Update Radical Reels Curmudgeon Tests

My report on the two new “Radical Reels” column in the August issue of Outdoor Life promised my “curmudgeon test” report after some intense on-the-water use of the products. Those two reels include Doug Hannon’s Wave Caster, and US Reel’s SuperCaster 240SX.

The circumference of the Wave Caster’s spool lip features little teeth that remind me of a miniature skill saw; their purpose is to eliminate line loops on the spool and following problem of birds nests when you make the next power cast—when line just balloons off the reel into the first guide.

The SuperCaster 240SX is a compact, small frame model with an extra-large spool diameter that is advertised as both cutting down on tight-coil line memory that comes from very small spools, and thus increased cast distance. Much was made of the well-tuned drag system as well.

So far I’ve used both reels in both freshwater (for small and largemouth bass) and in an inshore saltwater environment on smaller striped bass and bluefish. I’ve done my regular cleaning routine after saltwater use so only more time will tell if there’ll be any long-term corrosion issues here. Both reels are said to be able to handle the marine environment no sweat.

WaveCaster

1Besides my own use, I was able to put the Hannon WaveCaster into the hands of some pretty vile casters who’ve in the past frequently reduced my spin reels to an inoperative state—usually during a hot bite—from the old loop/birds nest problem. That’s always caused by slack line being cranked onto the spool. A loop instantly develops followed by more line being wound over it. I’m happy to report that WaveCast truly does do what it’s supposed to. Oh, occasionally some loops formed but they did not produce birdsnests on the cast. And on the subsequent crank-in, they were gone.

Nor did those skill-saw teeth on the spool lip prove uncomfortable (they’re smoothed) when you feather or stop the line outflow at cast’s end by touching the lip with your forefinger. You do feather your cast for accuracy or prevention of slack, don’t you? Well, a lot of casual anglers do not, which helps lead to that above-mentioned slack, and this reel simply eliminates an ensuing problem. I’ve used both braid line and monofilament on the reel with equally good results.

The drag is quite smooth, too, and can be cranked down to very heavy setting that will bring murmurings of joy from ardent largemouth bass fishermen. The round, ported knob on the crank handle has produced raves and retches from anglers. Obviously it’s different from the usual paddle or flattened knob on most reels. You’ll either love it or hate it. In use, it revolves so easily the feeling is of the entire handle nearly floating in your hand. Personally, I like it a lot. If you don’t you can change the thing out.

A second-generation model is out now. It has a spectacular new feature for changing line. By removing the front spool drag nut, the lip of the spool screws off. Now you can strip off all the old line in one wad in seconds with your hand. The new real has increased drag and the gear case is totally sealed against saltwater. There’s a removable plug and lube port for maintenance.

The reel comes in a nice neoprene case. There’s a stretchable line protector cover for use when storing the reel. This is a very cool, sports-car-looking piece of gear that, with its generous 10 bearings, runs silky smooth. There was a change from the contact in our August issue. The new website is
www.wavecast-reel.com. You can buy direct.

SuperCaster 240SX

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What seems to first impress everyone is this reel’s sensation of lightness when matched to an appropriate rod. True, the physical weight is light when compared to any reel with similar line capacity, but it also comes from the compact—call it “squatty” design of the unit. High line capacity reels— especially with really long front spools hanging out in front of your hand—can result in more fatigue after an entire day of hard casting. If you don’t need to spool on all the line the reel is capable of holding, you can save money by using the included snap-on arbor. That reduces a capacity of 254 yards of 12-pound mono to 168 yards.

As I mentioned in OL, the spool diameters on the SuperCaster family are larger than normally found on reels of such small frames. This makes for an all–around comfortable situation in several areas. First, the line comes off the spool quickly and easily during the cast—you definitely do need to use your first finger to stop line outflow for precision casting. I found the reel makes flipping and pitching techniques a breeze—especially using light finesse rigs.

Big spool diameters help cut down on line memory using stiffer monofilaments. That’s not a problem with braid lines but the shortened, wide diameter spool on this reel has an advantage when using braid. With long spools, especially of smaller diameter, the top braid coils can sometime catch under coils on the way out during the cast, either shortening distance or pulling off loops. The SuperCaster seems to eliminate the problem both for me and others who’ve used it on my boat. Because I tend to jam a lot of rigged rod/reels into my tight rod lockers, I’ve found that the wide spool with its attendant rotor and bail tend to take some jiggling and finessing to nest in with a bunch of other outfits. Also, I wish there was a somewhat larger knob on the crank handle.

The reel’s drag system is excellent. As mentioned it was designed with input from an engineer who has had extensive experience testing reel drags from all manufacturers. There’s no problem really cranking the drag down to yank-‘em-out settings, but when targeting fish that really run, the lighter settings allow silky performance; no jerks and starts which can pop lighter string.

There’s a yet larger model promised for the coming year aimed at jetty and surf anglers and for bigger game from boats. This could quell the sometimes dubious reactions from beach anglers used to the Humvee muscle look of the heavier, large-capacity reels they normally use casting big artificials and bait. The 240SX appears to be a more finesse-oriented reel, but thus far it’s handling heavy-duty freshwater work as well as inshore species, and with the great drag should prove great fun with fish that tend to be long-distance runners. www.usreels.com