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Reel Review

The feature packed Rapala SX6i serves up plenty of performance and a surprisingly low price

Date: 7/20/04
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Rapala
Reviewer: JIP

Total Score: 8.16 + Best Value Award

Introduction: The name Rapala is synonymous with quality lures, but in the last year the lure giant has diversified into other quality products, including tools, rods, and reels. The Rapala Spinning reels are designed to be feature packed and still affordable for all anglers. We put the aggressively priced Rapala RAP SX6i through the paces to see just how well this reel stands up to the established mainstream competition.

Rapala Spinning Reel (RAP SX6i) Specifications

Size 20
Line Capacity (lb/yds) 6/140, 8/80, 10/65
Gear Ratio 5.2:1
Weight 10 oz
Bearings 6+1
Additional Features Aluminum body, Dual Anodized machined aluminum spool, stainless steel main shaft, double gear oscillation, Instant Hook Set Anti-reverse, Titanium Lip, Titanium Line Roller, Machined Handle, bonus spare spool
Price $49.99


Introducing the affordable and attractive RAP SX6i spinning reel by Rapala


Impressions: "Simple design. Practical features. Solid performance," is how Rapala describes the RAP SX6i. Upon arrival the spinning reel appeared straightforward, but attractive with a clean design. Aside from its simplicity, the RAP spinning reel does sport some noticeable design features that caught our attention immediately such as the Titanium plated components and the oversized grip which makes it easier to clamp down on for added torque, especially for people with larger hands.


Complete Rig for Rapala Spinning Reel Tests

Rods St. Croix Legend Elite
Reel Rapala RAP SX6i (20)
Line 6 lb. Sufix ProMix

Real World Tests:
This new Rapala spinning reel in the 20 size is excellent for bass fishing applications. When rigged with 6 pound test line, the SX6i is killer when brought into play for finesse fishing. We put the Rapala SX6i into action targeting largemouth bass in lakes using an assortment of plastics across slopes, along the weed edges, and over deeply submerged structure.


The tough Titanium Nitride lip aids in smooth casting


Casting: Rapala's reels may not cost a lot but they all sport features that make the product both attractive and valuable. Spooled with 6 pound test ProMix, casting plastics was easy rigged with a weight or weightless. You can easily skip a plastic creature bait under docks, pitch it under overhanging trees, or flip it right into a hole around structure. I would consider this spool to be average in size, but the addition of the Titanium Nitride lip on the spool aids in casting by creating loops with the right diameter that flow off the spool in nice curls.


Fluid and powerful retrieves come from 6 ball bearings placed in critical locations and a powerful oversized handle knob for that sure grip when fighting fish


Retrieving: The inclusion of six ball bearings on this affordable reel is welcome, and the retrieve is silky smooth when swimming grubs with a constant retrieve or when battling largemouth bass on the run. When you spin the SX6i it flows easily and fluidly, and doesn't exhibit the grinding feeling you might experience from other reels with sloppy cheap bearings. The smooth retrieve is comparable to reels costing twice as much.


Even though the machined handle is solid and doesn't show any play, we did notice it doesn't spin perfectly on its axis. When spun in the lab at higher velocity to check the balance of the entire unit, we didn't notice any reel wobble even with the minor imperfection we found. The rotor is well built and is evenly balanced when revolving, which is critical to smooth uniform retrieves.


The SX6i delivers a Instant Hook Set anti-reverse feature and provided a solid hook set on the fish every time. Plus, the reel features a die-cast aluminum frame, rather than resin based, and doesn't flex when taking on hard-hitting fish.


At under $50, the SX6i even comes with a spare spool


The Drag: The drag on the Rapala SX6i is plenty for bass fishing and releases line smoothly and evenly under pressure.  The drag knob has an audible clicker that allows fine increment adjustments.  As you can see from the picture above, the main spool doesn't utilize a clip to retain the drag washers.  When you require maintenance of this area, all you have to do is screw off the top portion to reach the drag system.  Sometimes it might be hard to twist off with your hands, but using the help of pliers will do the trick; and be sure to put a cloth there when clamping down on the spool or you will damage the aluminum.


The drive train of the Rapala spinning reel


Applications: The Rapala SX6i test unit is a versatile size for anglers who target multi-species of fish with one setup, especially since it does come with 2 spools. The SX6i 20 size is ideal for bass, trout, panfish, and for those who usually venture beyond the boundaries with light tackle, this reel can also handle larger freshwater game fish when played right.


Price: The Rapala SX series has more than you would expect and it comes with an affordable price tag of under $50.  That's quite a package when you consider the amount of features, components used, and the good performance you get out of a budget spinning reel like the Rapala RAP SX6i.


A great reel for finesse fishing for largemouth bass


Warranty: The RAP SX6i comes with a standard limited warranty.  Rapala warrants, to the original buyer, that this reel will be free from defects in materials and workmanship for a period of one year from the date of purchase. The reel service, either repairs or parts order, is done through Nutter Rod & Reel Service, a Rapala's authorized warranty center.


Rapala Spinning Reel (RAP SX6i) Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality It's amazing how they can make budget reels this good today.  Aside from the minor issue with the handle, this spinning reel feels good and uses decent components and is well put together 8
Performance The performance is exceptional for a reel of this price.  The spool allows good casting, the retrieve is smooth, and the drag does well in fighting fish 8
Price A great value for a reel of this quality, performance, and sports nice features for a reel  under $50 9.5
Features An affordable reel that sports features of the high-end products such as the anti-reverse system and Titanium Nitride plated components 8
Design (Ergonomics) Ergonomically, the reel is comfortable when fishing with thanks to the balanced rotation and the oversized handle knob.  Wish it came with an identical spare spool 7.5
Application The SX6i 20 size is great for bass, panfish, trout, and much more.  Freshwater use only 8

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Great price! L Spare spool is not aluminum
J Titanium Nitride plated components L Hard to find this size
J Large handle knob  
J Smooth running bearings  

Conclusion: Rapala, a significant player in the fishing industry expands its product line by introducing a series of affordable spinning reels. The RAP spinning reel performed well, exhibiting accurate casts and smooth retrieves, and is packed with features you normally wouldn't see in other mid-level priced products. The fact that the reel is more similar to reels costing twice as much, rather than other sub 50 dollar reels was reason enough for us to grant the RAP SX6i a TackleTour Best Value award.  Not every product in such price range can offer this much show and go for the money. This reel looks good, performs well, and delivers a nice balance of features that far outstrip the low cost of ownership. If your looking for a best bang for the buck product then Rapala has just what your looking for with the smart RAP SX6i.









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