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September 21, 2007

Laying Down the Line

What happens when you turn the reel handle

Takahashi adds that simply putting bearings in the roller will not cure line-twist problems. "I can't go into much detail on exactly how Twistbuster works," he says, careful to not reveal important company secrets. "But the roller's special shape is just part of the system. It must sit at a precise angle in relation to the spool to work effectively. We've patented the crucial areas, and it's not just the roller shape."
Twistbuster does the job quite well during normal retrieves; however, it remains ineffective against an error commonly committed by novice anglers. "It won't reduce twist if you wind against the drag," Takahashi says.

On the Level
Conventional and baitcasting reels offer levelwind capability thanks to a worm gear mounted ahead of and parallel to the spool. Following "leg bone connected to the knee bone" logic, an angler cranks the handle to power the drive train, which turns the spool as well as idle gears that spin the worm gear. A pawl attached to the line guide rides back and forth along the worm gear as it turns, thus distributing line on the spool.
One main difference among brands involves the materials that manufacturers use in the idle gears; some use metal, others nylon or plastic. They're not load-bearing parts, so whether you crank hard and fast or slow and easy, pressure on the idle gear does not increase or decrease.
"Most Shimano reels have nylon idle gears," says Jeremy Sweet, product manager for Shimano reels. "This not only keeps reels quiet, it offers a safety advantage. If an object - like your finger - gets caught between the frame and line guide, the nylon gear will shred rather than let the line guide keep going and crush the object. The idle gear costs just a few cents to replace, so you save your finger and prevent damage to more expensive parts in the reel."
Sweet assures anglers that, thanks to coatings and tighter weaves, braided lines have become smooth and will not cut grooves in line guides. Shimano's conventional and baitcasting reels employ two types of material where line comes in contact with the guide. "We use ceramic inserts on the majority of our reels, and on ultra-high-end reels such as the Calcutta TE DC, we use titanium-nitride inserts. Titanium nitride greatly reduces line friction but the process gets expensive," he says.
Bretza says most Okuma baitcasters feature line guides with graphite housings and aluminum-oxide inserts. "The aluminum-oxide inserts on our high-end baitcasters have a titanium coating that reduces friction on the line. The extra smoothness helps castability. Our Convector and Titus Gold models - heavy saltwater reels with levelwind - have titanium- coated, stainless-steel guides. We call this beefy system Strong Arm Levelwind. The titanium coating holds up so well that some anglers use these reels for wire line."
When it's time to cast, some levelwinds maintain the line guide in a fixed position while others let it travel back and forth as line flows out. Narrow-spool reels typically disengage so the line guide doesn't move during casts. "Wide-spool reels usually require non-disengaging systems because the line angle from one side of the spool to the guide on the other end can be drastic enough to cause backlash," Sweet says. "Casting force drives the line guide back and forth, which wastes some energy and reduces casting distance with wide-spool reels. We see this minor resistance and reduced casting distance as a lesser evil than backlashes. And you usually fish wide-spool reels with heavier lines and baits that make the reduced distance hardly noticeable."
Thanks to the efforts of engineers who work to improve line-winding mechanisms, we can pick up a baitcaster or spinning reel and begin casting and retrieving without a second thought. I wouldn't have it any other way.