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Reel Review


America's Best Selling Reel?


Date: 1/15/17
Tackle Type: Reel
Manufacturer: Zebco
Reviewer: Cal

Total Score: 7.05 - GOOD

There is perhaps a no more iconic fishing reel than the spincast. This reel, targeted at the novice angler as a transitional tool between spinning and casting is the go to reel on a countless number of rod and reel combo packages for children up to 12 years old. For those who never outgrow the simplicity of this style reel, Zebco makes an adult version with a full on brushed aluminum shell. In fact, this very same reel is touted as the top selling reel in America year after year! We felt it was about time we took a serious look at this number one seller, so here now, is our look at the vaunted, Zebco 33 spincast reel.

Today we take a look at the best selling reel in America.

Zebco 33 Spincast Reel Specifications

Line Capacity - Rated 10/110
Retrieve Ratio
Weight 8.5 oz
Bearings 1
Handle Length 85 mm
Origin Made in China
MSRP $24.99


Quality/Construction: The Zebco 33 is a surprisingly stout little reel made with a stainless steel exterior mixed with a composite body. The joint lines where different materials and parts of the reel come together are actually very good but the handle and knobs do exhibit a bit of play in them.

Zebco's 33 Spincast Reel.

Quality Ratings for Zebco 33 Spincast Reel

Finish (1-5)
Frame & Sideplate Tolerance (1-5)
Handle Tolerance (1-5)
Knob Tolerance (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

Performance: I've actually never had the pleasure of fishing a spincast reel so I was quite intrigued at the prospect of this review. The Zebco 33 comes pre-spooled with 10lb Cajun monofilament, so I just fished this reel out of the box. I didn't have any traditional pistol gripped rods to fish it with but I did pair the spincast reel with a Phenix Recon PHX-C682L.

Rigged and ready to go aboard a Phenix Recon C682L.

Casting: As it turns out, my single biggest challenge with this reel was understanding and coordinating the casting mechanics which happen to be the complete opposite of a baitcasting reel. With spincast reels, you click the button at the back of the reel prior to starting your swing then let go at the end of the swing, just like you would release the spool on a baitcaster the moment you want to release the line during your cast. Simple right? Not for this enthusiast!

Casting is enabled via this thumbar.

It was so counter intuitive for me, it took a demonstration from Zander for me to understand the mechanics. Even then it took quite a bit of practice. It was quite comical.

Just press the button towards the end of your cast to let your bait fly.

What I found interesting is that this is essentially a spinning reel with a metal housing over the spool to funnel the line through the line guide and then through the remaining guides on your rod - not unlike the Doug Hannon design Microwave guide system by American Tackle.

Construction of this reel is surprising with stainless steel tip and bottom plates and this metal handle.

Retrieve: Then, after your cast, simply turn the handle to disengage the "free spool" just like a typical casting reel. Turning the handle on the Zebco 33 reveals a surprisingly smooth-ish retrieve. There's some noise from the reel but it's primarily from the inner-workings beneath the front dome as the reel performs its magic to wind the line back onto the spool. The gears themselves are actually relatively noise free.

The reel's knobs are nicely contoured but are made from a plastic material that's not all that comfortable to grip.

Performance Ratings for Zebco 33 Spincast Reel

Retrieve (1-5)
Drag (1-5)
Power (1-5)
Casting Range (1-5)
Brakes (1-5)
Rating (= Tot/Pos * 10)

Drag is set via this dial on top of the reel.

Drag: The Spincast 33 comes with an audible clicker for the drag marketed as "Bite Alert". I didn't make use of this feature but can certainly appreciate its application. For those primarily interested in baitfishing this is a great feature to have. Otherwise, when the drag on this reel is engaged, it has a very fine whirring sound just like a typical spinning reel's drag.

Bite Alert is an audible clicker for the drag but it also turns on back reeling.

There's a knurled knob right at the top of the reel under the "Zebco 33" emblem for adjusting the strength of the reel's drag. Performance of the drag itself is better at lighter settings but it does become a little choppy at higher settings.

The Zebco 33 comes with a 3.3:1 gear ratio.

Next Section: Spincast Power?









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