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."
|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|