Reels are an integral part of the egi process and if not chosen correctly can let your whole outfit down and make your angling less enjoyable. There are a few dedicated squid reels on the market, but labelling or marketing a reel as an egi reel doesn’t necessarily make it a good reel for squid fishing.
Whenever we assess any egi products it’s always based on the true way to work a squid jig: cast it out the required distance, let it sink to the bottom then work it back aggressively in order to get the jig to dart or hop its way back up the water column. If you’re an angler who’s happy drop-shotting a jig or just slowly retrieving it with a few pauses and jerks, that’s fine – you don’t need specialised gear but you probably won’t catch as many squid (but each to their own). There are certain essentials a good egi reel must possess and below we outline those so you can confidently choose the right reel within your budget.
After owning and reviewing many dedicated egi reels, I strongly believe the best size is 3000 in Shimano and Daiwa, and when it comes to other brands where sizes may vary, try to make the comparison. The 3000 size balances well with the majority of egi rods, offers a spool that provides good casting distance and aids in line retrieve. You can go down to 2500 when using shorter and lighter rods but you’ll find 3000 far more suitable when using rods in the medium/light category and heavier, 8ft or longer.
Gear Ratio/Line Retrieve
Gear ratio or line retrieve is important in an egi reel. You want a high-speed reel that can quickly pick up the slack between each jig of your egi. Gear ratio in relation to how much line it actually retrieves can be deceiving so the absolute minimum amount of line per retrieve you can get away with is around 70cm. Most reels state on the box what these specifications are. If you move up to a reel with a 6.2:1 gear ratio retrieving 90cm or more, you have far greater control of your egi and the kind of action you can impart on it. If you’re a land-based angler using rods of 9ft or longer, it’s imperative you have that high gear ratio and 90cm of line retrieval as you’re lifting more line with each jig of your rod and you need to be able to recover it.
The faster the gear ratio, the smaller the teeth in the gears and the more susceptible they are to wear. Constantly cranking on those gears all day can quickly wear out inferior gears, so you should invest in a quality reel that can stand up to the constant pressure. You wouldn’t think it, but the technique of jigging your egi can destroy poorly made reels rather quickly.
You’re casting your egi through a lot of guides as far as possible then quickly taking up slack line in your retrieve, so you therefore want a quality reel that can handle this with great oscillation and line management to prevent wind knots and provide optimal casting thanks to great line lay. Quality reels offer this and are worth the investment.
There are two ideas around what makes a good egi handle and knob. One is the double handle, which better balances the reel from falling to the side, but I find this to be minimal. The other is a large round style or elongated knob that allows you to grip the knob easily while jigging. I’m a fan of this round style and find it very comfortable, and if they’re slightly heavier it helps your retrieve action.
Words and Images: Kosta Linardos