How Many Ball Bearings Should Be in a Good Fishing Reel? [Zero?]

How many ball bearings in a good fishing reel
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Fishing reels have to operate precisely, and their motion has to be smooth, to give you the best possible fishing experience.

Their inner parts, especially ball bearings, need to ensure this, and their number, material and quality determine how your reel will perform.

If well made, the more ball bearings you have the better it is. However, this is not true for poorly made ones. Good reels should have at least four (4) or five (5). However, there are some innovative reels on a market that preform excellent and have zero (0) ball bearings. This is possible due to a new design and materials.

When choosing a fishing reel, you will always see some information about ball bearings, and my goal here is to clear out any doubts you might have.

In addition to that, I will tell you some basic information about this new concept with zero ball bearings.

So, if you ever wondered how many ball bearings in a good fishing reel you actually need, read the following chapters that include answers some frequently asked questions.



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What do Fishing Reel Ball Bearings Mean? [Explained]

So, what exactly are ball bearings and how do they work?

Ball bearings are spherical bearings that reduce friction and increase the reel speed. You can find all kinds of bearings in different moving devices, and they always have the same purpose.

These ball bearings are positioned around a fixed axel within the centre, surrounded by a wheel that moves from the outside. Without them, this motion would be twitchy and slow.

If you have the opportunity to try out a quality made fishing reel, you will feel how smoothly it turns, and it is because of well made ball bearings.

This is equally important for both casting and retrieve. Smooth and consistent spinning of a spool (this goes for baitcasters when talking about casting) enables long casting distance, and easier retrieve.

When reading a description of some reel, you will sometimes find a number of ball bearings +1. This means that the reel has a certain number of ball bearings, and one roller bearing, which should not be taken into consideration when making a decision about the desired number of ball bearings, as they do not have the same purpose.

There is a science behind ball bearing design and production, but hopefully this made fishing reel ball bearings explained.

How Many Ball Bearings Should Be in a Good Fishing Reel?

As I already mentioned, having more fishing reel ball bearings may be beneficial, but you can get a good reel with 4. Going below that is not advised.

Many manufacturers offer entry-level reels with about 4 or 5, and if they are well made, that is more than enough.

Anything less than that will result in too much friction, and your fishing experience won’t be very good. Unfortunately, as the number of ball bearings goes up, so does the price.

Also, some ball bearings are shields, while others are not. Shielded ones are protected by discs from the sides, in order to keep them safe from dirt and impurities that may find a way in.

Same as other reel parts, ball bearings are prone to rust and damage, and every angler should know how to clean their fishing reel to prolong its lifespan.

Is More Ball Bearings Better in a Fishing Reel?

Is more ball bearings better in a fishing reel is a question frequently asked by anglers, especially those less experienced.

You may think that having 10 is better than having 5, but you would be just partially right!

If we are talking about the same quality ball bearings, then yes, having more is better. However, reels that have a lot of low quality, poorly made, ball bearings are always outperformed by high quality reels with less.

To be able to reduce friction, ball bearings have to be precisely made from high quality materials, well protected, and well incorporated with other reel parts.

If you are thinking about buying a new reel, I would advise you to choose reputable manufacturers, and spend just a little bit more for an entry-level, 4 or 5 ball bearings reel, instead of a 10 ball bearings suspicious product, because it will be beneficial in the long run.

Also, some ball bearings are corrosion resistant, while other are not. This is important for those fishing in saltwater. As you can see, its not that much about the number, its about their quality.

Unfortunately, there is no standardized rating system across the world, and it is not always easy to determine how good they are.

Depending on your needs, you should decide if you need a shielded version, corrosion resistant, or whatever you desire.

How Many Ball Bearings Do You Need in a Baitcaster?

Knowing how many ball bearings in a good fishing reel are needed also depends on a reel type.

Baitcasters are usually used by more experienced anglers, who practice a bit more demanding fishing techniques.

Also, baitcasters do not have a fixed spool like spinning reels. To be able to cast far and precise, the spool needs to turn very smoothly and easily. So, while spinning reels may work decent with 4, I would say that 5 would be better for a baitcaster, because they need a bit more smoothness. But, 4 will also do the job if you are interested in an entry-level model.

As I already mentioned, their quality has to be your first priority.

Baitcasters are not easy to use, and backlashes (and line tangling) are a common problem. Poorly functioning reel can make this problem even worse.

Also, ball bearing position plays an important role in reel operation. You will find that some manufacturers place additional ball bearings in handles, but these should not be confused with ball bearings I am talking about here, although those reels are advertised as reels with more ball bearings.

Having them placed like this is not bad, but, it does not add to overall reel performance and it is misleading.

Best Fishing Reel Ball Bearings: Stainless Steel vs. Ceramic?

I already mentioned the importance of ball bearing material, but what is the difference between these two common options - stainless steel vs. ceramic ball bearings?

A lot of reels have stainless steel bearings, and this is a very common option in low to mid-range reels. These are easy to produce, they come at an affordable price, and if shielded, they can actually survive for a long time. Stainless steel bearings are a great choice for beginners.

Their downside is that if not shielded, they are prone to all kinds of damage, mostly due to wear and tear, even if lubricated regularly. Also, corrosion is their biggest problem, and saltwater anglers should be aware of that.

Ceramic ball bearings are mostly a part of more expensive fishing reels. They come at a certain cost, and there are actually two options.

They can either be full ceramic, or ceramic can be used as a shell around steel ones.

These are much lighter than stainless steel ones. In addition to that, they are less prone to corrosion, and can withstand a lot more pressure. If taken care of, these bearings can last a few times longer than stainless steel ones.

Even better, this material reduces friction even more, so the reel will operate smoother.

There is one downside, and that is shock resistance. If you are using your fishing reel to catch some huge river monster like catfish, ceramic may not be the best option.

If I had to choose between these two, and the price was not a problem, I would say that the best fishing reel bearings are ceramic ones.

How many ball bearings in a good fishing reel - Best

13 Fishing Reel with Concept Zero Bearing Technology!

Some of you may never heard of 13 fishing concept zero bearings.

It is a great innovation that eliminates ball bearings, and instead of them incorporates polymer technology that serves the same purpose as ball bearings, but has many benefits.

First of all, having no ball bearings eliminates all the problems related to them. A lot of reels fail because of faulty ball bearings. Some will corrode, while other will fail because of wear and tear. 13 fishing concept zero bearings does not have these problems.

By eliminating corrosion problem, manufacturer made a huge step towards the future of saltwater fishing. You will not find a lot of detail about this new polymer online, but apparently it was developed solely for the fishing reel manufacturing purpose, and for now, only 13 fishing offers such a product.

Casting distance is also prolonged, and casting itself is more consistent.

Because there are no heavy ball bearings, this reel is extremely light. It is comfortable to use for a long time without wrist pain.

Instead of traditional ball bearings, this reel has bushings that took the ball bearing role. Bushings are in a way similar to bearings, but they are independent, single parts, while bearings are usually made of more components.

Some anglers are absolutely amazed by it, while others are not so fascinated, however, this is truly a unique product, and I think we are going to see more of those is the future.

Unfortunately, this innovative technology is not cheap.


When buying a fishing reel, you should not be asking just how many ball bearings in a good fishing reel is needed. Rather focus on their quality, placement, and material.

Fishing reels with less bearings can outperform those with more, if they are made by reputable manufacturers and all of their parts work in a perfect symphony.

Entry level reels work more than good with 4 or 5 bearings, and more than that may be necessary only for anglers who have a bit more experience.

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