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Reel Review

Anglers can count on the real value that the Tekota levelwind reels offer

One of the key selling features of the model we tested is the line counter. This mechanical line counter is very reliable and easy to operate. We drew line in the lab and found the line counter to be very accurate. To reset the line counter simply press the orange button and the dials instantly move to “000.” We found the line counter excellent for trolling because it helped us put our lines in perfect position on the downrigger quicker, and at any given time we knew exactly how much line was out there.


When it came time to test the reel for mooching with bait we found another superb use for the line counter. Once we identified bait balls below us we could instantly drop our bait to the exact depth without delay, no more counting out line. This resulted in quicker positioning into the strike zones, and ultimately more strikes.

We tested the Tekota for a whole season trolling and mooching off the California coast for King Salmon


Drag: On top of using barbless hooks part of the challenge of bringing a fish in successfully is having to always need to watch out for the resident sea lions which descend on the boats the minute they see a net or catch glimpse of a “fish on” situation. I’ve lost tugs of war with furbags before, once during the season I only brought back 30% of the Salmon….the other 70% was ripped to shreds right in front of us not more than 20 feet from the boat. The only benefit to having fish ripped off the end of the line by a furbag is that I now have fully stress tested the Tekota’s drag to the maximum! The fact that I was able to get back even a portion of the fish is a testament to the Tekota’s quality drag. In our lab the Tekota 600LC was able to deliver 16.7lbs of drag counter pressure which is very impressive for a reel of this size.


The included rod clamp provides peace of mind and added security when fighting big fish


Durability: The durability of saltwater reels is one of the critical areas of concern for most inshore anglers. Having a reel fail usually means the loss of a big fish. I had my doubts about the Tekota’s aluminum and graphite combo design, but after a complete season of use I am convinced that this reel can take a beating and keep on ticking. The reel exhibited no flex with big fish on, and the reinforcement on the side panels is more than adequate. The graphite sideplates look and feel more like metal than others I have tested before, and actually do a great job holding up to the elements as well as warding off boat rash. The reel has very durable oversized gearing and the levelwind is also rather large, both of which help prolong reel life. If there were any area that could be improved it is really the actual levelwind which would be stronger if it were an alloy versus the plastic.


The TEK600LC was ideal for Salmon trolling and mooching


Ergonomics: In the ergonomics department the Tekota is top notch. The reel isn’t very large for the capacity it is capable of holding. The line counter is easy to operate and more importantly, very reliable. The smaller sizes can easily be palmed, and we felt our TEK600LC size reel was ideal for taking on Salmon here on the West Coast. The oversized clicker is easy to engage and disengage on the fly. I have also grown to love the Septon grips Shimano uses on numerous reels including the Tekota, and the one on the Tekota is both oversized and ergonomic to fit the curvature of your palm. Whether it is saltwater or fish slime the Septon grip remains easy to grip. Icing on the cake is the inclusion of a reel seat. It isn’t the prettiest reel seat, but it gets the job done, giving anglers more confidence when trolling flashers or man-handling a big fish.


The TEK600LC has become our favorite salmon trolling reel, and at a price of only 169.99 its a great value


Applications & Price: The Tekota 600LC can be used in any freshwater trolling application, as well as a number of lighter saltwater trolling applications. The smaller versions of the Tekota make good rockfish reels and the very large versions are affordable big game solutions. The reel is a solid performer in a wide range of applications but what is best about this reel is the aggressive low price. The smallest TEK500 retails for 159.95 and the huge TEK800 costs only 30 bucks more at 189.99. At this price these make brilliant backup reel choices!



Shimano Tekota 600LC Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality The TEK600LC is designed with a purpose. The construction is top notch even if the reel is not 100% metal in construction you wouldn't know it from the look, feel, or performance 8.5
Performance The performance of this surpassed our expectations. At a price of only 169.99 we expected a reel that performed mediocre at best.....we were wrong 9
Price At a MSRP of 169.99 the TEK600LC is a good value. The series is among the most aggressively priced in the Shimano lineup. The larger TEK800 for only 189.99 is a downright fantastic value 9
Features The TEK600LC is feature packed. Whether you look at the dartanium drag, A-RB bearings, line counter, or added value reel seat...this is one solid package 9
Design (Ergonomics) Overall the Tekota has excellent ergonomics for a reel of this size...no complaints here 9
Application A great reel to troll freshwater for stripers or use for targeting river or ocean running salmon. This multi talented performer can step up to a great many applications 9

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Excellent Value! L Not 100% metal construction
J Multi-applications  
J Dartanium drag performance  
J Rod clamp included  
J Great ergonomics  

Shimano has done a better job than any other reel manufacturer when it comes to bringing quality product to the mainstream angler. For a reasonable investment of 159.00 the Tekota 500 will serve anglers for many seasons. While the reel was designed to be one half of an excellent freshwater trolling system, it proved to us that it has the guts to troll the big blue ocean with the best of them. While you would want to step up to a TLD or Tiagra for Tuna, the Tekota is the ideal reel to take on even the biggest Salmon. The line counter is a very nice feature and proved to be useful while trolling and mooching for Kings. I don’t think I have tested a reel that was more balanced in terms of features, price, and performance in all the categories. It is for this reason that the Tekota is a perfect recipient of our Best Value Award. There are few reels at this price point that will serve you as well as the Tekota can right out of the box.











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