Four Great Smallie Reels in 2014

19. September 2014

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Four Great Smallie Reels in 2014

I haven’t included as many reels in this year’s reel review.  However, the two higher-priced and two lower-priced reels are absolute winners for the type of smallmouth bass fishing I do, and maybe you do.  I feel I’ve given them a workout at the time of writing this article.  I’ve logged over 50 days on [...]

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14. October 2013

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Another Great Crop of Smallie Reels for 2013

There are two wonderful benefits from doing these reel review articles over the past 11 years. One, of course, is sharing with all of you information on some great smallie reels you should consider when looking to upgrade your current reels. And, I “get” to fish some outstanding reels each year that fit my style [...]

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Six Great Reels for 2010

10. September 2010


Six Great Reels for 2010

Again, spring, and now summer, have gone “way” too fast. Fortunately, as of August 1st, I’ve been on the water fishing all or part of over 30+ days and had my best year ever on Green Bay of Lake Michigan chasing those big smallies in clear water. The past few months I’ve fished the four [...]

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Gear Review 2013

Mon, Jul 15, 2013

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By Bill Schultz

I’m picky and try to always use the best products for whatever type of fishing I’m doing. “Best” doesn’t always mean most expensive. I have a few products I’m going to give you my “quick” thoughts about in this article. As always, I hope the article is helpful and you find a product or two, or three. Hopefully it will help you whether in your boat, kayak, wading or just sitting on the shore. Let’s get off on the “right” foot with this article and start with a couple quite different, but great water shoes.

SperryTop-Sider SON-R Sounder Shandal

I spotted the Sperry SON-R Shandal at Canoecopia 2012 and it looked like the perfect kayak shoe. I wore it during most of my outings last year and it truly is a great kayak shoe. The outsole features metatarsal pods for improved sensory “feel” no matter the surface I was on. The hydro-grip rubber provides excellent traction and stability pulling a kayak over slippery rocks or transporting it from car to water. Also, the outsole is thick to protect when stepping on sharp rocks, flexible and has a great toecap for even more protection. Once out of the water, the internal drainage takes care of excess water. The breathable hydrophobic mess dries quickly, is cool on hot days, and has an anti-microbial lining to minimize odor. You should take a look at this outstanding, state-of-the-art, water shoe for your kayak activities. Even though designed for water, the SON-R is very versatile and is great for a variety of casual outdoor activities. – $90

Keen Newport H2


My wife has been a huge fan of the Keen hiking shoes for quite a few years and encouraged me to give them a try. I did, and also find the hiking shoes tremendously comfortable and supportive. With that in mind, I wanted to give their Newport H2 a try for my kayak fishing and boat fishing. I have the Newport H2 in black, as does my wife, and we both love the look. The cushion and comfort of the sole is truly remarkable. The H2 goes from water to trail with ease, which I’ve done a number of times. I like the open design, which facilitates flushing sand from between my foot and the shoe easily once in my kayak. As comfortable as this shoe is, I’ve worn for a variety of other activities and even where with socks at times. The Keen H2 is an excellent all-around sandal that you won’t be disappointed in. – $100

Coyote Eyewear Polarized Bifocal Readers


I wear bifocals or use readers. I also fish clear or mostly clear waters, so polarized sunglasses are essential in spotting structure and fish. The Coyote USA Polarized Readers are one of the best items I’ve used in recent years. Since first putting a pair on, I can count close to 250 days on the water with them. The Coyote readers feature impact resistant, class one, polycarbonate polarized lenses that are non-glare, come in gray or brown and bi-focal power of +1.5, +2.0 or +2.5. I no longer waste time taking sunglasses off and finding my readers when unhooking a fish or changing a lure. If you need readers, the Coyote Polarized Readers are a must have tool for your fishing, and all your sunglass needs. If you don’t need readers, check out all the Coyote polarized styles. – $80

Frabill Power Stow Nets

frabillnetI don’t always use a net, but when I do it’s always been a Frabill. I’m now using the impressive Power Stow Nets for both my kayak and boat fishing. For kayak fishing I use the Power Stow 3704. This net is a perfect kayak net with a hoop size of 14’ by 18” and 14” depth. The handle is 22”, so the entire net is 40” and fits perfectly in a flush rod mount behind the seat, in a rod tube on your crate or on the floor of your kayak. The Power Stow is lightweight, and important for kayak fishing, folds to 8” by 26” when not in use. If you’re chasing bigger critters, the 3706 has a 20” by 24” hoop and 21” depth. This version has a 36” handle and folds to 10” by 39”. After years of using Frabill nets, I trust the quality of their nets. $44.99-$54.99

“Original” BogaGrip 15 Pound Gripper-Style Scale


OK, we all know fishermen are known for adding a little length and weight the big one. Me, I have a pension for accuracy. Back in the late 90’s I caught a smallmouth bass that measured 19 7/8 inches and I never said I caught a 20 incher, until I actually did. That being said, over the years I’ve always tested my digital scales for accuracy. There are some very nice gripper style digital scales out there, but I’d heard about the accuracy and toughness of the “Original” BogaGrip and needed to get one, which I did a couple years ago. I have the BogaGrip 15 Pound gripper style scale and feel totally comfortable with the weight I’m seeing for those big smallies I like to catch. In fact, if you catch a monster, you can send you BogaGrip to the IGFA to have it certified as a world-record. BogaGrips have over 2,400 IGFA world records to their credit. This great, and very accurate, scale is made of stainless steel and high-performance black acetal thermoplastic. These tough and resilient materials makes the BogaGrip very strong and resistant to conditions encountered while fishing in fresh or saltwater. I like the fact that the 15 pounder is very compact and like the fact, that unlike other gripper scales, the weight of the fish causes the prongs to shut even tighter. The swivel motion eliminates torque from a spinning fish and the importantly the shock absorber dampens a fish’s attempt to get free. Check out a dealer from the web site at $124.95

Lines I Love!


In recent years, all I can say about some of the new lines is, Wow! I’m picky and demand a great deal from the lines I use. I’m typically fishing with reels that are rated for 100 to 135 yards of 6# mono line. For my smallie fishing, to get extra- long casts, I’m using braid/superline that has an equivalent to mono diameter of 2 or 3 pounds. When I spool the lines I use a mono backing, which allows me to put less of the more expensive braid/superline on the reel. I am using an 8 to 10 pound fluorocarbon leader because I mostly fish waters that are reasonably to super clear. All the lines I’m discussing handle the fluorocarbon leader perfectly using a uni to uni knot. As we get older, our eyesight isn’t quite as good, so I also want a line that I can see. I also want lines that are very easy to work with. I’d like to recommend four lines that I’ve put many hours on and have had great luck with.

Power Pro Super 8 Slick

This is a super smooth and extremely quiet line that casts forever. Unlike regular Power Pro, that has a slightly rough reel that makes noise coming through the guides, this line is made from 8 yarn Spectra, rather than 4. It is dental floss smooth, which enhances casting distance and just as strong as regular Power Pro, coming in 10 to 80 pound test. I’ve been using the 10 pound test, two pound equivalent diameter and especially love it in the Hi-Vis Yellow, but have also used it in Aqua Green, which, for me, is a little less visible. You’ll love this line! – $19.99 for 150 yd. spool

Daiwa Samurai

This too is made from more strands of Spectra fiber and also is phenomenally smooth with an extra small diameter to pound test. I’ve been using Samurai for three years and love this line. The 15 pound test I’ve been using in Hi-Vis Yellow has an equivalent to mono diameter of 2.5 pounds. Samurai is a little more expensive than the other lines due to the fact that it is manufactured in Japan. I have nothing but positive things to say about Daiwa Samurai! – $27.95-$44.95 (higher pound test, less cost)

Berkley Nanofil

Here’s a line that has created a good deal of buzz over the past two years, and for good reason. I’ve been using the 8 and 10 pound test since early in 2011. In talking to the Berkley PR firm, I wondered if I was the first guy to catch a 6 pound smallie with the 8 pound. Who knows, but maybe? The Nanofil I use is Clear Mist, which makes it easy to see. It also comes in hi-vis chartreuse and low-vis green. It is made of gel-spun polyethylenel. Much like superline, this ultimate spinning reel fishing line consists of hundreds of Dyneema nano filaments. I am told that Dyneema is the world’s strongest fiber. I can’t argue with the casting distance and the sensitivity is really something. It has an extra slick feel and using the Polymer note, as I do, was told to make one more loop before tightening, which has work great for me. Give Nanofil a try and you’ll be just as please as I am. – $19.95 150 yd. spool

Berkley Tracer Braid

This is a traditional braid that is possibly a little smoother than others. But, what I really like about Tracer Braid is the alternating high-vis and low-vis colors. These are each 2.5’ and make this line extremely easy to see. I have been using both the 8/2 and 10/3 with nothing but great things to say. For those of you who like traditional braids, that you can “see”, you’ll love Berkley Tracer Braid! – $17.99 for 110 yd. spool

RAM Mounting Systems and in particular the camera mount

When rigging a boat or kayak, is there anything better for electronics, trolling motor support or even cameras than the products in the RAM line-up? The answer is “no”. On my Crestliner 1750 Fish Hawk my dashboard and bow locators are both on RAM Mounts and when I’m running on the water, my 60” shaft Minkotta iPilot is secured with a RAM Mount. I fish alone most of the time, which makes it tough to get video and pictures. Well, a couple of years ago I got the RAM Camera Mount with suction base and was off to the races. First, the camera base screws into any camera just like a tripod base would. And, the remarkable thing is I can affix this to my windshield with the suction mount. I’m ready for video and still photos. I know that your question is does the suction give out and come off? The answer is a resounding “no”. In May and June I’m on the big waters of Lake Michigan in Door County, Wisconsin and have made runs over very rough water with the mount affixed to my windshield. No problem. Great product line top to bottom! – $39.00

YakAttack PanFish and PanFish Portrait Camera Poles


I told you how I handle those photos and videos when I’m alone in my boat. But, what about all that kayak fishing I do, and again, alone. Picture and video problem solved with the YakAttack PanFish and PanFish Potrait Camera Poles. The Portrait is 6” tall and takes the RAM Camera Mount. It is designed for mounting with the YakAttack GearTrac or kayak mounting systems, like the Wilderness Systems Side Trax System. It’s designed for mounting in front of the paddler and is low-profile to be out of the way during the fight, but handy for the trophy photo or reverse angle videos. The PanFish Camera Pole is 28” is also designed to fit the GearTrac or other kayak track systems. This longer pole is designed for over-the-shoulder video with lightweight cameras. The picture of my kayak has the Kodak Play Sport attached. The PanFish features a split mast design with adjustable friction disks that allow quick and easy horizontal planning and works great with the RAM Camera Mount. Both these products are outstanding and take care of those of us who want photos and video, but are out alone most of the time. Hey, wouldn’t it be nice if we all had our own photographer? The PanFish and PanFish Portrait are much more reasonable. – PanFish, $44-$65, PanFish Portrait, $35-$55 (more with RAM Camera Mount and Mounting Hardware)

Harken Hoister


I have a good sized garage, but, like most garages, it gets crowed very easily. So, any space savings is a huge bonus. Last fall I installed the Harken Hoister, putting one of my Wilderness Systems Tarpon 160 kayaks out of the way with a system that lifts it to the rafters. And, the bonus is, how easily I can lower it to my Malone MicroSport Trailer or Malone Car Racks on my Subaru Outback. Harken’s World Headquarters are on the way to one of my favorite kayak fishing lakes west of Milwaukee. Known for world-class sailing hardware, the Hoister is a great product for any kayaker. It’s designed for one-person operation, and raises and lowers with a single control rope. A patented design lifts and lowers evenly, regardless of weight distribution. The self-locking safety cleat grips instantly if the rope accidentally released. And, as you’d expect from Harken, the hardware is stainless steel, with double core rope for strength, durability and long life. I followed the directions to the letter and it was really quite easy to install, and once installed, it was obvious I needed this great product. I will be installing a second very soon. – $109.95 – $159.95, depending on length and weight of kayak

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“Re-engineered” St. Croix Legend Tournament Rod Series

Tue, Sep 11, 2012

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“Re-engineered” St. Croix Legend Tournament Rod Series

I’m not on any Pro Staffs for the reels that I review, but I need to give the disclaimer that I have been on the St. Croix Pro Staff for 14 years. I know many of you probably love using St. Croix rods and I can tell you those of us from Wisconsin love that St. Croix calls “up north” Wisconsin home.

I consider myself fortunate to have been fishing with St. Croix rods for years and in more recent years have spent a great deal of time with the Legend Xtremes and Elites. But, after learning about some of the upgrades on the re-engineered Legend Tournament, I thought I’d give them a try this year. I’ve been so pleased I thought I’d give you my thoughts. The first incarnation of the Legend Tournaments were very nice rods, but for me they were a little heavier than I liked, so when I learned that this re-engineering series was going to be lighter, I took note and decided to give them another try. Also, as some of you know I fish Kalin’s Lunker Grubs on 3/32 and 1/16 ounce jigs and for 2010 and 2011 had been using the 8’ medium-light with telescoping handle to get extra distance on the Kalin’s presentation. It threw the Kalin’s a mile, but at 4.6 ounces just felt too heavy. I actually liked it better sitting in my Wilderness Systems kayaks than standing in the Crestliner Fish Hawk. Last winter when reviewing the rods and the “new” weights, I saw that the 8’ medium-light was changed to a 2-piece with a much reduce weight of 3.8 ounces. I ordered two and have fished this model ton since May 6th. And, as noted in the reel review portion of this article, this rod is now my favorite Kalin’s rod, casting this lure a mile with plenty of backbone for big smallies. For you kayak guys, it’s a “great” kayak rod with the length for long casts and leverage needed while sitting and fishing.


In the review on the WaveSpin reel I talk about wind knots, something we have all dealt with when using small diameter braid/superline. Well, with over all or part of 40 days on the water with the Legend Tournament rods that I have, no wind knots. Is this due to the “new” Fuji K Series tangle-free guides? I think it is. Also, along with St. Croix’s ART and IPC technology, this series now comes with NSi, which stands for Nano Silica resin. This 3M product makes the rods stronger and more durable. You’ll also note a very innovative new reel seat from Fuji for the re-engineered Legend Tournaments. I really like it because it puts your thumb and forefinger right at the point of the blank entering the handle for increase touch and sensitivity, along with being comfortable during hours of fishing. I’ve also been fishing the 7’6” medium-light, 7’6” medium and 7’ light action, along with a couple of the baitcast models. The Legend Tournament Series comes in both Bass and Walleye versions with great pricing from $230 to $270 for a high-end rod with tons of great features.

So, even though I’m still enjoying my Legend Xtreme and Elite rods, I’m now spending more time with the Legend Tournament series, which I highly recommend. Definitely a wish list item.

By Bill Schultz

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6 Great “Smallie” Reels for 2012

Sat, Aug 18, 2012

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By Bill Schultz

The author with a 20" 5.8 lb. smallmouth

The author with a 20" 5.8 lb. smallmouth

In Wisconsin we wait months for open water fishing. It arrives and amazingly we’re already past the mid-point of summer. I was able to spend more days in Door County, Wisconsin than most years. This is big water fishing on Green Bay of Lake Michigan, where big smallies roam. I was on the water 18 days in my Crestliner and another 6 in my Wilderness Systems Tarpon 140 and 160. I’ve always felt this is a great test for the reels I’ll be talking about below. The reels I pick to review are ones that fit the type of fishing I do. As I always note, I feel I’ve put enough hours on these six outstanding reels to give my opinion on them. But, my use is not a torture test, so I can’t comment on long-term durability.

All six reels were a great to fish, with pricing across the spectrum from $79 to $249. Also, most come in other sizes beyond what I fished with. I enjoyed putting the time in with the reels and hope you enjoy my observations.

“New” Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris CarbonLite Bait Cast Reel – $129.99


Bass Pro Shops makes a great group of baitcast reels and the “new” CarbonLite is another in a long line of outstanding reels I’ve fished and reviewed. This impressive baitcast reel weighs in at a super-light 5.9 ounces, and feels very solid. It is easy to adjust and casts great, and this is from someone who primarily fishes spinning reels. The drag is smooth and even through the settings. I like reels with a fast gear ratio and the one I have is 7.1:1, but has plenty of power for even the biggest smallies. It also comes in a 6.4:1 version. I fished and reviewed the predecessor CarbonLite, which was also very nice, but this reel is about an ounce lighter, which is a plus for those days of “many” casts. Another improvement is the finish, which is now matte gray, which looks better and should hold up to tough conditions. Not that it really makes any difference in how it fishes, but this version has a more expensive look. I like recurve handles on my baitcast reels, which enhances the compact feel, helps with overall balance and the EVA handle paddles are very comfortable.

I spooled the CarbonLite with 10-pound Silver Thread Excalibur and fished it on two 7’ St. Croix Legend Tournament rods. One, a medium-moderate action, which I caught a bunch of smallies on using the Xcalibur XR25 lipless crankbait. The other was fast action that was perfect for those Booyah spinnerbaits. For you baitcast guys, who like a light reel, this is an outstanding reel at a nice price of $129.99.


  • One-piece machined aircraft-grade frame
  • Duralumin gears and shaft
  • V-grooved, ported, machined duralumin spool
  • 10 stainless steel, double-shielded ball bearings
  • Dual braking system
  • Titanium nitride-coated line guide
  • Carbon fiber recurve handle
  • Drag system with six alternating carbon fiber and stainless washers
  • 5.9 ounces
  • Line capacity – 120 yds./12# mono
  • Gear ratio – 7.1:1, Line capacity per handle turn – 29”

“New” Abu Garcia Revo Premier PRM 10 Spinning Reel – $249.95


Another great reel from Abu Garcia. I spooled this reel with 10-pound Nanofil and fished it on a St. Croix 7’6” medium-light Legend Tournament rod. It is a pleasure to fish this super smooth, extremely comfortable reel. At 6.9 ounces it more than meets my desire for a light combo of reel and rod when using Kalin’s Lunker Grub on Gopher Tackle Mushroom Head jigs, searching for smallies in the clear waters of Door County. Hundreds of long casts are the agenda for most days, so a light combo is important! I like this reel size and the line capacity of 110 yards of six-pound mono, which allows me to use less expensive mono backing and still add plenty of the small diameter 10-pound Nanofil. If you haven’t tried Berkley Nanofil yet, you should. I’ve used both the 8 and 10-pound for two years now and have been impressed. It’s strong, smooth and casts a mile.

The drag on this reel is smooth and even throughout its range; the handle has a wonderfully comfortable knob and has the screw on handle, which I like. The Revo Premier has a 5.2:1 gear ratio, which is slower than I prefer, but its fine. And, many anglers like this ratio. The Revo Premier has the light, smaller profile tubular bail wire, which is by far my preference. This well-balance reel has the Nano-Shield finish on the body and spool, which gives it a very classy look and should hold up to those of you who are tougher on your equipment

If you want a high-quality reel to match with one of your favorite smallie or walleye rods, this reel will make you smile.


  • 10 High performance corrosion resistant bearings (HPCR)
  • Instant anti-reverse bearing
  • Nano-Shield body and spool
  • Sealed carbon matrix drag
  • One-piece aluminum gear box
  • Everlast bail system
  • Slow oscillation
  • Stainless steel mainshaft and hardware
  • 6.9 ounces
  • Line capacity – 110 yds./6# mono
  • Gear ratio – 5.2:1, Line retrieve per handle turn – 25”

“New” Shimano Stradic FJ 1000 – $179.99


The Shimano 1000 size reels have been some of my favorites for years and I’ve fished and reviewed many, including the past three incarnations of the Stradic FJ. This is another great reel from Shimano to go with the Ci4, Saros, Symetre and Sahara. I matched this reel with my new favorite Kalin’s Lunker Grub rod, the 8’ St. Croix Legend Tournament medium-light, which only comes in a 2-piece model. So, the Stradic got plenty of hours and plenty of action, with dozens of smallies in the 3 to 4 pound range and a few from 5 to 6 pounds. I have it spooled with Power Pro 10/2 Hi-Vis Yellow, one of my favorite lines.

This reel feels great, meets my criteria of being light at 7.1 ounces and also a faster gear ration of 6.0:1, which I prefer. Shimano packs this and a number of their other reels with a plethora of great features, which are all listed below. These help make the Stradic 1000 a pleasure to fish. The numerous features of the Propulsion Line Management System are impressive, but one in particular continues to excite me and makes a great deal of sense as it relates to casting distance, the Propulsion Spool Lip. This beveled lip faces outward and adds distance when casting. I also really like and appreciate the Maintenance Port on these reels, which makes oiling them a breeze and because of this will add to the reels life.

The only “slight” negative comment on all the Shimano1000 size reels I’ve tested is the light touch to the bail. It’s easy to close, but occasionally on hard casts will close on its own. The 1000 size in the “new” Stradic FJ and other Shimano styles are rated for 110 yards of 6-pound mono. With all the reels in this article I have used a mono backing and then added the small diameter braid/superline. Some of you may wonder about the smaller 1000 size reel with its shorter handle as it relates to the power needed for “bigger” smallies. When fishing Shimano reels, which I do often, I’ve exclusively used the 1000 size for at least six years. I’ve not had one instance where it’s been a problem; in fact, I don’t even think about it and have caught dozens of 4 to 6+ pound smallies on this size reel. The bail wire has a small profile and even with the occasional closing on a hard cast, is nice.

In recent years, depending on the price you’d like to pay for a Shimano reel, I’ve recommended the Ci4, Saros, Symetre, Sahara and “again”, the new version of the Stradic FG. What a great reel.


  • Graphite rotor, sideplate
  • Paladin gear durability enhancement
  • Propulsion line management system: propulsion spool lip, SR one-piece bail wire, power rotor III, redesigned bail trip, S-arm cam
  • Aero Wrap II Oscillation
  • SR-Concept: SR-3D Gear, SR Handle, SR One-Piece Bail Wire
  • S A-RB Bail Bearings
  • Aluminum Spool
  • S-Concept: S-Rotor, S-Guard, S-Arm Cam
  • New machined aluminum handle
  • Direct drive mechanism (thread in attachment)
  • Waterproof drag
  • Maintenance port
  • Fluidrive II
  • Floating shaft
  • Dyna-Balance
  • Super Stopper II
  • Repairable clicker
  • Approved for use in saltwater
  • Rated for use with mono, fluorocarbon and power pro lines
  • 7.5 ounces
  • Line capacity – 110/6# mono
  • Gear ratio – 6.0:1, Line recovery per handle turn – 30”

“New” Daiwa Ballistic 2000 – $199.99


I have had the pleasure to test and fish a number of truly outstanding Daiwa spinning and baitcast reels over the past ten years, and have proclaimed two of those spinning reels as good as I’ve ever fished. But, those two higher-end reels still had the slower retrieve ratio, which is not my preference. Not so with the “new” Daiwa Ballistic, and some other high-end Daiwa spinning reels. This reel is truly special and has a gear ratio of 6.0:1, which is what I’m looking for when swimming those Kalin’s Lunker Grubs for smallies in Door County, WI. It’s a very slow presentation, but once out the strike zone, I want that lure in and back out as fast as possible. This reel meets the challenge.

As noted above, my “new” favorite Kalin’s Lunker Grub rod is the St. Croix 8’ medium-light Legend Tournament, and that’s what I put the Ballistic on, so it received a lot of use. I spooled the Ballistic with the outstanding 18/3 Daiwa Samurai Yellow Braid, which is an 8-strand product that is extremely smooth and casts a mile. At 7.8 ounces the Ballistic nice and light and the 2000 size handles 135 yards of 6-pound mono. I’ve already mentioned how this allows for a mono backing and still plenty of room for enough braid/superline to meet your fishing needs. Daiwa developed the tubular Air Bail, so you know I’m happy with that important feature. The Ballistic has a great screw on handle with an extremely comfortable handle knob. The drag is smooth and even through all the settings and as you would expect, this reel has a very comfortable handle paddle. Most reels now have the anti-reverse switch under the reel, behind the spool, which is how it is with the Ballistic. But, at least with the Ballistic it’s big enough to find in a hurry, which I appreciate. The dark gray primary color, with attractive accents, makes this a “looker” as well as top “performer”. Looks and performance, what a great combo. Taking into consideration the 6.0:1 gear ratio, this is the best Daiwa spinning reel I’ve fished.

I’m looking forward to putting many more hours on this outstanding new reel from Daiwa. I think this might be a “wish” list item for you. Christmas is about 4 months away, or maybe your birthday is coming up.


  • Lightweight, corrosion-proof Zaion body and side cover
  • Seven ball bearings (including four CRBB) plus roller bearing
  • Air Rotor
  • Air Bail
  • High speed retrieve
  • Machined aluminum handle arm
  • Digigear
  • Waterproof drag with click adjustment
  • Two bail bearing spool support keeps drag washers in perfect alignment
  • Oiled felt body seal
  • ABS aluminum spool
  • 7.8 ounces
  • Line capacity – 135 yds./6# mono
  • Gear ratio – 6.0:1, Line recovery per handle turn – 31.1”

Pflueger Supreme 8030 Spinning Reel – $99.99


Here’s a reel that offers so many great features for a “super” price. I’ve fished and tested the first version of the Supreme and both versions of the Supreme XT. $99.99 is a great price for a reel with this many bells and whistles and at just 7.4 ounces, it’s amazing that the reel holds 160 yards of 6-pound mono. This really adds to the reel’s versatility for anglers like me who are using the smaller diameter braid/superline or those that are using larger diameter lines. I actually can’t tell any difference between the Supreme and the Supreme XT. It also feels quite similar to the first version of the Supreme, but Pflueger made me very happy by adding a smaller tubular bail. You’ll note from the picture that the matte silver finish with some gold accents give this reel a great look, and based on past versions, will hold up to wear and tear.

It has a smooth drag that has even pull throughout the settings, and I like the comfortable handle knob on the end of the screw on handle. I also want to tell you about the 8025 version of the Supreme. I’ve fished this size on the previous Supreme and the Supreme XT. In fact I was just wading the Milwaukee River this morning with this reel and catching a bunch of smallies with the Rebel Teeny Wee-Crawfish, which along with the Kalin’s, is my other “go to” river presentation. It’s a great size, weighs only 6.6 ounces and still is rated for 90 yards of 6-pound diameter line. The only slight negative for me is that the gear ration is only 5.2:1. Even with the smaller spool, it casts great, which was reinforced throwing the 1/10th ounce Teeny Wee-Crawfish on a 7’ light action St. Croix Legend Elite.

Pflueger makes great reels! I’ve never fished one I haven’t liked. In my opinion, the Supreme is one of the best reels for the dollar on the market.


  • Lightweight durable magnesium body & rotor
  • 9 stainless steel ball bearings
  • One-way clutch instant anti-reverse bearing
  • Double anodized machined aluminum spool with holes
  • Aluminum side plate
  • Sure-Click bail provides an audible signal when bail is fully opened and ready to cast
  • Anti-twist titanium line roller
  • Machined aluminum handle with soft touch knob
  • Sealed drag system
  • Spare aluminum spool
  • Convertible right or left handle retrieve
  • On/Off anti-reverse
  • 6.6 ounces – 8225, 7.4 ounces – 8230
  • Line capacity – 120 yds./4# mono, 8225 – 160 yds./6# mono, 8230
  • Gear ratio – 5.2:1, 8225 – 6.2:1, 8230
  • Line recovery per handle turn – 22.4”, 8225 – 30”, 8230

Wave Spin DHxL Spinning Reel – $79.99

I’ll bet you’ve seen ads and information on the Doug Hannon, “The Bass Professor, WaveSpin spinning reels. While giving a talk at the Bass Pro Fishing Classic in Chicago last March, one of their Pro Staffers showed me the reel and suggested that I include it in my next reel review, so here it is. The DHxL is not their most expensive, but it is the lightest, which is important for me.

For $79.99, this is a very nice reel. I spooled it with Fireline Crystal 8/3 and fished it on the St. Croix 7’6” ML Legend Tournament. As advertised, in many hours of fishing no wind knots, which I occasionally get with other reels. I also had no tangles, but really don’t have that problem with spinning reels. The reel seems to be well-built and at 8 ounces, nice and light. The line capacity of 160 yards of 6# mono, which will make most anglers happy by adding versatility to the type of line and weight used. As I’ve already noted the capacity offers the option of mono backing and then plenty of braid/supreline. Most reels have the anti-reverse lever underneath the reel and somewhat small. But, on the DHxL it is at the back of the body and larger, which I just don’t see much anymore, but prefer. The drag is smooth and even throughout the settings and the bail has a smaller profile, although not the tubular type. This reel has a slower gear ratio than I prefer at 5.2:1, but not too slow and as noted with another reel, many like this number.

I really am looking forward to putting more hours on this reel. Again, for $79.99 this is a quality, great feeling reel that was a pleasure to fish. Great value for your fishing dollar.


  • Guaranteed no tangle technology
  • Lightweight graphite body & rotor
  • Exclusive WaveSpin spool
  • Giant multi-disc front drag
  • Infinite anti-reverse
  • Never fail line clip
  • Oversized line roller
  • Comfort grip paddle handle
  • 8 ounces
  • Line capacity – 160 yards/6# mono
  • Gear ration, 5.1:1
  • Line retrieve per handle turn – 22.1”

“New” Abu Garcia Orra SX20 Spinning Reel – $99.99


I’ve fished and tested a dozen Abu Garcia spinning reels from $79 to the Revo Premier at $249, and have been impressed with all of them. The Orra SX20 is another very nice offering at a nice price of $99.99. Though slightly heavier than I prefer at 9.1 ounces, that may be my only slight concern, because everything else about this reel is great! In particular, liking a faster gear ratio, I was very happy with the 5.8:1. I spooled this with Berkley Fireline Crystal 8/3 and fished it on both a St. Croix 7’6” St. Croix medium-action Legend Tournament rod, as well as the new Fenwick Smallmouth Elite-Tech 7’1” medium action rod that I was asked to fish by the folks at Fenwick. I found the Elite-Tec to be a very nice stick that’s light, sensitive and well-made. All for a great price of $129.

The reel has a smooth and even drag through all the settings, has the tubular bail that I like and a very comfortable handle paddle. The reel is rated for 160 yards of 6-pound mono, making it a little bigger than I prefer, but the SX 10 comes in at 8.1 ounces and is rated for 125 yards of 6-pound diameter. I selected the SX20 due to the gear ratio, as the SX 10 has a ratio of 5.2:1. But, these two sizes give us smallie guys a couple of nice options.

This attractive reel is sure to excite with all the features for under $100.


  • 8 stainless steel HPCR bearings + 1 roller bearing provides increase corrosion protection
  • One-piece gear box design allows for more precise gear alignment for smoother operation
  • Machined aluminum braid ready spool allows braid to be tied directly to the spool without slip
  • Carbon Matrix drag system
  • Slow oscillation provides even line lay with all lines
  • X-Cratic alloy frame for increased corrosion resistance
  • Duragear brass gear for extended gear life
  • Everlast bail system for improved durability
  • Stainless steel main shaft and components for improved corrosion resistance
  • Aluminum spare monofilimant spool
  • Rotor brake design to stop early bail closure
  • 9.1 ounces
  • Line capacity – 135 yds./6# mono
  • Line retrieve per handle turn – 31”
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Feeding Differences: Largemouth vs Smallmouth Bass

Tue, Jul 3, 2012

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Though the Largemouth and Smallmouth bass share many things in common, they have their differences that every fisherman needs to know. To analogize, think of the Smallmouth like a wide receiver and a Largemouth more like a tight end—their territories cross, but they each have their specialties. Here is an article highlighting the fine differences between these species and how you can expect these differences to pan out.

The most obvious place to start is the general body anatomy. Smallmouths have smaller mouths—who would’ve known? But really, this smaller mouth means a different style of feeding. The smallmouth is less likely to take on large prey. Largemouth bass are opportunistic predators, eating baby ducks, small snakes, baby alligators, frogs—and anything else that it can fit its mouth around. Another difference is the amount of skin in the mouth. If you’ve caught both a largemouth and a smallmouth you’ve probably noticed a smallmouth bass has a lot tougher skin, while the largemouth’s is fairly light and easier to tear. This difference is largely attributed to the smallmouth feeding pattern. Smallmouths evolved to focus on crustaceans and crayfish as a significant portion of their diet, while the largemouth primarily eats other, softer prey.

The other big difference in Largemouth and Smallmouth anatomy is body structure. The smallmouth is built sleeker and more stream-lined. This body type creates less drag in the water and allows the fish to more easily swim and forage. Smallmouths are much more willing to chase down prey and are comfortable in open water situations. The largemouth, on the other hand, does not have quite a sleek body. Their body is a little thicker. This indicates largemouth have evolved to be quick strikers and not very good at distance chase downs. This is consistent with actual largemouth behavior—stalking prey in the weeds and waiting for the opportune moment to strike.

These differences tell quite a bit about where and why these fish are caught. Most bass fishermen have an idea as to whether they are primarily targeting largemouth or smallmouth, though their habitats often overlap.

Largemouth bass prefer weedier, more shallow habitat. The largemouth evolved from swampish areas in the south. They like to creep up on their prey and are in general ready to eat anything that fits in their mouths. The shallows offer a lot more opportunities for largemouth to “stumble upon” something to eat. Though the largemouth like the shallows, they usually cruise to deep weedlines to rest or get out of the sun in the middle of the day.

Smallmouth bass in general prefer deeper water than their largemouth cousins. Smallmouth are best suited in northern waters of the US where water is clear and cold. Clear water helps out smallmouth in their efforts to chase down prey.

In many lakes across the US, both fish exist. This implies these fish must compete for the same food resources. When these fish are forced to compete, usually the population becomes stratified– smallmouth bass existing in certain areas, and largemouth bass existing in different areas. Both of these fish will inhibit the others’ territory if they absolutely have to, but much prefer their own corner of the lake. Have any experiences with serious overlapping territory for these fish? Tell us about it in the comments!

Guest post contributed by Zach Semago. He’s been bass fishing for years, check out his fishing reports website for more bassin’ articles!

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