It's been 20 years since the fishing industry last saw a superfast-retrieve baitcast reel with 7:1 gearing, but this year two such reels, one from Shimano and the other from Quantum, were introduced at the ICAST show in Las Vegas. The early problem with such fast retrieves was a corresponding loss of power; you really could "burn" a lure through the water like never before, but if something could catch it, you just didn't have much left to play it.
Now, the rules have changed. Technology has solved the power problem with brand new gear designs that provide both speed and power. Bass fishermen have been asking for more speed in their reels for years, and now they have it. If there was an outstanding feature in reel design for 2006, this was it, and the number of reel makers who offer 7:1 gearing next year will almost certainly increase.
That said, there's a fine crop of new products out there for bass anglers of all skill levels, and even if you don't need a new reel, you're probably going to get one anyway because technology has made them that much better. Here's what you'll be seeing on store shelves in the weeks ahead:
1. ABU GARCIA (www.abugarcia.com; 877-777-3850) — Pure Fishing describes the new Abu Garcia Record reels as the best performing Ambassadeur reels they've ever made, and with good reason. Features in the three-reel series include either 6.3:1 or 5.3:1 gear ratios for plenty of speed; a Sensi-Brake spool bearing for increased smoothness; fully adjustable six-pin centrifugal brake for longer casting; and six ball bearings.
Both the Ambassadeur C3 and C4 baitcasters have been slightly redesigned to make them better, too. The workhorse C3 with its all-around 5.3:1 gearing, gets a newly designed Carbon Matrix Drag system that's 35 percent stronger than before, as well as an improved nickel coated level wind system (smoother casts), and the six-pin centrifugal brake. The C4 also gets the same new drag system, nickel coated level wind, and six-pin braking. It has slightly faster 6.3:1 gearing.
For spinning fans, the Cardinal C33 has received a makeover, as well. Suitable for both freshwater and light saltwater action, the C33 features an exclusive 12 washer Fulcrum underbody drag adjustment, Accu-Balanced rotor, a large diameter spool that reduces line memory, and all-purpose 5.5:1 gearing. It will spool 135 yards of your favorite 8-pound mono.
2. ARDENT (www.ardentoutdoors.com; 660-395-9200) — A relatively new kid on the block, this Missouri reel manufacturer believes it has built the perfect freshwater reel. By using 10 stainless ball bearings and one stainless roller bearing, the new XS should be quite durable and smooth. Featuring a 6:1 gear ratio, the body is constructed of magnesium, making the reel very light (8.7 ounces) and tough. The XS will hold 120 yards of 12-pound test and is outfitted with the company's Unique Race Reel technology, touted as a backlash reducer.
3. DAIWA (www.daiwa.com; 562-802-9589) — One of the more innovative baitcasters at ICAST this year came from Daiwa. Named the Team Daiwa Viento, the reel features a Twitchin' Bar located on top of the reel, which, with a light touch of your thumb, instantly engages the spool. It doesn't stop there, however. Keep twitching the bar, and the reel will take up about 4 inches of line each time. The advantage of the system is that you can keep your rod tip pointed down while subtly moving your lure; you're in position for a hook set the instant you feel anything. The Viento has 6.3:1 gearing, aluminum frame and spool, click drag adjustment, magnetic spool speed control, Centriflex braking, and a unique Free-Floating Spool that provides smoother casting.
If you're looking for a reel to take to Brazil for big peacocks, look closely at Daiwa's new TD Luna. Four models are offered, all with five ball bearings and either 5.8:1 or 5.1:1 gearing. Other standard features include the Free-Floating Spool and automatic magnetic anti-backlash spool speed control.
Spinning fans will like the Certate Series of six reels that cover everything from ultra-light to heavy action fishing. Those huge line loops that come after casting are eliminated with Air Bail, a newly-designed bail/line roller system; and the shielded bearings mean sand, salt or fish scales never get into the bearings to mess up your next trip.
4. EAGLE CLAW (www.eagleclaw.com; 720-941-8700) — New here is the Colorado, the first reel in Eagle Claw's River Series. Don't let the name mislead you, as this open face spinning reel will handle bass of all sizes in lakes as well as rivers. It has four stainless steel ball bearings, two gold-lipped anodized spools, front drag and a rigid aluminum body.
5. MITCHELL (www.fishmitchell.com; 877-777-3850) — This year the Mitchell Avocet Pro spinning reel comes to the U.S. after being tested for a full year in Europe. Obviously, it passed the test. This is a durable and functional open-face any basser can use; three different models cover the bases from light freshwater to light saltwater. Features include 10 bearings, aluminum quick-change spool, front drag and a stylish wooden handle.
6. OKUMA (www.okumafishing.com; 909-923-2828) — BASS winners Greg Gutierrez and Zack Thompson give a lot of credit for their tournament successes to Okuma's two newest baitcasters, the VSystem and the Nemesis. The VSystem is a low profile model with 6.2:1 gearing, nine ball bearings, titanium coated line guide for smoother casting, a quick release access port for changing spools, and adjustable six pin spool braking. The Nemesis features seven ball bearings, a multidisk Rulidium drag system, and six-pin adjustable braking. Both the VSystem and Nemesis are also available in left-handed models, too.
For those who need spinning tackle, Okuma has the Avenger AV, featuring six ball bearings, a multidisk felt washer drag system, and quick-set anti-reverse. Aluminum handles and spool are also standard in all seven models.
7. PFLUEGER (www.pfluegerfish ing.com; 800-347-3759) — If you prefer a low profile baitcaster over a round reel, you'll want to study Pflueger's Supreme LP. The Supreme has been a favorite of tournament pros for several years, and the LP's features insure that will continue in 2006. Included in the list are 10 stainless steel ball bearings, a titanium line guide, dual magnetic and centrifugal cast control/braking so you won't have any more backlash excuses, thumb bar spool release, aluminum frame and gearing, and instant anti-reverse.
Five years ago, Pflueger introduced the Trion Low Profile reel, and this year a new member of the family has been added, the Narrow Spool Trion. Features include five ball bearings, six-pin adjustable centrifugal braking system, a one piece aluminum frame and popular 6.3:1 gearing. It weighs in at just 8.7 ounces, and will hold 130 yards of 12-pound mono.
8. QUANTUM (www.quantum fishing.com; 918-836-5581) — Bass fishermen should welcome the introduction of Quantum's new Tour Edition PT, which features 7.1:1 gearing. Years ago, some reel makers toyed with such a fast gearing, but the resulting power loss doomed the reel to the closet. Now, Quantum has solved the power problem with specially designed gears housed in a small side-mounted gearbox right behind the cranking reel; you'll never even notice because of its integrated design. Other features include 11 ball bearings, ceramic drag system, and external adjustable centrifugal braking. Whether you want to burn your lipless cranks just under the surface or simply bring your plastic worm in a little faster, this reel will do it.
The new Energy PT baitcasters feature seven ball bearings, 6.3:1 gearing (one model with 5.1:1 is available), an externally-adjustable centrifugal brake control, and ceramic drag system.
In the spinning department the Quantum PT reels — Energy, Catalyst and Kenetic — have each been improved. All now have Quantum's Dual-Bearing Continuous Anti-Reverse that eliminates backward handle movement when you're setting the hook — and the Pocket Rotor, which insures correct line positioning on the roller every time.
9. RHINO (www.rhinofishing.com; 918-836-5581) — This year the Rhino RBC300 baitcast reel has been totally redesigned, making it more comfortable to use as well as more fishable. Solid brass gearing, three ball bearings, a 5.5:1 gear ratio, and continuous anti-reverse are standard.
10. SHAKESPEARE (www.shake speare-fishing.com; 800-347-3759) — The key word this year at Shakespeare is Agility, the name given to both a new baitcaster as well as an open-face spinning reel series. The low profile baitcaster features three ball bearings, instant anti-reverse, graphite frame, adjustable magnetic cast control, and 6.3:1 gearing.
There are five Agility spinning reels in the series, ranging from ultralight to medium action in freshwater. All have seven ball bearings, long cast-aluminum spools, graphite bodies, titanium line rollers, left/right convertible handles, and 5.2:1 gearing. The medium action Agility 6840 will handle 195 yards of 10-pound mono, more than enough to handle any far-ranging largemouth.
Also new here are three new Synergy Supreme rear drag spinning reels. They have four ball bearings, the E-Z Cast Trigger for easy bail release, a machined aluminum spool, and a multidisk rear drag. These are fairly light action reels so the rear drag adjustment will be welcome.
11. SHIMANO (www.shimano.com; 949-951-5003) — Bass fishermen have been using Shimano's Curado for well over a decade now, and this year the reel gets the first major upgrade since its introduction. Named the Curado D Series, there are four new models now offered, with two more lefties to be introduced next spring.
The improvements include a fast 7:1 gear ratio, made possible with the use of larger gears that also maintain power; oversized paddle handle grips; a superlight spool that starts spinning faster; Shimano's Variable Brake System; and easy access sideplates for quick brake adjustment.
The Citica baitcasters also have been redesigned. The new models are known as the Citica D Series, and three models are available. The CI200D and 201D have 6.2:1 gearing while the CI200DPV has a more powerful 5:1 gearing, in case you're going after big swimmers. All have Shimano's Lo-Mass Drilled Spool system, which is technology-speak for a lighter spool that starts spinning faster when you begin your cast. Easily adjustable variable braking is standard, as is a recessed reel foot that lets the reel sit lower on the rod for more comfortable casting.
Both the Spirex and Solstace rear drag spinning reels have been redesigned, as well. A new oscillation gear design improves how line is laid on the spool, which not only reduces the chance of bird nests but also helps you look like a professional caster with improved accuracy and distance. Dyna-Balance reduces wobble and vibration, and QuickFire II automatically centers the casting trigger every time. Spirex and Solstace are each available in three sizes to match your choice of fishing conditions.
12. TICA (www.ticaglobal.com; 253-872-2024) — New here is the Cybernetic GG100 open-face spinning reel. Constructed of graphite and aircraft aluminum, this reel is remarkably strong, but its overall thin body design keeps weight down. Tica's Oscillating Slider System not only improves gear movement, but also insures better line spooling with each retrieve so casting is smoother.
13. ZEBCO (www.zebco.com; 918-836-5581) — Some 50 years after the introduction of the famous Zebco 33 spincast reel, the company has introduced the Zebco 33 spinning reel. Features include a precisely machined brass pinion gear, front drag, 5.2:1 gearing, and one ball bearing construction.
In spincast news, the Platinum 733 takes center stage. Filled with five stainless steel ball bearings, this is actually a medium-heavy reel that should see a lot of action. Dual ceramic pickup pins, continuous anti-reverse, and an all metal body complete the package.