Fixed-spool v. closed-face

Opinions differ as to whether this reel is better than the fixed-spool, but many anglers prefer the closed-face reel’s simpler mechanism. Instead of a bale-arm, a rotating metal cap fits over the spool. This carries a retractable metal stud against which line is trapped. A second metal case over the stud prevents line slipping over the top of it. The inner case revolves when the reel handle is turned and the stud acts exactly like the bale-arm, laying line evenly on the reciprocating inner spool. The stud is linked to a release catch. Pressure on this retracts the stud, allowing the line to run out.

The casting action is very similar to that of the fixed-spool reel. However, instead of having to hold the line across a crooked finger and manually releasing it, the thumb button or front-plate catch is pressed to free the line.

Like the fixed-spool reel, the closed-face model has an adjustable clutch mechanism, although in most cases this operates on the winding handle rather than the spool itself. The result is much the same. It also has an anti-reverse button, like the fixed-spool reel.

The different gear ratios offered by many fixed-spool and closed-face reels are intended to cater for the varying needs of the specialist. For most purposes, a ratio of about 4:1 is most suitable (depending on the diameter of the spool, which differs according to the manufacturer). A 4:1 ratio reel provides a retrieval rate of about 18 – 22in for a single turn of the handle. (An ordinary cen-trepin reel with a 3Viin diameter, by comparison, retrieves about 12in per turn.)

Anglers who do a lot of spinning prefer 3:1, giving a retrieval of 14-16in per turn. This enables them to spin at a steady rate and helps avoid the mistake of spinning too fast. Match anglers, however, prefer 5:1 because it gets the line back quickly in readiness for the next cast. Some even use 6:1, bringing in 28-33in of line per turn. But at this rate there is a greater tendency for the maggot to spin through the water and twist the line over much. These high ratios are primarily intended for the carp and bass angler concerned with fish that suddenly swim in towards him at a rate which allows slack line to develop. At 2!/2ft retrieval rate, the angler can get line in as fast as the fish swims.

So, fixed-spool or closed face, this style of reel has certainly solved many of the purely mechanical casting problems once faced by anglers. It will not cure clumsy casting, and it will not help catch fish if the angler casts to the wrong places. Nevertheless, used properly and in conjunction with watercraft and other basic angling skills, investment in one of the reels, or both types, is certainly worthwhile. Careful handling of the reel will be repaid by years of use.