Tackle Test 2015: The Best Spinning and Baitcasting Reels
We put the latest fishing gear to the test so you don't have to
Pflueger Patriarch XT Spinning Reel
$250 / pfluegerfishing.com
Weighing 6.1 ounces, the Pflueger Patriarch choice XT is billed as the lightest spinning reel on the market. That claim can be attributed to the use of magnesium and carbon parts (instead of aluminum) and extensive CNC machining to lighten non-ferrous components.
The reel’s low weight is great, but it was the Patriarch’s on-the-water performance that turned heads. Rotating on 10 shielded bearings, the XT has an incredibly fluid retrieve. A sealed drag impedes the intrusion of water and grime, virtually eliminating the chance of fade. A solid titanium main shaft provides ample backbone for a driveline that will stand up to any fish.
Saltwater is the kryptonite of magnesium reels; however, the Patriarch’s sealed finish keeps its corrosive effects at bay and makes the reel as capable inshore as it is in freshwater.
Lew’s Tournament Pro TP300HP Spinning Reel
$100 / lews.com
The TP300HP packs plenty of high-end buy features into a cost-conscious package. For starters, the chassis is made of high-strength C40 carbon, which provides a flex-free platform. A skeletal graphite rotor mitigates the weight typically associated with large-spool reels.
A sealed main body—a feature typically found only on high-priced reels—keeps undesirable stuff out of the gearing, and a threaded lube port lets the user keep the guts greased and turning smoothly.
A large titanium roller and hollow stainless bail wire manage line chores neatly. Internally, a machined solid-brass pinion gear and a stainless-steel main shaft combine for potent 6.1:1 cranking power on a 10-bearing system. A beefy carbon-Teflon multi-disc drag handles stubborn fish without much effort.
Duckett Fishing 360 Series Baitcasting Reel
$249 / duckettfishing.com
Conventional manufacturing wisdom dictates choice that great reels aren’t born—they’re bred. It’s supposed to take years of trial and error to produce a quality piece. Contrary to this thinking, rod maker Duckett Fishing has struck gold with its first attempt at a reel.
It could be argued the 360 is underpriced, as it has the accoutrements of the most expensive casting reels, and clad in bright-white gloss and candy-red anodizing, it looks as good as it performs. The one-piece die-cast machined frame is rock-solid, and the carbon-composite sideplates reduce weight and tuck nicely into the palm.
Eleven ball bearings and a finely meshed gear train produce smooth cranking, while a capable carbon-based drag offers up to 14 pounds of resistance. Available in 5.3:1, 6.3:1, and 7.1:1 retrieves, there’s a 360 for any assignment.
Shimano Curado 200I Baitcasting Reel
$180 / fish.shimano.com
Given the Curado’s great reputation as the gold buy standard of affordably priced, bulletproof baitcasters, it’s likely that there are more of these reels in bass boat rod lock- ers than any other make. And the latest iteration, the 200I, should continue that legacy.
The Curado gets its iconic smoothness from dual bearings that support the pinion and main gear, keeping everything aligned and turning in perfect concert. A three-level cast-control system lets the user dial up the ideal setting for long casts, while an external control on the lower side of the palming plate monitors casting tension, allowing for adjustment while holding the reel. Beyond its impressive mechanical performance, the Curado 200I is an ergonomic dream, with a profile that nestles neatly in the hand for stress-free fishing.
WE TESTED 12 ADDITIONAL REELS THIS YEAR
Daiwa Ballistic EX
Wright & Mcgill Skeet Reese Victory Pro Carbon Spinning Reel
**Value 7.4 Overall 71.6
Quantum Smoke Speed Freak Spinning Reel
Value 6 Overall 65.2
Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier Spinning Reel
Value 8.4 Overall 64
13 Fishing Concept E Baitcasting Reel
Value 7 Overall 84.6
Daiwa Aird Baitcasting Reel
Value 8.4 Overall 75.1
Bass Pro Shops Carbonlite Baitcasting Reels
Value 7.8 Overall 72.4
Wright & Mcgill Skeet Reese Victory Pro Carbon Baitcasting Reel
Value 7 Overall 69.2
Okuma Cerros Baitcasting Reel
Value 7.8 Overall 68
Lew’s Lite Speed Spool LFS Baitcasting Reel
Value 6.4 Overall 67.2
Cabela’s Verano Baitcasting Reel
Value 7.2 Overall 66.6
Abu Garcia Revo Beast Baitcasting Reel
Value 5.6 Overall 66.2