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June 10, 2005

Expect Top Performance From High-End Reels

Premium models are built to function in situations that may go above and beyond the normal call of duty.

How can tackle dealers keep a straight face when asking 700 bucks for a spinning reel? The same way car salesmen look you in the eye and say a Ferrari costs $100K, I suppose. Both cases involve painstakingly engineered, solidly crafted, high-performance machines that command lofty prices.

Referring to a Daiwa Saltiga or Shimano Stella as "just another spinning reel" equates to calling the space shuttle "another airplane." Such premium models are built to function flawlessly in situations that may go above and beyond the normal call of duty for spinning reels. High-quality materials and beefed-up construction also assure anglers who plunk down a sizable chunk of change that they will walk away with a reel that can last a lifetime. Consider the dollars spent on top-of-
the-line spinners not an expense, but a long-term investment in your fishing future.

Hard Bodies
If you think reels in the upper-level price range should be made of gold, think again: Gold's too soft! A performance reel's shiny metal body represents much more than just another attractive cosmetic exterior. Sure, it looks great, but a metal body mainly serves as a firm foundation for all the high-quality parts contained within.

Aluminum rates as the metal of choice among reel manufacturers because it offers rigidity along with light weight. Shimano, however, employs a magnesium alloy in Stella FB models. "Magnesium is much lighter than aluminum, and there's no compromise on strength," says Jeremy Sweet, reel product specialist for Shimano. "But it's a very expensive metal."

Most manufacturers tout reel bodies as "machined," which Sweet feels can sometimes be a misnomer because nearly every metal part in a reel involves some machining. "We consider a machined frame one that gets shaped from a single hunk of metal. According to that definition, Stella and most other spinning reels do not have 'machined' frames. Most spinners' frames are cast, then machined, because they involve such intricate shapes," he says.

Standing apart from the crowd, both Accurate and Van Staal machine their spinning-reel frames from solid bars of aluminum. "TwinSpin bodies are milled from 5-inch-diameter aluminum blocks. Though more costly and time-consuming, this process allows us to control tolerances very tightly," explains Accurate's Doug Nilsen.

A rigid frame plays the role of disciplinary taskmaster, keeping everything in line and working smoothly. "Graphite frames are fine until you put a very heavy load on them. They can flex, which hampers gear alignment. That's when things start going wrong," explains Bill Liston, Daiwa's advertising manager. "Anglers lose winding power and efficiency when fighting against flex to turn the reel handle."