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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."

Chris Littau, manager of product and technology strategy for Zebco (, manufacturer of Fin-Nor and Quantum), explains that engineering a spinning reel's line stack is an intricate process. "Modifying one element - spool, oscillation or stroke length - affects the other two," he says. "We have an advantage because we developed most of our current product with that in mind. We phased out the Fin-Nor Ahab - a strong, reliable reel - because it was too complicated to update its older design to properly handle new techniques and the use of braid."

**Graphite, Aluminum or Both?
**We've all heard that graphite spools can crack or flex under high drag pressures. The truth in this common wisdom might depend on the line you use and how you fill a reel.

"It can be easy to break low-quality graphite spools with monofilament if you wind it on too tightly," Littau says. "Once the mono absorbs moisture and swells, it exerts tremendous pressure and can damage a spool with drag settings of just 1 or 2 pounds. I've even seen an inferior aluminum spool blow out in these circumstances. It would normally take an unrealistic amount of line tension for braid to cause such a problem."

Bretza advises loading reels ­manually. "All the cracked spools I've seen were caused by line-winding machines. If you spool up properly and set the drag correctly, this should never happen while fighting a fish," he says. "It takes a lot of pressure to crack a graphite spool and at that point, something is going to give: the rod, the spool or some other part of the reel."

Available on Trio spinning reels, Okuma's Crossover spool brings us the best of both worlds by employing aluminum where needed for strength and rigidity, and using composite where possible to reduce weight. "For the main body of the spool, we use a polymer material called Nylon66, which contains additional fiber for maximum durability," Bretza says. "Graphite spools tend to flex where the shaft goes through the center of the spool. Okuma wanted to ensure critical alignment of the shaft and drag washers, and avoid any potential for flexing, so we designed the Aluminum Drag Chamber. This aluminum cage holds the drag washers and screws into the top of the spool, so the washers are housed in a strong chamber and run on the same smooth surfaces found in an all-aluminum spool. The ADC also allows for precision alignment because the spool shaft runs through aluminum, not graphite."

**Lip Service
**Since rough spots on the spool lip snag line and rob casting distance, some manufacturers take steps to fortify this part of the reel. Shimano ( offers some models, such as the Sustain FE, with a titanium-coated lip to guard against scratches.

Penn goes a step further. Instead of coating spool lips, which the company feels can lead to failure and separation of metals, Penn makes the entire lip on its high-end spinners of Eternal Alloy. This extremely corrosion-­resistant material rates six times harder than aluminum.

Like a spool psychologist, the WaveSpin's ( distinct, sawtooth-shaped lip keeps things from getting too loopy: It prevents pesky coils from dumping off the reel and fouling up casts.

Ever wonder if ported spools really make a difference in reel weight?

"Aluminum weighs only about 2.7 grams per cubic centimeter," Littau says. "A 5-millimeter hole - which is large for a spinning reel - in a spool that's 1.5 millimeters thick saves only about .8 grams, if my quick math is correct. But hey, every little bit counts!"