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Product Review

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

Now that we're past a bit of negativity, I can say that I had no issues with the actual performance of the braking system. Once I had the spool tension dialed in, I commonly found myself setting the brakes on a 2 or 3 setting and forgetting about it the rest of the day. This worked very well and the few backlashes I experienced were a result of operator error.

Removing the side plate reveals the braking system. Note the tiny metal tab indicating a “0” setting.

Performance Ratings for 13 Fishing Concept-A Reel


Retrieve (1-5)






Casting  Range(1-5)








(= Tot/Pos* 10)









Even the box is quite attractive and touts all of the features.

Features: 13 Fishing's Matt Baldwin had years of experience managing a reel warranty and repair center. He was able to leverage this vast knowledge and apply it towards the entire Concept reel family. This means you'll find features on the Concept A like corrosion-resistant bearings in key areas, as well as clicking knobs and dials. Oil and a reel cover are not included.

Features Ratings for 13 Fishing Concept-A Reel


External Brake Adjust (1-2)


Bearing (1-2)


Knob   Bearings(1-3)


Micro  Clicks (1-3)

Reel Cover(1-2)








Rating (=Tot/Pos* 10)










Design and Ergonomics: The Concept-A reel touts a very appealing form factor and weight. Tipping our scales at just 6.8 ounces, it's not the lightest reel made but it's certainly respectable. The lightweight and compact body features an aluminum frame with “Airfoil Carbon” side plates for weight reduction. The size of the reel surprised me at first as I was expecting something a bit bulkier. It actually compares nicely to a 50-size Shimano reel, and therefore palms extremely well

The dimensions are very close to the diminutive Shimano Scorpion 1000XT.

Something that took me a little time to get used to are the composite cork knobs. They are quite a bit chunkier compared to any other casting reel I've ever used. I still prefer thinner knobs, but these do offer a large surface area and a high level of comfort.

The ported spool has a modest arbor size.

Design and Ergonomics Ratings for 13 Fishing Concept-A Reel

Length (1-5)



Overall Weight (1-5)

Ease of Breakdown (1-5)



Rating (=Tot/Pos *10)

5 4 5 4 4 22 25


Nobody should have any trouble comfortably palming the Concept A.

Application: For a guy like me that enjoys both inshore saltwater and freshwater angling, the 13 Fishing Concept-A reel is a solid buy. Its ample power, ability to handle a range of baits, and overall comfort all combine to make one well-rounded offering. The only thing holding it back in some situations is the line capacity with lines like heavy mono or fluorocarbon.

Application Ratings for 13 Fishing Concept-A Reel

Horizontal (1-5)




Big Baits (1-5)

Topwater (1-5)



Rating (=Tot/Pos *10)










A small rubber thumb pad shows that 13 Fishing pays attention to detail.


Ratings: (We've re-calibrated our ratings standard for 2008 and have included a key at the bottom of the following matrix as a guide):

13 Fishing Concept-A Casting Reel Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality I was impressed by how clean and tidy the reel appeared. Great overall materials used in this reel's construction 9.5
Performance This Concept A won't make you sell your Steez, but it will put a smile on your face—especially considering the price. When we retested the drag on both the Concept A we ordered from Tackle Warehouse and the Concept C, which has the identical drag system, we found the "Bulldog" drag was able to deliver the kind of stopping power that 13 Fishing's specifications highlight. A third reel still in the field in Florida was also retested and exhibited over 21lbs. of drag pressure. We are still investigating the initial tests on our original test reel but it looks like a combination of an anomaly in that particular reel's drag and the fact it could have been tightened further in the lab on the Machine. The bottom line is we are now confident in all of the Concept A's performance metrics, including the Bulldog drag 8.0
Price The $169.99 price is attractive, but it's knocking on the doorstep of the brand-new Curado I. With such close pricing, it may be tough for some to pull the trigger on a new reel from a young company. Still we are really liking what we see here and are glad to see even today companies are still willing to introduce new baitcasters in a highly contested category 7.7
Features It would be nice to see a braking system that's easier to use 6.42
Design (Ergonomics) You should find the Concept A to be lightweight, compact, and easy to palm 8.8
Application A solid choice for an array of freshwater and saltwater applications 7.6

Total Score

Ratings Key: 1 = terrible : 2 = poor : 3 = lacking : 4 = sub par : 5 = mediocre : 6 = fair : 7 = good : 8 = great : 9 = excellent : 10 = unbelievable!
For More Details of the updated rating system visit our explanation here


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

+ Looks great - Brakes aren't too user friendly
+ Nice build quality - Some folks may not like the chunky grips
+ Solid ergonomics  
+ The Bulldog drag delivers  
+ Competitively priced  

One of several nice Lake Okeechobee bass caught during testing.

Conclusion: It's easy to see that 13 Fishing is dead serious about their reels. As their current entry-level baitcaster, the Concept A is a reel that I enjoyed fishing every time I picked it up. We are glad that we had the opportunity to check a few other reels and see just what a "Bulldog" of a drag system the Concept A offers. This reel offers a solid design with a host of pleasing features that all combine to make for a very attractive package. At about ten bucks cheaper than the brand-new Curado, is this the reel that will dethrone the legendary Shimano? I can't state my own opinion since I have yet to compare the two, but the Concept A is definitely an intimidating challenger!

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