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Reel Review


SPRO's Very Affordable Vortex-E Casting Reel (continued)

Power: While I was fishing that glide bait in mostly open water, tied to the end of my other SPRO combo was a Megabass of America Sleeper Craw. Remember that bait? Definitely one of my favorites of the year because it accelerates the review process for me giving me great confidence in getting bit while testing a new rod or reel's performance. That it did with my Vortex-E mounted on that Slayer B74MH as I dropped my Sleeper Craw into a thick clump of weeds, felt that "thump," set, and powered the fish out of cover.

Taking a look inside

Brass main gear

The Vortex-E doesn't come in a true, slow retrieve, power torque gear ratio, but the 6.6:1 is pretty close by today's standards. Remember, at one time 5.5:1 was considered high speed! Also, a lot of bass pros these days are relying upon 7.4:1 reels as their deep cranking tools of choice. It's all relative. The important point is I didn't find the Vortex-E to be underpowered nor did it have a tendency to lock up at anytime.

A single washer for the reel's drag

Drag: Rated at up to twelve pounds, I found the Vortex-E's drag to be sufficient even while fishing the Chad Shad 180. Performance is smooth and studder proof. For those who care, there is no audible drag noise while line is being pulled out. This relatively new feature in casting reels seems to be gaining a large following, so I thought I should note that the Vortex-E is more traditional and does not have an audible drag.

Heavier than expected given the reel's size

One thing I found a little surprising upon opening the reel up to check out drag composition was that the Vortex-E has a single, Teflon, or similar ceramic material, washer for its drag. I've opened up so many casting reels recently using the ubiquitous carbon matrix washers, I'm surprised when I don't see that in a reel. Nevertheless, as stated, the drag performed flawlessly for me. If you by some chance want more stopping power, it's probably a simple upgrade to put a stack together of similar height to replace the stock washer.

The spool as good capacity...

...and is average in weight.

Design & Ergonomics: The Vortex-E is built with a carbon frame and sideplates, so I'm a little surprised it didn't weigh less than what we measured in the lab (7.9oz). I'm thinking a lot of that weight is in the long handle and oversized knobs. Nonetheless, because the reel is so compact in size, I didn't really notice its weight. Given their size, it's difficult to really notice much more than those oversized knobs on the Vortex-E. They're actually relatively comfortable to grasp although I would find them even more comfortable if they were just a bit more thin in the middle. The reel itself sits low on the rod and is very comfortable to palm.

As expected on a reel at this price point, no bearing at the levelwind

SPRO retails the Vortex-E casting reel for $89.99

Price & Applications: Priced at just $89.99, SPRO's Vortex-E is available right now and in both left and right hand retrieve. It's a solid choice for an array of conventional techniques, and, if you're adventurous, it's even up for a stint helping you toss some big baits. As always, it's just a matter of being able to get enough line of the diameter you are comfortable with on the reel. Straight braid, or braid plus a leader go a long way to opening up those possibilities with reels of this size.

With the right line strategy, the Vortex-E can even pull some big bait duty


SPRO Vortex-E Casting Reel Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Well constructed, and surprisingly so for this price range 8
Performance Just a solid little reel all around 7.5
Price Difficult to complain here. The Vortex-E is an excellent value 9
Features Basic, no nonsense reel with a bare minimum bearing count 7
Design (Ergonomics) Comfortable to palm and doesn't really feel heavy, yet tips the scale at a higher number than expected. Only real gripe are the handle knobs which feel a bit too large 7
Application A very good, solid choice for an array of conventional techniques 7.5

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:


+ Excellent price point - Knobs are a bit overbearing
+ Simple but effective brake system  
+ Nice, long, handle  
+ Available in left and right hand retrieve  

If you're looking for a real to start your collection or need something affordable to fill a niche, the Vortex-E is worthy of consideration.

Conclusion: SPRO proves a casting reel doesn't have to have a lot of bells and whistles or cost a lot of money to perform well. I was pleasantly surprised at the Vortex-E's performance and suitability for a wide range of techniques. The brake system is very basic, but sometimes, that's all you really need. My only real criticism on this reel is the knobs. I found them a hair too large for my liking, but otherwise, just about everything else was fine. The Vortex-E is even available in both left and right hand retrieve at all gear ratios. It's really difficult to complain considering the reel's price point, so if you're looking for a real to start your collection or need something affordable to fill a niche, give the Vortex-E a look. You might be as surprised as I.


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