Think of it as the “automatic transmission” version of a fishing rod and reel. During testing, I accidentally planted my foot directly on the guide of a rod that I’d left in the bottom of my boat—as one does—but it was unscathed. The one that impressed us the most? Also, most anglers won’t even notice the difference—I find that I don’t care one way or the other, and I’ve been fishing my whole life. Fiberglass is heavier but more flexible (“slow action”)—like a whipping stick—and nearly impossible to break. You can find reel grease in almost any outdoor-sporting store, but if you’re not confident in taking your reel apart to apply grease, having it done in-store would be worthwhile. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing if that’s what you know you want, but it’s worth noting if you’re a first-timer trying to start small. Its large spool size makes it great for surf-casting and open-water applications where extra line comes in handy, but it’s too clunky for targeting smaller fish. I’m a United States Coast Guard–certified master captain, and I have been fishing since I could walk. Nevertheless, although machined aluminum makes for a higher-quality, more durable gear, cast zinc still gets the job done and is the industry standard in reels under $300. These rods are available in the same wide range of sizes as the GX2 (for the most all-around versatility, we’d still recommend a medium to medium-heavy rod in the 6-foot-6 or 7-foot range), but they have a cork grip instead of an EVA foam grip and contain 35 percent more graphite, which makes them a bit stiffer and lighter overall. Daiwa’s original 35-year-old BG series has been a crowd favorite since its introduction but has fallen short as an all-around choice only because the roller on the bail (which guides the line from the reel to the guides on the fishing rod) was not built to handle braided line. Having fished on a budget in settings as varied and diverse as the spring brooks of the Adirondack Mountains, the brown sludge that is the Hudson River, and the emerald coastal waters of New Zealand, I can say that a careful selection of the most durable all-around tackle has been essential to me. I brought my cheapo Shimano FXS rod on several trips to test beside the others. That said, if you plan to do a lot of bait fishing from boats, buy a conventional open-faced reel with a more dependable dual drag system. DetailsTo battle monster saltwater fish, the Okuma Azores Blue Saltwater Spinning Reel is a heavy-duty and affordable option in a sleek blue color. Additionally, keeping your reel packed with grease will reduce corrosion and improve longevity. Taking the tag end of the line (or rope or wire), a friend runs away from you as fast as possible. Similarly, you could go cheaper, but then you’d give up reliability. Ultimately, I’ve had to repair the secondary (freespool) drags on the Baitrunner, which is another reason why I suggest buying a conventional setup if you’re going to fish bait. How? The ball bearings in the BG SW, for one thing, are the very same Minebea bearings that are loaded into Shimano’s Stella SW series of reels, which typically run for $800 to $1,400. I will suggest that, if you can accommodate it, a one-piece rod will almost always outperform a two- or three-piece rod. Like most fishers, I’m not able to carry, store, or afford a different rod and reel for every species of fish or method of fishing. Guide placement becomes more essential when you’re fighting trophy-sized fish, which is not something the average angler will put their gear through. Compared with the original, it includes more graphite and less fiberglass, giving the rod more of a backbone for working lures and handling heavier fish, while still keeping the soft fiberglass tip that makes it sensitive enough for detecting subtler strikes and smaller catches. This slightly larger, more expensive reel is durable and has a high drag for targeting larger fish. We also considered several high-end models to determine if paying a lot more would get you a much better product. This design might not affect other fishers as much, but I find it to be a nuisance to have to grab something so small when you’re hurrying to set the hook. That means a semisealed drag—for keeping out water, dirt, and corrosive salt spray—as well as an all-metal body. s.parentNode.insertBefore(t,s)}(window,document,'script', I fished with lures in rivers for trout and salmon, and I set 1- to 1½-pound live baits from my skiffs, catching ocean fish up to 20 pounds with each rod and reel. Shimano’s Spheros SW is among the smoothest spinning reels I’ve ever held, out of the box. When you’re shopping for a reel, among the first things you need to consider is how much drag you’ll need to handle the type of fish you hope to catch. If you were to wear Kevlar gloves, you could squeeze the spool as hard as you possibly could, and although you may not stop your friend, you’d slow their pace considerably, and your hands would remain (mostly) unharmed. Felt and cork, as you tighten the drag (or apply more resistance), will heat up and disintegrate under continuous strain, whereas carbon fiber and metal will fare far better. Shop with confidence - get free shipping to home or stores + price match guarantee! Most spinning reels have a single drag. Forty-four pounds of drag (or tension) is about as much drag as any human can handle before being yanked off their feet anyhow. The one-way clutch bearing is joined by a ratcheting anti-reverse which is molded into the bottom of the rotor for an increased diameter and larger teeth. Okuma Azores spinning reels are the result of a multi-year engineering review that achieves new levels of strength and stability. The reel's body, side-plate, and rotor are also aluminum (die-cast), and the spool has a knurled band on the arbor to prevent braid from slipping around it - a common problem on some reels. I’ve hooked into 20-pound salmon and even larger yellowtail jacks, and I’ve lent it to friends with whom I would not entrust most of my belongings—and who I’m sure didn’t bother to wash it—and it still performs flawlessly. As mentioned previously, bait-hucking fishers will want something that’s more sensitive and flexible, while lure fishers will want something stiffer (known as “fast action” in fishing jargon). Make sure you get a reel with build quality and durability comparable to those models... 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