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Fishing Reel Bearings, It’s How They Roll

By Kastking | 24 August 2018 | 0 Comments

Bearings, It’s How They Roll


Just like the three top things about bestselling real estate, “It’s location, location, location,” for fishing reelbearings, it has a lot to do about being in the right place.

The number of ball bearings sells a lot of fishing reels. Both baitcasting and spinning reels. The more the merrier, right? Although, is that really the case?


Ball bearings have become the buyer’s guide for selecting a fishing reel. In practical terms, there are only so many places you can place a bearing that it will be noticeably effective. After that, it’s diminishing returns. Physically, a well aligned, well-lubricated bushing can do the same job of supporting a shaft (in some ways better) than a ball bearing.

Inexpensive reels use bushings – with good reason. Stainless steel ball bearings are expensive to manufacture. But yes, nothing beats a well-made ball bearing for smoothness, and in bait caster reels – casting distance.

Ideally, ball bearings are friction free. Friction free is never achievable, but with ball bearings, when it comes to friction…less is more. Any time two surface rub together – there’s friction.

In a spinning reel, unlike a baitcaster, the spool doesn’t spin during the cast. The line is pulled directly from the spool by the weight of the lure or bait. So…where does the smoothness of ball bearings help a spinning reel? It’s on the retrieve, the spool’s drag during the fight after the hookup, and in the bail as line is wound back on.

An interesting point… surfcasting reels may not have a bearing in the bail (some surf casting reel have no bail at all). That location, outside the confines and protection of the reel body is subject to salt and sand. Here, a good bushing can get the job done without jamming.

Hybrid ceramic ball bearings such as these from Boca Bearing are the next generation of bearings. They are expensive, but do not need lubrication and have less friction and more exacting tolerances than stainless steel bearings.

A good spinning reel will have at the least: ball bearings supporting the drive gear (one on each side), at least one stabilizing the pinion shaft, and one housed within the bail collar (the direct contact point of the fishing line).  A very good reel will also have a bearing in the spool and one at the aft end of the pinion shaft. After that, there are excellent reels that have oscillating gears that rotate on bearings, multiple bearings in the spool, and in some expensive models… multiple ball bearings in the handle.

This is exactly the argument of the story. Is a manufacturer that is boasting a reel with fourteen bearings actually offering a better product than a reel with twelve? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But given the added expense, what’s the sense of having two ball bearings in a handle when a well lubed sleeve assembly (bushing) may do the same job? Most anglers couldn’t tell the difference; and the fish don’t care. What’s more, bearings not protected within the confines of the reel body are subject to corrosion from salt spray and jamming from sand. That is not a plus.

On baitcasting fishing reels, there are really only two bearings that do most of the work – the spool shaft bearings. Here it is not quantity, but quality, that will result in farther casts.

On all reels, the quality of the bearings it contains can be more important than the quantity. Bearings should be constructed with close tolerances, correct load-carrying capacity, corrosion and rust resistance, and properly (type of lube and amount) lubricated. Without exception, for the purposes of fishing reels, they should be made of stainless steel.

Higher bearing counts will not make you a better fisherman or catch more fish. It’s a matter of smooth, reliable performance in the angler’s hands. You have to decide what that’s worth. Are eight bearings enough, yet fourteen are overkill? The biggest question is, given the substantial increase in cost weighed against an unnoticeable difference in performance worth it?

The bottom line – buy a fishing reel with enough quality bearings that will perform well and be reliable; maintain it well…and go fishing.

–  Excerpt from author Tom Gahan’s upcoming book, Tales of the Frugal Fisherman (c)




Eposeidon (www.eposeidon.com ) is an e-commerce company (Eposeidon Outdoor Adventure, Inc.) that brings a fresh, innovative approach to anglers by offering qualityfishing tackle products at the best prices and no cost, or low cost shipping. Eposeidon’s goal is to exceed expectations through outstanding customer service and superior product value to their customers. Eposeidon is continually expanding its product lines, which include KastKing™ fishing line, fishing reels, and fishing rods, MadBite fishing lures, Ecooda reels, and other fishing tackle products, to meet individual fishing equipment needs. Eposeidon is headquartered in Garden City, NY, USA and sells fishing tackle products globally. Eposeidon is the sole North American Distributor for Ecooda fishing reels.

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