Webster definitions for smooth:
- having an even and regular surface or consistency; free from perceptible projections, lumps, or indentations.
- with an even consistency; without lumps
- (of movement) without jerks
- (of an action, event, or process) without problems or difficulties
Dan's reel definition:
Smooth is the overall feeling of the gearing of the reel. You cannot feel the gear teeth, there is no mechanical feel to the reel. It literally will feel like you are spinning something on a bearing with no resistance.
When the gears are rough you can usually feel it under a load. If they are really bad you can feel it with no load. A bad spot in the gear will make it knock. A worn gear might have the "buzzing" sound (as some describe it on this site) or a whirring sound, especially under a load.
Light rotation is the reduced effort required to turn the handle. This means it is easier to turn or spin the handle with less force or torque. For example: A reel can feel rough but still have a light rotation. A reel can make noise and still have a light rotation.
If you spin the handle on a baitcast reel the handle will continue to spin until friction slows it down and stops it. The amount of weight can alter how long it will spin for. A heavier handle knob and spool will spin longer than with lighter parts.
How do you define smooth?
Smooth is different in the hands of one person, and different with others. Subjective issues like this will continue to be around for ever.
As for spinning the handle on a baitcaster, it is something that I do not recommend, as the reel was never designed to be used in that manner. The fastest retrieve would never require the handle to be spun. Sudden stops at speed can cause damage to the internals.
But you already knew that, so I'm stating the obvious.