By Pete Robbins
Do you remember when a 6:1 baitcasting reel was considered to be blazing fast? I do, and I also remember when I thought of the newfangled 7+ to 1 models as an extravagance. Today, they’re a regular part of all of our arsenals and hell, they’re not even considered terribly fast.
For a long time, conventional wisdom held that you just couldn’t get enough torque out of a 7+ to gain any leverage on a big fish, but technological advances have made that kind of thinking obsolete. Most reel manufacturers – everyone from 13 Fishing to Lew’s to Pflueger to Shimano to Quantum, and I may be forgetting a few – have at least one model in the 8:1 range. A few more have crossed the 9:1 threshold, like Abu-Garcia’s aptly named “Rocket” and one of the Daiwa Zillions, which at 9.1:1 is from what I can tell the fastest available on the bass market.
So, if technology has allowed for a 9:1 reel that still has the power to winch in an angry double-digit bass, what’s the limit of where we can go? Is it 10:1, 15:1, or even more? If I can turn my Mercury ProXS at a rate of approximately 6,000 revolutions per minute, shouldn’t I be able to hit 20 per turn of the handle with my worm cranker? Of course, warp speed may not be all that desirable. You don’t want to cast your Senko 10 feet past a stump, make one crank of the handle and find the lure back under the boat. Nor do you want to flip a big creature bait into a mat, jig it a few times, then turn the handle twice and have two ounces of tungsten crashing into the tip of your $300 flipping stick.
There’s a sweet spot in there somewhere – a place where science, durability and utility meet – and I have a feeling that we’ll see some boundaries pushed in the next few years.