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Sea Fishing Special – Fixed Spool Reel Review

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Sea Fishing Special – Fixed Spool Reel Review

Beach fishing has come a long way where reels are concerned. The earliest reels in common use by beach casters were wooden centrepins, often referred to as Scarborough reels. Simple, and quite useful in the hands of an expert caster, but nowhere near as efficient as the next popular development, the multiplier reel.

However, somewhere along the way came one of those developments that in evolutionary terms might be described as a ‘dead end’ except that, like some other evolutionary dead ends, it survived and models are still in production to this day.

That dead end is the side-cast reel – a centrepin that can be turned around to cast like a fixed-spool, then back to operate like a normal centrepin. Australian firm Alvey is probably the most famous manufacturer of this type of reel.

But before side-cast reels were in common use, the fixed-spool or threadline reel, as it was originally known, was born.

The first examples were designed by AH Illingworth around 1905, who realised that line could be more easily cast from a non-moving spool pointing forwards than it could from a revolving reel. These reels allowed the then modern fine silk lines to be used, but their prime invention was for the game fishing market, specifically trout spinning.

With the materials and engineering tolerances available at the time, the developing fixed-spool market was aimed at game and coarse anglers. Although larger fixed-spool reels could be made, they weren’t sufficiently robust to be used for sea fishing.

Soft metal gears would be easily stripped by repeatedly winching back heavy weights – with or without fish attached – and the corrosive power of saltwater would also have done them no favours, so for the rough and tumble of shore fishing, top-quality fixed-spool reels are quite new to the party.

Fixed-spool reels are looked down upon by some shore anglers – there are even suggestions, by some, of them being ‘unmanly’.

Nevertheless, they are easier to cast with than multiplier reels, especially for newcomers to the sport, and in many respects they require less maintenance.

Modern reels are often fitted with sealed systems to prevent saltwater and sand getting into them, and they have easily adjustable, smoothly operating drags.

With a fixed-spool reel there’s no fiddling about with braking systems, it’s simply ‘throw and go’. For this reason they are becoming very popular on the match scene where, teamed with longer, Continental-style rods, they can help anglers with the most basic casting technique to achieve decent casting distances.

Fixed-spool reels allow anglers to use finer-diameter reel lines, and they are much easier to use with braid. For clean-ground work they are a good, solid choice.

Top Tips 1.) Filling the spool correctly is critical if you want to get the best from a fixed-spool reel. The line needs to be very close to the lip to avoid friction impinging on casting distance. It also prevents ‘jerking’ as the line hits the spool on the way out.

2.) Wear a fingerstall or casting glove when using a fixed-spool, especially one that is spooled up with braid line. Line cuts can be vicious if you aren’t careful on the cast.

3.) Take care where the shockleader knot is positioned – it should be at the base of the spool. This allows the line to peel smoothly from the reel before the knot, which adds friction, passes through the rod rings.

4.) The spool of the reel MUST be fully retracted (close to the body of the reel) when you cast. If the spool is fully extended the force of casting can cause the spool spindle to distort, rendering the reel useless until the spindle is replaced.

5.) Make sure that the clutch is fully locked in the on position and wound down as tight as you can prior to casting. A slipping spool on the cast can cause tangles and line cuts.


Daiwa Tournament Surf 5000QDA The only way to describe the Daiwa Tournament Surf 5000QDA is: “a serious piece of kit.” Don’t be fooled by the 5000 in the name, this is a big reel. As you would expect, it has Daiwa’s mag sealed body to prevent nasties like salt and sand getting inside, and 5+1 bearings for a smooth ride. The powerful drag is rated at 22lb and it feels ultra-smooth and very precise. The reel comes with two alloy spools, which will take braid or mono, while Daiwa’s cross wrap system ensures good line lay and long cast capability. The body is aluminium, for strength and durability, but coming in at under 22oz this is not a heavy reel by any means.


Key Features - Bearings: 5+1 - Spools: 2 - Mag Sealed Body - Aluminium Body - Graphite Air Rotor - Quick Drag - Machine Cut Aluminium Handle - Digigear, ABSII & Twistbuster II - Soft Touch T Shape Handle

Buy The Daiwa Tournament Surf 5000QDA Blog-Buy-Now


Shimano Speedcast XSB The Speedcast XSB is Shimano’s new surfcasting fixed-spool. The compact body design makes the reel look as if it’s all spool – especially as the spool is big anyway – but thanks to Shimano’s X-Ship gearing you get phenomenal cranking power. With Aero Wrap II and a cold-forged aluminium spool you get superb line lay and effortless long-distance casts. A gearing ratio of 4.3:1 hauls in over a metre of line per handle turn, making retrieves fast too.


Key Features - Bearings: 3 Shielded Stainless Steel & 1 roller bearing - Line lay: Aerowrap II + 2-speed - Extra spool: 0 - Handle: Single handle - Body material: XT-7 - Spool material: Cold forged aluminium - Maintenance port: Yes (body) - Waterproof drag: No

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Daiwa-Emcast Daiwa Emcast Surf 5000A The Emcast Surf 5000A from Daiwa is a good, no-nonsense reel that’s more than decent at a surprising price. Coming with two alloy spools and five bearings you get a lot for your money, and it’s a good-looking reel too. You get decent cranking power with a 4.1:1 ratio, a nice smooth drag and a twistbuster bail too. As a nice bonus the reel is supplied with a cloth bag to help keep it looking good.


Key Features - Spools: 2 - Bearings: 5 - AirBail - Twistbuster - Machined aluminium handle - Infinite Anti-Reverse - Graphite Body - Graphite Rotor - Spare spool

Buy The Daiwa Emcast Surf Blog-Buy-Now shimano-aero-ultegra-xs-c-reel Shimano Ultegra XS-C 14000 The Ultegra XS-C 14000 is designed for out-and-out distance casting. With an instant drag system that is fast and positive and a 2+2+1 bearing system this is a very smooth reel. Although this is the biggest reel in the range it is surprisingly compact thanks to the body design, and with an XT-7 frame it’s not over heavy. Coming with two aluminium spools, both suited for mono or braid, this is a classy-looking reel with a great pedigree. Slow oscillation gives great line lay for longer casts, while a sprightly 4.3:1 ratio gets you ready for the next cast in double-quick time.


Key Features Floating Shaft II, Super Stopper II & Instant Drag X-ship for rigidity & full cranking power Aero Wrap II with improved Slow Oscillating gear system AR-C Spool for further & more accurate casting Power Roller for reduced line twist during retrieve 4x BBs (2 S-ARB, 2 Shielded Stainless), 1xRB Supplied with 1 extra cold forged aluminium spool

Buy The Shimano Ultegra XS-C Reel Blog-Buy-Now Leeda-Icon

Leeda Icon Surf 6500 This is the smaller of the two Leeda Icon surf reels but it’s still big enough for surfcasting and obviously a bit lighter than its big brother. It has a long but fairly deep aluminium spool that will take 330 metres of 15lb mono, so if you want to use braid you will need backing. But with that long spool you should get long casts because the line lay is decent. The Icon has 6 + 1 bearings and a 4:3.1 retrieve ratio, making it a good value-for-money option.


Key Features - Instant anti-reverse stainless steel one way clutch - Front drag with micro-precision adjustment - 6 ball bearings - Brush line stopper - Ambidextrous handle with fast grip handle knob - Line capacity 330 yds of 15lb

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Okuma Trio Rex Salt TXS - 60 This impressive Okuma reel is an interesting blend of finesse and brute strength. Built in hybrid fashion using aluminium and graphite it isn’t the heaviest reel yet it still feels substantial. With machined brass pinion gears it offers good cranking power and a handy gear ratio of 4.5:1. The long-cast aluminium spool is suitable for braid or mono with a capacity of 310 metres of 0.35mm-diameter line. The handle looks more akin to a multiplier power handle – not much chance of bending it out of shape, and taken as a whole this is a very good-looking reel.


Key Features - Multi disc, Japanese oiled felt drag system - Aluminium spool -Quick-Set anti-reverse roller bearing - Precision Elliptical Gearing system - Precision machine cut brass pinion gear - Precision worm shaft transmission system - CRC: Corrosion Resistant Coating Process - Crossover Construction design - LCS: Line Control Spool for longer casting distance with less line trouble - Rigid, forged aluminium handle design with soft EVA knob - Hydro Block water tight drag seal - Heavy duty, solid aluminium, anodized bail wire - ESII: Computer balanced Rotor Equalizing System - Drag Power: 13.0kg - Line Capacity: 310m / 0.35mm - Weight: 614g

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