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.

When you look at a spinning reel you’ll see that the reel comes in 1000, 2000, 2500, 3000, and so on (or 10, 20, 30). These numbers are referring to the size of the spool, where size 1000 is the smallest. Size 1000 reels will hold less line than a size 3000 reel and they’ll also have less drag. Size 1000 reels might be able to hold 95 yards of 10 lb braid while a 3000 series reel might be able to hold 200 yards.

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

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.

Size

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. A higher number will be able to handle more line.

On a spinning reel, the smallest size people normally get is a size 1000 (or 100, or 10). These are going to be for you if you’re only after smaller fish and you aren’t going to be using much fishing line. The next size up will be 2000 (or 200/20). This reel will hold more fishing line and will normally have higher drag. Reels can come in 5000, 10000, or even higher.

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.

Bearings

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.

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 a smoother 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.

Gear Ratio

The next set of numbers you’ll see is the gear ratio of the reel. You might see 6.2:1 or you might see 8.2:1. The gear ratio is talking about how many times the spool turns with one crank of the reel. If you have a 6.2:1 reel then the spool will spin 6.2 times for every 1 crank 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/NumberMeaning
150Right-handed baitcasting reel
151Left-handed baitcasting reel.
1000Small spinning reel.
2000+Bigger spool on spinning reel.
PGPower gear (lower gear)
HGHigh gear reel
XGExtra high gear reel
6+1 Bearings6 bearings with 1 roller bearing.
6.2:1 Gear Ratio1 turn will rotate the spool 6.2 times.
FA/FBFront 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 StartCompact
"SW" At StartSaltwater

Let me know your thoughts and any questions you have. Like this article? Feel free to give it a share!

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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. This site is where I test out different gear and techniques to see what actually works.

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