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August 12, 2009

Conquering Kings

Fast, smooth conventional reels make the best mackerel medicine

As soon as he hooks a king, Jarusinski likes to turn the boat and follow the running fish. When it turns to swim back toward the  boat, he puts the engines in neutral, goes to the bow and reels like mad  to keep up with the fish. "If you  don't get tight with the fish by  removing all slack from the line as it comes toward you, the fish will be gone when it turns to run back out again because the mono gets in its mouth," he says. "When I started kingfishing, we lost a lot of fish to bite-offs and said, 'The fish ate the wire.' After we got fast reels, this problem disappeared."

Jarusinski says gear ratios of 6:1 or 6.2:1 prove "plenty fast" to keep up with fish as they run toward the boat. Slower reels make it harder to maintain a tight line and increase the chance of losing a king when it turns to swim away.

The choice between graphite or metal frames depends on personal preference, but serious kingfish anglers agree on one point: Don't use levelwind reels. Though perfectly suited to other applications, even the best levelwinds risk fraying or burying the line as an angry smoker speeds off.

Kennedy urges anglers to buy the highest-quality reels they can afford. "Don't skimp on line capacity or drag quality," he says. "If you're tournament fishing, paying a little more for a better reel and new line represents a small fraction of what tackle malfunction or line failure could cost you."

Kingfish Reels:

Manufacturer/Model Capacity Drag Material Gear ratio Frame Spool Bearings Weight (oz) MSRP
Accurate Boss B-665XC 300/40 Lever Greased carbon fiber 6:01 Machined aluminum Machined aluminum 7 26 $460
Accurate Boss B-870XC 300/30 Lever Greased carbon fiber 6:01 Machined aluminum Machined aluminum 7 22 $440
Daiwa Saltiga SA30 300/20 Star Grease-impregnated graphite 5.4:1 Machined aluminum Machined aluminum 6 16.8 $450
Daiwa Saltist STT30TH 300/20 Star Grease-impregnated graphite 6.4:1 Forged aluminum Forged aluminum 4 23.2 $170
Fin-Nor Offshore OFC16H 350/20 Star Carbon fiber 6.2:1 Die-cast aluminum Die-cast aluminum 5 23.5 $190
Fin-Nor Offshore OFC20H 380/30 Star Carbon fiber 6.2:1 Die-cast aluminum Die-cast aluminum 5 24.2 $200
Okuma Contoura CR-303CS 420/20 Star Carbonite 6.2:1 Graphite Machined aluminum 2 19.9 $110
Penn GS Performance 545 420/20 Star HT-100 carbon fiber 6:01 Graphite Machined aluminum 4 23 $130
Penn International Torque 300 360/30 Star HT-100 carbon fiber 6.4:1 Machined aluminum Machined aluminum 5 33 $450
Shimano Speedmaster IV 480/20 Star Titanium 6:01 Graphite Die-cast aluminum 3 17.6 $120
Shimano Trinidad 30 350/30 Star Dartanium 6.2:1 Forged aluminum Forged aluminum 6 20.9 $440

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