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ICAST 2019 Update Coverage

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Reel Review

Not just “Smoke” and Mirrors, possibly the best Quantum Baitcaster yet? (continued)


Overall the Smoke reels felt very smooth while both slow cranking and burning baits. The company makes use of 8+1 bearings and unlike many other reel manufacturers they don’t use off the shelf bearings, opting instead to spec out customized stainless steel bearings. These bearings are also fitted with a polymer cages for better durability versus the elements.


Not exactly the quality fish we were looking for to test the reel's drag


When I opened up the reel I found Quantum Hot Sauce lubrication on a number of key areas but not the same profuse amounts I have seen used in previous reels. My previous experience with Hot Sauce has been very positive and this synthetic lubricant is designed to add to the overall performance and durability of the components that come in contact with one another. In the Smoke reels the Hot Sauce definitely has a positive effect as retrieve, even under pressure, felt fluid and friction free.


The Smoke reels feature a multi-coated black finish which looks matte in appearance


Drag: The Smoke reels make use of a ceramic drag washer sandwiched within the main gearing, because of the varying drive gear sizes on the different gear ratios the drag washer diameters also vary slightly so that the higher the gear ratio the lower the max drag pressure generated. In the lab we measured the drags and found them to fall just shy of the manufacturer’s rated specifications. For example the rating in the SL100HPT is 15lbs. and we were able to achieve 14.2lbs. maximum pressure. Under ideal conditions and maximum lockdown the 15lbs. is probably achievable but the 14.2lbs. we witnessed is already very respectable and better than the majority of the competition.


The 150 reels feature a larger capacity


The ceramic system does not feature many washers and does not need to distribute head over a lot of surfaces as the material does not build up as much performance robbing heat to begin with. While I found the drag very strong I did not find that it offered the minute level of settings as some competing multi-stack drag systems. While adjustments were not as refined sheer stopping power was excellent and the real test for this drag system came in the Amazon.


All Smoke reels make use of a titanium coasted line guide which can handle superlines


While the Smoke’s drag system had already proved itself on largemouth bass on our home waters the Peacock Bass in the Amazon posed a unique challenge. While the 150 boasted a higher capacity it was still smaller than the swimbait class and traditional round reels that many anglers use for these monster Cichlids. We needed to rely on the Smoke’s drag systems to tire out these hard runners before they spooled us. We got that chance when a giant male Peacock crushed his Woodchopper no more than 10 feet from the boat.


Spooled up and ready for the Amazon


This fresh fish went on four extended runs taking copious amounts of line even when the drag was set near full strike. Though the drag seemed to release a great deal of line it wasn’t because of the drag wasn’t delivering plenty of counter pressure it was because this fish was so physically powerful. After the third run we could tell that the drag was holding up well and the sheer pressure of the system was indeed tiring the fish out. In a few minutes JIP, though winded, held up the 17lb. fish up for a picture.


JIP lands a nice Peacock and the Smoke's drag proves up to the challenge

Next Section: Ergonomics that push the envelope









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