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Reel Article

Obsessed with Weight, the new lighter generation of baitcasters

(Originally published in Bass Anglers Guide Magazine, 2009 #1)

Date: 3/18/09
Tackle Type: Reels
Manufacturer: Various
Reviewer: Zander


What is it with bass anglers? Admit it, were all obsessed with weight. Whether we are talking fish, rods, or reels we count the ounces with fervor. Sure heavier is better in regards to fish, but when it comes to baitcasters weighing in as lean as a supermodel is all the rage. The demand trend by professional and weekend warriors calls for a new crop of lighter, more ergonomic, and increasingly refined reels. Reel manufacturers have answered the call with fresh redesigns that boast the same features found in reels of yesteryear but are now between 10-30% smaller and lighter than baitcast reels from just three seasons ago.


When it comes to baitcasters bass anglers are obsessed with weight, and even the most popular reel lines are moving to smaller and lower profiles and offer significant weight reduction


There are a number of reasons why we can expect this trend to continue, and how manufacturers are actually able to step up to the challenge of building lighter reels that are still equipped to handle heavier fish. Letís start with the other part of the equation, the rod. Rod manufacturers have maintained or improved action and powers in their rods while keeping weight down, and it seems like just about every manufacturer out there has a split grip design on the market. Fueling the demand for lighter reels is the desire for an overall lighter and easier to fish all day complete outfit.


The reigning king of lightweight, the ultra premium magnesium based Daiwa Steez baitcasters weigh in at only 5.6oz.


The style and way which anglers fish also figures into this trend, as more and more anglers prefer palming baitcasters versus gripping the cork or foam handle below the reel. Ergonomics are playing an increasingly greater role in reel design, and with plenty of choices there really is no reason for an angler to fish a reel that casts and cranks well, but feels like a boulder in hand. This is a situation where anglers desire the best of both worlds, and judging from the latest generation of lightweight reels unveiled last year at ICAST 2008 anglers are now getting what we have been asking for, and the coming show in the next few months may very well carry on that tradition. 


Abu Garcia has made a huge splash with their compact Revo series which sports an amazingly beefy drag for a reel of this size


So just how are manufacturers finding ways to squeeze more features and performance into less real estate? Letís start with advanced materials. While use of magnesium frames are somewhat of a given these days what is really exciting is what is now going on inside the reels. Advances in materials and computer aided design has led to superior gearing and drag materials and designs, Shimanoís compact yet surprisingly powerful HEG (High Efficiency Gearing) is a good example of squeezing a lot of power into a surprisingly small reel. HEG consists of not only the gears, but also a more rigid yet compact frame design which is redesigned to better accommodate a larger drive and the pinion gear to deliver increased leverage and power.


Though compact in size the Abu Garcia Revo has plenty of room for decent sized gearing


In the past larger reel frames were also necessary to provide more room for larger diameter drag surfaces necessary to generate increased drag pressure. New materials and better stack designs result in ultra compact drags that are small yet still capable of generating extremely high amounts of counter pressure while remaining exceedingly consistent and buttery smooth. One example is the extremely palmable Abu Garcia Revo reels which are capable of delivering over 20lbs of drag pressure. So good are these pint sized performers that some anglers in Asia have even used these bass oriented reels to land sailfish!


Shimano completely redesigned the Curado series to be smaller, more palmable, and lighter


No longer are lightweight reels relegated to ultra-finesse applications, these new reels are designed to offer plenty of power, speed, and donít require anglers to make the sacrifices in features or durability, which were once a customary tradeoff. Daiwa has long been a fan favorite among weight conscious anglers, and going back many seasons has set the benchmark for magnesium ultralight performance. This ICAST they expanded their premium Steez series with new ultra fast 7.1:1 gear ratio version of their flagship product and weighing only 5.6oz per copy these reels are the lightest high speed premium reels available.


The Curado E features a very low profile and an extended gearing box to accommodate the HEG gearing


Shimano also made headlines at last year's ICAST with a complete redesign of their top selling Curado series, and this time around the Curado E overhaul placed heavy emphasis on improving ergonomics. The Curado 200E series features a smaller frame than the previous Curado 100D yet manages to offer the same line capacity as the previous 200DHSV, all while shaving off over 2 ounces off the previous version.


Anglers want a better combination of weight versus power and are unwilling to make sacrifices in features and performance, and with the latest crop of new lighter baitcasters they may not have to 


So does having a lighter reel translate to catching more fish? Possibly, if it means reducing fatigue and getting in a greater number of quality casts, but for most anglers a lighter reel is simply a preference for more comfortable easy to fish baitcasters. A preference trend that shows no signs of slowing, it doesnít matter what line capacity or gear ratio, anglers want a better combination of weight versus power and are unwilling to make sacrifices in features and performance. All of which means that reel manufacturers better put their product lines on a diet if they hope to keep up with the trend and win the hearts of weight obsessed bassers.


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