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Product Shootout


Time to Spool Them Up and String Them Out... Which Reel Is Best (part two)?


Date: 10/14/18
Tackle Type: Reel
Manufacturer: Shimano, Daiwa, 13 Fishing, Abu Garcia
Reviewer: Cal

Introduction: When we left our four contestants at the conclusion of part one, they were a disassembled collection of gears, drag washers, sideplates, frames, and handles. Shortly after completing the previous installment, our three additional St. Croix Legend Elite EC70MFs arrived, so we reassembled the contestants with earnest and began the strategy of our continued tests. Time to spool them up and string them out.

Time to spool these puppies up and see what they've got!

From time to time we catch discussions on our forum debating the use of different types of fishing line and how some lines even perform better on certain reels. Having never noticed such a difference, but realizing on some of Shimano's digital control (DC) braking systems, there are settings for different line types, we thought we'd test some of these theories out for ourselves and work it into our head to head battles at the same time. In order to accomplish this goal expeditiously, we geared up with a Spoolin Buddy Mini so we could make line changes on the water to save time.

On the water line changes made possible with the help of Spoolin Buddy.

If you're not familiar, Spoolin Buddy offers five different units in various sizes to hold your line in an easy to view, easy to access manner. The Mini holds about seven to eight filler spools (300yds) and is just right to stow away in your boat.

The Spoolin Buddy Mini can be easily stowed on your boat.

Nylon Monofilament: The tough part about how we've decided to conduct this particular shootout is the amount of line that will be wasted. We don't have any intention of really fishing these reels. Those evaluations have all been made and written up. We're just interested in head to head, cast against cast, pitch against pitch, retrieve against retrieve, raw comparisons. First up? The most comprehensive comparisons with nylon monofilament. Our selection in this type of line is of course, our Editor's Choice Award winning Sunline Super Natural, but in TackleTour Mizu Blue (and 10lb test).

Each reel matched with a St. Croix Legend Elite EC70MF.

We chose nylon monofilament for the majority of these tests, because it is still the most popular and cost effective choice in fishing line. In hindsight, we should have procured spare spools of each line type in case of professional overruns. This became an issue at the end, but it had no real impact on the outcome of this shootout.

First up? Casting tests with nylon monofilament.

Of course, after spooling each reel up, matching them with a Legend Elite stick, and stringing their line through those Fuji Torzite guides, the question arose as to which bait to tie on and toss out? Well, first, we tied a snap to the end of each line to facilitate changes. Then, I dug around in my tackle box and pulled out four Spro Bronzeye Shads. I figured this half ounce (1/2oz) frog style bait is made for casting, and those concealed hooks will make the bait easy to retrieve for repeated casts.

Sunline's Super Natural in TackleTour Mizu Blue.

Standard Casting: After a few test casts with each reel to dial in their brake adjustments, I chose a reel with which to start, made about half a dozen casts, put it down and picked up the next reel and repeated until I went through all four reels. Then, I picked up the reel that gave me the best initial impression (Daiwa Tatula SV TW), made a few more casts, and compared it to the next reel I thought also performed well (Revo4 STX) and just worked my way back through the lineup.

Spro's Bronzeye Shad was used in general casting tests with all three types of line.

I made side arm and overhand casts, often switching between reels after only one cast, and kept this up for a good half hour to forty five minutes. Meantime, Zander was fishing away at the front of the boat while I toiled to find differences and rank each reel. In the end, with this very castable half ounce weight, there was no clear winner. Each time I thought one reel felt better than the other in a cast, I'd re-cast with the latter to find it performed just as well as the former. When I felt one reel couldn't match the distance of the others, I'd try again and bingo - distance reached. I finally gave up. If I have to give the nod to any reel, it'd be the Tatula SV TW for being the reel requiring the least amount of effort to make a cast, but only by the narrowest of margins. Winner : Daiwa Tatula SV TW


All four reels were surprisingly close in our first round of casting tests. With a very slight edge going to the Tatula SV TW.


Pitching: So I tried a different tactic and switched up the tests to pitching the Spro Bronzeye Shad instead of casting. Here, the Chronarch MGL and Tatula SV TW immediately stepped up to the front of the line. Actual pitching distance differed by only a few feet, but it was easier to keep the bait close to the water's surface for that coveted soft bait placement with the Shimano and Daiwa. When pitching with the Revo4 STX and Concept Z, the baits had a slight tendency to rise at the end for a more pronounced splash. No doubt practicing with each reel would likely make a difference, but for this battle, it came down to a head to head battle between the Chronarch MGL and Tatula SV TW and again the difference was ever so slight. Winner : Chronarch MGL


Switching line between tests was facilitated by Berkley's portable line stripper.


Casting Pt2: Next, I stepped down a few notches in weight to three sixteenths of an ounce (3/16oz) and Molix's Super Nato Baby Beetle. I actually only had two of these baits on hand, so I had to do these tests in pairs. Some of what I found surprised me, something else did not. First with the non-surprise was 13 Fishing's Concept Z. This reel is not really designed to handle such a light bait. I came into this with the thought The Z's deeper spool and polymer bearings probably match much better with standard sized lures of three eighths of an ounce (3/8oz) on up. Heavier baits give you more inertia to get the spool moving on each cast. I wasn't wrong. While it was possible to actually cast this lure with the Concept Z, the small bait required less effort with the other three reels and went for longer distances.


The Chronarch MGL and Revo4 STX tied for best in their ability to cast the 3/16oz Molix Super Nato Baby Beetle.


In this test I expected the Tatula SV TW to take top honors, but it was the Revo4 STX and Chronarch MGL that consistently matched each other spot for spot. The Tatula SV TW was close, but just when it was about to match or even outpace the Abu Garcia or Shimano, the magnetic brakes chocked off the cast. Adjusting the dial down helped a little, but then made the reel more susceptible to overruns. Winner : Revo4 STX ties Chronarch MGL


Time to switch up the line.


Fluorocarbon: After an exhausting round of tests with nylon monofilament, I took a break stripping each reel of its 10lb Super Natural with the help of Berkley's Line Stripper. Then it was time to spool on some fluorocarbon for our next round of tests. Honors for this portion of the shootout went to Sunline's Sniper FC in twelve pound (12lb) test. Sniper is probably Sunline's number one selling fluorocarbon. It strikes a nice balance between affordability and performance. Shooter is actually my favorite Sunline FC, and there was a time I felt Sniper was a little too soft. However, handling it on the spools of these four reels right after they were spooled with Super Natural reveals how much more stiff even a "soft" fluorocarbon is when compared to nylon.

Next up, Fluorocarbon - 12lb Sunline Sniper to be exact.

Standard Casting: After respooling each reel and re-tying a snap at the end of each line, I went back to those Spro Bronzeye Shads for a quick round of casts checking to see if any of the reels felt different with fluorocarbon as opposed to the nylon monofilament. As fate would have it, the wind picked up a little so I made a few casts with each reel with the wind, then across the wind, and finally into the wind. In this initial handling test, the Tatula SV TW performed very well followed by the Revo4 STX that I only had issues with casting directly into the wind. The Concept Z had some minor fluff issues with cross wind and casting into the wind, both of which were mitigated with more judicious use of my thumb. The Chronarch MGL had similar issues to the Z, but required adjustments to the casting brakes to deal with the wind to go along with more judicious use of my thumb. Winner : Tatula SV TW

Here, the Tatula SV TW edged out the others in casting again.

Pitching: Next were slow speed pitching presentations with fluorocarbon and I was surprised to discover both the Concept Z and Revo4 STX performed better pitching with fluorocarbon than they did with the nylon monofilament. Given the stiffer nature of the line, I thought it would be the other way around. However, they still not as good as the Tatula SV TW which felt mostly the same as it did with nylon monofilament. Shimano's Chronarch MGL improved in feel as well and separated further from the other three. Winner : Chronarch MGL

While the Chronarch MGL edged out the win for pitching with FC line.

Now time for some superline tests.

Next Section: Mixing it up with some superline...









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