Modern reels are engineered for performance. From lighter materials to stronger drags to the guts of a reel, manufacturers are constantly striving to improve what happens when we cast and retrieve. These new reels offer high-tech casting control, inventive drag systems, racehorse gear ratios, and downsized profiles.
Improving on the Curado platform, which is known for durability, dependability, and versatility, Shimano utilizes a microcomputer to control brake force at every moment of the cast through its digital control technology (I-DC4). The DC’s microcomputer monitors spool speed 1,000 times every second and applies the perfect amount of brake to prevent backlashes and maximize distance. An external brake adjustment offers a “max distance mode” for ultra-long casts in calmer conditions, a “braid/mono mode” for the general use of those types of lines, a “fluorocarbon mode” that excels with stiffer lines, and a “skipping mode” for challenging casts and extreme conditions. Left-hand and right-hand retrieve models are available with 6.2:1, 7.4:1 and 8.5:1 gear ratios. $249.99
Abu Garcia’s blistering new reel has a 10.1:1 gear ratio and an impressive 41 inches of line per turn. Available in right-hand and left-hand models, the REVO Rocket is made with an extended handle with oversized EVA handle knobs, 10 stainless steel HPCR bearings, and an Abu Garcia Infini brake system. The reel features an X2-Cräftic alloy frame and side plate, and it includes a power stack Carbon Matrix Drag System, an Infini II spool design, and a lube port. $299.95
Lew’s Custom Pro Speed Spin
When the bite is tough, downsized, finesse presentations on spinning tackle can be the day-savers. The new Custom Pro Speed Spin keeps big fish buttoned up with a smooth sealed carbon drag system. The aluminum body/side plate, with a flush and drain port (available in 2000-4000 models), gives this reel power when it counts, while the lightweight high-strength C60 Carbon skeletal rotor and aluminum spool keeps weight low. The 12 premium stainless steel bearings yield pro-levels of smoothness, while the Winn® Dri-Tac handle knob provides a stable, comfortable grip. $129.99
Daiwa filled an important niche by adding the smallest and lightest reel in its Tatula series. At just 6.9 ounces, this reel is perfect for all-day use without the fatigue of gripping a larger reel. The Tatula 100 boasts long, accurate casts, thanks to the T-Wing System Level Wind and the Zero Adjuster spool setting, which deliver efficient, manageable casting right out of the box. The aluminum frame provides rigidity and smooth performance, and the Soft Touch handle knobs provide gripping ease. Ideal for finesse applications, this reel is available in 6.3:1 and 7.3:1 gear ratios, with left- or right-hand designs. A hyper-speed (8.1:1) is available in right-hand crank only. $159
Last year, 13 Fishing introduced the first high-performance reel made with no ball bearings. Their CZB (Concept Zero Bearing) polymer technology is designed to deliver significantly greater casting distance than ball-bearing reels. ICAST 2018 saw the Florida-based company debut a bigger, beefier version—the Concept Z3, which has a fish-stopping 30-plus pounds of drag and large Hamai cut hardened brass H.A.M. gearing that stands up to hefty challenges. Right-hand and left-hand models eat up 33.39 inches of line per crank. $280
Tapping into the experience of Mike “Ike” Iaconelli, the legendary reel maker Abu Garcia introduced a sharp looking reel with both panache and performance. With Iaconelli’s trademark phrase “Never Give Up” printed on the outside of the gear case, the reel has an X2-Cräftic alloy frame, a C6 carbon palm side plate, an aluminum handle side plate, a Power Stack Carbon Matrix Drag System, an EverslikTM coated pinion shaft and pawl, a IVCB-6L braking system, and 10 stainless steel ball bearings plus 1 roller bearing. The design also includes a compact bent handle and star, a titanium-coated line guide, a lube port, and a round EVA knob. $249.95
With both forged and CNC-machined A6061 aluminum body and rotor, the SALTX utilizes 14 seals to fully enclose its innards for a saltwater-safe, water-tight design. The inventive reel includes a sealed hammer drag system, a digitally optimized S-Drive stainless steel face gear, 7 sealed stainless steel ball bearings, a one-piece machined handle with a round non-slip power knob, and a titanium-coated line roller. Available in 4000 and 6000 sizes with 50-pound maximum drag. $379.99
Well known for building durable, yet light, compact lever-drag reels, Accurate now offers a high-performance star drag reel. Accurate’s patent-pending TwinStarDrag ensures fish-fighting smoothness, consistency, and reliability. The TwinStar Drag has one washer on each side of the gear with friction plates, instead of a stack of washers on one side. This enables the Tern to deliver a smooth payout of drag with every click of the ergonomically designed star. This precise micro-click system also makes it quick and easy to select the exact amount of pressure needed for any given scenario. Available in 300, 400, and 500 sizes with 6:1 and 4.7:1 gear ratios. $279-$299
PENN Conflict II Long-Cast
With a jet-black finish, this affordable reel’s lightweight design makes it comfortable to handle for long days on the beach or pier. A smooth HT-100 drag offers plenty of stopping power, while the CNC Gear technology and high-quality stainless steel bearings do the internal work. The Conflict II features a 7+1 stainless steel bearing system, HT-100TM carbon fiber drag washers, and a Superline Spool with a rubber gasket that prevents superlines from slipping. Sizes 4000, 5000, 6000, 7000, and 8000 are available, all with 4.8:1 gear ratios. $199.95 – $249.95
The Zebco ROAM is ideal for pontoon boat trips, family camping trips, and kayaking excursions. Constructed with the same internal components as Zebco’s flagship 33 spincast reel, the ROAM flaunts trendy colors (bright green, orange, pink) and a cutting-edge 3D design that will look good in pictures. Three internal bearings enable long, smooth casting with tangle-free efficiency. The soft-touch handle knobs and thumb button add to the reel’s overall comfort. The ROAM combo includes a 6-foot, 2-piece rod with highly tactile grip technology that prevents slippage during casting and retrieving. $29.99 reel only, $39.99 combo.