At a Glance: Inline Reels
Inline ice reels are direct descendants of fly reels. Necessity is truly the mother of invention in that ice anglers needed to eliminate the line twist that spinning reels put on fishing line. Line twist causes the jigs below the ice to spin and spin. The spinning jigs can keep finicky winter panfish like bluegill and crappie from striking the bait, as observed by anglers using underwater cameras. Stringing up a fly reel with monofilament line to take advantage of the direct feed from the rod guides straight onto the spool proved to be the answer. The main difference between fly reels and inline ice reels is the diameter of the spindle of the spool. Fly reels need to accommodate thick fly line and backing, while ice anglers need just one thin type of line. A large diameter spindle requires less line, but allows for a faster retrieve on standard inline reels. Most inline ice reels feature adjustable disc drags for ultimate control of line tension to land large fish on low-test ice lines. Like fly reels, the 1:1 ratio of standard inline reels means the spool rotates once for every turn of the handle. This allows inline reels to be great options when fishing in shallow water. Inline reels with multiplying gears have become very popular for fishing deeper water because of the speed of retrieval, as well as the free-spooling feature. This allows even the lightest of ice jigs to drop into the strike zone with little to no resistance. These reels also, typically, feature a clicker which can allow them to be used as baitfeeder reels, giving off an audible “click” as the line is pulled off by a fish strike. Whether using multiplying or standard inline ice reels, this new “twist” in ice fishing tackle keeps more fish hitting the ice.
The top brands of inline reels available at FishUSA include 13 Fishing, Frabill, Lew’s, Clam and Eagle Claw.