It’s been quite some time since I’ve slashed out on new fishing reels, and some recent technical problems made me decide the time was right for some replacements / upgrades.
Firstly, I’m fishing almost exclusively with braided lines these days – such low diameter lines allow you to fish much smaller, lighter reels, but still have good line capacity for big fish. In addition, modern high-end reels are designed for braid and have high drag capacity to boot. In short, you can fish for big fish with small reels.
Secondly, I’m doing more lure fishing, and smaller and lighter makes for less angler stress. You can cast further, fish longer and have greater feel of the lure with braided line.
Finally, some of my older reels have been experiencing various technical problems. So, I decided to take the plunge and ended up purchasing a multiplier and 3 new spinning reels, as follows:
Daiwa Saltist-LW 40HA – I bought a 40A model about 4 years ago and it’s been a great reel for sailfish fishing. It’s small, light and has just about enough drag for fishing 30lb braid. I decided to buy a second model to replace a Penn 320 LW reel that I’ve had since my early Oman days. (The Penn is a decent reel, but the ratchet is badly worn when a fish takes line, making it vulnerable to backlash e.g. when a sailfish first takes the bait in free spool mode. I think at least one ratchet cog tooth broke off, and this happened when the reel was relatively new. I’ve had a few good fish on this reel, including sailfish and yellowfin tuna, but it has not proved to be very robust and its design is dated). I’ve already fished with the 40HA and it’s already accounted for at least 5 sailfish!
Shimano Twin-Power SW6000PG – On my last trip to Rompin, I was popping for sailfish using a Pennn Spinfisher 7500ss. I’d over-filled the spool, but also the line laying on this reel is not very good, and I spent hours cutting out wind knots and re-tying the mono leader. It drove me nuts. I decided to upgrade to a smaller, lighter, braid designed reel to use as my light popping outfit (with 30lb braid). I can’t wait to try this reel, but it does look surprisingly small and frail compared to the Penn Spinfishers!!
Shimano Baitrunner 6000D – This one is a bit of an experiment. I’ve acquired this to cast live-baits to prowling sailfish (using 20lb braid). I’m keen to try out the bait-runner facility (essentially a second, very light drag system for, in essence, free-spooling live baits) – it should be perfect for dropping back to sailfish. I’ll use this to replace my old Penn Spinfisher 6500ss (this Penn is an excellent, robust, no nonsense reel, but it is dated, and the lack of infinite anti-reverse makes it clunky when pumping big fish. I’ll keep using this reel for freshwater catfish).
Shimano Biomaster SW5000XP – I’ve been light tackle fishing with a pair of Shimano Ultegras (5000 & 6000) the past 6 years, and they have been excellent, accounting for queenfish, dorado, a sailfish and a bunch of large pacu and catfish (including a 30kg Mekong cat!). I’ve got two issues with using them in saltwater though (they are, essentially, freshwater designs) – the first is that the folding handle is not strong enough when retrieving lipped lures and keeps folding inwards on the retrieve; the second is that the drag ratchet has snapped off (0n the 6000) leaving the reel silent when a fish is running (this is the only breakage I’ve had with any of my collection of Japanese reels). So, I wanted a reel the same size as my Ultegras, but with a saltwater design – and bingo, I saw the new Biomaster in the tackle shop last week and decided to buy. I’ve spooled it with c.250m of 20lb power pro braid. Hopefully, I’ll get to give the reel a good burn fishing out of Port Dickson tomorrow!
I think I now, finally, have a range of conventional modern reels to cover all of my current fishing scenarios. I don’t think I’ll be adding to my collection in the foreseeable future! My mission now is to use these toys to destruction!