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February 15, 2011

Back to Spool

Spinning-reel spools combine old and new technologies

A football team's offensive tackle gets little ­attention when he does his job well, but if he allows a sack or stalls an important drive with a holding penalty, everyone remembers his name. Similarly, the spool on a spinning reel goes unnoticed unless it becomes mired in tangles and stalls your fishing. The spool does much more than simply store line; its design affects casting performance and ­influences drag function.

Casting Call
Spools come in many shapes and sizes, from extended "long-cast" models to short, wide-­diameter versions. The long-cast logic says line more easily flows off a narrow, shallow spool because the line encounters less friction from the spool lip. There's a downside, however; wrapping line - especially monofilament - in tight coils around a narrow spool can create line twist and memory problems.

Holding line in bigger loops means large-diameter spools cause less line twist and memory, but casting performance suffers as the spool gets depleted and line must overcome a "taller" lip. For this reason, it's important to keep reels topped off for better casting distance.

Pflueger's Arbor spinning reels feature an ­oversize, large-arbor spool. Recognizing that guides on a normal rod create considerable resistance when choking line that comes off the spool in wide loops - thus defeating the large spool's purpose - Pflueger ( developed the Large Arbor Guide Concept system for rods to match these reels. A yawning, reversed stripper guide reduces line buildup, and the other guides, also oversize, allow unimpeded casts.

Daiwa's ( Advanced Ballistic System spool design - available on Regal XiA, Saltiga SAZ and other models - incorporates a large-diameter, rearward-tapered arbor that helps prevent tangles while casting. The spool's generous inner diameter also affords space for larger drag washers.

Spool size matters after the cast too. "Comparing reels with the same gear ratio and different spool diameters, a bigger arbor yields a faster line pickup," says John Bretza, director of product development for Okuma (

Braid Ready
Reels like the Pflueger Supreme XT, Penn Conquer ( and Abu Garcia Soron SX ( tout braid-ready spools that have rubber strips on the arbor to keep superline from slipping.

Manufacturers must redesign the mechanics as well as the spool to achieve true compatibility with braided line. "The oscillation system is very important," says Bretza. "Slow oscillation stacks line smoothly on the spool but allows braid to cut into itself under heavy drag pressure. Speeding up the oscillation creates more of a crisscross pattern, which works better with braided line."