality

When we assess the build quality of a fishing reel, we test and review the materials used in manufacturing the reel and how it all comes together in the finished product. Here’s what we look out for:

The frame of the reel

The frame of the reel is basically what you can see and feel, it’s the material used in the actual body of the reel.

The reels that score higher in this assessment are the reels that use more advanced carbon materials in the build and the reels that score lower are generally made from carbon composites or graphite.

The reason for the weighted scoring here is that the reels with the premium materials last longer and tend to have a well-balanced feel about them that allows them to perform better.

Other components

Finally, to finish off the assessment of the reel’s build quality, we look at other components on the reel. These are things like the line clip and the buttons and levers on things like the drag setting and spool button.

Cast & Retrieve

This part of the review is fairly self-explanatory and focuses on how well the reel casts and smooth the retrieve is. Distance isn’t a factor in this assessment whereas accuracy and efficiency is. On top of the actual, physical performance of the reel we also look at a couple more features:

The ball bearings

The bearings on a fishing reel will generally reduce the amount of friction and as such will improve its effectiveness. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the quality of the bearings and the more there are, the easier and smoother it will be to reel in.

When reviewing a reels bearings we look at how many are present, the type of bearing used, and how it effects the smoothness of the reel.

The spool & line lay

When reviewing the spool on the reel we are not only looking the material used in the design but also whether the capacity of the spool is balanced for its purpose. We also look at whether spare spools come with the reel and/or spacers that can allow for the reel to be used for different fishing circumstances.

In terms of line lay, we look at how the line naturally lays on the reel to see if there is any cross-over or twist that can affect performance. More advanced reels tend to have features such as oscillating systems or slow oscillation technology that help improve line lay and will in turn score higher.

Gear Ratio

When reviewing the gear ratio on the reel we again look at how well balanced the ratio is for the purpose of its use. For example in a spod reel, we would expect to see a higher gear ratio than a small float fishing reel.

Drag System

When reviewing the drag system on a fishing reel we are testing how smooth the drag is and how convenient it is to use. There is no bias as to whether a reel has a front or rear drag system, it is solely judged on how smooth it can take out line relative to the amount of pressure that it is being applied.

Value For Money

Again, this is self-explanatory in terms of an assessment but yet an important part of the review process. This is because it creates more of a level playing field. Of course, the more expensive a reel is the more quality components it will have and as such will generally score higher.

Having value for money as a criterion allows us to judge how well a reel performs vs its price point and in turn allows us to recognise good-performing reels at bargain prices.

What Is The Scoring System

At eTackle, the scoring system is the same no matter the item of fishing tackle being reviewed. The only things that change are the actual attributes being tested which is dependant on the type of tackle being assessed.

For more detail on the scoring system you can check out our dedicated reviews page.