How does gear ratio effect line recovery?
Response by Sir Rogue - Dated 9/18/1997
It's my opinion gear ratio is a relatively unimportant piece of trivial information when it comes to reel selection. What's really important is the line recovery rate, or how much line can be reeled in with one revolution of the handle. Line recovery rate is what really determines how fast a reel is and not the gear ratio. If you want a reel that is fast, look for one that has a high line recovery rate. If you are looking for cranking power, look for a low recovery rate.
Another thing to keep in mind is cranking power, or the ease at which you can winch in a fish, is more dependent on the length of the handle than anything else. In other words, if you want power, get a long handle (lever) for mechanical advantage.
When looking at line recovery rate, keep in mind it is calculated with a completely filled reel. As you strip off line, you are also stripping off line recovery rate. On the other hand, you'll be putting on cranking power. Here's an interesting equation:
Where line circumference is the circumference of the line wrapped around a spool.
If you have a reel with a gear ratio of 5.2:1 and a line circumference of 4.25 inches, you will have a line recovery rate of about 22 inches. Now, let's say your line is down about 1/8 inch on the spool. This would mean the diameter is down 1/4 inch (it gets smaller on both sides of the reel).
This would mean the line circumference would now be about 3.50 inches (4.25 - 1/4 x 3.14, where 3.14 is pi). So, with your line down 1/8 inch, your new line recovery rate would be about 18 inches. Or, you could look at this as your new effective gear ratio would be about 6.25:1 (22 / 3.5).
Want a real cranking machine? Strip away your line until it is 1/4 inch down. Using the basic reel above, your line circumference would now be about 2.70 inches (4.25 - 1/2 x 3.14); your line recovery rate would be about 14 inches; and your effective gear ratio would be about 8.1:1.
Hmmm, after all of this, it seems to me the amount of line on a reel is probably more important than gear ratio and line recovery rate combine. Now, if I only knew what that meant. :)