Summer gamefish reel comparisons

[Originally published in the January 2022 issue of Ski-Boat]
By Paul Nixon

REEL reviews can be found all over the internet and in many publications, but what we don’t hear much of are the pros and cons and worry points between various size reels as well as entry level through to high end price comparisons.
The information in this article is based on a very objective opinion and forms a basic guide; there are obviously many other factors to take into consideration as well as a myriad of other reels to choose from. The reels discussed here are what we see on a regular basis in my workshop where we see close-up how they withstand South African fishing conditions, and the opinions have been formed from our experiences with these reels.
The term “use enough gun” comes to mind in deciding which reel to use when. For example, when fishing with livebait for dorado versus pulling konas for sailies or tuna, certain reels are more suited to these styles of fishing and unfortunately there is no “jack of all trades” reel. If you really want to compare, then one needs to factor in durability, reliability, drag capabilities and, of course, budget!

A Torium 50 reel which has had its washers upgraded.

(Early season shoal ’cuda, dorado and snoek)

SL50SH, TLD 2040
For the average holiday or weekend angler, there is a necessity to spend as little as possible, but you do still need something that will last and be reliable, and these reels are a good fit.
Problem points: Drag washers are fairly rudimentary and compress and wear down over time, but these can be upgraded which dramatically improves the drag responsiveness.
Saltist 50, Torium 30, Fathom 40
These reels will suit the more avid fisherperson with deeper pockets who is looking for a reel that is nice and smooth yet won’t break the bank.
Problem points: Torium standard washers made of dartanium are brittle and do wear down and get sticky. These too can be replaced with carbontex washers which greatly improves drag responsiveness.

Saltiga 50, Trinidad 30a, Avet, Penn Torque
These are cream of the crop star drag reels, well made and with great internals. They have plenty of line capacity and a great retrieve ratio.
Problem points: Being metal-bodied reels, they do have a corrosion susceptibility if not pre-serviced.

This is where lever drag reels really do come into their own when targeting dorado, sailfish and tuna.

TLD 25, Penn Fathom lever drag, Tyrnos 30
These have all proven themselves time and again for everyone from the weekend fisherman to charter boats needing reliable and affordable equipment which is easy to maintain.
Problem points: The drag cams are brass and often strip if not placed correctly in the lever housing. Tyrnos can get a lot of boat rash, but otherwise is really solid.
A problem factor throughout the range of lever drag reels is water ingress on the drag cam and pinion bearing. Regular checks and services should be mandatory.

Talica, Tiagra, Saltiga leverdrag, Avet
It goes without saying that with reels like these being used the world over on professional outfits, and enduring relentless seasons of work, they are all phenomenal tools built to catch fish, easy to service and made to last.
When trying to decide between these reels it really comes down to personal preference rather than one reel outperforming the others.
Problem points: If the reel is poorly maintained, screw ports seize, making opening the reel a real nightmare. Pitting occurs on body internals if left unserviced and not season prepped.

For more information on reel repairs, servicing and upgrades, contact Paul Nixon on 083 940 6273.

Show More

Related Articles

Back to top button