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Buyer's guide: Free-spool reels

The best free-spool reels for under £100
The best free-spool reels for under £100 (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

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Testing some of the best free-spool reels for under £100...

Maver C125 Inspiration 6000

Comes with two aluminium spools with a capacity of approx 200 m of 0.35 mm mono, plus an instant anti-reverse system. It weighs in at 17 oz. Boasts 9+1 bearings, a gear ratio of 4.9:1 and large comfortable grip handle, although this doesn’t create the most balanced feel. Drag is set by a front dial, and the free-spool rear sited lever offers a range of tension settings across a pleasing two turns of the control. The plastic line clip did damage my line though and the silver cosmetics won’t appeal to everyone.

SCORE: 24/30

Maver C125 Inspiration 6000

Maver C125 Inspiration 6000 (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

Quantum Radical Heat V1050

Weighing in at 17 oz this single-handed reel comes with two long cast aluminium spools with a capacity of 160 m of 0.35 mm mono. The multi-disc front drag adjusts through 3 turns. The free-spool, selected by the usual lever on the rear of the body, offers a range of tension settings adjusted via 3.5 turns of the rear control. But it is limited, especially on the heavier tension settings. Featuring 10 bearings and a gear ratio of 5.5:1, it comes with a continuous silent anti-reverse system. I feel it lacks balance and the plastic sprung loaded line clip causes slight line damage.

SCORE: 24/30

Quantum Radical Heat V1050

Quantum Radical Heat V1050 (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

Cormoran Pro Carp BR-XL 10 PiF 5000

Weighing in at 16 oz, the grey coloured body and silver aluminium spool is cosmetically pleasing. Front drag operates through 3.5 turns to provide a smooth clutch. The spool takes 160 m of 0.35 mm mono. Spare spool supplied. The free-spool switch is tight and adjusts using a comfortable rear control knob, with 2.75 turns of adjustment. But it’s limited, especially on high tension settings. Single handle with comfortable grip, 9 ball bearings, 5.5:1 gear ratio, silent anti-reverse and oversized ‘anti-twist’ line roller, however the metal sprung loaded line clip produce’s slight line damage.

SCORE: 25/30

Cormoran Pro Carp BR-XL 10 PiF 5000

Cormoran Pro Carp BR-XL 10 PiF 5000 (Image credit: Angler's Mail)

Abu Cardinal 57FS

Solid and robust with 12 bearings and a gear ratio of 4.8:1, this reel has a balanced feel and comes with two aluminium spools capable of carrying 300 m of 0.35 mm mono. It’s slow oscillation creates perfect line lay. It takes 3 turns to adjust the carbon matrix front drag through its settings. Weight is 23 oz. Free-spool is selected with the rear switch set in the back position, which takes some getting used to. Free-spool tension via a rear control knob adjusts through 3 turns. Large single handle and smart cosmetics but again the plastic line clip causes too much line damage for my liking and burrs around its recess creates concern. This is a big reel, one of the smaller sizes may be more suitable.

SCORE: 26/30

(Image credit: Angler's Mail)

Korum KXi 50

Appealing understated graphics and supplied with a spare aluminium spool with a line capacity of 160m of 0.35 mm mono. Front drag adjusts through 3 turns. The free-spool is the rear switch type, and adjusts through 3.25 turns via a soft touch rear control knob. Line clip is ‘line-friendly’ creating minimal damage but line tends to spring out on force creating concerns on reliability. The double-handle, anti-vibration system and 8+1 bearing produces a balanced smooth feel and anti-twist line roller ensures good line lay. Gear ratio is 5.5:1. Weight is 17 oz.

SCORE: 27/30

(Image credit: Angler's Mail)

Okuma Epix V2 Baitfeeder 55

Fashionable lightweight grey body and silver spool single handle reel, weighing in at 17 oz. The aluminium spool, unfortunately no spare supplied, has a capacity of 260 m of 0.35 mm mono and is a push-button release design. The front drag is adjusted through too many turns for my liking. The free-spool is operated using a rear mounted lever, and is tensioned via a rear control and adjusts from locked up to very light through just two turns. The plastic line clip is as good as any tested and the 5 bearings, 4.5:1 gear ratio creates a smooth balanced feel.

SCORE: 28/30

(Image credit: Angler's Mail)

Best Buy
Shimano Baitrunner DL 10000 RA

Stunning midnight blue body and gunmetal grey spool. It weighs in at 21 oz. Aluminium spool is released using a push button. It comes with a rear drag, the Baitrunner is operated using the standard rear mounted lever. Free-spool tension being adjusted via a dial set, just in front of the rear drag. Spool can be locked up tight or set extremely light. Full adjustment achieved through a pleasing two turns. It’s supplied with two spools capable of taking 350 m of 0.35 mm mono. Also featuring a double-handle, 4 ball bearings, silent anti- reverse system and oversized power roller for perfect line lay. Well-built and made to last!

SCORE: 29/30

NOTE: All products tested November 2010. 

(Image credit: Angler's Mail)