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Old 06-23-2008, 12:35 PM
plland plland is offline
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Default Re: The Finest Reels you can Ill Afford NOT to buy

I got a Reel 101 a few months ago and have had some time to test it. Here's what I think: it looks great and feels great, and is a great value but doesn't perform as well as I'd like it to.

The reel itself is extremely well machined and looks good. At 4 ounces, it's lighter than almost all the mid range and entry level large arbor reels, and plenty light enough to balance ultralight rods (4 oz listed weight, that is.. I really need to start weighing these things myself, I know, I know...). The clicker engages only when paying line out. On retrieve, I can spin the spool and it will turn several times before stopping. Literally no friction on the retrieve. Ideally, this means that when I get a big fish on, and I've got a mile of coiled line at my feet, I can just hit the spool a couple times, and let it take up some line automatically. In practice it doesn't work out completely. Like any large arbor, you have to be mindful that your line doesn't bunch up on the spool. However, the easy spinning retrieve does help. Did I mention the price? For less than $70, this is a great deal for a large arbor machined reel for 3-4 weight lines with disc drag that weighs only 4 ounces.

There's only one negative, and that's the drag. It simply isn't very smooth. Yes it's fully adjustable with a central knob, yes it has a clicker and yes it's fully sealed so no sand or grit will get into it while you are fishing. Those are all good things. However, when I pull line out of the reel manually to feel the drag myself, there's a certain subtle but distinct unevenness in the amount of force applied by the drag as the spool spins around. At the heavier settings, the drag will even stop the line in mid pull until the spool turns a fraction of a turn more. Although it seems a little more even than this at the lighter settings, at some point, it's actually smoother to palm the spool to put even drag on it and that's not a good thing. I tried taking the reel apart to perhaps replace the drag disc with something better (I like the mechanics of this reel so much I really want it to have a decent drag), but was unable to get it open. So much for an inexpensive reel that does it all.

If you want a lightweight, well machined, large arbor reel with a so-so disc drag, this is a good bet. If you want all those qualities, but a silky smooth disc drag, look at Orvis, Lamson, Ross or other premium reel makers.
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