Trends in Low Profile Reels

Trends in Low Profile Reels

It seems a bit foolish now. Two years ago, we thought low-­profile reels had hit the apex of performance. Yet 2014 arrived with tons of new products and it's clear manufacturers have moved the bar higher, in some cases, much higher, than we'd expected.

Trends in Low Profile Reels

Weight: Reels are getting lighter than ever. How light? Consider Abu's new Revo MGXtreme, the first full-size baitcaster, at just 4.9 ounces, to break the 5-ounce barrier. The "weight race" may be nearing an end, however. Engineers admit there is only so far they can continue to go with today's materials and technologies.

Size: Larger, more powerful low-profile reels. For anglers who cast for stripers, muskies, peacocks, and other brutes, reels like the Daiwa Lexa 300 Power Handle should be a consideration. The Lexa has an impressive line capacity of 14/190 (mono), and is built to toss big baits to big fish. And there are others out there or in the works.


Trickle down technology: When manufacturers bring reels costing $500 or more to market, economic pressures that lead to engineering compromises are limited. This tends to benefit a manufacturer's entire line, as advancements trickle down to lower cost models. There are, as a result, reels available today that cost a hundred bucks or less that offer solid performance, and reels running under $200 that are simply superb thanks to their higher-end siblings.


New braking systems: New models more quickly and easily adapt to specific fishing applications, such as pitchin' or casting into wind, thanks to advanced brake systems to control spool speed. In the future, we may see improved digital "smart" braking technologies emerge, building on Shimano's efforts in JDM (Japanese Domestic Market) reels like the Metanium and domestic Calais.


Speed: Abu Garcia's new Revo Rocket, with a 9:1 gear ratio, is the fastest we've seen, and the market is loaded with models geared 7.1:1, 7.9:1, and faster.

Technique-specific reels: Some new models are built to do one thing very well at the sacrifice of versatility. For example, Abu's new JDM Program series includes a model built to handle 4-pound-test line in ultrafinesse applications.

Abu Garcia MGXtreme

You'd think that after unveiling Gen 3 versions of the popular Revo line in 2013 that Abu would step back and take a break. They didn't. At just 4.9 ounces, this is the lightest casting reel on the market, and the best low-profile reel we've yet fished. Its cutting-edge IVBC-4 centrifugal braking system offers superb spool control. Performance is smooth, thanks to its 10 bearings (seven stainless-steel HPCR bearings, two hybrid CeramiLite, and one roller) and one-piece alloy frame. The reel features a bent carbon handle and either round EVA knobs or standard flat. This year, the MGXtreme is available in 7.1:1 (28 inches per turn) only, and line capacity of 12/115 (mono), $499.95. abugarcia.com

Abu Garcia Revo Rocket

You'd think that after unveiling Gen 3 versions of the popular Revo line in 2013 that Abu would step back and take a break. They didn't. The Rocket, geared 9:1 and weighing 6.75 ounces, is the fastest reel on the market. It takes in 37 inches of line per turn, making it ideal for presentations that demand speed, like flippin'. The Rocket has both a magnetic brake and sealed centrifuge system for controlling spool speed throughout the cast. Right- and left-hand retrieves available, $299.95 abugarcia.com

Daiwa Tatula

Daiwa has a history of innovation that includes Magforce cast control technologies back in the early 1980s. They now offer 'œa new species' of baitcaster called Tatula. Tatula series features Air Rotation, a precision gear design housed in a one-piece aluminum frame for maximum strength, reduced vibration, and increased durability. Tatula reels also feature a hybrid levelwind and redesigned T-Wing casting aperture with simpler mechanics for frictionless line flow and longer casts. Other features include Ultimate Tournament Carbon Drag (UTD), Magforce-Z magnetic cast control braking, 7+1 bearings, infinite anti-reverse, corrosion resistant clutch, and large angled power handle. Available in standard or Type-R models in both right- and left-handed versions, reels weigh 7.6 to 7.9 ounces depending on model. Gear ratios include 5.4:1, 6.3:1, and 7.3:1, $149.99 to $199.99. daiwa.com

Lew's BB1 Pro Speed Spool

Since Lew's was acquired by Lynn Reeves in late 2010, the team has invested heavily in this legendary brand. The rebirth of the iconic BB1 was just the beginning. Building on the 2012 reintroduction of the BB1, the BB1 Pro Speed Spool is lighter and features a new externally-adjustable SpeedCast 6-Pin ACB centrifugal brake system. From free-spool to maximum braking, anglers can quickly match settings to bait size with 27 variable settings, without opening the side plate. Improvements also include an oversized titanium line guide to maximize casting distance. The BB1 Pro series includes five models, including the low-geared 5.1:1 PS1, designed with a multi-stop anti-reverse preferred by crankbait fiends like pro David Fritts, who applaud the reel's sensitivity. Four other BB1 Pro models are available in 6.4:1 and 7.1:1 gear ratios, both right- and left-handed, $199.99. lews.com

Okuma Helios Air

Okuma continues down the path of weight reduction with magnesium. Building on 2013's Helios, the Helios Air is even lighter, largely due to replacing the reel's aluminum frame and side plates with magnesium versions, cutting weight from 6.5 to 5.7 ounces. A seven-position Velocity Control System under the palm cover allows quick brake adjustment. The Air also features an all-aluminum drive system, multi-disc Carbonite drag, eight bearings plus one roller bearing drive system, Japanese spool bearings, and Zirconium line guide inserts. It's available in both right- and left-handed versions, and 7.3:1 gear ratio that picks up 31.6 inches of line per turn, $269.99. okumafishing.com

Pflueger Patriarch

Pflueger has been quiet in recent years, but that changed with the launch of the redesigned Patriarch and new Supreme XT. This flagship of the Pflueger line has been completely redesigned. It now features an all-aluminum frame and gears, carbon fiber handle, and other weight-reducing tweaks. The Patriarch now weighs just 6.28 ounces, yet still features the dual braking system that includes centrifugal and magnetic brakes (accessed via an all-new cam locking non-detachable side plate), 20 pounds of max drag, and gear ratios of 7.1:1 and 7.9:1 (right hand only), $199.95. pfluegerfishing.com

Pflueger Supreme XT

Offering nine double-shielded stainless ball bearings, easily-accessed centrifugal brake system, seamless carbon fiber drag, titanium line guide and aluminum main gear, the new XT weighs a mere 6.5 ounces. It's available in both 6.4:1 and 7.1:1 models, $149.95. pfluegerfishing.com

Pinnacle Fishing Primmus Xi

Pinnacle 4's new low-profile models offer a high value-to-performance ratio, and unique hand tuning. Individually tuned before leaving the California factory, the new 5.8-ounce Primmus Xi features strong carbon-fiber side plates and an X-Bone 2.0 aluminum alloy frame to distribute the torque of big fish and keep gears aligned. The reel incorporates Duralumin in its spool design, a lightweight aircraft-grade aluminum alloy that's stronger than brass. Remove the palm cover and a six-position centrifugal cast control allows quick brake adjustment to match lure size. The reel is covered by a lifetime warranty, including no-cost service when your reel needs tuning. Available in 6.4:1 and 7.1:1 models, $249.95. pinnaclefishing.com

Quantum TourMG PG

Quantum introduces industry's first magnesium reel under $300. Two years ago, Quantum introduced the 5.9-ounce Exo, a reel that cut weight through an all-aluminum alloy 'œexoskeletal' design. Their latest, the 5.4 ounce TourMg PT, is crafted with a magnesium frame and gear side cover to reduce weight, although aluminum alloy is still used in the reel's drilled-out main gear and drive shaft. Other features include 11 bearings, Performance Tuned ceramic drag system, easy-to-access six-setting internal centrifugal cast control, and flipping switch, long favored by Quantum fans. Available in 6.3:1 and 7:1 gear ratios with 26 and 28 inches of line uptake per turn, respectively, and 12/110 line capacity (mono), $279.95. quantumfishing.com

Abu Garcia Revo ALT

This Revo features corrosion-resistant components making it suitable for both fresh- and saltwater. It features Abu's IVCB-IV braking system, 6+1 bearings, solid brass main gear, and Carbon Matrix drag (offering 12 pounds of max drag). It weighs 6.2 ounces with line capacity of 12/115 (mono), $259.95 abugarcia.com
* Abu Garcia's JDM Program >>> With nearly 3 million anglers living in an area the size of California, Japan's hyper-clear waters are laboratories for development of finesse presentations. This focus on finesse has lead manufacturers like Abu Garcia to build low-profile baitcasters designed for the Japanese market. Now, as part of its JDM (Japanese Domestic Market), Abu is offering U.S. anglers three low-profile reels that until now were available only in Japan. Andrew Wheeler, Abu's Senior Product Manager, says Tackle Warehouse, Dick's, Bass Pro Shops, and other top retailers will carry them in 2014. For fans of light tackle, they represent a giant step forward. We fished them with lines as light as 4-pound fluoro to challenge the reel's performance and the experience was breathtaking. Casting distance with light drop-shot rigs was excellent and control superb.

Abu Garcia Revo Elite 7 & 8

Both the Elite 7 and Elite 8 feature Abu's externally adjustable IVCB centrifugal braking system, enhanced by the addition of two more braking arms (for a total of 8). The result is amazing casting control, especially when tossing light baits. The Elite 7 has 9+1 bearings, weighs 6 ounces, offers 15 pounds of max drag, and line capacity of 14/110 (mono). Its 7.1:1 gearing gathers 29 inches of line per turn. The Elite 8 offers the same features, but is geared 8:1 (32 inches per turn), $379.95. abugarcia.com
* Abu Garcia's JDM Program >>> With nearly 3 million anglers living in an area the size of California, Japan's hyper-clear waters are laboratories for development of finesse presentations. This focus on finesse has lead manufacturers like Abu Garcia to build low-profile baitcasters designed for the Japanese market. Now, as part of its JDM (Japanese Domestic Market), Abu is offering U.S. anglers three low-profile reels that until now were available only in Japan. Andrew Wheeler, Abu's Senior Product Manager, says Tackle Warehouse, Dick's, Bass Pro Shops, and other top retailers will carry them in 2014. For fans of light tackle, they represent a giant step forward. We fished them with lines as light as 4-pound fluoro to challenge the reel's performance and the experience was breathtaking. Casting distance with light drop-shot rigs was excellent and control superb.

Abu Garcia Revo LTX

The LTX was engineered for finesse fishing. It pairs a one-piece X-Mag, alloy frame and C6 carbon side plates with a shallow Infini II spool and Magtrax brake system to create an extremely lightweight (5.4 ounces) performance reel that must be fished to be appreciated. Max drag is 12 pounds. Both right- and left-hand models are available, both in a 7.9:1 retrieve ratio (31 inches of line per turn) and line capacity of 8/130 (mono), $379.95. abugarcia.com
* Abu Garcia's JDM Program >>> With nearly 3 million anglers living in an area the size of California, Japan's hyper-clear waters are laboratories for development of finesse presentations. This focus on finesse has lead manufacturers like Abu Garcia to build low-profile baitcasters designed for the Japanese market. Now, as part of its JDM (Japanese Domestic Market), Abu is offering U.S. anglers three low-profile reels that until now were available only in Japan. Andrew Wheeler, Abu's Senior Product Manager, says Tackle Warehouse, Dick's, Bass Pro Shops, and other top retailers will carry them in 2014. For fans of light tackle, they represent a giant step forward. We fished them with lines as light as 4-pound fluoro to challenge the reel's performance and the experience was breathtaking. Casting distance with light drop-shot rigs was excellent and control superb.

Shimano Chronarch C14+

Shimano goes composite, introduces new brake system. New CI4+ Chronarch wins 'œBest of Show: Freshwater Reel' at ICAST 2013. Chronarch CI4+ has a new carbon frame, re-engineered brake system, and X-SHIP technology. A departure from the magnesium used in their domestic Core and Japanese JDM Metanium reels, the Chronarch CI4+ carbon composite is even lighter and stronger than materials used in first generation Chronarchs. X-Ship technology, first available in their spinning reels, now brings greater strength and rigidity to baitcasters, reducing torque and subsequent tilt that big fish can put on the reel frame and gearing. For casting lighter lures, the SVS Infinity Brake system controls spool speed and an external adjustment dial allows on-the-fly adjustments. The reel also features S-ARM anti-rust bearings and additional non-corrosive carbon frame components for inshore anglers. Available in 6.2:1 and 7.6:1 gear ratios with 26 and 32 inches of line uptake per turn, respectively, and 10/145 (mono), $269.99. shimano.com

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