Feb 17, 2012, 2:16 PM EDT
So what’s the difference between a Mitchell Avocet Silver II, which is currently available from Cabela’s for just $24.99 and a Shimano Stella which sells for $699.99 to $749.99 depending on size (besides roughly $700 in cost)? Tough question.
To shop smart when in the market for a new spinning reel you need to know what you are going to demand from the products you are going to buy and then select the best options that combines features/performance and years of service at price tags that fit your budget.
In some cases, the Mitchell reel is the perfect option; in others the Stella is the better choice.
There are 9 main features to consider when looking at a spinning reel:
1. Drive and Pinion gears—Cold forged gears are stronger than die-cast gears and last longer; stainless steel and aircraft-grade aluminum are better than plastic or “pot” metal. With pinion gears, brass is good, bronze is better.
2. Reel Frame–Top models are made of magnesium (because it’s light and strong, resisting reel flex that put gears out of alignment), while lower end models feaure graphite.
3, Oscillation—there are several means of laying lines on the spool during the retrieve.The best lay the line at varying angles so the line doesn’t bury itself in the spool.
4. Anti-Reverse–Consider instant anti-reverse a requirement versus a ratchet system or single stopping point. Try jigging with either of these and you’ll know why.
5. Counter Balance Rotors–Pick up and spinning reel and spin the handle quickly. If the reel wobbles as the bail is spinning, the reel has not been properly counter balanced. Consider other reel options if possible.
6. Reel Spools–The better models feature titanium-lipped aluminum spools, while lower end models feature inexpensive graphite.
7. Line Rollers–Low end models often use chrome-plated brass; stainless steel rollers are better, and titanium is a step above stainless.
8. Ball Bearings—A spinning reel really only needs four ball bearings to perform well (I like having one run the line roller), but companies add ball bearings for marketing purposes. There is a point of dimishing returns in terms of weight/cost and actual benefit. Bearings do last longer than bushings.
9. Drag—Front drags offer more drag surface area than rear drag offerings, giving anglers better performance on average. A good drag (smooth starting and consistent tension) does improve your odds of landing big fish, so pay attention to drag when looking for a spinning reel.
This past year I have fished several models of spinning reels in both the Abu Garcia and Plueger lines. The Plueger President XT, at $79.99 (Cabela’s price) represents a solid value, and if you enjoy fishing top-of the line-equipment, the Plueger Patriarch, at $199.99, was truly impressive. —Steve
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