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Good Choices in Catfishing Reels

Apr 16, 2008
As with every other sport, fishing has developed a huge set of associated equipment from numerous manufacturers, covering every conceivable niche in the sport. Within that gargantuan array of gear, there is further variety among the various general components, and fishing reels are certainly no exception. For something that is basically a spool to wind your line on, fishing reels have developed into an amazingly complex and scientific breed of equipment, each model specialized to a particular application, quarry, preference or technical point of prowess. For the specialized pursuit of catfish, the main points of prowess in a reel need to be durability, reliability and outright strength. Within that realm, one can then take into account the particular style of reel one prefers to use, and the features and appearance of the reel, to narrow down the options.

As far as the basic design of the reel goes, regardless of the fish sought, there are essentially four designs, or types of reel to choose from. These are the fly reel, the spinning reel, the spincasting reel and the baitcasting reel. Each design has its strengths and weaknesses, depending on the fishing technique you intend to employ. Different manufacturers make various models of each of these four reel types, in varying price ranges, so your choice of reel will come down to its basic capacity to handle the fish you expect to hook, the design you prefer to use, and the price you are willing to pay to get the features you want.

To begin, let's look at each of the reel types, as they apply to catfishing. The first reel type, the fly reel, is only rarely used in catfish fishing, and only by folks with strong hands and a penchant for torture, fishing in small-cat waters. This is because a fly reel is, simply, a manual reel, period. A heavy catfish can be easily over forty pounds, and the fly reel's direct, simple and unbridled operation make for a chancy option at best, for landing one. If you really, really want to use a fly reel, use a mighty strong fly rod to go with it, and get a reel by one of the better manufacturers - you're going to need it.

Moving on, the spinning reel is probably the most common reel in use today, if not the ultimate preference for the pursuit of catfish. Spinning reels use a central, horizontal inline spool of line, with a rotating carriage, called a bail, which wraps the line around the spool, or, alternately, can be pulled open to cast the line out. These reels are the most capable in the art of casting, and are available in models strong enough to take on a real granddaddy catfish, though the issue of strength is the one which will let you down with a spinning reel, if anything does. Look at Quantum, Mitchell and Daiwa reels, here. If you go this route, make sure that the spinning reel you choose has a strong foot, a solid casing, and a bail made of serious metal - no cheapo parts - along with a strong hand-crank and a smooth, powerful drag control.

The spincasting reel is similar to a spinning reel, but has an enclosed spool, and an "automatic" casting system which allows it to be easily handled by novice anglers. Casting is done by depressing and holding a thumb button on the back of the reel, and releasing it, just as the cast moves to the appropriate release point overhead, which sets the line free to be pulled off the reel. Experienced fishermen also use spincasters, but the issue of strength leaves this design in a questionable light, where really big cats are concerned. Fishermen who are after only small or medium-sized fish, though, will appreciate the simplicity and compact design of spincasters, as will those with children or other novices whom they are teaching to fish. The predominant manufacturer in this design is Daiwa, with Mitchell offering a series of respectable models also. Once again, for heavy fish, this is not the preferred choice in a reel design, so for any catfish pursuit, make sure that the model you are looking at is rated for a pretty decent sized fish, because cats will put even the sturdiest gear to the test.

The final category, baitcasters, are the catfisherman's best choice, in most arenas, primarily due to their exceptional strength. Baitcasters are the "original" mechanical reel, with a strong, horizontal transverse spool, driven by a high-reduction drive from a large, sturdy hand-crank, and generally equipped with a drag control and a level winding device. The biggest shortfall of baitcasters, is the technique required to cast with a conventional reel, although modern reels have a number of advancements onboard which have made that task somewhat easier. However, as far as a reel which can handle even the biggest bait, when casting, and which will withstand all that the heaviest catfish can dish out, baitcasters take it, walking away. Their low profile, close connection to the rod and strong, transverse spool design make them pretty tough to knock off their game.
About the Author
Dan Eggertsen is a fishing researcher and enthusiast who is committed to providing the best bass fishing information possible. Get more information on catfish reels here: http://www.askcatfishfishing.com/
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