Bass Fishing Hacks

Simple Hacks and Tips to Help You Catch More Bass

What is the best gear ratio for bass fishing reels?

The best gear ratio for a bass fishing reel depends upon what technique and fishing lures that you are using to catch bass. If you are fishing a lure slowly then you will want a reel with a low gear ratio like a 5:1 or a 6:1 gear ratio. If you are fishing a lure that needs a lot of speed or in thick cover where you need to quickly set the hook and get the bass out, then you need a faster gear ratio like a 7:1.

It really depends upon the fishing technique and the types of lures that you are using. The bass fishing professionals have gear ratios that are perfect for the exact bait that they are using and the conditions. In my opinion, you do not need to do that. You can get away with only having a couple of rods and reels and still catch bass in just about any bass fishing scenario.

I am a Bass Fishing Charter Guide on the Treasure Coast of Florida. I have been catching bass in the ponds, lakes and canals all over Florida for more than 40 years. In the article below, I will explain the best bass fishing gear ratios as they relate to various bass fishing techniques and lures.

Let’s get started.

Watch this video to learn more about selecting the best rods and gear ratios for your bass fishing needs.

What do gear ratios mean on a baitcaster?

The gear ratio on a baitcaster reel simply tells you how many rotations the spool will complete with one full 360 degree rotation of the handle. Let’s say that you have a baitcaster reel with a 6:1 gear ratio. That means that the spool will rotate 6 times for every one complete handle turn.

A 6:1 gear ratio is a good medium speed reel for a baitcasting reel and can be used in many different bass fishing scenarios. If your reel says something like 6.3:1 then the spool will rotate 6.3 times for every complete handle turn. Usually the gear ratios are not just 6:1.

There is almost always a decimal point involved when you are looking for a new baitcaster. This allows bass fishermen to finely tune their baitcasters for their very specific bass fishing needs.

I wrote another article on this website that covers in great detail the pros and cons of using a baitcaster versus a spinning reel for bass fishing. You can read that article by clicking right here.

What is the best gear ratio for bass fishing with crankbaits?

Bass fishing professionals usually like to use a baitcasting reel with a 5:1 gear ratio for fishing with crankbaits. The slow and steady retrieve is the one that gets you all of the bites with crankbaits as you bump them along the bottom.

Crankbaits are such a varied type of fishing lure that many professionals will have different reels with different gear ratios depending upon the fishing scenario. For instance a deep diving crankbait may need to get that crankbait down 30 feet or so and the conventional wisdom was that you needed a really slow gear ratio to power that bait down.

This used to mean that you would need a something in the high 4:1 gear ratio or the low 5:1 gear ratio range but the lures are now more effective at getting down deep so you do not need the super slow gear ratios to do it. Many bass anglers now use a 6:1 gear ratio when they are fishing with deep diving crankbaits.

The theory is that they can just slow down their handle turns on a 6:1 gear ratio instead of having a different rod and reel combo for each different crankbait. That is something that you will have to figure out. My personal preference is a spinning rod and reel combo with a 6:1 gear ratio. That is the set up that works best for me.

What is the best gear ratio for bass fishing with spinnerbaits?

Fishing with a spinnerbait is very similar to fishing with a crankbait. Both lures are fished by just casting them out and steadily retrieving them. Slow and steady is usually the most effective way to fish these lures because the lures themselves create the action and the vibrations that the bass can’t resist.

A medium speed gear ratio is the one for hardcore spinnerbait bass fishermen. You will probably want to choose something with a 6:1 gear ratio if you like to toss spinnerbaits. This is another scenario where I like to use a spinning rod and reel combo with a 6:1 gear ratio but baitcasters are a great choice too.

bass fishing frog lures

What is the best gear ratio for bass fishing with frogs?

I love to fish with frogs. They are the best lure to use for fishing in the thick vegetation where those big, humongous bass like to hang out, if you ask me. This is a scenario where you need to have a very specific rod and reel combo to be effective.

You need to have a very high gear ratio to not only get your bass hooked but to also get them out of the weed mats, lily pads, submerged trees quickly…. The reel in the photo above is the only baitcasting reel that I use for bass fishing. It is a 7 foot 2 inch heavy power, fast action rod and the reel has a 7.1:1 gear ratio with 18 pounds of drag.

That combination is just about perfect for pulling those big bass out of the weeds along with 5 pounds of weeds, sticks and other stuff. I can use this rod for fishing with jigs in heavy cover or a Texas rigged soft plastic in heavy cover too. I use a 50 pound braided line but some heavy cover bass specialists will use 65 pound test.

This is my heavy cover fishing outfit and if you like fishing in the thick stuff like I do, then you might need to get a combo similar to this one. In this scenario, a spinning rod and reel combo will not perform as well as the baitcasters do.

I wrote another article on this website that covers in great detail how to fish with a frog for bass. You can read that article by clicking right here.

What is the best gear ratio for bass fishing with a Carolina rig?

The Carolina rig is another great technique for catching lots of bass off of the bottom. This is another one of those rigs that is usually fished very slowly without much action to it. You cast out your Carolina rig and drag it on the bottom with a pause every few feet. That is about it but the bass go crazy for a Carolina rigged worm, crawdad, lizard or any other soft plastic lure.

This is another scenario where you can get away with a 6:1 gear ratio and slow down your handle turns to create a 5:1 performance if you like it really slow. Many bass fishermen like a faster gear ratio because it is so much easier to reel more slowly than to reel more quickly.

You may want to get a longer rod if you like to fish with a Carolina rig. The long leader makes it very hard to cast and a longer rod will help you cast farther. An 8 foot rod will do the trick just fine.

What is the best gear ratio for topwater bass fishing?

The best gear ratio for fishing with topwater lures is a medium speed reel. You will want something in the 6:1 gear ratio range. It can be 6.1:1 or 6.5:1 but a 6 to 1 gear ratio will work the best for fishing with topwater lures and jerkbaits for bass.

If you have a limited amount of money that you want to spend on your fishing gear, then you have probably noticed by now that a medium speed reel will do the trick for your bass catching for most scenarios.

If you are fishing for money, then you will need to have the perfect gear ratio for every scenario because the loss of one fish can cost you a lot of money. BUT if you are just fishing on the weekends for fun, you don’t need a whole bunch of different rod and reel combos.

What is the best gear ratio for flipping for bass?

When you are flipping for bass in heavy structure or around dock pilings you will want to use the higher speed gear ratio reels. You need to get those fish out of the structure quickly so they do not have a chance to get your wrapped around something. If they get you wrapped around something them you will probably break them off of your line and you do not want that to happen.

You should use your heavy cover rod and reel for this fishing scenario. That rod and reel that you use for frogs, punch jigs and fishing in the thick grass will be the best rod for this scenario too. Your gear ratio will be in the 7:1 range and you will want a heavy and fast action rod to get those big bass out fast.

What is the best gear ratio for bass fishing with live bait?

Let’s say that you like to fish for big bass with bluegills or live shiners. This is another fishing scenario where your 6:1 gear ratio will work the best for you. You need to be able to pull that bass out of the dock pilings are from near the floating weed mats before he runs you right into the stuff.

This is why a medium speed gear ratio like a 6.3:1 will be a great reel speed for fishing with live bait. You can get a 6.1:1 or a 6.5:1 it really doesn’t make that much difference but the sixes is where you want to be for a live bait fishing reel speed.


If you watch the fishing television shows, then you will be tempted to have 10 different rod and reel combos for just about every fishing scenario that is imaginable. I am a fishing guide in Florida. All of my reels for freshwater and saltwater are from 5:1 through 7:1 gear ratios.

I catch everything from 100 pound tarpons and sharks down to 1 pound bass with those gear ratios. The purpose of this article is to save you money and frustration. You can bass fish with two different rod and reel combos if you don’t mind tying on lures all of the time.

You will need a specific rod and reel combo if you like fishing in heavy cover or structure. You will need a high speed reel and a stout rod but everything else you can use a medium/heavy rod and a medium speed reel for. Save your money.

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