What Do The Numbers & Letters Mean On A Fishing Reel?

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It can sometimes be a bit difficult to figure out what reel will be right for you since there are so many different options. In this post, I’m going to be talking about what the numbers on a fishing reel actually mean and I’ll also be touching on what the other letters are for as well.

The first set of numbers on a fishing reel will tell you the diameter of the spool. 1000 series reels (or 10/100) will be the smallest and are ideal for smaller fish. 3000 series reels can hold more line, they have a stronger drag, and are ideal for bigger fish. 

The reel you decide to go with will depend on the size of the fish you’re after and how much fishing line you actually need. If you’re just casting for smaller trout then you might only need a 1000-3000 size reel. If you’re after bigger fish or you’re trolling deep then you might need a 4000-6000 series reel. There are other numbers and letters that might be on a reel as well, so we’ll cover that now.

Model Number

The first thing you’ll normally see on a fishing reel is the model name. These are just simple abbreviations. On the Stradic CI4+ reel you’ll see that it starts with STCI4. That’s just telling you the name and model of the reel.

fishing reel letters

On the Curado DC reel, you’ll see that it starts with CUDC. These numbers and letters don’t really mean much to you and can be ignored for the most part.

What Does 1000 Mean On A Fishing Reel

The thing that you’ll want to look at next is the size of the reel. This is what most people will be looking for and it’s really easy to figure out. Basically, these numbers will tell you the size of the reel. You’ll be able to put more line on a higher number, and they’ll usually have a stronger drag system.

On a fishing reel, the number 1000 (or 10/100) will tell you the diameter of the spool. 1000-3000 series reels will hold the least amount of line and are perfect for smaller fish. Reels higher than 4000 will hold more line, will have a stronger drag, and are built for larger fish.

With a bigger spool, you’ll also reel in more line with each turn. If you have a 5000 series reel, it might be a bit overkill for smaller fish. With some types of fishing, you want to be able to reel in your line quickly.

On a baitcasting reel, you won’t see these numbers. Shimano reels will normally say 150 but a lot of the others won’t have anything. A 150 reel is going to be a right-handed reel and a 151 is going to be a left-handed reel. The spool size is going to be the same for all models and the difference will be with the bearings, gears, drag, etc.

What Do The Bearings Do On A Fishing Reel

Fishing reels are going to have a different amount of bearings inside them. Most reels use ball bearings these days and the main thing they’re used for is smoothness and sturdiness. On the box or reel, you’ll be able to see something like 6+1 or 10+1. That’s telling you how many bearings it has.

The bearings on a fishing reel will reduce the amount of friction and improve the effectiveness. The higher the quality of the bearings and the more there are, the easier and smoother it will be to reel in.

One thing you’ll want to realize is that more bearings don’t always mean more smoothness. It’s more about the quality of the bearings. You could have 10 junky bearings and it won’t perform as well as one with 6 quality bearings. In most cases though, having more bearings is going to give you an easier and more effective fishing reel.

fishing reel bearings

You’ll also see that most reels will have 6+1 or 10+1 bearings. The first number is talking about how many ball bearings the reel has and the +1 is saying that there is 1 roller bearing. If a reel says it has 7 bearings then it most likely is a 6+1.

What Does The Gear Ratio On A Fishing Reel Mean

The next set of numbers you’ll want to look at is the gear ratio. This is pretty important and will all depend on what species you’re after and what type of lure you’re using.

The gear ratio on a fishing reel will tell you how many times the spool turns with 1 crank of the reel. 6.2:1 means the spool will turn 6.2 times for every 1 crank of the reel. 8.2:1 means the spool will turn 8.2 times for every 1 turn of the reel.

The gear ratio you want to get will depend on the type of fishing you’re doing. If you’re bass fishing in deeper water then you might want a higher ratio reel to bring the fish in as quickly as possible. If you’re fishing crankbaits then you might want something slower.

If you don’t really know what you want or you want something for everything then something around 6:1 will be ideal. It’s right in the middle and will be able to handle most of what you throw at it.

You might also see HG or XG at the end of your reel. HG stands for high gear and will reel in quicker than the standard reel. XG stands for extra high gear and will be the fastest reel.

Additional Letters & Numbers

The numbers and letters we talked about were the main things you’d want to look at in a fishing reel. There are additional numbers and letters you might see on the reel and I’ll list those and their meaning below.

Letter/Number Meaning
150 Right-handed baitcasting reel
151 Left-handed baitcasting reel.
1000 Small spinning reel.
2000+ Bigger spool on spinning reel.
PG Power gear (lower gear)
HG High gear reel
XG Extra high gear reel
6+1 Bearings 6 bearings with 1 roller bearing.
6.2:1 Gear Ratio 1 turn will rotate the spool 6.2 times.
FA/FB Front drag
Ends With “S” Shallow spool
Ends With “PGS” Power gear shallow spool
Ends With “PGSS” Power gear super shallow spool
Ends With “HGS” High gear shallow spool
Ends With “SDH” Shallow spool double handle
“C” At Start Compact
“SW” At Start Saltwater

Jon Webber

I'm by no means an outdoors or fishing expert, but it's something I've been interested in for over 20 years. I created this site to test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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