"Affordable" big, fast, fish reels?

Discussion in 'Saltwater' started by SilverFly, May 27, 2008.

  1. Bob Triggs Your Preferred Olympic Peninsula Fly Fishing Guide

    Posts: 3,956
    Olympic Peninsula
    Ratings: +624 / 0
  2. salt dog card shark

    Posts: 2,306
    Edmonds WA / Mazama
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    I use the TiCr 10wt with a 11 wt line when fishing the ocean side of the out Islands in the Bahamas for 15 - 25lb dorado, big baracuda and modest sized sharks and jacks, and it's a good stick for the money. I match that rod with Lamson's Velocity 4, which has the same drag as the litespeed, but is a sturdier reel, and has less flex. Still, that is about the limit of the stress I would want to put on that reel (or the rod) as it is not designed for truly big salt water fish, both as to speed and fighting weight. Plus with a 11 wt line on it, I would need to go to gel to get over 200 yards of backing.
  3. SilverFly Ancient Steelhead Sensei

    Posts: 372
    Camas, WA
    Ratings: +49 / 0
    Numbers and variety are the reasons I chose Belize from a fishing standpoint. I think I'd rather catch 5, 20# Tarpon than 1, 100#er (I say that now). I really just want to experience the place, and be ready to throw a fly at anything since these will all be new species for me. Bonefish are the only of the "big 3" species there that I will be disappointed to not catch. For some reason I'm intrigued by fishing the mangroves for snook, snapper, baby tarpon,...? That and watching a big cuda chase down and inhale my fly is something that I hope to fit in. Oh yeah, crossing paths with a school of jacks would be a hoot too.

    Permit scare me. From everthing I've heard, chasing them sounds like the fly-fishing equivalent of getting hooked on heroin. I can see myself going back to the lodge after being severely humbled all day, and tying dozens of new crab and shrimp patterns into the wee hours. Not a good scenario for a honeymoon.
  4. Salmo_g Active Member

    Posts: 7,454
    Your City ,State
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    With this thread back on track, I'd like to seek some clarification of my own. I've only been salt water fishing one time (flats in Ascension Mexico), and that was for small bonefish. I thought that heavy duty fly reels are necessary only for blue water fishing for really large fish that run really, really fast. So knowing that the bonefish where we went run small, my GF and I used Ross Colorados, the simple spring and pawl model, loaded with 5 and 6 wt lines. Not one bonefish I hooked ever made it into my backing. I was a bit disappointed, but then most steelhead I hook never make it into my backing either. I don't give fish backing; I make them earn it.

    We're thinking of going back there, or alternately to Belize, mainly to fish for bonefish, and hopefully permit, and maybe some other flats species. I have two larger reels that I bought for Spey reel use that I thought would also double for saltwater. I have an Elkhorn T-5 and a Tioga 12. I just learned from a friend who took his Elkhorn T-5 to Mexico a couple weeks ago - fishing blue water - the bearings got fried. Not from really large fish, but up to 15 pound dorado. OK, scratch the Elkhorn, is the Tioga up to the task if I put it on a 10 wt rod or so?

    This thread has started me thinking I might actually need more fishing tackle. We've been thinking about making somewhat regular winter breaks to the tropics somewhere, and we might as well fish.



    Salmo g.
  5. East Fork Active Member

    Posts: 1,200
    Vancouver, WA
    Ratings: +2 / 0
    The Tioga and a 10 wt. will handle dorado. But what ya gonna do if sail grabs your fly. Thats a good reason to buy more tackle :)
  6. Denny Active Member

    Posts: 4,042
    Seattle, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +45 / 0

    Depending on which 10 weight rod, but your Tioga 12 hanging on a 10 weight will cover a lot of bases for you! It should do fine.
  7. Philster New Member

    Posts: 2,479
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    Yeah, 3 pound bonefish which are all over Belize are more about the hookup than the fight. I've used the big colorado, I have 2 which are still my 6/7 weight stillwater reels, the abel creek (so pretty!), and an old loop 2W. Bones have never been about "stopping power":p

    The Tioga will work like a champ until it stops working. That's the problem. You could come back raving about how well it performed, or you could come back cussing a blue streak...
  8. Ed Call Mumbling Moderator

    Posts: 17,360
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Ratings: +1,327 / 9
    I started using Okuma Integrity series reels due to thier affordability. I have two of them in 5/6, two in 8/9 and one in 10/11 each with spare spools (probably way too many). I have caught a lot of SRC's, Coho, a few Kings some trout and some Steelhead. These all have performed pretty well for me and lasted through my abuse. They certainly seem well worth it for the price. Has anyone else had any good or bad experiences with them? I have never had a top name or high dollar reel because these seem to do everything I have asked them to do and more. Thanks for your input.
  9. alpinetrout Banned or Parked

    Posts: 3,891
    Hiding in your closet
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    Okuma's are fine for casual, light duty use, and they fit the budget of a lot of fishermen. The problem is they're not anywhere near as reliable as any of the mid-range reels. I've seen more seized Okuma's than any other brand, and these reels weren't even used in the salt. Like others have mentioned, if you drop a few hundred bucks to go out tuna fishing and smoke your reel on the first fish, how "affordable" was it?
  10. Ed Call Mumbling Moderator

    Posts: 17,360
    Kitsap Peninsula
    Ratings: +1,327 / 9
    alpinetrout, great point on value versus performance. My personal experience is not with any of those huge species. I have had my Okumas in salt water for about 8 years now, never seized, always smooth, drag always performs (I'm just learning to fish fresh water streams, rivers and lakes with the smaller reels). I guess when I'm ready for burly fast running fish I will consider upgrading my reels with a more reliable reel. Thanks again, I figured for the price there would be a trade off, it only makes sense.
  11. SilverFly Ancient Steelhead Sensei

    Posts: 372
    Camas, WA
    Ratings: +49 / 0
    Just wanted to say thanks again for all the advice. I picked up my new (to me) Ross BG7 with a new spare spool.

    Rod shopping is next!
  12. Jim Darden Active Member

    Posts: 885
    Bellingham, Wa.
    Ratings: +214 / 0
    All of the previous advice is good so here's some more just to add confusion.

    I like cork drags because I've never had a problem with one. You might look at some used Fin-Nors on ebay, they are usually lower priced than the hot new brands. Cabellas even had some reels made by Fin-Nor that have held up very well on big game.

    I have a Ross Canyon BG-7 that has a conical drag that has held up very well too, but I have two other models where the drag has worn down to the point that I can't tighten it up like it did when it was new so you can't put a lot of drag on the fish.

    I'd put the money into the reel rather than the rod for this kind of fishing.
  13. snarlac Member

    Posts: 264
    Sacramento, CA
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    No such thing as that in the subject line. Pay up or burn it up.
  14. Denny Active Member

    Posts: 4,042
    Seattle, WA, USA.
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    Conical drag? Must be a prototype. The Ross BG series drag, if I remember the terminology correctly, is a compression friction drag. The Lamson Litespeed, Velocity, Radius, Konic, et al have the conical drag.

    What were the "two other models" where the drag has worn down to the point that you can't tighten it? It might be useful to share with others, so 'caveat emptor'.

    What were you chasing that you used the BG-7?
  15. Philster New Member

    Posts: 2,479
    Ratings: +3 / 0
    Reel first always. If those other reels are quality reels it's worth checking in to servicing. Heck, ya gotta send in a Pate every 15 years or so too...:rofl: Modern delrin and rulon stuff doesn't compress but there are spring washers and other things that can get distorted and reduce your ability to apply pressure to the non-compressible components. Easy cheap fixes usually. Although I never set my drags hard enough to get close to those issues.

    My BG had the exact opposite problem. I couldn't undo the drag so it would "free spool". I lost my balance and fell in the boat (one of my physical ills is a lack of feeling in my feet. "hey when did that hook get in my toe?") and the reel landed in the "Bait tank" aka "flooded section between bench seats" on a panga and sat there for 40 minutes or so. Never free spooled again. That's when I decided to stick with my "world class" reels.
  16. Les Johnson Les Johnson

    Posts: 1,590
    .Redmond, WA
    Ratings: +6 / 0
    My Fenwick World Class A/R and old Fin Nor A/R have worked for many years on dorado, skippies and cabrilla, etc. The Fin Nor has a cork drag nad has never let me down. The Fenwick has a composite drag, which also has worked well. In fact they both still work very well and are set up for 8-weight lines.
    For the big guys; bull dorado in the 40-50 pound class, sailfish, marlin (blue or striped) I am solidly in the Islander camp since that is what I purchased when I upgraded from some old Martin saltwater reels several years ago. I presently use Islander 4.0 L/A and an LX 4.0 reels. The old 4.0 takes more backing than the LX so I keep it handy for sails, etc. The LX-40 takes 300 yards of Gel Spun and has been more than enough reel for dorado and smaller sails. These reels have big cork drags.
    I have a Terry Hayden N which is rated for an 8-weight and backing that I haven't used yet. It has a cork drag and I'm sure that it will deal with anything that is within its backing capacity. The larger Haydens have earned their colors on some major marlin, sharks, etc., off the Barrier Reef.
    In fishing for big game fish in the salt, I lift an analogy from the late Robert Ruark who quoted his grandfather's wisdom, "use enough gun". When big game fishig, use enough reel. As Philster alluded to; don't quibble on your reel when you have six-grand invested in the trip.
  17. TroutJunkie New Member

    Posts: 4
    Kirkland, Wa
    Ratings: +0 / 0
    I just returned from a week in Loreto where I spent a few days with a 12 wt. rod catching good sized Dorado. My partner and I fished Loomis Cross Current rods. He used a Nautilus for a size 12 wt. and I fished with a Ross CLA # 6. Both of these reels handled these large fish very handily. I only paid $260.00 for the CLA and was very impressed with it's performance.
  18. Denny Active Member

    Posts: 4,042
    Seattle, WA, USA.
    Ratings: +45 / 0


    Islanders are gorgeous reels, and the build quality and materials used should reasonably endure for several lifetimes. Not kidding.

    The Hayden reels are kind of at the upper end of your budget range, but they are solid tanks and built for using/abusing. They are one of the bona fide big game reel bargains out on the market.
  19. Philster New Member

    Posts: 2,479
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    Back when I was selling them I used to,with tongue firmly planted in cheek, describe Islanders as "Abels without the Asshole".:rofl: They used to produce reels for LLBean I believe. So if you see a cheap used LLBean reel that looks like an Islander:thumb: