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Reel Review

A Proven Concept, the 13 Fishing "C" Series Low Profile Baitcaster (continued)

Price & Applications: The Concept C is a very multi-talented reel and depending which retrieve ratio you choose this reel can be used for just about every aspect of bass fishing, and the corrosion resistant features in this reel also make it a good choice for fishing in brackish water or even in harsh inshore environments. 

The handle features a black highlight in the porting but for the most part this reel is pretty clean looking and is even less flashy than the Concept A

The Concept C retails for $229.99 which is $60 dollars more than the aggressively priced Concept A. Is the Concept C worth the extra money? That depends of what type of angler that you are. If you are satisfied with a workhorse reel that casts baits and brings them back reliably the Concept A not only hits the mark, it delivers much of what the Concept C does, and is undoubtedly a better value. The Concept C adds refinement to the series, and is not only lighter but it is also smoother thanks to the souped up 9 bearing system.

Even the spool has a raw look and feel with just the aluminum finish

Personally the Concept C, while not the flashiest reel in the series, is my choice. If your looking for the most balanced reel in the 13 Fishing Concept baitcaster lineup this is it. The Concept C delivers just the right amount of features all for a very reasonable price. If you want to step up to a magnesium version Concept reel than you need to for over $379.99 for the "E" Series or $480 dollars for the new flagship Concept KP.

The clutch has a small rubber insert for a nice comfortable feel and there is plenty of access to the spool with this frame design

Like the other Concept reels the "C" is available in a wide range of retrieve ratios including 5.3:1, 6.6:1, 7.3:1 and a blazing fast 8.1:1 retrieve! 13 Fishing has done almost everything right with the introduction and positioning of the Concept C.... I say "almost" because unfortunately at this time there is still no left handed version available. So anglers, like our very own Cal, are left on the outside looking in. While anglers that prefer left handed baitcasters are still a smaller percentage of the market they are no doubt among the most passionate and vocal anglers. Hopefully 13 Fishing will tool up a lefty version of the Concept Series in the future.

Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

13 Fishing Concept-C Casting Reel Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Overall an excellent construction and the finish is definitely a step up from the matte finish of the Concept A. While this reel does exhibit very good build quality it is not as flashy as the Concept A as the drag star and spool have a more utilitarian look without the additional anodized elements 9.75
Performance The Concept C does everything that the already very good "A" version can do, just better. When it comes to balanced features and refinement the Concept C is well designed and implemented. Both the casts and retrieves feel natural and with a fish on the line the Bulldog Drag has plenty of "bite" 8.4
Price The competition might be a little cheaper but few reels are able to deliver the balance of features and "cool" factor that this less known reel is able to bring to the table. If your looking for something different the 13 Fishing Concept C might just have what it takes to convert you from one of the big brands that you are so used to fishing 8.0
Features Overall good balance of features but the braking system does require the takedown of the sideplate and that is a pain. The good news is once it is dialed in you are not likely going to need to make adjustments in the field 7.1
Design (Ergonomics) Very good overall ergonomics on the frame and overall weight but some anglers may find the knobs a bit chunky 8.8
Application A solid choice for a wide array of freshwater and saltwater applications. The extra corrosion resistant bearings and upgraded stainless gear shaft inspire additional confidence for employing the reel in brackish and inshore applications 8.0

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Looks great, has some enthusiast appeal - Adjusting the brakes requires a non handle sideplate takedown
+ Good balance of features and quality build - Some folks may not like the chunky grips
+ Solid ergonomics - Lefty anglers left out
+ The Bulldog Drag is powerful and smooth  
+ More refined than the "A" and delivers a balance of features and refinement that hits the mark  

The Concept reels we saw at ICAST with the "Trick Shop" color options

Conclusion: The Concept A may get the job done, and the Concept E may be the lightweight performer, but the Concept C is the sweet spot in the lineup when considering the balance of features, refinement and price. At $229 dollars the "C" fits right in the high performance category and faces pretty stiff competition from some well known reel brands including the Shimano Chronarch 200E ($199), Daiwa Tatula Type-R ($199) and Abu Garcia Revo STX ($199), all of which are 30 dollars cheaper. But what the 13 Fishing Concept C does have going for it is two things, the fact that the reel does exhibit a quality build and excellent features and that hard to measure "cool factor."

The Concept A already has some enthusiast feel but imagine the ability to customize the reel to suit your own personal preferences, this is what we hope to see when the Trick Shop options become available

This is not a me-too reel, and like the company that spawned it, is a reel that is not afraid to buck the conventional thinking of what a low profile baitcaster should be. In some respects the Concept C exhibits more enthusiast appeal than other domestic offerings, especially if 13 Fishing makes all of the custom "Trick Shop" components available to anglers which they unveiled this past ICAST. This will really give anglers the ability to customize/personalize their Concept reels to match their favorite combos.

The 13 Fishing Concept C delivers just the right balance of features, fun factor and price with the Concept C. Now can I get one in a lefty please?!

Our biggest gripe with this reel series is that it cannot yet be had in a left hand retrieve configuration. We only say this because this is a quality reel and lefties are definitely missing out on what is a very balanced product. 13 Fishing continues to buck the trend and their willingness to push the boundaries has paid off with the well designed, high performing and very cool Concept C baitcaster, a worthy recipient of our Editor's Choice Award. All of which has only further whet our appetite to see just what the upcoming Concept KP can do, and whether it is really worth the high cost of entry and can contend in the highly scrutinized enthusiast category.

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