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ICAST 2017 Coverage



A Baitcaster with No Ball Bearings – The 13 Fishing Concept Z


Date: 7/12/17
Location: Orlando, FL
Admission: Buyers & Press Only
Manufacturer: 13 Fishing
Reviewer: Zander

Without a doubt the most interesting reel at this year’s ICAST was the Concept Z. Leave it to the innovative team at 13 Fishing to disregard the “rules” of what a baitcaster has typically been and introduce what they are calling “the world’s first high-performance reel with zero ball bearings.”


The most innovative new baitcaster, the Concept Z


No Balls? Quite the opposite actually, it takes major cahones to throw caution in the wind and create a reel with no ball bearings. There have been reels with no bearings in the past but they haven’t been high performing reels that offer casting distance and accuracy mandated in a high-performance reel. Advances in technology is changing that and 13 Fishing employs high-tech space age polymer Concept Zero Bearings (CZB for short) which are engineered and manufactured right here in the USA.


Matt Baldwin, Head of Product Development, explains how the reel has no ball bearings whatsoever


Traditional ball bearings have moving parts that can corrode, break down, and lose performance over time. CZB technology allows the Concept Z to maintain its peak casting performance because the material is not prone to corrosion.


Due to this reduced friction this CZB design and technology make for a very quiet casting reel, giving anglers a very new experience. I compare it to how I felt the very first time I drove a Tesla Model S, this thing just glides!


Under the sideplate you can see the space age polymer material that replaces the bearing, no moving parts to break down here


The Concept Z is hard to miss with a bright orange painted frame with black handles and EVA knobs. The reel features an aluminum frame and weighs in at only 6.1 ounces. Inside the reel anglers will find proven 13 Fishing technologies paired with the Concept Zero Bearings including the Arrowhead line guide, a dead stop anti-reverse, and Japanese Hamai cut gearing.


A look at the CZBs on the spool


As you might expect with a space age polymer material that does not corrode this reel is designed for saltwater use and features a saltwater protection process called Ocean Armour 2. The Concept Z also has a souped up Bulldog drag capable of dishing out 22lbs of pressure.


The reel is officially colored "Tequila Sunrise" and is one reel that you will not miss on the water


So what will lack of ball bearings cost you? A surprisingly reasonable $200 dollars only. The Concept Z is very aggressively priced for a reel that features proven ergonomics, quality gearing, a saltwater capable drag and those slick, and innovative, Concept Zero Bearings.


This stealth project has been in the works a long time and at first the company just sought to produce a reel at the performance range of Concept A, but as time went on they found they had truly created something special


The entire Concept Z reel is the baitcaster that I am most excited to actually fish coming out of ICAST, if anything just to see how well they will hold up over time. The company is also going to make the technology available to other reels in the Concept line. 13 Fishing will sell the CZB bearings separately so that anglers can modify their reels, and each CZB will retail for 11 dollars.


Even more cool? 13 Fishing will be selling the CZB bearings separately so anglers can soup up their existing Concept reels


Matt shows us the new CZB technology, and this is without a doubt the reel that I am most excited to fish in the coming season. No performance loss due to debris, no corrosion, reduced noise? The Concept Z and CZB design is seriously revolutionary


The CZB bearings are all labeled so that anglers know exactly which one is designed for which location in the reel. Once again 13 Fishing is doing a fantastic job catering to enthusiasts! Without a doubt the most interesting new baitcaster at this year’s ICAST, the Concept Z shows us that it is possible to build a reel with no bearings that you actually want to fish.









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