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ICAST 2019 Update Coverage

One for the Enthusiasts: The Shimnao Antares A70 Baitcaster with MGIII


Small but Mighty, the Megabass Dark Sleeper Swimbait
SOLID! The Shimano Bantam MGL Baitcaster

Selecting the right Rod, Reel, and Line for Your Walking Bait Arsenal


Reel Review

Fighting Smallies with Fire, Daiwa Fuego style (continued)

Drag: Smallie after smallie the Fuego hung right in there, coughing up just the right amount of drag counter resistance as these aggressive fish tried to shake the hooks. A strong drag isn’t as important as a consistent one when fishing hard fighting smaller fish like smallmouth bass and trout, as anglers are likely using ultralight lines. 


The Fuego features a titanium nitrided ball bearing line roller

The 2000 Fuego showcased 13.1 lbs of drag counter pressure in our lab test, which is phenomenal for a reel of this size. Anglers most likely will not button down this reel often, but its good to know there is plenty of reserve drag just in case. The drag features a microclick adjustment which we found very refined, and allowed us to fine-tune drag settings in .3lb increments.


Line is laid evenly on the spool

Daiwa protects the drag with a sealed “washable system.” This design allows anglers to wash off the reel without forcing moisture or salt inside the drag system. The system basically utilizes a washer to provide an extra barrier of protection from any type of debris. In our tests we found it excellent for splashes and even effective for complete submerges for short periods. The washable design makes a lot of sense for the Fuego since routine rinses and wipe-downs will ensure the reel’s magnesium finish will remain as good as new.

The familiar tubular Air-Bail

Ergonomics and the “Triple Crown”: After catching smallmouth for two days my arm still felt great after countless casts and retrieves. Perhaps it was the combination of the Fuego with the premium Steez compile-X rod, but the total rig was an absolute pleasure to fish.

When fishing for smallies we needed to cast many lightweight split shot rigs

The outfit balanced out so nicely I didn’t feel like I had to tightly grip the rod as I brought lures to life with ultralight 4lb line. When fish took the plastics the drag would do most of the work as I patiently allowed the smallmouths to work out their aggression, reeling them in as they began to tire.

Smallies may be smaller in size, but certainly not in "fight"

Save the external bail return, the Fuego is exceptional when it comes to ergonomics. The reel looks much more compact than the Sol, and really feels quite light….well that is until you compare it side by side with the ultralight Steez, which is the ultimate performance match for the compile-x spinning rod.


Stressing the seals on the washable drag system

After the Fuego had put the hurt on so many smallies I decided to go for what Cal calls the “Triple Crown,” catching smallies, spots, and largemouth all in the same day on the same lake. I had already caught a few spots that fell for the same plastic rigs I had dipped for smallmouth, but I was yet to catch any good old bucketmouths. We powered across the lake into some deeper water loaded with more structure to pursue some largemouth as the sun started to make its decent.

The drag knob fully open


Next Section: The pursuit of bigger prey continues









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