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Product Review

What a Concept! 13 Fishing's Concept-A Reel is a Bulldog (continued)

Drag: When this review was originally published last week, our Sweet Drag Performance results showed a max drag value for this reel in the neighborhood of seven pounds. 13 Fishing took immediate exception to our tests and respectfully asked us to run the tests again, because in their own tests, max drag values have been consistently higher. They also suggested we compare our results with the Concept C reel currently under review because the drag stacks for these two reels are identical.

The drag stack inside the Concept A retains a nice level of consistent performance.

Looking back at our data, the Concept C reel we have, tested much closer to manufacturer spec, so we pulled the review until we could validate our original findings. Retesting the same Concept A reel, we were unable to achieve a max drag setting much different than our original findings.

Sweet Drag Performance for 13 Fishing Concept-A Reel (2.5 Turns to Lockdown)


Lock - 8

 Lock - 6

 Lock - 4

Lock - 2




Avg % Change













Lowest Value






Change in Start-up vs. Sustained













Biggest Drop From Sustained













Drag on this reel was tested with the drag star fully tightened. Then, with each successive test the drag was backed off (using a thumb) with two short pushes of the drag star.

Given the drag stacks between the Concept A and Concept C reels are the same, we surmised there must be something wrong with the reel we have at the lab. After communicating this to 13 Fishing, they offered to send us a brand new Concept A reel for another round of tests, but we decided to instead order one off the shelf from our friends over at TackleWarehouse.  This way, we could be sure we received an off the shelf retail product and remove any doubt that the manufacturer cherry picked a product in their existing inventory.

We ordered one more Concept A reel from Tackle Warehouse to re-test the drag

Indeed, after receiving the new Concept A reel overnight from Tackle Warehouse, spooling it up, and strapping it up to the Machine, we found the drag tests to be much closer to manufacturer specification. 13 Fishing specifies the Concept A reel with a Max Drag of 23 pounds. We were able to achieve 19.3 pounds of pressure tightening the drag as far as we could manage with just one hand.

Side by side on the Machine, the new Concept A we received from Tackle Warehouse delivered a max drag value of 19.3lbs. when tightened with one hand

If absolute maximum drag pressure is important to you, we’ve no doubt the 23 pounds of pressure advertised by 13 fishing is achievable given stronger fingers, or if you were to use two hands to tighten the drag star as far as it would go. But as we’ve stated in countless reviews since leveraging The Machine to measure drag, what’s more important to us is how smooth and consistent the drag performs and in all our tests, the Concept A’s drag has performed relatively smooth and consistent - except when in absolute lockdown, a characteristic that is consistent with the majority of reels we test.

The machined-aluminum handle measures about four inches long.

Power: Despite its fast gear ratio, I don't feel this reel lacks in the power department. I still prefer a slower gear ratio for throwing things like deep-diving cranks, but I was pleasantly surprised at how the Concept A handled big spinnerbaits and crankbaits. From cranking to punching, this reel doesn't have any problem getting the job done.

The Concept A shows off its brass gear shaft and worm shaft assembly.

Casting Range: The Concept A is simply a pleasure to cast and pitch. It's a very mild-mannered reel that is capable of throwing a variety of different lure weights. I have been able to cast weights as small as 1/8 ounce (along with a small plastic worm) while using 20-pound braid, but that was about the bottom of the comfortable range for me. When going for the longest distance the reel also performed admirably. 

The “Arrowhead” line guide is said to improve line lay as well as increase casting distance. While the reel casts well and distributes line back on the spool evenly, I can't say for certain if the line guide makes a difference over the traditional oval or round style.

Brakes: There are many aspects of the Concept-A reel that I'm fond of, but something I would like to see change is the braking system. Other than the spool tension knob located by the handle, the reel uses a centrifugal “Concept Braking System” that gives the angler six different settings. The main problem I have with this system is simply a matter of it being inconvenient to use. The side plate must be removed first by flipping a switch on the bottom of the frame, which in turn allows you to easily wiggle it off.

Flip the switch to quickly remove the side plate.

Unfortunately, the plate is not hinged to the frame at all so it's easy to drop if you aren't being careful. With the side plate removed, the brake dial is revealed. To alter the settings, you must turn either the dial or a tiny metal tab onto the desired brake setting number. Not only can the absence of any external brake control be annoying, but the ease of actually adjusting the dial may frustrate some folks.

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