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PRODUCTTPREVIEW: Quantum's new 150 Sized Reels Previewed Prior to Launch Tomorrow (continued)

On The Water: Enough of the land-based tests, lets go try these reels where they were intended to be used Ė on the water. I had set up four rods for the evening of fishing: a Tour KVD crank rod paired with a Tour KVD PPT reel (CLU IKON squarebill crankbait), an Energy SPT reel (Heddon Super Spook), a Reax HPT (1-ounce Yamamoto Hula grub), and a Reax SPT (5-inch weightless Yamamoto Senko) all paired with Quantum Tour Edition rods.

The first fish caught during the test is a two pounder

The first stop was a small cut where Joe had seen some bait activity earlier in the day. With clouds blocking the sun, we each picked up our topwater rods (mine with the Energy HPT reel and 30-pound Cajun braid) with hopes of connecting with a Grand Lake largemouth. My first cast, unfortunately, resulted in a pretty large overrun. Back in business, I adjusted the cast control to its maximum value and hauled off for another cast. Unfortunately, this resulted in a birdís nest that would have made a bald eagle jealous.  These reels were a lot smoother than I had expected Ė at least thatís my excuse.

Quantum's new reels may be compact but still offer plenty of spool access

Topwater rod out of commission, I picked up the crank rod (Tour KVD Power reel loaded with 12-pound Cajun FC line), adjusted the cast control to the maximum, tightened the spool tension knob and made a cast. As in my previous two casts, this one resulted in another overrun but not quite as bad. I adjusted the spool tension again, made another cast Ė this time resulting in a backlash-free cast Ė and was fast onto a 2-pound largemouth. As the fish applied pressure to the equipment, it was very apparent how solid this reel is. There was no play in the handle and it was difficult to sense when the fish was pulling drag. Three casts later with this same setup, I was onto another Grand Lake crank fish. The reel performed flawlessly except for my uneducated thumb.

First impression, all three reels feel similar in terms of refinement

The next stop Joe wanted to try a rockpile located in 15 to 20 feet of water off a point across the lake. This time Iíd use the jig rod (Reax HPT) loaded with 17-pound Cajun FC line). A little wary, I turned the cast control to its maximum of 10 and tightened the spool tension and let the one-ton jig fly. The casting distance and feel of the reel was impressive for the least expensive in the lineup. The reason for this is the reel has all the same internal parts as the Tour KVD model, the difference being bearing supported handle knobs. In this test, I couldnít tell the difference in the feel of the knobs as I was reeling but Iím sure after some hard use, one would notice some wobble in the handle knobs.

Battisti gets a better fish on the line and puts the Tour KVD to the test

After trying both the Reax and the Tour KVD models, Joe let me use one of his Energy SPT reels since I had boogered up the one I was using earlier. Like the Reax and Tour KVD reels, after proper adjustments, the Energy operated well. In all honestly, it was difficult to tell the difference in all three reels Ė but Iím sure that has to do with the fact they were all being used for the first time. Put a couple years worth of use on them and Iím sure the higher cost Tour KVD reel will feel better than the lower cost Energy and Reax models.

A better fish indeed...

Overall Thoughts: I will make no bones about this, these new Quantum 150-sized reels are darn good. They feel good in the hand, on the rod and while working a bait or fighting a fish. They have ultra smooth drags and itís difficult to feel the spool turn as you make a cast. The problem I initially had with the reels was getting them tuned so a backlash wouldnít occur. Either these reels need a lot more attention to initial setup or my 35 years of casting baitcasters wasnít enough. Once I had the reels dialed in, though, they operated very well and felt as though they were a JDM product.

...that fights all the way to the last second

There were a couple things I did notice on these prototypes that needed some attention. The most bothersome was after palming the reels for some time, the cast control knob would move from the position you put it in. In my case, the cast control would move from its maximum setting to one of a lower setting. The other thing that needed some attention was the cast control knob on one of the Tour KVD rods. I found it difficult to adjust the knob as I set it to tighter and tighter settings. Joe assured me that since these are first-run production line prototypes that these anomalies would be sorted out prior to mass distribution.

Quantum's new reels were exceptional casters, so good we had to turn up the cast controls, and we found some anomalies in the refinement of the control settings which should be ironed out prior to mass production

Some other features the reels possess that I thought were good or bad include:

- Capless handles on the Reax and Energy series reels:  Good move.

- Swept graphite handle on the Tour KVD reel:  Comfortable in that the inward swept handle centers the center of gravity of the reel more. In the prototypes tested, the handle also had cutout slots to help decrease weight. Personally, the way the slots were machined, it didnít look symmetrical. Iíd rather see small holes symmetrically drilled.

- On the KVD model, the handle knobs can be removed in order to clean the handle bearings. This is a good feature to allow for long-term handle performance.

As the sun sets on our preview stay tuned for all the details on these and other new Quantum offerings when ICAST 2009 opens its doors tomorrow

Conclusion: Overall, I was very impressed with the reels. Having used Shimano Calais for the better part of 9 years I would have no problem using these reels Ė especially the Tour KVD model. They look good, feel rugged and operate as smooth as any reel Iíve used. You just have to make sure to set them up properly and allow a little time to get used to how smooth they are. The new 150 sized reels will be debuted tomorrow at ICAST and are set for distribution for early 2010.









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