Multiplier Reels

Most anglers start off using a fixed spool reel due to the ease of use this type of reel offers. However, many anglers eventually upgrade to a multiplier reel. This is because the free-running, adjustable spool of the multiplier allows greater casting distance and the cranking power of the spool design is more effective when reeling in. The drawback comes with multiplier reels being much more difficult to master. Even a small mistake in casting can lead to the dreaded ‘bird’s nest’ – a messy explosion of line which can take a long time to sort out.

Multiplier reel labelled


All multiplier reels consist of a cage which makes up the structure of the reel with the revolving spool inside. The handle is on one side and controls such as the spool disengage button (or lever) and magnetic controls are located on the other side plate. The spool revolves on a spindle. Multiplier reels are usually attached to a rod with a moveable reel seat, although coasters (metal attachments similar to jubilee clips) are still used. The choice to have a reel ‘up’ (towards the middle of a rod) or ‘down’ (at the bottom of a rod) is down to personal preference. It is also worth noting here that whereas fixed spool reels can be altered to right or left handed use, multiplier reels have their handle built on one side and this cannot be changed. Usually, multiplier reels need to be paired up with a rod that has been ringed for multiplier use – rods designed for multiplier reels have a higher number of smaller rod rings, while rods designed for fixed spool use have fewer larger rings. However, it is becoming increasingly common to see manufacturers making rods which can be used with either multiplier or fixed spool reels.

Reel Size and Use

Multiplier reel coasters
A Diawa SL20SH attached to a rod with coasters.

Different reels have different uses for the sea angler. A relatively small reel (such as the Daiwa 7HT) will be ideal for clean ground beach fishing with 15lb line and a shock-leader, whereas a heavier, bigger reel (the Daiwa SL20) will be suited to rough ground fishing with 30lb line all the way through. There are also plenty of all-round reels on the market (6500 size Abu Garcias) which allow anglers to perform long-distance casts over clean ground but still have the retrieval rate to handle mixed ground fishing. Many anglers who have been fishing for some time will have built up a collection of tackle and will have light reels for clean ground fishing and specialist bigger, heavier reels for fishing rough ground. However, a single well-chosen reel can handle the vast majority of the fishing situations UK anglers will encounter, and only struggle with very long-range casting or very rough ground and rough seas.

Multiplier Reel Ratio

Multiplier reels are so-called because one turn of the handle multiplies the number of times that the spool turns. For example, the Daiwa Sealine SL20 has a ration of 6.1:1, meaning that the spool revolves just over six times for every full turn of the handle. Generally speaking, reels designed for rough ground will have a high ratio as this provides the speed to get rigs up off the seabed and high in the water, away from snags. The previously mentioned Daiwa SL20 retrieval ratio is one of the highest on the market and realistically the highest that UK sea fishing reel can have as retrieval rates any higher would make the reels over-complicated and too expensive. Most reels on sale in the UK have a ration of somewhere between 4:1 to 6:1.

Braking Systems – Magnetic and Centrifugal

Multiplier reels have a braking system which reduces the speed of the spinning spool during a cast to make the reel more manageable and providing additional control for the angler during a cast. In some reels this takes the form of a centrifugal system where the reel features brake blocks located on pins in the side plate of a reel. Some reels have two brake blocks on two pins, whereas modern reels may feature as many as six or eight. As the spool rotates during a cast the brake blocks fly outwards and make contact with the outside edge of the reel and slow it down. Using small brake blocks (or removing them entirely) will speed the reel up, whereas using larger brake blocks will cause the reel to run slower.

Many modern reels use a highly effective magnetic braking system. This can be in addition to, or instead of, the centrifugal brake blocks. The magnetic system works by placing a number of magnets in the reel which create a magnetic field around the spool. A dial is turned which moves the magnets closer or further away from the spool which lessens or increases the strength of the magnetic field which allows the angler to easily control the spool speed. Generally, multiplier reels with magnetic braking systems offer the best performance but are also the most expensive.

Modern braking systems, particularly advanced magnetic systems, offer anglers greater control of the reel during casting and if they are set correctly they significantly reduce the number of bird’s nests, even with novice anglers. Many anglers set their reels to run at their slowest (either have the magnetic setting at its strongest setting or have the most/largest brake blocks in their reel) and then progressively speed the reel up as their knowledge, technique and confidence of using the reel increases. It is worth remembering that it is better to sacrifice a few yards of casting distance and have the reel set up to function in a smooth and reliable way than have the reel set up to run at its fastest and get a bird’s nest every other cast.

Casting and Retrieving with a Multiplier Reel

Prior to casting the angler needs to disengage the spool by moving a lever down, or pressing a button. The angler then holds the spool in place with his or her thumb and performs the cast, releasing the spool at the required time of the cast. The spool then spins letting out line as the weight flies through the air pulling the line with it. During the cast either the brake blocks fly outwards to reduce the speed of the spools revolutions or the magnetic system works to achieve the same result. If everything goes well the angler will, if necessary, apply pressure to the spool with their thumb as the weight hits the sea, stopping the spool from spinning. Problems can emerge if the reel has not been set up properly, such as the wrong or the wrong or no brake blocks being used or magnetic system at the incorrect setting. This could mean that the spool spins too slowly, reducing casting distances, or too fast making the reel difficult to control. In a reel running too fast major problems can occur when the reel keeps on letting out line when the weight has hit the water. This results is a bird’s nest, an explosion of loops of line from the reel. Bird’s nests can damage and kink the line and in the worst cases a bird’s nest can prove too difficult to untangle by hand and the only option will be for all of the line to be removed from the reel. When it comes to reeling in some multipliers are fitted with a level wind which lays the line back on the spool (see below). In multiplier reels without a level wind the angler must manually lay the line on the spool as he or she reels in.

Other Reel Features

Star Drag: Most multipliers have a star drag system which allows anglers to set the reel to let out line at a certain tension. This is used so that if a big fish threatens to break the line the reel will let out additional line before this happens. The vast majority of UK anglers simply tighten down the star drag as far as it will go when they are fishing and do not use this feature. When a reel is not in use and being stored the star drag should be loosened off.

Ratchet: Also know as a line out alarm, most multiplier reels have a mechanism which is used so that the reel will make an audible warning when line is pulled from the spool. This is used when fishing for large species such as conger or tope. When they move off with the bait in their mouth the angler will be warned by the noise that they have a bite, and the line being let out will prevent the rod from being pulled into the sea by these large species. In most normal sea fishing situations where smaller species are being targeted it is not necessary to use the ratchet.

Multiplier with Level Wind
A multiplier reel with a level wind system.

Level-wind: The level-wind is a device built into the reel which lays line across the spool evenly when reeling in so that the angler has no need to do this manually. This is a big help to anglers as it means that laying the line evenly is taken care of with no effort from the angler. However, using a level wind also has result of cutting down casting distances, as the level wind has to move from side to side rapidly during the cast that inevitably impedes the casting distances that can be reached. Some anglers see this is a small price to pay for the convenience of a level wind, whereas other anglers see the level wind as a hindrance used only by beginners and those who cannot master using a multiplier reel. It is also important to note that the level wind itself encroaches on the spool of the reel and prevents the angler from getting a full grip of the spool with their thumb when casting. Some manufacturers make their most popular reels with and without level wind options. Reels without level winds often (but not always) have CT in their name or code, whereas those with a level wind have CS or CSM.

Suggestions for Multiplier Reels

Budget Multiplier Reel

Fladen Maxximus 655 Multiplier Reel – At around £60 from Amazon this reel is excellent value (it is unwise to go any cheaper as sub-£50 multiplier reels are unlikely to have the build quality to cope with UK sea fishing). The Fladen Maxximus 655 is a 6500-size multiplier reel. It features CT frame construction, 8-pin centrifugal braking system with additional magnetic brakes, 2+1 ball bearings and a power handle. The line capacity is 250 metres of 15lb breaking strain (0.35mm) monofilament line. For the price, this is a good quality reel which can reach decent casting distances. It is best paired with 12ft or 13ft beachcasters and is a very good choice for anglers looking for an all-round sea fishing.

Multiplier Reels for Beachcasters

Daiwa Millionaire 7HT – An all-time classic casting reel which has been in production since the early 1990s, the 7HT offers brilliant casting performance which has made it a long-time favourite with UK anglers. This reel features a centrifugal braking system (with two sizes of brake blocks available), a lightweight aluminum spool and a star drag system. This reel has a retrieval rate of 5.2:1 and has a line capacity of just over 300 metres of 15lb (0.35mm) line. The Daiwa 7HT is famous for offering great casting straight from the box, and remains an excellent reel for fishing over clean and light mixed ground. This reel has been on sale for decades now. It previously sold for close to £200, but now can be bought for closer to £120 from Amazon and other major online retailers.

Abu Garcia Ambassadeur Classic 6500ct Power Handle – Founded in Sweden and now owned by an American company, Abu Garcia made their name on the quality of their reels and the ever-popular 6500 series maintains this reputation. These reels come in a range of different versions and are ideal for all-round beachcasting around the UK. Prices range from £75 to around £130 depending on the exact model chosen, with the 6500 Power Handle Series being one of the most popular with UK anglers. This version can be bought with or without a level wind and features a centrifugal braking system and three ball bearing construction. A great all-round sea fishing reel that is capable of reaching long casting distances while retaining the power to land larger fish from rugged ground.

Daiwa Millionaire M7HT Mag Reel – One of the best casting reels available to UK anglers the Daiwa Millionaire M7HT Mag highly rated by UK shore anglers. This reel features Daiwa’s smooth magnetic Magnofuge braking system which allows maximum casting distance to be reached and prevents spool overrun. The reel also features seven ball bearing construction, a lightweight aluminium spool and a smooth star drag. The Daiwa Millionaire M7HT Mag has a retrieval rate of 5.8:1 and a line capacity of 330 yards of 15lb (0.35mm) monofilament fishing line. A brilliant casting reel for anglers fishing over clean and light mixed ground, available for around £250 from Amazon.

Rough Ground Multiplier Reel

Daiwa Sealine SL20SH – A classic rough ground multiplier, it often referred to as the Diawa Slosh by UK anglers This reel is large enough to handle rough ground fishing but also casts well. It offers a fast 6.1:1 retrieval rate to get rigs up off the seabed and away from snags and also features an over-sized power handle. It holds around 190 metres of 30lb line and has four ball bearings. A dependable and tough reel that works best when paired with a strong 12ft rough ground rod, the Daiwa SL20SH is available for around £80 from Amazon. The larger SL30SH is also available from Amazon and can be used for very heavy rough ground fishing, or for inshore boat fishing.