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Reel Review

All hail the Pflueger President, a distinguished combination of elegance and value

Date: 4/17/05
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Pflueger
Reviewer: Zander

Total Score: 8.91 + BEST VALUE AWARD

Introduction: Pflueger has a long and colorful history in the tackle business, and was one of the original pioneers in modern reel design. To the consternation of many anglers the company ended production of spinning and baitcasting reels for a period, but today the company is back in full force and many anglers can't stop talking about the contemporary generation of Pflueger reels. Perhaps most highlighted of all is the audaciously styled President baitcaster. 

Pflueger President Specifications

Line Capacity (lb/yds) 12/130
Gear Ratio 6.3:1
Weight 9.3 oz.
Bearings 9BB + 1RB
Additional Features Anodized aluminum spool, titanium line guide, patented 6-pin adjustable centrifugal brake system, soft touch thumb bar
MSRP $129.99

Impressions: Some of the most valuable antique reels and rods bear the Pflueger brand name. Many modern day anglers don't realize that company has been in the business of designing and producing tackle for well over a century. While reel and rod design took a backseat for a phase in the company's history the acquisition of the brand by Shakespeare in 1966 ushered in a new age of change. Three years ago Pflueger began to push a complete lineup of premium fishing reels. Two of the most frequently highlighted reels are the affordable Trion and flagship President.


The Pflueger President has many fans who like the reel's excellent balance of performance and price


Upon first inspection I was immediately impressed by the styling of this reel. It was both elegant and stylish, but seemed to retain an all American look and feel. Rather than stray completely from the Pflueger design to create a sleek new flagship reel, the company wisely made use of styling cues from their previous reels. The left sideplate is trademark Pflueger, and the top of the reel features a wider opening than many competing reels, allowing for easy spool feathering. The components all appeared top notch, and there wasn't a hint of cheap plastic anywhere to be found. The best way I can describe the President's look and overall feel is that the reel is simply "elegant."

The President sits higher than some of the newest reels but is well within acceptable tolerances

The Field Tests:
The President is designed to be an all round bass reel, and we decided a good place to test this reel was on the California Delta and adjacent waters. At this time of year bass fishing can be downright explosive with the fish moving up to the spawn, giving us the opportunity to run everything from plastic worms to reaction jerkbaits.


Complete test rig for Pflueger President Field Tests

Rod ST. Croix Legend Tournament Bass Teaser (TBC70MF)
Reel Pflueger President
Line 12 lb. P-Line Fluroclear

Before heading out we gave the President our standard battery of tests including freespool, submersion, frame stress, and drag pressure tests. The President performed reasonably in all tests, except the freespool tests, where it actually performed extraordinarily well. The President's freespool just goes and goes, once disengaged from the main gearing the ported aluminum spool spins seemingly absent of all rotation robbing friction. We were all wound up with the prospect that this incredible freespool display might translate into raw casting performance in the field.

The President features almost completely aluminum construction, with only the palming side cover being made out of plastic


Casting: We loved the President's casting ability, in fact we reveled in it. This reel can cast ultralight weightless rigged plastics with no difficulty, and casting any lure with significant weight is thrill. The same freespool capabilities we first took notice of in our lab did indeed translate into brilliant casting distance. While expert casters will have no difficulty, less experienced baitcasters will definitely want to step up the cast control setting to avoid time consuming backlashes. The President makes use of a six pin centrifugal braking system that is very similar to the VBS system employed by Shimano. During casts the spool forces all engaged weights forward, gently slowing the forward motion of the spool.


Adjusting the brake weights requires you to remove the left sideplate via the quick locking mechanism. By depressing the button than rotating it forward you can remove the sideplate and expose the braking system and spool. This was our single biggest gripe about the President. Reels from Daiwa allow you to adjust the braking system externally, and while reels from Shimano also require you to access the spool to make adjustments to the centrifugal system the sideplate remains connected to the frame of the reel via a rotating pinion. This is not the case with the President which requires you to hold the completely separated plate as you make adjustments to the cast control system. Once engaged the system worked like a charm, and while most anglers will adjust the cast control system and leave it we would have liked to see a provision to hold the plate should adjustments in the field become necessary.

The clicking spool tension knob is a very nice touch


On the plus side the President did surprise us with a micro-click spool tension knob. Many of the competitors with reels costing twice as much do not make use of a clicking tension knob. We found it easy to make precise adjustments allowing us to maximize casting distance and minimize backlashes regardless of what type of lure we tied on. To adjust the cast control you simply hold the rod forward at a 45 degree angle and tighten the spool tension until the lure very slowly descends. Veteran baitcasters won't normally do this as they simply compensate by feathering the spool during each cast. Another very nice touch in the reel's well-dressed construction is a soft thumb pad on the clutch bar which makes casting more comfortable, and also causes the bar to be far less slippery when wet.

Plenty of quality bearings and a ported lightweight machined aluminum spool help make the President an exceptional caster


Retrieve: The President is loaded when it comes to bearing count. The reel features 9 double shielded stainless steel ball bearings and a one-way clutch instant anti-reverse bearing for a grand total of 10 bearings. The result is a fluid refined feel that is comparable to reels costing near 200 dollars. Pflueger was so concerned with a quality feel that bearings are used within the handle knobs. While the reel feels silky you do feel connected to the gearing and clamping down and cranking on big fish can be done with confidence. During our tests we hooked into countless small males hovering over beds, many of which snapped up jerkbaits invading their territory. We found the President both quick and powerful enough to always maintain pressure on even the fastest diving fish. On the occasion we hooked into a 5lb female we found the gearing to be more than enough to gain ground and haul her to surface in between charges. This reel is capable of retrieving 28" of line per handle turn, making it possible to use the reel for ripping for white and striped bass.

We wished the sideplate could remain attached while adjusting the brake-weights. Having a completely separated cover makes it harder to make quick adjustments with one hand


Drag: The President features a multi-disc drag that is controlled via an all metal forged star drag. The drag system adjustment is well polished and we were able to get minute adjustments out of the drag quite easily. The President's drag system isn't the smoothest we have tested, nor is it the strongest, but on average it is capable of delivering a respectable 5.5lbs of counter pressure. This is more than enough for largemouth, but a bit low for a first-rate striped bass reel. In terms of overall refinement the drag is slightly above average, but when you consider the price of the reel you can't help but be impressed.


The President is both comfortable and easy to palm


Ergonomics: The shape of the President is excellent for palming and the spool opening isn't actually symmetrical, as it is designed to perfectly accommodate your thumb while palming. The reel's overall stance on Fuji reel seats is just a tad taller than some of the newest reels. Overall I found the ergonomics to be excellent. The reel will feel easy to palm for anyone with mid to large sized hands, and the knobs are ergonomically shaped making it easy to burn cranks and spinners all day. I loved the clicking drag star, and precision spool tension knob was easy to adjust between casts with just one finger. The overall weight of 8.9oz is very respectable, especially considering the star drag and handle are all forged aluminum. With the slight exception of sitting a bit high on some reel seats the President's fishing ergonomics are near perfect.


The President delivers a silky retrieve and has a fast 6.3:1 retrieve making it easy to work reaction baits


Durability: We tried to out stress the drag and ruin the lubrication with prolonged submersion but the President wouldn't have any of it. The master gearing within the President's guts is average in size, but Pflueger's choice of double shielded ball bearings throughout help keep this reel fluid and free of performance reducing particles. All metal construction throughout help make this reel a very rigid package, one that can stand up to countless casts into freshwater, and even some inshore saltwater use. Pflueger gets bonus points for their use of a beautifully ported aluminum spool that is completely machined and anodized for superior corrosion resistance. Want to use braided superlines for fogging in heavy cover? No problem. The President answers with a titanium nitride coated aluminum oxide line guide.


During our tests even 5lb+ largemouth were easy to bring up to the boat with the President

Price: As we completed our field tests we knew we had something special here. This is a domestically designed reel that we can all be proud of from both a design and performance standpoint, but the clincher really comes down to price. How many quality brands do you know that have a flagship reel with 10 bearings and a price point under 130 dollars? The list is short, and the President is sure to among the top contenders. The President looks, is built like, and fishes like a 200+ dollar reel, and Pflueger should really be commended for building a reel of this quality and maintaining a price point that is well within the reach of all anglers.



Pflueger President Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The Pflueger President is built with some excellent materials and the quality of the construction is very respectable. The anodized machined aluminum spool looks like it should be on a reel costing 70 dollars more 9
Performance The President is a brilliant caster, and boasts a seriously silky retrieve. The reel's drag is decent, and there is absolutely no back play in the handle whatsoever 9
Price When it comes to price all hail the President! This is among the most affordable flagship reels available. When it comes to performance it can easily be mistaken for a reel costing near 200 dollars 9.5
Features The President should be applauded for their use of a micro adjust spool tension knob, many competitor reels 100 dollars more neglect this feature. The only real gripe we had with the reel's features is the completely removable sideplate, which makes it more difficult to quickly adjust the centrifugal brakes with just one hand 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) The reel sits a bit higher than some of the competition but overall ergonomics are excellent. The reel is easy to palm and the knobs are easy to grip even when wet 8.5
Application The President can stand up to just about any freshwater fishing and can tackle bass, stripers,  walleye, and perch. The reel features quality shielded bearings and can be used in light saltwater applications too...just remember to wipe it down after use 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Quality build and refinement L Sideplate fully disconnects from frame to adjust brake weights
J Amazing freespool and casting distance L Sits slightly higher on Fuji reel seats than some of the latest reels
J Smooth and refined  
J Micro click cast control knob  
J A great price and overall value!  

Conclusion: The President is the first Pflueger reel ever reviewed by TackleTour, and I can guarantee it definitely won't be the last. The President's all aluminum construction and shielded bearings make it possible for it to be used by both freshwater and inshore saltwater anglers. The President's only marginal shortcoming is the completely detachable sideplate, but for 2005 some of the reel's other attributes were improved. This year the reel did get slightly upgraded bearings and the company introduced a widespool model which weighs in at 9.4 oz and can hold 20% more line. The President has all the features and performance required of a flagship reel, it is designed with quality materials, delivers excellent fishability across the spectrum, and somehow manages to do all this while remaining surprisingly affordable. Pflueger has a winner on their hands with the President, and anglers looking for a flagship quality reel at an amazingly aggressive price should look no further than the well constructed President, which is unquestionably a "Best Value" in our book.


Until Next Time....Tight Lines










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