Reel Games

Technology has put major fish-stopping power in midsize reels.

Thanks to enhancements in technology, such as extra-strong braided lines that have a thinner diameter than traditional monofilament but the same strength as conventional mono, we’ve entered a new era in reel design. New models have been downsized as line capacity has increased and now feature specially machined gears that produce exceptional torque and advanced drag systems that can withstand forces that previously required much larger reels. The 30-pound-class reels, in particular, have become powerful enough to handle big fish while being light enough for stand-up anglers. Here’s the latest on a number of these midsize offerings. The reels listed range in price from $250 to more than $1,000. Thanks to their impressive technology, any one of them can be a match for you, whether you’re pitching small anchovies, trolling dead bait, or just doing a little jigging.

Alutecnos This manufacturer has just added the two-speed Albacore Long Range to its midsize lineup. The reel locks down to 30 pounds of drag at strike and 36 pounds at full load, can hold 875 yards of 30-pound mono, and weighs just 56 ounces. It has a 3:1 retrieve ratio, which means, one turn of the handle yields three turns of the spool. The precision with which these Italian reels are machined is the result of the builder’s work with other well-known exports. Its parent company, Italian TMB, specializes in fabricating aluminum car parts for the likes of Ferrari and BMW. Consequently, only high-end aluminum and stainless steel are used in Alutecnos’ reels, and the entire line offers premium features like an infinite anti-reverse system (to prevent backlash), carbon composite drag washers, five stainless steel bearings, and an additional stop on the drag lever to prevent accidental freespool. Alutecnos’ two-speed models have a push-button system that gives you high or low gear on the fly. Left-hand models are also available.
(MSRP $850).

Avet Reels One look at the handle of Avet Reels’ 6/4 SX Raptor tells you this thing means business. Weighing just 17 ounces, this is a truly lightweight two-speed reel that is capable of generating 26 pounds of drag. You can load it with 300 yards of 60-pound Spectra braid and still have room for a monofilament topshot. The one-piece aluminum frame houses Avet’s patented MC adjustable magnetic anti-backlash cast control and the reel returns the line at a rapid 6:1 ratio. The Raptor comes in four colors and is also available configured for southpaws.
(MSRP $439.99 ).

Daiwa The recently introduced Saltist from Daiwa is a lever-drag model that’s available as either a single- or two-speed set up. The single-speed 30THBIG has an impressive 5:1 retrieve ratio and at 36.2 ounces, is a legitimate middleweight. The ultra-rigid aluminum frame houses seven of Daiwa’s corrosion-resistant ball bearings, which should ensure smooth operation regardless of the environment. Both of these reels can hold 620 yards of 30-pound mono. The drag system, which can generate 30 pounds of resistance, is a dual-disc type utilizing carbon washer pads. The company also uses a sleeved shaft in both models that purportedly prevents side load and makes for smoother winding.
(MSRP $260).

Duel Duel is another entry from Europe. The 4/0G is its 30-pound model and is available in a wide version, which holds 950 yards of 30-pound mono and has a 3.4:1 ratio. (Its weight was unavailable at presstime.) The unique feature of this reel is the simplicity of switching from high to low gear: All the angler has to do is simply reel backwards. The other Duel design element of note is the ability to swap spools quickly, a nice option to have when the fishing is hot and heavy.
(MSRP $975).

Everol Reels Everol Reels, based in Genoa, Italy, recently unveiled its two-speed 4/0 TS Canyon Special. The company, which is celebrating its 50th year in business, prides itself on, “building a reel that can be passed from generation to generation,” says Keith Wichman, exclusive U.S. importer for Everol. The TS is a 4/0 with a super-size maximum drag of 40 pounds. (A side scale clearly indicates your drag setting.) According to the company, a forced-air system reduces internal heat resulting from friction while fighting a fish. The retrieve ratio is 3.8:1 and the reel can pack on 700 yards of your favorite 30-pound monofilament or 1,700 yards of 50-pound braid.
(MSRP $810).

Fin-Nor The name Fin-Nor has been around since the days when Lerner, Grey, and Hemingway discovered big-game fishing. The company gave its designers a clean sheet of paper, and the Marquesa (MA) series is the result. It comes in four sizes and six models. All have an affordable price tag and sport a single-speed retrieve—a very quick 6:1. Fin-Nor says the reel works well for pitching and casting due to its four-weight brake-casting control. The MA’s carbon-fiber drag delivers more than 30 pounds of pressure at the full setting. Gears are machined stainless steel, and the drive sports six bearings with a clutch. (The MA30 and MA30T weigh 26.8 and 27.4 ounces, respectively.) Both of these offerings have a 6:1 retrieve and hold 320 yards of 30-pound mono and 670 yards of 50-pound braid.
(MSRP $259-$319).

Okuma The Makaira 30ll is the top-of-the-line offering from Okuma, which teamed up with Tiburon Engineering, a familiar name in the tackle industry, to create something called the Dual Force Drag (DFD), which utilizes a pull-bar drag. (A traditional push-bar system depends on a reel frame’s strength for structural support so that the angler feels more direct pressure.) The DFD is a wet-drag system with dual Carbonite washers, Cal Sheets drag grease, and a Tiburon-designed thrust bearing to absorb side loads. The Makaira 30ll holds 850 yards of 30-pound mono, has a 3.8:1 gear ratio, weighs 50 ounces, and has a maximum full drag of 55 pounds. This reel has forged side plates and an extruded frame made from 6061-T6 grade aluminum.
(MSRP $499).

Penn Reels Penn is perhaps the most recognized name in offshore fishing. Anyone who has wet a line has probably owned one of its reels. Its International VS and VSX series both have 30-pound-class offerings. The big difference between the two, besides spool capacity (the VSW holds 900 yards of 30-lb. while the VSX holds 700 yards), is drag. The VSX has 30 versus the 23 max drag of the VS and weighs 60 ounces versus 57. Both have a 3.8:1 ratio.

Penn recently announced the creation of a custom shop, so now all of its International reels, including the ones mentioned here, can be ordered in any of seven colors and engraved to reflect the name of the angler or vessel. Each of the reels’ four visible components (sideplates, frame, spool, and drag lev-er knob) can also be customized by color.
(MSRP $550 not customized).

Shimano Shimano’s new two-speed monster is called Talica. This four-model series is all about braided line. The TAC16II, which fits this class in terms of physical size, easily loads up with 845 yards of 50-pound braid. It also offers nearly 40 pounds of drag at full forward on the lever. The gear ratio is 3:1. Shimano has outfitted this reel with a waterproof drag, carbon washers, an ergonomic power handle, a ratcheting drag lever, and a preset knob with click. The mission of this reel is to cast light baits to big fish.
(MSRP $499).

This article originally appeared in the April 2010 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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