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Ontario Fishing Network

Volume 9,  Issue 10 -Oct. 2009 #106

Bass Pro Shops


“Equipment 101 – Gear Ratios, Thrust, and Drift Socks”
By Justin Hoffman

The more we know and understand about our fishing equipment, the better prepared we are when it comes time to rely on it. This insight also allows us to make informed decisions on what will make the best fit for purchasing products.

Here is some advice for getting your head around reels, motors, and socks.

Narrowing Down Gear Ratios
Baitcast reels are designed to provide either power or speed. Since we face multiple scenarios throughout a day of fishing, uncovering the facts on gears can make our life on the water much easier and more productive.

An example of a gear ratio is 6.4:1. The last number represents one complete turn of the reel handle - the first describes how many times the spool rotates. In this case, 6.4 spool revolutions for each crank of the handle. High gear ratios (7.1:1) are built for speed. Line can be retrieved quickly and efficiently. A reel of this style works best for fast presentations, such as burning spinnerbaits and lipless crankbaits, or when working areas that require quick pitches or flips to specific spots, like docks, cane, or weed clumps.

Low gear ratios (5.4:1) signify power. Effort and line retrieval is greatly reduced when reeling, making it a good choice when tossing high resistance lures, namely deep diving crankbaits or oversized spinnerbaits. Swimbaits are another application that can be worked more effectively with a lower gear ratio reel.

A baitcast reel sporting a ratio of 6.4.1 is your best bet for reaping the rewards of both power and speed. It’s the “all purpose” model in the baitcast world.

A Matter of Thrust
Thrust (defn.) - The power rating of an electric trolling motor that is measured in pounds.

A trolling motor is an indispensable piece of equipment for those serious about fishing. Choose the wrong “thrust”, however, and you might as well be treading water.

Here are five simple rules for narrowing down the correct thrust:

1. You will need a minimum of five-pounds of thrust for every 350-pounds of load. This latter figure includes boat, equipment, gas, and people.
2. A boat measuring 14-foot in length requires 32-pounds of minimum motor thrust under “normal” fishing situations ; 55-pounds for an 18-foot craft.
3. Those who fish in adverse conditions – big water, high winds, heavy vegetation, long hours – should choose a thrust rating considerably higher than those recommended.
4. Buy as much power as you can afford, within reason. Lowering speed/power is always possible with a high-thrust motor – upgrading power on an undersized unit is not.
5. Don’t cut corners. A higher thrust motor may cost more initially, but the extended life (no need to upgrade) and lack of frustrations are definitely priceless.

Drift Socks – One Size Doesn’t Fit All
A drift sock is a large, oval shaped “sock” that is lowered over the side of the boat in order to slow speed, and effectively work structure areas. A must for walleye anglers and flat fishermen. But for anyone that abhors the thought of fishing in the wind, the drift sock is a definite saviour.

When it comes to choosing a sock, keep in mind some recommendations for size:

  ● Boats to 14 feet – 26”
  ● Boats to 16 feet – 30”
  ● 14 to 18 feet – 38”
  ● 16 to 22 feet – 44” or 48”
  ● 18 to 22 feet – 56”

Much like I mentioned with the trolling motors, it is best to upgrade one sock size to give you that extra slowing power you may need, especially if you work the boat in high winds or areas with strong current.

Another bit of advice is to purchase two drift socks for the boat. These can be useful when the wind is really blowing, and with one tied to the bow and one on the stern, drift control can be better managed and adjusted.

Choose a sock that is manufactured from reinforced nylon – it will stand up to the abuse, and not leave you “stranded” on a blustery afternoon.

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