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Reel Review

TICA offers a conventional baitcast reel that gets high marks in performance and value

Date: 6/23/03
Tackle type: Reels
Manufacturer: TICA
Reviewer: JIP

Total Score: 9.0 + Editor's Choice Award!

Introduction: Aside from low profile baitcast reels, conventional styles are also popular especially when targeting larger species of fish, or throwing sizeable lures into surf or lakes. The TICA Caiman CA150 is designed for saltwater applications, but also gives freshwater anglers an extra edge when fighting big fish.


TICA Caiman CA150 Specifications

Weight 11.3oz
Gear Ratio 5.2 (21.8 inches of line per handle turn)
Bearings 12BB, 1RB
Line Capacity (lb/yds) 12/205, 14/175, 17/150
Additional Features Forged aluminum spool, centrifugal brake system, waterproof handle side cover, instant anti-reverse, aluminum line guide, line out alarm, forged aluminum alloy spool
MSRP $132.99


TICA's Caiman CA150 is a good sized reel for both freshwater and saltwater anglers

Impressions: After many years in the OEM business manufacturing reels for other big companies, TICA is now producing fine reels sporting their own brand. When I first examined the TICA Caiman I was impressed with how solid the entire reel felt, and for this you have to thank the hi-tech CNC machining TICA employs giving this one piece aluminum chassis both strength and rigidity. Within this solid frame, 12 precise ball bearings are coupled with 1 roller bearing that gives the CA150 its instant anti-reverse system. Unlike the Caiman CM model, the CA models are coated with an anti-corrosion layer and feature a water tight handle side cover, designed for saltwater and surf fishing. As a added bonus a protective soft reel cover is also included to guard this fine reel while it's being transported.


Complete Rig for TICA CA150 Tests

Rod GLoomis 784C
Reel TICA CA150
Line 12 lb. Sufix DNA

Real World Tests: The Caiman was built for saltwater applications, but tackling big game isn't what the CA150 is necessarily all about. The TICA Caiman is designed for fishing in saltwater where an enormous amount of heavy line isn't needed. It is perfect for medium sized game and finesse saltwater applications where accuracy and power need to be matched up perfectly. It's a great conventional reel for big freshwater game fish such as pike, muskies, catfish, and more.  We put the Caiman in action fishing in the San Francisco Bay and in brackish waters in the California Delta and O'neill Forebay.


Casting: The Caiman 150 is a precision reel grant users the ability to cast medium to large lures very well. The one piece aluminum frame is CNC machined accurately and uniformly providing a very good balance and feel. I found that this precise construction provides a consistent rotation that delivers a smooth flow as you cast. To keep the line from flying out uncontrollably, the TICA conventional reel employs a centrifugal brake system along with a pressure knob, this system does a good job keeping backlashes from becoming a concern. The Caiman CA model comes in multiple sizes, and for the applications where I was targeting the CA150 size was easy to handle and wasn't aggressively oversized, making it very enjoyable to cast large lures or bait.


Good performance in casting comes from all the features built into the CA150 such as a coated large line guide that provides a frictionless yet controlled cast


The Retrieve: Take a hold of the handle of the TICA Caiman and begin to spin and you will discover a silky feel not normally found in conventional reels of this size and price. The retrieve on this 12 ball bearing reel is exceptionally smooth. Each and every part of this reel from chassis to spool is aimed to make the retrieve as fluid as possible. The soft contoured rubber handle knobs are very welcoming to your fingers, especially when you're constantly retrieving with lures.


The power of the Caiman 150 is awesome. Each turn of the handle translates it into energy that confidently muscles in fish. This proved to be true when I hooked up on a sizable largemouth bass in the Delta. It was already in between heavy weed beds, and when the fish hooked up it dove deeper into the cover. Matched with heavy line, a muscular rod, and the powerful Caiman, I was able to retrieve the fish from its hideout without having to lug her out of the mess with my bare hands. Other components that add to the brawn of the Caiman are the non-flex one piece aluminum frame and an absolute anti-reverse system that has zero back-play.


The Caiman's line out alarm switch provides a handy feature for those anglers in need of a loud strike indicator


The Drag: The CA150's drag is adjusted by the use of the star drag which contains a clicking mechanism to assist in accurate adjustment in drag pressure. When lab testing the drag at near full setting, the Caiman produced well over 12 pounds of pressure coming directly out of the box. During tests fighting largemouth bass and stripers, the drag performed very well, providing smooth consistent performance regardless of fish size. The drag was smooth and dependable, and never faltered even when large stripers attempted to charge away from the boat. In this category the CA150 is outstanding.


Line Out Alarm: The TICA Caiman is designed with features that are both useful and user-friendly for both saltwater and freshwater anglers.  The CA150 has a built-in line out alarm that can be turned on or off by a simple switch. This is strike indicator tool is excellent for trolling or bait fishing. The line out alarm clicker can be left on when fighting the fish but should be turned off before casting.


Follow the text on the reel will assure a quick and easy process of  removing and replacing the waterproof side cover.  Also notice the screw to remove the side cover is located just above the spool tension knob


Side Cover: For a saltwater reel it's important to be able to keep salt, sand, and other grit out of the gearing. The TICA Caiman implements a waterproof handle side cover that is quick and simple to remove when you need to adjust the centrifugal brake system, or lubricate the gears.  Just undo one screw with your fingers, turn the cover in the direction indicated on the reel, and it pops open. For some, putting the cover back on might be a little bit more tricky. 


The waterproof side cover protects the gears, bearings, and other internal components from foreign materials yet it's easy to open for maintenance


If the cover is placed incorrectly you will notice the thumb button doesn't function properly until you re-insert the side cover properly. After the first trial, you won't make the mistake again, and accurately aligning the cover will be very easy next time. Be sure to follow the arrows and directions marked on the reel and you shouldn't run into any problems. Finally, tighten the single screw for a completely water tight seal.


TICA Caiman CA150 Ratings (?/10)

Construction/Quality Overall well constructed with precision and ruggedness along with the use of high grade materials 8.5
Performance Outstanding performance in all different categories 9.5
Price For a feature packed conventional reel with this kind of performance and application, the Caiman is a great value 10
Features Many useful and user-friendly features to make you happy for a while, especially 12 ball bearings for a smooth retrieve 8.5
Design (Ergonomics) A nice and comfortable designed that's great to fish for a good amount of time 8.5
Application A good reel for both huge freshwater fish and saltwater applications where a large amount of line is not needed 9.0

Total Score


Pluses and Minuses:

                 Plus                                    Minus

J Great Value! L Side cover can be tricky at first
J Smooth retrieves  
J Tough drag  
J Rugged chassis  

Conclusion: For saltwater anglers conventional shaped reels are still the most widely used style due to a good balance of power, performance, and reliability. The TICA Caiman was constructed to perform well in saltwater applications, but also fits the requirements for freshwater fishermen targeting larger species nicely. The Caiman CA150 sports many features that enhance the overall performance of the reel including the 12 ball bearing lending a silky smooth retrieve, and the accurate drag system. This reel has a tough shell and durable guts to not only handle fish, but also satisfy anglers who are looking for a reel that can be used for a wide range of applications. Once you consider all the performance and flexibility this reel offers it is hard to believe that a reel of this quality only costs 132.99, making it a well rounded product worthy of being chosen as a TackleTour Editors Choice!









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