Know Your Reel Sizes (Pros & Cons Of 1000 vs 2500 vs 3000 Reels)

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Here’s something that’s really surprised me: reels in the 1000 class have been flying off of the shelves recently.

For years, we (and most other inshore anglers) have mainly used 2500 or 3000 series reels when inshore saltwater fishing, but this new wave of 1000 reel buyers is really coming on strong.

So what’s the big deal about 1000 series reels?

Are they better than the 2500s?

Can they still handle the redfish, trout, and snook you find in our inshore waters?

That’s exactly what we’re going to cover today as we break down the differences between 1000 vs. 2500 vs. 3000 class reels.

There are pros and cons of each size that could affect your casting ability, fish-catching ability, and even your health!

You can watch the video version of this podcast below (which I recommend since Luke does a few on-screen demonstrations), listen to the audio version by clicking the play button underneath it, or listen to it on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify.

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Fishing Gear Experiments:

Why People Like 1000 Series Reels 

Let’s tackle the big question most people have about these smaller reels: can they actually handle big redfish, snook, and trout?

Yes, they absolutely can!

They can provide enough drag and, assuming you’re using 10 lb. braid (which you should be), they have enough line capacity to handle nearly any fish you can find in our inshore waters.

The other big advantage of these reels is that they’re very light.

The Daiwa Fuego 1000 is 0.9 ounces lighter than the 3000 of the same reel.

And you’d be surprised at how much difference even just 0.9 ounces makes over the course of hundreds of casts and several hours of fishing.

1000 vs. 2500/3000 Reels

Here’s a quick rundown of how these reels compare in some of the more important categories:

Casting ability: the 3000 casts slightly farther than the 1000 (see this experiment here).

Price: pricing between the 1000 to the 3000 is the same or similar, depending on the brand (usually, when you get above the 3000 is when the price increases).

Weight: the 1000 is lighter than the other models, which is an advantage, especially for people using artificial lures.

Wind knots: the 1000 most likely will get more wind knots because there are more coils coming off of the thinner spool.

2500 vs. 3000 Reels

Now that you know what the differences between 1000 series reels and the 2500/3000 reels, what about the difference between the 2500 and 3000 reels?

Well, they’re very similar.

The weight and spool diameter are usually very close (if not the same) but the biggest difference is often the size of the arbor, which is the center of the spool where you tie your line to.

With 3000 series reels, the arbor is usually smaller, which lets the reel have more line capacity.

Rods vs. Reels: Which Is More Important?

The three core factors when it comes to your setup (not including bait) are:

  1. Rod
  2. Line
  3. Reel

And the above list is in terms of importance, too.

All the reel does is let line out, retrieve it back in, and provide drag.

The line needs to be strong enough to bear the strength and weight of the fish and tough enough to withstand abrasion from anything it might come into contact with, such as rocks or dock pilings.

It also needs to be thin and nimble to cast far.

And finally, the rod is the most important part of your setup.

It’s what allows you to make far and accurate casts, it lets you feel bites and set the hook, and provides the power for fighting the fish.

Conclusion

1000 vs 2500 reel casting contest

I’m fascinated at the recent trend of 1000 series reels making a big push.

It’s certainly a valid trend since they can handle any fish in our inshore waters, and the lightness makes a big difference if you’re fishing a lot, or you have elbow, wrist, shoulder, or arthritis problems.

And I’m really interested to hear Luke’s thoughts as he continues to try them out.

You can see his first experiment where he tested a 1000 vs. 3000’s casting distance here.

Have you used a 1000 series reel?

What’s your favorite size reel for inshore fishing?

Let us know down in the comments!

And if you know someone who’s looking for a new reel, please TAG or SHARE this with them!

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Bill Bennett
7 months ago

Hey Joe & Luke, I really like your podcasts. There is a lot of info for beginners, weekenders & Old Salts. You R never too old to learn something. I’ve been fishing since I was old enough to hold a rod; I would just like to ad a comment about reel choices & why people become loyal to certain brands. 35+ years ago I bought Penn 450SS, 550SS & 750SS reels along with Penn Senators, Internationals, & Jig Masters when I 1st became a Master Operator Boat Captain. Since then I sold off most of my heavy duty offshore equipment. I also bought 2 Daiwa BG 20’s at the same time I bought the Penn SS models. They all have worked pretty much flawlessly for many years. The Penn SS series I still have & still use today along with the Ugly sticks they R mounted on. The BG 20’s gave up about 15+ years ago. I don’t know if Daiwa’s technology has improved but they did NOT last as long as long as the Penn’s. I maintain all my equipment as y’all pointed out is crucial to longevity. I have since tried other brands such as Shimano, Okuma, & Kast King. Not saying they R not good reels but my loyalty stays with Penn from past & present experience. Penn Battle II & III R not made by the same old Penn company of yesteryear but still a quality product for the price. I agree the old equipment may not be as smooth or light as the new but for my money I’ll take longevity over some of these high tech features. Fish really don’t care what equipment you use! It’s all about presentation.
Sincerely, Capt. Bill
PS keep up the good work.

7 months ago
Reply to  Bill Bennett

Thanks for making time to leave the helpful comment Capt Bill!

Vincent Sancho
7 months ago

Luke, great discussion. I have some questions:

1) What is the best way to set your drag according to your line rating? In order words, how do you know, as you recommend, that if using 10 lb braid your drag is at 20 -30% of line rating or 2 – 3 lbs?

2) What line rating do you recommend for a) snook under pilings b) mangrove snapper near mangroves c) mangrove snapper/mutton snapper/grouper near shore who will be under structure/rocks d) tarpon ? I see that you recommend 10 lb braid for most inshore.

3) Once the appropriate line rating is chosen, what is the best way do you recommend to choose the appropriate reel size and rod rating?

Thanks,

Vince

7 months ago
Reply to  Vincent Sancho

1) Here’s a video for setting drag to the proper level… do it once and the pull with your hand to get a feel on how much pressure it is so you can do it without a scale going forward: https://www.saltstrong.com/articles/proper-drag-tension-for-a-fishing-reel/

2) For the mainline, I go with 10 lb braid in most situations. When I go above that is when fishing docks (20 lb braid) and when going after tarpon/grouper (30 lb braid). This isn’t an exact science, so going a bit up or down can certainly work.

3) For reel size, I do it more on the type of fishing that I’m targeting… 2500/3000 is plenty for targeting redfish, snook, seatrout, flounder, etc. in our inland bays, rivers, and creeks. I go up to a 4000 when targeting big redfish and snook in heavy current/structure zones. And I go up to a 4500/6000 when targeting tarpon so that I can pack on a lot more line.

Thomas Marks
7 months ago

Great discussion on the reels. Plenty of “food” for thought. I always assumed the bigger the fish the bigger the reel. Now I see that is not exactly real. You touched on rods and guide sizes. I build rods so I have had plenty of opportunity to test various guides. I have built plenty of spinning rods with Wave Tamer and Microwave guides. They both claim longer casts, I have not really seen that. What I do notice is fewer wind knots. The stripper guide (first guide from the reel) greatly reduces the size of the coil (tames it) the reduction guide does the same, after that point the line is running almost straight. With conventional guides the coils are clearly seen down the full length of the rod. The big BUT when buying a rod with micro or wave tamer guides is that the placement of the stripper guide on the rod to be most effective it needs to be paired with the reel. With the spool at it fullest extension of its back and forth motion I measure from that point to determine the optimum guide location. The reduction guide placement is dependent on the stripper guide location. All the running guides are placed measuring from the tip of the rod. On conventional spinning guides the placement for all the guides are placed measuring from the tip. One more big BUT. On a custom rod (if the builder is good) before wrapping the guides the rod is load tested with all the guides on the rod and line running from the reel through the guides. We are looking at the line relative to the rod and adjust the locations to keep the line following the arch of the rod. Sometimes it might mean adding a running guide or two. Usually that happens more on casting rods vs spinning.
So the conclusion the micro or wave tamers guides “tame” the coils faster. You can still get wind knots that are caused or created between the reel and stripper guide but they are greatly reduced down the rod. You might ask where are most wind knots are created. That might be what guides your decision. Plus the stripper guide location to work perfectly is specific to the reel used. So when buying a rod off the shelf it does not make sense to pay extra for micro or wave tamer guides. Fuji makes some really good guides of a relatively conventional design that work as well, and you can use any reel.
The next chapter should be about stripper guide size and height for reel size. That’s the rest of the story.

7 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Marks

Thanks so much for making time to leave the helpful comment Thomas! I have always wondered about those microwave guides.

Russell Gardner
7 months ago

You spoke about the amount of drag in relation to # test of line. How do you measure the amount of drag on the reel? Do I physically drag a preset amt of weight? And what was the ratio you use to get the right drag?

7 months ago

Here’s a detailed lesson on setting the drag to the correct setting: https://www.saltstrong.com/articles/proper-drag-tension-for-a-fishing-reel/

Alan Saladrigas
7 months ago

Joe and Luke,
What is your go-to set-up right now? Looking to buy my dad a new rod and reel for strictly inshore fishing using only artificial. Thanks as always for the amazing content.
Alan

7 months ago

Here’s a link to an Insider tip in which I explained my favorite combos for inshore fishing: https://www.saltstrong.com/fishing-tip/best-inshore-rod-reel-combo/

Andre Pollard
7 months ago

Regarding the guide types-

I have started building my own rods (got the idea from one of the podcasts!). I have two rods that are identical except for the guides. Both have the same seat, blank, Fuego 2500 reel, 10 lb braid, etc.

There are basically three guide layouts:
Traditional “Cone of Flight” – what most rods have, where each guide is slightly smaller
Fuji “New Concept” – where three guides are decreasing size, and the remainder are all the same size and close to the rod. It also has many more guides (a 7′ rod will have 8-9 guides). Other people beside Fuji make these guides, but Fuji did the research and came up with the idea)
American Tackle “Microwave” – this is the one that has two guides together in a cone configuration for the guide closest to the reel.

One of my rods has the Cone of Flight and one has the New Concept layout. The New concept layout will consistently outcast the traditional guides – by4 feet or more. There isn’t any contest on my rods, which again are identical other than the guides.

But, here’s the catch. To setup the New Concept guide layout you start with the reel, because the reel dimensions and angle to the rod determine the spacing of the guides. Reels of a certain size range vary, but manufacturers that use these seem to shoot for a layout that is average.

However, because they use more guides, they are also more expensive – good guides can cost as much as a good rod blank.

That is likely why you see them on more custom rods and not on many pre-made rods. If not matched well to the reel, they don’t do any better from what I’ve read – and they cost more (remember, more guides are used).

Andre Pollard
7 months ago
Reply to  Andre Pollard

BTW, I am going to change the Cone of Flight rod to the New Concept guides when I have time.

7 months ago
Reply to  Andre Pollard

Great intel Andre!!! Have you done in testing on how the New Concept guides do vs. the Microwave guides?

Andre Pollard
7 months ago
Reply to  Luke Simonds

No, never used the Microwave guides. Never even seen them in person.

James Waugh
7 months ago

Great video as always. I have an idea to consider when discussing line strength and reel drag. Though when we go out and target trout, flounder, redish, etc… it is continually reinforced to go with lines and reels equal to what we are fishing for. My problem is that though we target the above mentioned fish, the odds of hanging sharks, and many times fairly good size ones, are also high especially during the summer months. When I look at reel size and line strength I also factor in the inevitable shark bites which almost always occur. On many day it seems sharks are predominatly caught in and amongst the targeted species. Whether or not catching sharks is enjoyable, it could make for a bad trip if you spend most of the time re-rigging or fighting sharks for 30+ minutes on gear really to small to handle them. This is why I like to go with a little heavier braid (maybe 15 to 20) and a bigger reel that will be able to stop a shark before it strips my reel. Just my thoughts. Thanks guys!

Last edited 7 months ago by James Waugh
7 months ago
Reply to  James Waugh

Thanks for making time to leave the helpful comment James!

When fishing with live/cut bait, I’ll often go up a line class size because that’s generally when I catch the most unplanned sharks. Plus, the cast and wait style fishing essentially takes away the core benefit of going lighter (casting/retrieving performance).

Jose Chacon
7 months ago

You guys were showing different size fuegos and mention getting some in, but I went to get the 2500 and it still unabailable!!! so are they in?

7 months ago
Reply to  Jose Chacon

The big shipment of Fuegos is unfortunately still not in. We got a small batch, but they were sold our very quickly. We have a giant batch that’s supposed to be here later this month, so fingers crossed that they don’t run into any further delays.

David Polovina
7 months ago

I am another fishermen from outside of a saltwater area. Pennsylvania….. You all are worried about weight, I understand. I am concerned about inches per crank. 39″ to 42″ gets the slack out of the line quicker. Ever have a fish hit on the drop? If you can’t get the slack out quick enough you’re missing a whole bunch of hits. I have 1- 2500, 2-3000 and a whole bunch of 4000’s for this reason.

7 months ago
Reply to  David Polovina

Very true! The inches per crank factor is very important for those of us who use lures.

Mark Williams
7 months ago

I go out with 4 rod/reel set ups with the various possibilities of lure choice, ie, topwater, paddletail, jerkbait, spoon. Three 3000 reels and a 2500 Shimano Stradic. The stradic is paired with a Reaper Rod with the “microwave line guide” set up. Knock on wood- but- I have NEVER to date (after at least a dozen or so outings) thrown a wind knot with the Reaper Rod- I have with all the others. And, it has had all of the above lures on it. At this point, I am starting to believe there is something about that rod that makes it very different. Perhaps there is a trade off I’m not seeing, but I don’t see a sacrifice in casting distance or anything else. Full disclaimer- casting is probably my weak link, which is sad because all I do is artificial. The Reaper rods are made just down the road from where I live here in Punta Gorda, FL. It would be interesting to see some sort of test on the “microwave” set up vs conventional.
Mark Williams, Punta Gorda, FL

7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Williams

Thanks for making time to leave the nice comment Mark!

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