What do Ball Bearings Do in Fishing Reels?

What are ball bearings?



All fishing reels are equipped with either ball bearings and/or bushings to provide smooth circular support for a pin or shaft in the reel that provides smooth rotation.

The big difference between the two is that bearings are built with moving parts and the bushings are not. Bushings consist of different materials than the reel and are cast inside the reel frame.

What do ball bearings do in a fishing reel and what is the importance of them? Will more ball bearings provide smoother performances or will the quality of material be the deciding factor?

Ball bearings


What are ball bearings

Fishing reel ball bearings are components in gears, knobs, and spools of many types of spinning and baitcasting reels that require smooth movement and support.

The ball bearings bear the load to allow a device to spin/rotate smoothly. They also serve to prevent most friction that would cause parts to overheat if not allowed to rotate freely. The bearings act as a go-between for metal bushings that may rotate simultaneously to provide smooth rotation avoiding friction to the moving parts.

The downfall of ball bearings is the probability of getting dust and debris inside of them. This is highly likely when saltwater fishing since there are moving parts involved and if the bearing unit is not shielded, that’s a recipe for disaster.


ball bearings

Components of fishing reel bearings

There are four parts to a fishing reel bearing that all work simultaneously into one unit to keep the necessary parts moving freely and smoothly.

Races– are stainless steel rings manufactured into a circular, smooth, hardened finish with a groove on the inside to allow the balls to rest and travel through. There are generally 2 races, an inner race, and an outer race.

Cages– (also known as a retainer or ball separator) are used to keep the balls separated but together in a symmetrical radial spacing, keeping the balls inline. They look like collars welded side-by-side in the equal distance and they are slightly larger than the balls to allow freer movement.

Balls– The balls are made from either from metal, plastic, or ceramic. They are used to keep moving parts in motion and eliminating friction.

Shields– are two walls that hold the balls in place to keep them from falling out. The shield helps keep dirt from getting into the bearings and keeps lubrication where it is needed the most.


Quantity or Quality?

The more the bearings the smoother the performance? Or does it really matter about the quality of the ball bearings that makes the difference?

Some say that the quantity (amount) has everything to do with the smooth action of a reel. The more ball bearings you have, the better.

You can have one fishing reel with 15 ball bearings and another with 6, does that mean the one with the fewer ball bearings won’t perform as well? Not necessarily, if the one with fewer ball bearings has a higher grade materials used, then that one would be the better choice.

The fact is, bearings made with low-grade materials may hinder the performance with the movement of the reel and possibly falter.

The truth is in the quality of the bearings. Typically stainless steel materials are used primarily for ball bearings as they are cheaper to produce.

However, in my research, I found information on ceramic ball bearings. They are lighter, reduce more friction and improved longevity as well. I watched a video of a fellow who replaced his factory set ball bearings with the ceramic and the distance was remarkable.

Although the ceramic is lighter, it did not cast as far as the stock ball bearings. A theory is that the ceramic does not hold their momentum as well because they are much lighter than the stainless steel.

When using high-quality bearings, they will give you longer casting ability, easier reeling, and better performance when battling a big fish.



Shielded v. Unshielded?

When choosing a reel that has either shielded or unshielded ball bearings you will need to take into consideration two things.

One, if the bearings are shielded it will prevent debris from getting inside and slowing down the motion, and allow for lubrication to remain inside where needed. The great thing about this is that there will be no need for maintenance with the bearings.

And two, if the bearings are unshielded, there is more of a chance for debris to enter the ball bearing unit and corrode the parts. To counteract that, you will want to properly rinse with every use with clean water after fishing in saltwater to prevent buildup.



The Takeaway

Ball bearings are now made with anti-corrosive materials to help eliminate damage, but you should still take extra care maintaining the reels regardless.

The ball bearings in a fishing reel serves to allow smoother movement and eliminate most friction.

The quality of the bearings far outweighs the number of bearings, just having many more bearings doesn’t necessarily mean better results.

Keep your reels in tip-top shape by rinsing them off each time you are using them, and especially when fishing in saltwater.


If you have any questions or comments about ball bearings or want to leave your own personal review, leave a comment below.

Rod and Reel Spinning Combos For The Ladies

Ladies fishing rod and reel


For the ladies who love to go fishing and who are tired of using a masculine-inspired rod and reel setup, I am here to tell you that you can trade those in and get what your heart desires. I have compiled a review with different brands of ladies’ spinning combos that are sexy, stylish and yet durable enough to handle the waters just like any other.

From my own experience, I know that I want a certain look and style of my gear, it just makes fishing more enjoyable and fun. Nothing better than hanging with a few of the girls and making a day of fishing.



Shakespeare Women’s Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod Combo


This combo was modeled after the original Ugly Stik with the first notable changes of the pink (more like purple) accents on the rod and reel giving it a feminine but not overpoweringly girly.

This rod is praised for its great flexibility without being too flimsy, easy to use and most new and even young anglers purchase as their first combo. Many reviewers say that their significant others who are avid anglers steal their rod & reel from time to time because of how great the quality is.

This spinning combo is constructed with a  4′ 6″ (one-piece) rod made of graphite and fiberglass giving it the durable backbone needed and extreme sensitivity. EVA grips and soft-touch handle knobs offer a firm, comfortable handhold. They improved upon the rod by creating a one-piece, stamped stainless steel guide, “Ugly Tuff” that provides maximum durability and no insert pop-outs.

Paired up with a Shakespeare reel made with Machined double anodized aluminum spool with an oversized bail wire reel, a 5:2:1 ratio and 4 BB allows for fast smooth reeling in the line.

There were a lot of great reviews on the GX2 spinning combo. The rod and reel performed just like It should and people loved it for its colorful accent and not looking too pinky in color or looking like a little kids toy. A couple of issues I found was in the shipping with Amazon, but when reported to Amazon, they replaced it immediately with no issues thereafter.

This combo is ideal for anglers of all skill levels, the Shakespeare Women’s Ugly Stik GX2 Spinning Rod Combo makes fishing adventurous, simple and fun for everybody. They have been a sponsor of the American Breast Cancer Association as of 2008.



Penn Passion Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

Penn’s Passion spinning reel can handle some nice sized fish, and yet sensitive enough for even smaller ones. This combo displays more pink in the handle and grips of the rod and accents the rod gracefully perfectly aligning with the color scheme.

This  1-piece rod is constructed from a graphite composite, graphite reel seat, and aluminum oxide guides. Ergonomic Winn grips that are designed to fit the lady anglers’ hands. The reel comes in various sizes ranging from 2000 to 5000 all with a max drag range of 15 to 25 pounds, and a 5+1 sealed stainless steel ball-bearing system.

Many have said that reeling with the HT100 drag system is silky smooth like stirring melted butter. And the rod so evenly balanced in their hands and comfortable with the Ergonomic WINN grips.

Keeping the ladies in mind, created in 2017 PENN came up with the “Passion” spinning combo. Giving ladies and girls a beautifully colored rod and reel combo that is a little bit more pinky than Shakespeare GX2.

One lady who put in a review caught largemouth bass, trout, and hooked a 5ft shark. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like it’s well worth the money!! PENN has partnered up and has been a supporter of the American Breast Cancer Foundation since 2007.

Check out more about Penn’s Passion Combo here.




PLUSINNO Ladies Telescopic Spinning Fishing Rod and Reel Combo

The pink telescopic spinning starter combo is the perfect setup for your daughter, wife or girlfriend who absolutely adores the color pink.

The telescopic design allows this combo to be stored safely and easy to carry. (If fishing saltwater, be sure to have clean water to rinse off the rod to eliminate corrosion of the reel and guides when stored away).

The Plusinno telescopic rod has no issues with collapsing or retracting and comes with a strap to keep it from extending during transport. The reel seats are made of plastic, but I could not find what the actual rod material is. The pink coloration is in an aluminum alloy material that wraps the rod. The rod has a foam handle grip for ease of holding for those long fishing adventures.

Included in this combo are tackle of various lures, hooks, sinkers, and weights.

It’s known for its sturdy feel unlike other cheap rods that may feel hollow and brittle, this one can hold its own. It’s durable enough to handle panfish but I wouldn’t recommend going deep-sea fishing with as it was not designed to do so.

This combo is great quality at an affordable price for a first-time or as an extra setup for when you have company with you.

Check out the Plusinno Telescopic rod here.




Pflueger Lady Trion Spinning Reel and Fishing Rod Combo

This brand comes in an old model and a new model, however, I haven’t been able to find anything on the new model. All the reviews are steered toward the old model, I personally like the color of the old model versus the pastel color of the new model. Pflueger is another brand who is a sponsor of the American Breast Cancer Foundation.

Pflueger has designed its lightweight, durable graphite rods with stainless steel guides, with custom grips specifically for women making it easier to grasp the rod with comfort. It comes in lengths of 5′ to 6′.10″ and rod powers of ultra-light and medium available.

The reel is constructed from a durable aluminum spool contributing to keeping the whole combo lighter and easier to use. The reel has a gear ratio of 5. 2:1.

When researching this brand I found that there were reviews both good and bad. Many have reported broken guide pieces or the tips were snapped off during shipment. For one person, the rod broke off at the base. Another reviewer said that the bail had fallen off when they were trying to reel in, but that person bought it about 2 years ago and had traveled from one state to another.

All those reviewers purchased directly through Pflueger. I have heard that the customer service with Amazon is awesome with resolving issues, replacing parts that were damaged during shipping, or had missing pieces.

Others have reported no problems whatsoever and it came highly recommended. Many say that the reel casts out smoothly and the rod felt sturdy and that they loved the handgrips.

I’d say it would be another good combo for a beginner angler or to use as a backup or an extra.

Check out the Pflueger Lady Trion here.



Ardent Lady Fishouflage Spinning Combo

The next review is one that is perfect for the lady or gal in your life who loves pink and camouflage.

This rod has a pretty pattern of largemouth bass with the colors of pink and white patterned in such a way that you can see them swimming around what looks like their natural habitat. Each rod is unique in the patterns, no two are ever alike.

The rod is a 6ft 6 inch 2-piece lightweight graphite frame equipt with an EVA split grips to ensure comfort all-day.

This combo comes with a 2000 size spinning reel with a 5.5:1 gear ratio and a 3 Ball Bearing system for a smooth, tangle-free fishing every time. The reel is made with a cold forged-aluminum spool with line capacities ranging from 8, 12, or 16 pounds.

Lady Fishouflage combo will be just as fun and pretty without losing any of the strength and power you expect from a great fishing combo.

Check out the Ardent Lady Fishouflage here.


Ladies, never ever again do you have to settle using unattractive yet unstylish fishing rod and reels again. With the 5 combos in this review, every one of those would be a beautiful piece to add to your arsenal of fishing gear. Go fishing in style with a combo that’s sure to increase the fun while still being strong, flexible with enough brute to handle fighting fish just like the men can.


If you are a big shopper online and you want to surprise that special lady in your life, Amazon has some great deals on fishing rod and reel combos. I hope you enjoyed this review and if you have any questions or comments or want to leave your own personal review, leave a comment below.