About Overhead Reels
Whether you’re fishing for big game fish, trolling or bottom bashing, overhead reels are the equipment of choice for many experienced anglers. Overhead reels, also known as conventional reels or bait casters, are mounted on the top side the fishing rod as opposed to other reel types which are suspended on the bottom of the rod.
Overhead reels are also multiplying reels, meaning each turn of the crank results in several turns of the spool. This makes line retrieval much quicker.
Overhead reels typically have strong drag mechanisms, which make them ideal for catching big and heavy game fish since it doesn’t allow the fish to run away with your line. The extra force from the drag mechanism also helps tire out the fish much quicker which allows you to reel them in without having to fight the fish too much. Compared to the equally popular spinning reel, overhead reels also won’t twist your line as you’re reeling in your catch. Too much twisting on the line can cause it to break.
When you require huge line capacities, overhead reels are able to take longer spools of line. This makes them a good choice for bottom bashing, trolling and targeting pelagic fish from land.
Heavy lures are easier to use with overhead reels because the line is fed directly off the spool providing a bit more tension even in free-spool mode, which minimises the chances of the lure tumbling in the air and losing momentum. You can also use your thumb to control the spool as your lure flies through the air, which provides an additional element of control. Consequently, experienced anglers can more accurately place their line for longer distances with an overhead rod and reel combo.
Overhead reels are lighter and less bulky compared to an equivalent spinning reel, which gives it an advantage in terms of handling especially during prolonged fights with really powerful fish.
Overhead Reel Features
Here are some of the mechanical features that you can find in many overhead reels that set them apart from other fishing reel types.
Star Drag and Lever Drag
An overhead reel will either have a star drag or a lever drag that allows you to manually set the amount of drag pressure on the line. Overhead reels or conventional reels were originally designed with star drags, which you turn to adjust the drag on the line. With a lever drag you can set the maximum drag beforehand and simply push it forward to give it the maximum pressure, or push it in backward to release the line a bit more, or fully to make is spool freely. Lever drags are easier to use, especially for novices, because there is less guesswork when it comes to applying drag when it comes time to strike. With a star drag, you have to be more familiar with the adjustments to properly set the right amount of drag for the situation.
When a line starts to drag on an overhead reel it will start to make a clicking sound. This makes it great for trolling because you automatically get an audible signal when there’s a bite on your line. Most overhead reels also have the option of turning the bait clicker mechanism off when it’s not needed.
A level wind makes sure your line spools up evenly across your reel whenever you crank it during a retrieve. Not all overhead reels have this feature, and those that don’t require you to manually guide the line across the reel with your thumb.