*Hi Mike - it would be helpful to learn where you see applications where a 8:1 ratio reel as a: "have to have" vs. a 'nice to have" (which could be satisfied with a 7:3:1 reel ratio)... Thanks in advance !
I guess I would have to say tournament fishing. In my part of the country, I firmly believe I succeed in my tournaments because I can fish more strike zones than most of my competitors. Most anglers will fish a section of grass or group of cypress trees or even a dock and spend 30 minutes, where I'm only going to spend ten. A fast reel is part of that.
For my cover fishing conditions (Louisiana swamp lakes don't get deeper than 8 feet and average 3) it's about having a bait where a bass lives. That bass either wants the bait to move horizontally past him, say a squarebill crashing into his brush pile, or vertically, say a jig falling into his brush pile. All the peripheral water around him is useless and the faster I can burn the bait back to the boat through useless water the more presentations I can make to a piece of cover.
I will warn that in the beginning of my fast reel exploits I lost fish on the way to the boat because I didn't let the rod do the work and with a fast reel it's super easy to horse a fish to the point of loosing it. So if the fish is two pounds or less I burn it across the top and flip it in the boat (during tournaments) if three pounds or more, I have to be careful not to over speed it.
Now personally, the only reason I have 7:1 reels is because they didn't make the 8:1 when I bought them. That said, I'm glad I have them now. I feel a 7:1 is a better reel for slowing down even more. I mentioned that I'll just turn the handle slower, but there are times I forget and the 7:1 is forgiving compared to the 8:1. So winter time spinnerbaits, chatterbaits and crankbaits. I bought a tweaked out 6:1 from Largemouth Gambler last year and do enjoy it for the deep diving cranks I throw, very occasionally. Lower gear ratios won't wear you out with a long day of deep dive cranking.
Clear as mud?