NOTE: All products tested May 2011. All prices correct at the time of going to Press. Angler’s Mail do not take responsibility for price or product changes or current availability.
Trabucco Supercast XT9
This reel comes with two very wide and nice shallow spools. It should be superb for long casts with either heavy float or leger tackle. Sadly, the drag washer was distorted and the handle would not tighten, thus devaluing a potential cracker.
No sign of handle drop-back with the anti-reverse on. The bail arm is a strong hollow type and the roller is plenty big enough to make playing fish a dream. Supplied with a deep spool as well as the shallow version, which will take 150 m of 8 lb line. Single handle with a neat and soft grip helps with balance. Nine ball bearings keep it SCORE: 24/30
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Okuma Triton Rear Drag TTR30M
The Triton is well priced, but feels like it may not last through years of hard use. A handle with four locking pins to secure it feels good, but the rest of the body does not feel quite so robust. The rear drag feels good, if not as precise as others here, and the very wide bail arm roller will help when playing fish. Both the supplied spools take 100 m of 6 lb line on narrow spools. Infinite anti-reverse works well but makes the reel rather stiff compared to when the anti-reverse is switched off. A nice, soft rubber grip on the handle adds a touch of class to an otherwise unremarkable reel.
Daiwa Harrier 2553 Match
Sharing some features with Daiwa’s top-of-the-range reels, the Harrier looks good for the money. Rear drag works well with a Twistbuster bail arm roller to keep fish moving quickly. The two supplied spools take 120 m of 4 lb and 130 m of
8 lb, but seem a little narrow for long casting jobs. The one-touch handle is not as positive as others in the test and the handle grip feels quite hard and slippery. Hollow bail helps to stop drop-back and looks very sturdy. Not the lightest at just over 11 oz, but feels well balanced and runs very smoothly on the retrieve.
Abu Garcia Cardinal 204i Match
Two shallow spool taking 150 m of 4 lb line, plus one deeper model for 150 m of 12 lb make this reel quite versatile. The double-handle suggests legering is the strong point. The bail arm is very sturdy with a very wide roller and the whole ensemble balances very well with no drop-back. At 11 oz, this is quite a heavy reel, again suggesting it is better sat on a rest. Feels very positive due to five bearings, and will work well for bigger fish and more extreme commercial situations. Front drag works very well and is easy to adjust accurately.
Shimano Exage 3000SFC
Despite only having five ball bearings, the Exage feels like the best made of all the reels on test. The gearing will undoubtedly do the job for many years to come.
The spools are a bit on the narrow side and the front drag, though working very well, is not so easy to adjust accurately. The large handle grip is easy to hold, but makes the handle drop back a lot when on anti-reverse. Supplied with a spare spool, the spools take 120 m of 8 lb line, making this more suitable to legering tasks. Bail arm is thin wire, but with a decent sized roller, and operates well.
Fishzone Blackjack HS40M
The Blackjack is a cracker of a reel and would make a superb choice for most commercial legering tasks. The double handle balances nicely and works with the tough hollow bail arm, big roller and wide spool to make cranking fish a dream.
Two spools can take 150 m of 6 lb or 150 m of
12 lb line to suit all-round work or bigger fish.
Positive clicks of the front drag allow small adjustments to be made easily. A matt black finish helps this reel to stand out, but the performance is worthy of inclusion in the line up. Feels the heaviest reel on test, so definitely one for the rod rest.
The Mach 2XT makes a superb package, coming as it does with both a single and double handle, two spare spools and a cloth bag. Feels smooth due to seven bearings, but the single handle drops a long way when setting a quivertip. Swapping to the double-handle is essential for legering or precise float fishing. The bail arm looks very strong, but the roller is quite small, meaning fish will need to be pumped in. Drag is smooth but not easy to micro-adjust due to an absence of audible clicks. Spools are quite wide and will take more than the claimed 100 m of 3 lb line, probably more like 100 m of 6 lb.
Drennan Series 7 Floatfish
Coming with three spools and handy push-on tabs to keep track of which spool is loaded with which line, the Series 7 is a real bargain. Eight ball bearings and a wide bail roller keep things moving smoothly. The easy fold handle works very positively but does drop back slightly. The spools will take 100 m of lines from 2-6 lb, the alloy spool is for those who need heavier lines. Nice touches include the deeper groove in the spool to stop tag ends of a knot sticking through the line when loaded.
Would benefit from a wider spool and hollow bail arm, but then you can’t ask for more at this price. The rear drag works well, if not quite as sensitive as a front version.
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