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Understanding Lure Ratios: Matching Gear to Lure Types

Understanding Lure Ratios: Matching Gear to Lure Types

Fishing, with its myriad techniques and equipment options, is a sport that often demands a deep understanding of various factors. Among these, one critical element is often overlooked by novice anglers but cherished by seasoned pros: the lure ratio. Lure ratios play a crucial role in ensuring a successful and enjoyable fishing experience, as they dictate how effectively you can work different lure types. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of lure ratios, explaining what they are, why they matter, and how to match your gear to lure types for optimal performance.

What Is a Lure Ratio?

A lure ratio, also known as a gear ratio, refers to the number of revolutions the reel's spool makes with each complete turn of the handle. It's essentially a measure of how much line is retrieved with each crank of the reel. Lure ratios are typically expressed as a ratio, such as 6.2:1 or 7.1:1, where the first number represents the number of spool revolutions, and the second number represents one full handle turn.

To put it simply, if you have a reel with a 6.2:1 lure ratio, it means that for every single turn of the handle, the spool rotates 6.2 times, which results in a certain amount of line being retrieved. The higher the first number in the ratio, the faster the line retrieval, and vice versa.

Why Does Lure Ratio Matter?

Lure ratios are not just technical specifications; they have a significant impact on your fishing experience and effectiveness. Here's why understanding and matching your gear to lure types based on lure ratios is crucial:

Control Over Lure Speed

Different lure types require different retrieval speeds to mimic the movement of prey effectively. Lure ratios determine how fast you can retrieve a lure, making it easier to match the desired speed.

  • High Lure Ratio (e.g., 7.1:1 or 8.1:1): These high-speed reels allow for rapid retrieval, making them ideal for lures that need to move quickly through the water. This includes techniques like burning crankbaits or pitching and flipping.

  • Medium Lure Ratio (e.g., 6.2:1 or 6.4:1): These reels offer a balanced retrieval speed suitable for a wide range of lure types, such as soft plastics, jigs, and spinnerbaits.

  • Low Lure Ratio (e.g., 5.1:1 or 5.3:1): Low-speed reels provide slow and steady retrieval, perfect for techniques that require a more deliberate and methodical presentation, like deep cranking or dragging bottom baits.

Lure Depth and Action

The lure ratio also affects the depth at which your lure runs and its action in the water. Understanding these factors allows you to target specific fish species and adapt to changing fishing conditions.

  • Deep Diving Lures: Lures like deep-diving crankbaits benefit from low lure ratios. The slower retrieve allows these baits to reach their maximum depth and exhibit their wobbling action.

  • Surface Lures: Topwater lures, which create commotion on the water's surface, are often worked best with high lure ratios. This ensures they stay on the surface and create a lifelike commotion.

Efficient Hook Sets

Matching your gear to lure types based on lure ratios can also impact your hook-setting ability. A high-speed reel allows for quick and powerful hook sets when the fish strikes, reducing the chances of missed opportunities.

Fatigue Reduction

Using the right lure ratio for the given technique can reduce angler fatigue. For instance, a high-speed reel might wear you out quickly if you're fishing slow and methodical techniques all day. Conversely, a low-speed reel may make it challenging to keep up with fast-moving lures.

Matching Gear to Lure Types

Now that you understand the significance of lure ratios, let's explore how to match your gear to different lure types effectively:


Crankbaits come in various shapes and sizes, and each may require a different lure ratio for optimal performance:

  • Shallow Diving Crankbaits (0 to 6 feet): A medium-speed reel (6.2:1 to 6.4:1) is suitable for these crankbaits. You'll want a balance between control and speed for shallow presentations.

  • Medium Diving Crankbaits (6 to 12 feet): A medium-speed reel can still work, but a slightly slower reel (5.1:1 to 5.4:1) may help you reach the desired depth more effectively.

  • Deep Diving Crankbaits (12+ feet): For deep divers, a low-speed reel (5.1:1 to 5.4:1) is the preferred choice. This allows you to maximize depth and maintain control over the bait.

Soft Plastics

Soft plastics are versatile, and the ideal lure ratio can vary depending on the specific technique:

  • Texas Rigging: A medium-speed reel (6.2:1 to 6.4:1) works well for Texas rigging. It offers the versatility to fish a variety of depths and styles.

  • Carolina Rigging: Carolina rigs often benefit from a slower reel (5.1:1 to 5.4:1) to maintain bottom contact while slowly dragging the bait.

  • Drop Shot: A medium to high-speed reel (6.2:1 to 7.1:1) allows for quick and precise adjustments when working a drop shot rig in different water columns.


Spinnerbaits are known for their versatility, but a medium-speed reel (6.2:1 to 6.4:1) is often a solid choice. This allows you to work them efficiently at various depths and speeds.


Jigging techniques can vary, but a medium-speed reel (6.2:1 to 6.4:1) is a good starting point. It offers the flexibility to fish jigs in shallow to moderately deep water effectively.

Topwater Lures

Topwater lures, such as poppers and frogs, benefit from high-speed reels (7.1:1 or higher). This allows you to create the necessary surface commotion and keep the lure afloat.

Fine-Tuning Your Gear Selection

While the guidelines above provide a solid starting point for matching gear to lure types, keep in mind that personal preferences, fishing conditions, and target species can all influence your final gear selection. Don't hesitate to experiment and fine-tune your gear choices based on the unique challenges and opportunities presented by each fishing trip.

Understanding lure ratios and matching your gear to lure types is a fundamental aspect of successful and enjoyable fishing. It ensures that you can effectively present your lures, control their depth and action, and ultimately increase your chances of landing that prized catch. So, before your next fishing excursion, take a moment to consider the right lure ratio for your chosen techniques, and watch how it enhances your angling experience.

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