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Reel Review

An inexpensive reel with tremendous quality ... introducing the Quantum Q-Rated Plasma

Date: 11/1/04
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: Quantum
Reviewer: JIP

Total Score: 8.5 + Best Value Award

Introduction: In the past anglers have had to make considerable sacrifices in raw component and overall build quality when looking to purchase a value reel. Quantum introduces a new line of reels that aspire to deliver great value and quality design and construction. We take a closer look at the Plasma, a new "Q-Rated" spinning reel which has passed Quantum's new validation process, and now must undergo TackleTour's real world tests.


Quantum Plasma (PLM20) Specifications

Line Capacity (lb/yds) 4/180, 6/140, 8/100
Gear Ratio 5.1:1
Weight 10.8 oz
Bearings 8
Additional Features Aluminum Long Stroke MaxCast spool, Continuous Anti-Reserve, One-touch folding handle, spare aluminum spool, 10-year Q-Rating
Warranty 1 year with 48hr service turnaround
Price $39.95


The new 2005 Q-Rated Quantum Plasma

Impressions: When you pick up the Plasma, you will notice all the tenuous details of this 10 year Q-Rated reel. The entire product is nicely finished with attractive colors and the spool is well designed with a coated lip which is perforated and uniform. Upon further examination the Quantum Plasma continues to impress. The reel feels solid, and weight reduction is applied by boring out certain areas on the frame, and with just a quick crank of the handle anglers will surely fall in love with Plasma's startlingly sinuous retrieve.


A quality line roller on the Plasma assists in retrieves while reducing line twists


Q-Rating: While many companies only fully test their high end products, Quantum now ensures quality even with their budget line of reels.  That's exactly what the new series of Q-Rated reels are, reels that are pre-screened prior to shipping to ensure that the products perform exactly as intended. Bob Bagby, Vice President of Marketing, states "The reel must not show any degradation in quality after the test for it to be consider a passed reel."  For the Plasma having a Q-Rating of 10 years means that the spinning reel will last 10 years if the angler uses it every week. For fishermen who don't fish regularly, this value priced reel will last easily over 10 years.


Complete Rig for Quantum Plasma Tests

Rods Kistler California Drop Shot (KDSS69), AiRRUS Spectra (SPS701M-AFTX)
Reel Quantum Plasma (PLM20)
Lines 6 & 8 lb. Trilene XL

Field Tests: With a quality certification placed on the Quantum Plasma reel, we had to test it to the extremes, even though Quantum states the Q-Rating was determined under normal fishing conditions and regular care. We placed the Plasma on a Kistler dropshot rod with six pound test and went to the depths to haul up fish hovering over deep humps, and also spooled up the spare spool with eight pound test to toss other lures such as crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and much more.


A perforated aluminum spool that's uniform and solid.  Notice the two spool above where the one on the left is the spare aluminum spool

Casting: One thing I consider when purchasing a spinning reel is the spool. The depth, size, and especially the diameter of the lip are all important when long distance casts are required. The Plasma PLM20 has a well designed spool that casts very well. The line flies off the aluminum Long Stroke MaxCast spool gracefully and in a right loop size that doesn't cause any unnecessary friction either through the air or the guides. With six and eight pound test lines, casting small grubs on a jighead and larger lures is both easy and trouble-free.

Retrieving: With 8 stainless steel bearings and a well balanced rotor system the Plasma is smooth on each retrieve. At first the reel felt slightly sluggish, but after a short break-in period the reel started spinning smoothly, and as smoother if not smoother than any reels we have tested in the same price range. Whether we were jigging a dropshot rig 50 feet down, swimming a grub, or tossing a small crankbait, the Quantum PLM20 felt comforting with each spin of the handle.


A balanced and solid rotor allows smooth retrieves.  This reel also sports 8 ball bearings.  Notice the bearing I raised for better visual.  It normally sits on the red washers you see and also seats in a tightly formed well on the underside of the spool


Speaking of the handle, the Plasma uses a one-touch folding handle design that we scrutinized very closely while field testing. The Plasma's handle is solid, precisely manufactured, and powerful. The concrete handle and rigid aluminum body translate all your setting and cranking power into solid hooksets, without any noticeable flex whatsoever.

Drag: The Plasma drag system is also quite impressive. Though not the most precise in terms of synchronization between a turn and click, the pressure is outstanding. When tightened completely, it can easily achieve full stopping power. The drag washers in the Q-Rated reel allow the line to come off the spool smoothly and consistently.


The quick one-touch handle translated good power without lose, and also notice the ergonomically comfortable handle knob


Durability: "Tried, Tested and Tweaked" is what the Plasma is all about. We put the Plasma through plenty of testing and after extended usage the spinning reel showed no signs of wear. The performance remains excellent, the finish unspoiled, and all components are still in impressive shape. 


After a lengthy battle on the Plasma with 6lb test, Zander lands this nice bass


Price: After you have seen and handled the Quantum Plasma spinning reel, you are up for a sticker shock!  No, the reel isn't over-priced. For a reel like the Plasma, especially from our first impressions, we would think that the price would be closer to 59.99. The sub 40 dollar price tag for a well designed reel like this is spectacular, especially when Quantum has Q-Rated the Plasma for having a lifespan of at least 10 years with normal fishing use and regular maintenance. There are some use of plastic on this reel, but not all that much. All critical components are metal. The Plasma also comes with a spare aluminum spool which has a plastic top and isn't identical to the main spool, but overall the Quantum spinning reel is truly an excellent value.

Quantum Plasma (PLM20) Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality An affordable reel that's put together extremely well with a good finish, components with minimal plastics, and high in durability thanks to the much testing and tweaking that was done at the factory 8.5
Performance Excellent overall performance.  The reel felt smooth after a short break-in period, nice casts, good drag system, and powerful retrieves 8.5
Price This reel is amazing in performance and appearance, and when you see the price you might start drooling.  Definitely a great value for a reel of this quality 10
Features A spinning reel featuring a nice aluminum spool, 8 bearings, great anti-reverse system, and the new Q-Rated testing to ensure quality 8
Design (Ergonomics) A balanced design with weight reduction, even rotations, and a comfortable handle knob makes this a comfortable reel to have in hand 8
Application A great piece for all sorts of fishing applications that requires a fine spinning reel to get the job done.  Even though we tested it on only freshwater species, the reel will be able to handle saltwater use as well 8

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Great Value! L May need a short break-in period for optimal smoothness
J Well tested for durability  
J Attractive design  
J Good overall performance  

Conclusion: It is truly amazing how nice reels can be today, and as they become better, the prices aren't increasing at all due to superior manufacturing and the pressure of competition. The winner is the angler, who can expect better and better products and solutions, that barely make a dent in your pocketbook. A new addition to the Quantum line of products, the Plasma is designed so nice that it could easily be mistaken for a highly priced reel when in fact it actually is an incredible value. With a fantastic price of under 40 dollars, worthy overall performance, and a durable construction, this Q-Rated spinning reel will be welcomed by angler of all levels, and an easy pick to be the first 2005 spinning reel to be given TackleTour's Best Value Award!









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