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Rod & Reel Combo Review

A spincast reel for all ages and levels of experience, the mighty Zebco Omega

Date: 1/16/03
Tackle type: Rod & Reel Combo
Manufacturer: Zebco
Reviewer: JIP

Total Score: 7.98

Introduction: When you thought spincast reels can't get any better, there's always someone out there to prove you wrong.  Zebco, the originators of spincasting reels proudly welcomes the aggressive Omega that's feature packed and powerful enough for those serious Anglers.

Zebco Omega Combo (ZO3C) Specifications

Omega ZO3 Spincast Reel

Line Capacity (lb/yds) 10/90
Gear Ratio 3.7:1
Bearings 6
Additional Features Continuous anti-reverse, 3X positive line pick-up system, Level wind oscillating spool, Spare spool, Quick-change spool system, Triple-Cam multi-disk drag system, Sealed soft-touch rubber thumb button, Pre-spooled with 90 yds. of 10 lb. test line
MSRP (Reel only) $49.95

ZOC601M Rod

Material IM6 Graphite
Length 6'0"
Color Black
Line Weight 8-14 lb.
Lure Weight 1/4-1 oz.
Power Medium
MSRP (Combo) $69.95

Spincast Reels: Spincast reels have always been perceived by Anglers as a beginner's choice due to the simplicity, trouble-free design, and ease of use.  Because of these reasons many current experienced Anglers grew up using a spincast setup as a child.  Today when Anglers hear about spincast reels they would probably say it's kids stuff and walk away with their spinning or baitcasting gear.  But as technology advances so do spincast reels.  Today's engineers are challenged daily to design a spincast reel that's packed with more features and power, and the results are quite impressive to many Anglers and to the Editors at TackleTour.  Zebco, the father of the spincast reels, designed an advanced spincaster that's beyond any other... the Zebco Omega.


Impressions: For those who are just starting out in the sport of fishing or the more experienced Anglers who aren't ready to move into baitcasters but want something more, the Zebco Omega is a perfect fit.  The Omega is the most advanced spincast reel ever made and today you can get it in a combo that's ready to fish as you walk out of the store.


The Zebco Omega combo is not just for kids.  The Omega is the most advanced spincast reel on the market today and is rugged enough for any Angler


The Omega ZO3 reel is quite impressive.  You can't even compare it to anything that's on the market of this class of reels today.  The ZO3 is the only spincast reel that contains 6 stainless steel ball bearings.  It has an outstanding appearance, solid die-cast aluminum body and reel foot, and an aircraft aluminum cover.  You won't be disappointed with the overall construction because this spincast reel uses zero plastics and only premium materials.  The solid base of the Omega holds some features like a anti-reverse system, an all-brass helical-cut worm gear drive, triple-cam multi-disk drag system, and many more remarkable features that are mentioned in the next few paragraphs.


The larger components of the Omega.  The black spool is the spare


The rod that comes with this combo is a 1 piece medium power with a moderate to slow action.  It contains 6 metal guides, a cork handle, and a blank-through reel seat for added sensitivity.


Real World Tests: We take you through a series of lab and real world tests conducted on the Zebco Omega under stressful loads while obtaining results in application, performance, reliability, and much more.  Below are the outcome of the experiments.


Notable Features: Spincast reels are supposed to be simple.  That's until Zebco designed the new Omega reel.  They have incorporated some features that deserves some closer attention.


The patented sealed rubber thumb button provides good grip and a seal to keep the guts free of dirt and grit


Thumb Button: Thumb buttons are thumb buttons.  So why is this one so special?  The Zebco Omega utilizes their patented sealed rubber thumb button that provides outstanding performance.  While it's being used the rubber button delivers superb gripping power dry or wet.  During our lab tests we tried 4 different methods: 1) wet our hands completely, 2) wet just the rubber thumb button, 3) wet both our hands and button, 4) and having both wet surfaces with some lubricant/slim on our thumbs.  In each of those situations we proceeded to cast and see if any slipping occurs.  The results are outstanding and can truly say that even with a bass-slimmed thumb, slipping off the soft rubber button won't be a concern on the field.  The rubber seal not just prevents accidental slips but is also used to prevent any dirt or dust from intruding into the gear system.  While field testing we found this to be especially useful for Anglers who lay their rod and reel down on the ground while bait fishing.


Cast after cast and no slippage, not even when the thumb is coated with fish slim


Level Wind Oscillating Spool: The idea of the oscillating spool was taken from its cousins in the spinning and baitcasting reels where the spool on the spinning reel oscillates vertically while the baitcasters use a level-wind to place line evenly onto the spool.  The ZO3 applies this technique to make sure that the line will be evenly applied on the spool during retrieves.  Numerous times during the lab tests we retrieved the line under a wide range of pressure and then removed the spool for examination.  The level wind oscillating spool accurately places the line onto the spool everytime.


Ball Bearings: The Zebco Omega is the only spincast reel to feature 6 stainless steel ball bearings.  That's more than some spinning and baitcasting reels.  During the cranking tests in the lab the reel seemed a little tight, but after a few more turns the break-in period has been reached.  Now the 6 ball bearing spincast reel cranks smoothly under zero load.  Look below for field test results.


Spare Spool: Wait a minute.  A spare spool for a spincast reel?  Yup!  Zebco is the first ones to use a system that allows Anglers to quickly change spools when needed.  The Quick-Change spool system on the Omega allows you to change the size or type of line without having to re-spool onto a single fixed spool like other spincast systems.  This provides an added value to save Anglers time and hassle of re-spooling when different fishing situations call for a different type of line.  Here are the simple steps on how to change the spool: 1) Twist off the aluminum cover, 2) while holding the handle stationary, turn the spinnerhead counter-clockwise unscrewing it off, 3) tighten the drag to max, and 4) unlock the spool as indicated on the spool itself and remove.  To replace with the spare spool, repeat these steps in reverse order.


The ZO3 and its spare spool.  Now changing line types are quick and easy 

The Reel:
As you can tell from what you read above the Zebco Omega seems to be a pretty outstanding reel of its class.  We take you further into our real world tests as our Editors gear up for some Omega action.


Casting: Spincast reels are one of the easiest reels to cast.  The ZO3 shows good casting abilities with lures/bait of different varieties.  While fishing with the Omega we compared the casting distances with baitcast reels by other well known brands and the results were shocking.  At times the Omega cast further then the baitcast reels that had near-frictionless spool designs.


Zebco designed the Omega with features that reduce line friction as much as possible.  You see here a ceramic line guide that provides a smoother cast and retrieve by helping the line to flow more freely


What makes the Omega outstanding in this category are the design features that Zebco engineered on the reel that targets fishing line friction points when they were challenged to design the most advanced spincast reel on the market.  First the level wind oscillating spool.  The ability to be able to place line evenly back onto the spool each time allows easy and smooth casts.  Then there's the spinnerhead with the retractable pick-up pins.  Being able to produce a solid and uniform circular spinnerhead that the line flows off of is important in casting.  With little friction when the line touches the lip of the spinnerhead, casting goes the distance.  Lastly and just as important as the other features that improve casting is the aircraft aluminum cover.  This featherweight cover is machine forged with quality and precision, and at the line exit hole is a ceramic line guide, just like a rod guide eyelet.  The ceramic guide provides a way for the line to flow freely.  So if you follow the process from when the line is placed onto the spool and to the time you cast, the design of the Omega ensures that the line flows as frictionless as possible.


The die-cast aluminum cover is lightweight and machined with precision.  Also notice the inside view of the ceramic line guide in the center


Retrieving & Power: There aren't any other spincast reels out there today that sports 6 stainless steel ball bearings.  As mentioned above, during the lab tests the Omega required a few minutes of break-in time.  After that the reel retrieved smoothly.  On the water when we tossed various lures and retrieved them at different speeds the Omega ran as expected.  The 6 ball bearing, all brass helical cut worm gear drive system, ceramic line guide and pick-up pins, a powerful and solid crank handle, plus the solid construction of the Omega base all contribute to the ability to be able to retrieve smoothly.  To compare we used both spinning and baitcasting reels that had 2 to 8 bearings.  The Omega had better retrieval performance than reels that had less bearings, but still cannot outperform the ones that contained more bearings.  When going head to head with reels of a different class with the same amount of bearings there were mixed results.


The spinnerhead contains three retractable cut-proof hardened ceramic pick-up pins.  The head piece is solid to prevent any warping


The name Omega says it all for the power of the reel.  This spincast reel has a strong foundation as its base, along with a zero plastic construction, the ZO3 is powerful enough for the most experienced Anglers targeting the huge ones.  This spincast reel also contains a continuous anti-reverse system that provides a firm hookset each time.


A simple yet functional screw that can be taken off by a coin, this designed allows an easy and quick way to switch retrieving hands


The ZO3 has an easy and quick way to change the handle from one side to the other, allowing left or right hand retrievals.  Without any tools, just a coin like a dime or nickel will do the job.  Unscrew a cap, the screw holding the handle, and switch.  As easy as that.  This process can be done by anyone and in less than one minute.


The Drag: Spincast reels have a drag that is designed so the line cannot run freely even when it's set to the lowest drag level.  This is a design feature that is used still today to allow beginners to have a trouble free day fishing.  If the drag allowed line to come loose, inexperienced Anglers might have trouble figuring out the problem.  The Omega followed this old design because this reel can be used by people who never fished before to the most experienced Anglers out there.  At the lowest drag setting there is still pressure that keeps the line from coming out freely.  At maximum the drag does the job well preventing any slipping whatsoever.  The drag settings in-between can be finely adjusted and the clicking allows you to hear each turn of the knob.  If you find yourself palming the Omega like I was, the design actually allows this, and at the same time you can use the same hand to adjust the drag.


The Omega is built more solid than any other spincast reels out there


The Construction: The Zebco Omega ZO3 is nothing I have ever seen in a spincast reel.  The quality is very sound.  The base is solid and the materials used are definitely not just the plain stuff you see used in other spincast products.  Inside and out the Omega uses components that will prolong the life of the product.  No plastics are used on this reel.  The rubber used on the release button is flexible and won't easily dry up and break down on you.  After many days of use the ZO3 showed no signs of weakness.  The rock hard outer body is great for the kids who place or drop it on the dirt, and tough enough for the hardcore Anglers that need a non-flex chassis for powerful retrieves and a reliable reel that won't be disappointing.


The Rod: The Omega ZO3 reel is mated with a 6 foot long rod that makes a good match for a low budget combo that will do the job.  The rod uses stainless steel D-guides along with a contoured cork handle for added comfort.  The sensitivity on the rod is marginal with the help of the exposed reel seat that allows your finger to come in direct contact with the blank.  The power of the rod is medium and can accommodate most fishing types that does not require extra heavy loads.  For the more advanced Anglers that require additional power, they can match the Zebco Omega spincast reel with one of your favorite baitcast rods for enhanced performance.


Even though this is a low budget rod, it still contains features that improve its performance like an exposed reel seat for additional sensitivity



Zebco Omega Combo Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The die-cast aluminum body and reel foot along with quality materials provide a solid overall construction on the Omega.  Tough enough for the big guys.  No plastics on this spincast reel.  The material used on the rod was designed to keep the cost down, thus the construction is only marginal 7.5
Performance Good performance comes from the advanced features incorporated into the ZO3.  Casts go the distance and features like the 6 bearings enhance the retrieves.  The ZOC601M can be designed for better performance 7.5
Price A high quality spincast reel combined with a rod at a good price 8.5
Features A simple yet feature packed spincast reel that has more than any other on the market 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) The most advanced spincast reel, the Omega shows hours of research and design.  The shape of the reel can also be palmed, for those who really want to do it, and at the same time can easily adjust the drag due to its placement 8
Application The Omega can handle many of your fishing needs.  The quick change spool system allows you to change line types in seconds.  The rod will do its job, but the more experienced will prefer to match the Omega reel with something else 7.9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Casts great! L Low budget rod
J 6 stainless steel ball bearings L Requires a short break-in period for smoother and more fluid retrieve
J Solid construction  
J Changeable spool system!  
J Good price  
J Feature packed  
J Designed for all levels of experience  

Conclusion: In 1949 Zebco introduced the world's first production spincast reel.  With years to follow they have been producing many spincast reels that targeted different levels of Anglers.  Today the Zebco 33 is still one of the most popular and best selling spincasters out there.  Each day Anglers are asking for more and that gave Zebco a challenge to produce the world's most advanced spincast reel.  Through hours of research and design Zebco has invented the Omega that is high in quality along with superb performance for a spincast reel.  The ability to cast well, powerful retrieves, and change line types when needed comes from the thoughtful and advanced features that are incorporated in the reel design.  No other reels on the market today has as many features as the Omega.  When comparing the feel and overall performance of spincast reels, the Zebco Omega will beat the competition by far.  Next time you're out in search of a spincast reel, don't overlook the Zebco Omega or the Omega combo that's made for Anglers of all levels.










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