For almost every hard core bass angler out there, baitcasting equipment is the quintessential power-fishing play. However, today, national tournaments are increasingly being won using an array of light-line techniques, those capable of catching fish when strong-arm tactics fizzle. To be a complete bass fisherman, you must possess a comprehensive skill set, one which includes mastery of the finesse game.
Light-lining morsel-sized baits on spinning gear has become a staple of almost every professional angler, one which helps them consistently catch fish and cash paychecks. Weekenders have also discovered spinning gear’s unique ability to manage micro baits efficiently. For those who won’t venture onto their favorite lake without a drop shot, wacky rig or shakey head tied on, here are some of the best spinning reels available today.
Shimano Exsence Review
Industry bellwether Shimano owns the high-end spinning market with its flagship Stella. The Exscncc is another ultra-high-end spinner, and like its stable mate, it won’t be an impulse buy for most as it carries a hefty S540 price tag. But if you’re an angler who must own every technological innovation available in a lightweight package (the 3000 size is 7.1 ounces and the 4000 size is 8.6 ounces), then this is the reel for you. The stealthy black frame is a departure from many of Shimano’s shinier models, but this reel is less about flash and more about manhandling giant fish.
KEY FEATURES: With a total of 12 ball bearings, this reel is built to be wormsnot smooth. But the addition of Shimano’s other advances, like micro module gear teeth, Hagane gearing and the MGL rotor, means that it will never seize up, whether you’re landing the tournament-winning fish or just trying to finesse a new personal best.
WHY YOU NEED IT: X-Protect technology provides an anti-corrosion barrier that enables you to venture out into the salt without fear. If you chase redfish, tarpon or stripers, this is a one-reel solution to a variety of challenges. You can be sure that it won’t let you down no matter how strong your quarry may be.
Bass Pro Shops Carbon Lite Review
At just $80 bucks, the Carbon Lite is the ultimate bargain spinning reel, offering many of the same features found in reels costing several times more. As the name suggests, Bass Pro Shops has constructed the Carbon Lite series with generous carbon enhancements to lighten the assemblies. BPS has strategically placed carbon components throughout the reel and machined out unwanted material elsewhere. This keeps the overall build rigid, while dramatically reducing overall weight. All models in the Carbon Lite lineup weigh between 7 and 8 ounces yet punch well above their weight class.
KEY FEATURES: The BPS Carbon Lite has plenty of value-added features in a compact package. With eight bearings, this spinner is smooth. A titanium nitride-coated line roller decreases problems with line twist while minimizing roller-to-line friction. But where size is needed, it’s there, including a lengthened and beefier spool arbor that increases casting distance by reducing line friction across the spool’s lip.
WHY YOU NEED IT: If you’re a true be-liever in the value of spinning tackle and need to have four or five spinning combos on the deck or in the rod box much of the time, the Carbon Lite series is for you. You can get a set of these reels, in various sizes, at a price that won’t break the bank. And you won’t miss out on any of the features of reels costing much more.
Cabela’s Verano Review
In conjunction with Daiwa, Cabela’s Verano is built with the aggressive styling and space-age technology that’s employed by much of the competition, and at a sub-S140 price tag. At this price, the Verano lets you get two or more so you can have them for use with multiple techniques and varying line sizes and types. Ten bearings, at key pressure points, provide the smoothness of reels costing twice as much. That’s a big plus.
KEY FEATURES: The Zaion body is rigid, strong and lightweight. The hollow bail and ABS spool lighten the reel, so it won’t wear you out while on the water or create an unbalanced combo. The spool tapers in a rearward direction allowing the line to thread off of, and onto, the spool with minimum friction, keeping your light line uncompromised at all times.
WHY YOU NEED IT: If you put your reels to the test in challenging conditions on a regular basis, this one is built to take the harshest abuse you can dole out. The Verano’s drag is waterproof, and the body is corrosion-resistant. Gear ratios of 6.0:1 and 6.2:1 arc available, and they retrieve line at a faster rate than many of the more expensive reels (up to 41.3 inches per turn). Sweetening the deal even further, the Verano comes with a factory lifetime war-ranty.
Abu Garcia Revo Winch Review
As the name implies, this reel is a tug, with its low, 4.7:1 gear ratio. Game & Fish put the Winch to the test last fall at Lake El Salto, Mexico, taking advantage of its ability to slow down presentations. The reel excelled, providing powerful control while on the business end of two 8-pound-plus large mouth bass that fell for a creeped whackyrigged Berkley General soft-plastic stick bait. That finesse technique boated dozens of suspended bass in the 3- to 8-pound fish range, with the Winch’s drag system and gears performing flawlessly.
KEY FEATURES: The slow gear ratio is the key selling feature of the Winch. However, other admirable features include 8+1 stainless steel bearings, the AMGearing system with precision- machined gears, a carbon body and a machined aluminum braid-ready spool. The Revo retrieves smoothly, and the front-reel drag adjustment is easily accessible when battling oversized fish.
WHY YOU NEED IT: The Winch lets you slow down and fish a variety of finesse techniques with power and control. The Winch excels for those situations when only spinning gear makes sense, like when throwing small crankbaits in cold water, or while fishing downsized swimbaits or those wildly popular spy baits.
Quantum Smoke S3 Review
At $159.99, Quantum’s Smoke S3 is a mid-range reel offering many features typically found only on high-end spinning reels, including a total of 12 bearings. The industry stalwart has increased the durability of their offerings, to withstand the most rough-and-tumble of use. While beefed up, the S3 remains relatively light, with a rubberized handle designed to let you fish in comfort for hours on end.
KEY FEATURES: An asymmetric gearing system forged from high-strength aluminum provides a rugged drag. A unique combination of ceramic, carbon fiber and stainless-stccl components combine to increase durability in a package that handles gossamer- thin lines with ease. Furthermore, the gears use a special type of plasma arc ceramic washers that are more durable than typical ceramics, in-creasing longevity.
WHY YOU NEED IT: Quantum claims this reel offers perfect “line lay.” In other words, no matter what type of line is used, it will pay on and off the spool Smoothly, with no hitches or hesitation. This ensures longer casts and flawless fights. Whether you fish for a living or just for fun, the Smoke S3 is a tool that will make the experience better. Attention-to-ergonomic detail can be seen in the super soft handle knobs, which is a great grab.