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Reel Roundup

 

Do You Believe in Magic? Our $99 Low Profile Casting Reel Round Up (continued)

General Spec's: With such a monumental task of comparing seven different reels side by side, where do we begin? Well how about with general specifications? This is the first table in all our reviews and the first thing you'd probably consider if you had the reels lined up before you at the tackle store trying to make a decision. So let's take a look.


First, we review the general specifications as if we were trying to make a decision at a tackle store

TackleTour $99 LoPro Reel Roundup : General Specifications

Mfctr >
13 Fishing
Abu Garcia
Daiwa
Lew's
Okuma
Quantum
Shimano
Model >
Origin C
Revo X
Fuego CT
SS LFS
Cerros
Accurist S3
SLX
Rated Line Capacity
12/135
12/145
12/150
12/140
12/130
12/135
12/110

Spool Volume (cm3)

15.7
12.6
13.2
15.6
16.2
15.7
14.5
Weight
7.4
7.8
7.4
7.1
8.0
7.3
6.9
Handle Lgth (mm)
90
90
90
95
85
90
90
Bearings
7
8
6
10
10
9
4
Rated Max Drag
18
18
13
15
11
18
11
Origin
China
Korea
Thailand
China
China
China
Malaysia
MSRP
$100
$99.99
$109.99
$99.99
$104.99
$99.99
$99.99

Take always from the comparison table above? Shimano SLX is the lightest reel in the bunch and Okuma's Cerros is the heaviest. Stated line capacities on reels are just about as bad as power ratings on fishing rods. I've always suspected this to be the case because not everyone's "12lb test" is the same diameter. That's why we usually include our rough calculations of a reel's spool volume. Admittedly, these numbers are imperfect because we do not take into account the v-taper in some spools, but the calculations do give us a rough comparison reel to reel.


Rated line capacity numbers are almost as bad as fishing rod stated powers

With these numbers we can see Abu Garcia's Revo X actually has the smallest volume despite listing one of the better capacities. Conversely Shimano SLX's volume is very respectable despite listing the least amount of capacity. I should mention that in the case of Abu Garcia's Revo X, the Winch version of this reel's (5.3:1) spool comes with more capacity than the standard reel (14.8 cubic centimeters).


Maximum drag numbers are not as important to me as performance of that drag material

Most of the other numbers, Max rated Drag, Country of Origin are just points for discussion at the tackle shop counter. I've always put more stock in how smooth and consistent a drag is than how much stopping power you can get. A drag is useless if it stutters or intermittently binds.


Manufacturers often tout bearing count, but where do all those bearings go and are all the placements important?

Bearings with a Bearing: An area worth closer exploration in that general specifications table is the bearing count for each reel. While we can all agree in general, it's better to have a bearing than a bushing at critical points of rotation, the real question is which locations in a low profile baitcasing reel are critical and which are superfluous? It's easy to inflate a reel's bearing count by placing low quality bearings under the handle knobs, but is a manufacturer giving us a bearing or bushing at a more critical junction like say, at the base of the drive shaft?


The non handle sideplate bearing is very important

All of these reels feature spools with a shaft extending from one sideplate to the other (i.e. none of these spools are free floating). The critical points of bearing support in a reel with this spool design is at either end of that shaft. In other words, in the non-handle sideplate on one end, and under the spool tension knob at the other. Every one of these reels has a bearing at these critical points. Check.


As is the spool tension knob bearing

Another important bearing just about every reel has regardless of design is that "+1" we always see in the specifications. That's the roller bearing or roller clutch. This is a one-way bearing located within the handle-side plate wrapping around the drive shaft and keeping it from spinning backwards. This is how "instant anti-reverse" is implemented. Sometimes, there's a little play in this bearing so engagement isn't really instant, but for the most part it does its job. If your reel engages backwards, there's likely something wrong with this component.


Ever wonder what that +1 bearing count deal was all about? This is the +1 bearing - it's the roller clutch that keeps your handle from spinning backwards on casting reels

Back to the bearing under the spool tension knob. This bearing is doubly important because it also supports the pinion gear. The pinion is the component that transfers movement from the main gear to the spool.

A smooth operating pinion translates to smooth operation of the spool and often, a more buttery feel of your reel when turning the handle under load.

A second area of support for the pinion gear is at the point where the pinion gear engages the spool within the reel's frame. Most manufacturers place a plastic or metal bushing at this location.


This is the metal bushing for Lew's Speed Spool LFS, housed in the frame of the reel right where the pinion gear meets the spool. When I reviewed the reel, I saw the metal part and assumed it was a bearing. I was mistaken

However, on higher end reels, some manufactures will choose to place a bearing in this location providing more friction-free support resulting in a reel that performs even better under load. This is part of the big deal behind Shimano's X-Ship implementation several years ago - a double bearing supported pinion gear. This is not something we'd expect to see in a value reel, but both Shimano and Daiwa have included this bearing in the SLX and Fuego CT respectively. In the reel's stand alone review, I stated the Lew's Speed Spool LFS had this bearing as well. I was in error. In reviewing the reel's parts list for this article, I see this component is listed as a bushing, not a bearing. I extracted this bushing for closer inspection while in the process of completing this article for verification. It is pictured above.


This is what a pinion bearing in the frame looks like (from Shimano's SLX)

Next Section: Those buttery feels...

 

   

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