2 Speed Reels - What - How and Why?

    2 Speed Reels - What - How and Why?

    Dear Big Game Board Friends
    yesterday I got the permission for publishing this article from saimee. Saimee is a Moderator in the Fishingouting.com - Forum. Many thanks Saimee. Your article helps us all.

    I received a PM asking me about 2 speed reels, what they do and why we might want to use one. Seeing as this is not the first such enquiry, I thought I would post the main body of my reply as a bit of very basic information.

    Ok, 2 speed reels are basically things like your Shimano TLD 30II, Shimano Tiagras, basically any multiplier reel with a 2-speed gear mechanism.

    2-Speed Mechanisms

    On 99% of the 2 speeds you will usually find a button and small lever where the handle meets the main body of the reel. You push the button in to engage low gear and then push the lever to release low gear and re-engage high gear.

    Exceptions to the "push button" rule are the Duel 2 speeds where you turn the handle away from you to use high gear and then just turn the handle towards you to engage low gear.

    Also the Tiburon 2 speeds are "Auto", where the reel has a simple mechanism that senses how much pull there is against the line and then engages the reel on the appropriate gear. E.g. when the line has less force pulling against it (like when you lower the rod tip to crank after pumping or the fish is swimming towards you) the reel will set itself in high gear, but when the line has a certain amount of force against it (e.g. winching in a fish) the reel sets itself in low gear.

    In the classic 2 speed gear mechanism, there are 2 main gears (the gears that mate to the handle shaft). One main gear will be larger in diameter and have more teeth than the other one.

    The pinion gear/s (the gear/s that mates to the spool shaft) will generally be a single piece of metal with 2 "steps" in it or 2 gears that fit into one another. One step/gear is generally wider in diameter than the other and has smaller teeth.

    The larger main gear will mesh with the smaller pinion gear/step and vice versa, the smaller main gear will mesh with the larger pinion gear/step. The differences in the sizes of these respective gears and steps is what generates the different gear ratios in the 2 speeds. Most 2 speeds have very similar gear change mechanisms, but its a bit too technical into the details of that here.

    Now what is the point of having a high and low gear?.

    Well a high gear of say 4:1 allows you turn the handle once to have the spool turn 4 times. This allows you to reel in faster. BUT the disadvantage is that when you have a lot of force pulling the line e.g. a big fish, it gets more and more difficult to turn the handle. If you use high gear on a mountain bike, and you try to climb up a steep incline it is very difficult to peddle isn't it?... same principal here.

    So with that big fish just sitting there being very heavy and fat, and the handle being hard if not impossible to crank, you push the button and switch to low gear say 2:1 and suddenly, the handle is now a lot easier to crank, but the line comes in more slowly since the spool only revolves 2 times for each crank of the handle. So now you can winch up the fish.

    Now the low gear has other uses, but is basically there to allow you to turn the handle easier and gain line against more resistance. For big game fishermen, sometimes its the process of reeling in several hundred metres of line after a long run by a big fish where low gear can come in handy too. It allows the angler to use less energy per crank.

    Who needs 2 speeds?.

    Well, firstly, 2 speed reels are always heavier than their single speed counterparts. The weight of the 2 speed gear mechanism and the increased dimensions of the sideplate needed to house the mechanism makes this inevitable.

    Secondly, 2 speed reels generally are quite a bit more expensive than their single speed counterparts. Just compare the cost between a 2 speed TLD or Tyrnos and the single speed version.

    2 speed reels are generally called game reels for good reason. Big game fishermen targetting fish like blue + black marlin need the low ratio to gain line against fish that may weigh over a 1000lbs and Tuna that weigh similar weights. At the same time they may need the high speed to gain line as fast as possible to avoid throwing the hook with slack line if the fish "charges" the boat.

    For your average bottom fishing, you generally do not need 2 speed reels. Once again as in all things fishing, there are exceptions to the rule. If you use ultra heavy sinkers in very deep water, a 2 speed mechanism can be handy when you are just plain exhausted hauling up sinkers.

    They can also be handy if you run 5 hook Apollo rigs in deep water bottom fishing and get nailed by 3 or more big fish that make it just a deadweight to be hauled up. Also when it comes to targetting species like giant grouper, from wrecks and the like, sometimes, the low speed allows you to gain line against a heavy fat adversary where a high speed reel would be nigh impossible to crank.

    So as in all tackle questions, take a realistic look at what your needs and priorities are.

    I've posted a set of pics below of a very badly maintained TLD30II that I had to rebuild somewhat and replace a handle on. The pics do however show the gears in a 2 speed reel and also why you should at least rinse your reel properly and grease it. Believe it or not all the gears and the spool shaft in that sea of rust came out unscathed due to the decent coating of grease on them.

    I hope the other 2 speed users will chime in with their thoughts. AND I definitely stand to be corrected on how a 2 speed gear mechanism works, 'cos I only know what I have seen in the reels I have worked on...

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    well understood

    Ahoy Saimee,

    all well written and perfectly clear.

    Confirmation from own Experience
    My brief experience from a couple of month fishing my own
    TIAGRA 30 WLRSA, a 50 WA and some 50 WLRSAs, I would
    want just one point stressed more prominently: the line
    class should sensibly be 50, 80 or for chair lovers 130.

    The Learning Curve

    Wrong Tools
    Our SHIMANO 25 TLD single speeds, fitted with 500m braid backing
    and 150m 50 lbs topshot, were of no use when a 400lbs Marlin took
    the 18cm Sail Lure...

    Big Guns
    Instead of 25TLDs we now use TIAGRAs WLRSA 50 and rigg 80 lbs
    topshot... big difference when you're 60 minutes plus into your
    fish of a lifetime standup in a boat shorter than 6m.

    Learning and Improving
    November 2007 we hooked a small Blue Marlin on 30 lbs line, again
    the sturdy little SHIMANO 25TLD little single speed. By now my buddy
    Xico and I had improved our team game and in 45 minutes cockpit
    chaos and high seas tango managed to t&r the small tailwalker
    (estimates 2m fork length).

    No More Single Speeds
    Unless we are fishing for Sails or Dorados, the 80 lbs combos are
    compulsory. For 200lbs hunks like Xico and me (rather 250 lbs after
    xmas culinary) the weight issue does not count so much, but for agility
    onboard a small craft really the 80lbs TIAGRA should be the top end.
    Our 50 WLRS weigh in at 2.5kgs. Consider that the 80s drag your
    shoulders with 3.3 and the 130 at full 5 kgs!!! Also the rod should
    be light but sturdy, so carbon is out, glass in and please short for
    the better standup fight. Even so, Marlin in Angolan waters regularly
    reach 500 to 700 lbs, some 800 and the odd fish every year scores
    beyond 900 lbs (granders still all got away...chchch) :P

    Results speak for themselves
    Xico and I navigated in tricky chop when we hooked a Blue Marlin of
    +- 220kgs mid November 2008. The fish gave me (and Xico on the helm)
    80 minutes hard fight in the warm water, before he surrendered to t&r
    and nice video footage. I had to switch to lower gear several times to
    bring the fishes head up and prevent him from diving to deeper and more
    oxygenated water.

    By now we are completly convinced, that the twin speeds particularly
    in the competition fishing save time and allow to bring the fish in
    quickly in good shape for the t&r procedure.

    Most Angolan contest are open to max 130 lbs equipment, but the sailfish
    classic is a pure 30 lbs event, where the 25 TLDs single speed do the job
    just as good as a conventional PENN SSM 950 or any SALTIGA or STELLA.

    Finally, I admit to have bought a TIAGRA 30 WLRSA recently which should
    replace the worn out 25 TLDs. Sure, the 2speed TIAGRA costs as much as
    two new 25TLDS. I basically rigged her with exactly the same stuff as the
    50TLD2 in our arsenal: 500m 49kgs braid and a 200m 50 lbs topshot for
    the time being. The 1.5kgs beauty should catch us Sails, Dorados and YFTuna
    any day. When fishing, she settles beautifully in the butt&harness.

    Just before we go to sink the boat with all the tackle..
    I cannot see myself buying a 16 or 20 twinspeed unless for tournament
    Sailfishing. Fill a 50lbs 500m braid and top it up with 75m mono.

    Thanks again, Saimee, for raising the issue.


    si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses

    Post was edited 1 time, last by “Pargo Man” ().

    The Pioneer - Fin Nor

    A great tutorial!

    Now this is where I show my age and also start reminiscing. I caught my first Blue Marlin almost 30 years ago, back in July 1979, on a 12/0 Fin Nor. Its design was in essence the same as the two speed model Alfred Glassell had used in the capture his 1560lb Black Marlin at Cabo Blanco, Peru in 1953.

    (But when Messrs Finley and Norwood, who’d created their first big-game reel back in their machine shop in Miami in 1933, migrated to the two speed model I’ve no idea. Perhaps someone else may know? Anyway there would certainly have been significant input from one of the doyens of our sport, Captain Tommy Gifford.)

    The mechanics of its two speed operation though - and here it is worth viewing the side plate on one of the images that scrolls through on this link - finnorfishing.com/about.html - the one for Lou Marron – differed from modern reels. It had two sets of gearing cogs located at either end of the plate. You – and I hope this description makes some sense - pressed a button that enabled the handle with the end of its spindle fashioned as a cog to lift, rotated the plate and dropped the handle’s spindle back into the centre of the other gear. Simple, but effective.

    With the growing competitive strength of the Penn brand though, with their International range, Fin Nor went through the doldrums and even invented a tri-gear (3 ratios) model to attempt to regain their market position without success.

    Where are they now? Well part of a major corporation – W. C. Bradley – and in their latest two speed offering, retaining the Fin Nor name - finnorfishing.com/santiago.html - they appeared to have copied, with a minor modification, the ‘Tiagra’ principle.
    Honorary Life President
    Sportfishing Club of the British Isles
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