With new 2010 model reels starting to show up in catalogues and online, it is time to start thinking about what kind of new tackle you need for next year. If you have ever shopped for reels in a book, you always come across the manufacturer’s description right next to a picture of the item. Have you ever wondered about all the confusing things you see in print?
For instance, what is the difference between machined aluminum alloy reels, and say Die cast aluminum alloy reels? How come every reel manufacturer has reels with different materials used for gearing? What does it mean to us in our search for that right reel? Well let’s just say that while these descriptive words seem mundane, there is good reason to pay attention to what is being written.
Everything on the market nowadays is specialized equipment designed to meet certain needs. While it may have been easy 20 years ago to get one reel for many applications, it is different ball game now. The strongest aluminum reels are machined from aircraft quality aluminum alloy bar stock. second strongest aluminum reels are cold forged, followed by heat forged, and lastly die cast and stamped aluminum reels are the least desirable. Anodized aluminum is the best to guard against corrosion and aesthetically pleasing. Gear material ranges from brass to bronze alloy, to stainless steel. Often there is a combination of 2 of these materials.
So what do we now do with this information, and how do we use it to make a good decision when putting down money on a new reel? Let’s start with a bait-cast reel, for plugging, buck-tailing fluke, and sea bass fishing on a reef. For this kind of fishing a die-cast aluminum reel with brass gears would be ideal, because the brass gears are plenty strong enough, and brass makes the smoothest gearing. Bronze alloy isn’t bad for this kind of reel either, but it will be heavier and not as smooth. You don’t have to have an aluminum reel for these applications but should have the lighter smoother gearing. Summer turns to fall and you decide it is time to get a reel for live-lining bunker for bass, jigging bluefish offshore, or fishing blackfish on area wrecks and rock piles. For these applications, a reel made with bronze alloy main gears in combination with stainless pinion gear would be perfect, either with die-cast aluminum, or even graphite reel bodies. I wouldn’t feel comfortable using a brass geared reel like an ambassador on these trips, you want extra durability and strength. If a few false albacore and Bonita are on the prowl, I wouldn’t be trolling for them without at least a die –cast reel, and definitely want the strength of a forged aluminum spool, or a one piece graphite frame reel like the 310 gti from Penn with aluminum spool. The extra torque exerted on the reel during the strike and ensuing fight would make these better choices then a non die cast aluminum reel. Speaking of tuna, how about those big boys in the offshore waters? The best choice for trolling out there would be lever drag reel made of machined bar-stock aluminum and with stainless steel main and pinion gears. These are the strongest gears with the best corrosion resistance available. They won’t be silky smooth on the crank, but you have other things to deal with while fighting Charlie Tuna! The extra cost to make these reels is due to the forging and trying to get those gears to fine tolerances needed to not have friction which can bind up the gearing. Want to jig tuna? Check out the extra strong Newell Graphite reels developed specifically years ago for just that application, with the best gearing available for offshore fishing. Bronze gears won’t quite cut it out there, unless you like the old Penn senators, with slower retrieve speeds and tons of weight inherent in the heavier gears and side plates.
When using braid remember that even though a smaller reel can hold that 50 lb braid, the drag that the reel has may not allow you to use it with the braid, especially if the rod you are pairing it up with is stiff high modulus graphite, with tons of backbone. That kind of rod will put a lot of direct strain on the spool when a fish is on, you have little give in the blank and just about none in the line. You need to be able to turn that handle, and not sock the drag to the point the rod busts under the strain of a surging fish either. Research any reel you will be using braid on and set those drags properly. Some of this may seem confusing to you, but you won’t be sorry you learned of the different ways reels are built. So choose wisely, the costs of today’s specialized reels are high and you don’t want to make the wrong decision. Good luck this fall, and be safe out there!