Getting Geared Up!

Perhaps no set of items are so precious to a man more than his fishing tackle. Since the dawn of sport-fishing, rods and reels have taken a front seat in the appreciation of a man. As time goes on technology improves creating harder working, more adequate reels. Every few months it seems a new 'super' reel is about to hit the market. Don't be fooled with some of these new 'dream' reels for while certain technology may have been improved, the general concept of the actual fishing reel remains the same. It is important to note that several lines of reels despite being years old, they still remain at the top of their game. Maintaining and use of quality tackle will likely make the difference at the end of the day, making the difference between catching and just another 'almost had it' fish story...

Below: Selecting your big-game asenal is essential and must meet the demands of the angler...

Trolling Reels have to accomodate the offshore world. They have to be rugged, resist the elements as much as possible, and be able to rise to the challenge of the biggest of sport fish. The Waterman's Joural is pleased to give you a quick review on the top 3 most widely used and respected line of trolling reels on the market. We will compare the drag, capacity, and overall preformance of several reels and let you be the judge during your next tackle shopping-spree! Lets now take a look at the contendars of these finely tuned 2-speed machines...

Penn International

The oldest of the finese style ultimate trolling reels to be put on the market are undoubtedly the Penn Internationals. In 1966 Penn introduces the International series, specifically built for big-game tournament fishermen. Unique in their anodized gold finish, the International reels boast the fishing world’s first pre-set drag control and built-in strike stop. IGFA world records began to fall when these reels were available at the hands of fishermen. We are going to review the current and re-innovated Internationals - the V Series.

Lets get to the specs...

Penn Interational V Series

30VSW - Capacity (mono)  900/30 • 550/50 • 480/60 - Max Drag 23 lbs - Gear Ratio 3.8:1 / 1.6:1
             Line Retrieve (high/low) 37/15 - Weight (oz) 58

50VSW - Capacity (mono)  825/50 • 725/60 • 525/80 - Max Drag 28 lbs - Gear Ratio 3.1:1 / 1.3:1
             Line Retrieve (high/low) 34/14 - Weight (oz) 75

80VSW - Capacity (mono) 950/80 • 875/100 • 700/130 - Max Drag 40 lbs - Gear Ratio 3.0:1 / 1.4:1
             Line Retrieve (high/low) 43/19 - Weight (oz) 111

130VSX - Capacity (mono) 975/130 • 850/150 • 525/200 - Max Drag 70 lbs - Gear Ratio  2.2:1 / 1.2:1
             Line Retrieve (high/low) 38/21 - Weight (oz) 176

        - Full metal body and sideplates keep precise gear alignment under heavy loads
        - Quick-Shift™ 2-speed system easily shifts into high or low gear
        - Push-To-Turn™ preset knob eliminates accidental changes to the drag
        - Dura-Drag™ washers virtually eliminate hesitation, even under extreme drag settings
        - Ratcheted drag lever prevents “drag creep” caused by hours of trolling and vibrations
        - Shielded stainless steel ball bearings
        - Stainless steel reel stand
        - Braid Ready to handle the strain that braided lines put on a reel
        - 70VS and 80VSW have titanium handle blank

Shimano Tiagra

From an angling perspective, every individual who has owned and enjoyed using Shimano tackle has a reason to thank a Japanese visionary named Shozaburo Shimano , who in 1921 declared “I aim to make Shimano’s products the best in Kansai, then the best in Japan, and finally the best in the world." For over 80 years, Shimano has concentrated on precision engineering, one step at a time. Creating the most innovative products and processes you can hold in your hand today. Shimano's Tiagra series was the answer to angler's who were wanting to try something comparable to the Penn, and ultimately would leave the decision to whether the Tiagra was indeed better than it's rival International.

Lets get to the specs...

Shimano Tiagra Series

TI30WLSRA - Capacity (mono)  50/570 - Max Drag  34 lbs - Gear Ratio  3.9:1 / 1.7:1
                    Line Retrieve (high/low) 41/18 - Weight (oz)  55.6

TI50WA - Capacity (mono)  50/850 - Max Drag 37.5 lbs - Gear Ratio  3.1:1 / 1.3:1
                Line Retrieve (high/low) 37/15 - Weight (oz)  86.3

TI80WA - Capacity (mono) 80/950 - Max Drag 44 lbs - Gear Ratio  2.5:1 / 1.3:1
              Line Retrieve (high/low) 37/19 - Weight (oz)  115.2

TI130A - Capacity (mono)  130/1000 - Max Drag 99 lbs - Gear Ratio  2.2:1 / 1.15:1
              Line Retrieve (high/low) 39/22 - Weight (oz)  174.1

       - Machined Aluminum Frame
       - Machined Aluminum Sideplates
       - Cold Forged Aluminum Spool
       - Rod Clamp
       - Ergonomic Power Handle
       - A-RB (Anti-Rust Bearings)
       - Twin Disk Drag System (16 only)
       - Clicker
       - Metal Series
       - Chrome Plated Sideplate Screws
       - Ratcheting Drag Lever
       - Twin Pawl Anti-Reverse System
       - Approved for use in Saltwater
       - Rated for use with Mono, Fluorocarbon and PowerPro lines


Avet Reels EX Pro Series

Another line of reels recently introduced in the modern sportfishermen's arsenal are those of Avet. In 2002, Avet Reels introduced a new line of saltwater reels destined to revolutionize the conventional reel market. Avet uses spur gearing in lower ratio models and featured a unique planetary gear system in high-speed retrieval models. This allows for effortless operation under demanding conditions imposed by anglers pursuing larger game fish species. This thoughtfully designed planetary gear system also allows for smaller gear case, lightening the reel and making it better matched for today's light weight rods. An oversized carbon fiber drag system combined with stainless drag plates give Avet reels something that no other lever drag reel has - an ultra smooth drag with the ability to free spool at full drag setting. Avet reels have incredible strength and corrosion resistance built into their design.

Let's get to the specs...

Avet EX Pro Series

30EXW - Capacity (mono)  50/460 - Max Drag  40 lbs - Gear Ratio  3.8:1 / 2.0:1
                    Line Retrieve (high/low) 37/19 - Weight (oz)  49

50EXW - Capacity (mono)  60/830 - Max Drag  57 lbs - Gear Ratio  3.2:1 / 1.3:1
                    Line Retrieve (high/low) 37/15 - Weight (oz)  67

80EXW - Capacity (mono)  80/1000 - Max Drag  57 lbs - Gear Ratio  2.7:1 / 1.3:1
                    Line Retrieve (high/low) 39/19 - Weight (oz)  103

         - Lever Drag control system
         - Preset Drag feature
         - Dry Drag for true water resistance
         - 100% precision machined aluminum
         - 9 Stainless Steel sealed ball bearings and components
         - Handle knob with oversized grip
         - Heavy duty stainless steel harness lugs
         - Proudly designed, machined and assembled in U.S.A.


Verdict :

A Man's Tackle defines him. Much of the time an angler wants that tackle to be as superior as possible. There are many names in the big-game fishing industry... some of the high-end companies such as Accurate, Fin Nor, Duel, and Everol we chose to leave out of this comparison simply because not everyone can have the luxury of owning these incredible tools (unless you pawn off your car or kid). These reels all have their minute flaws, but overall have had the power to stand the test of time (ala Penn International) while some have had the market feel the effect of new innovative designs (Avet).

On paper all these reels are closely matched. The new kid on the block - Avet, had made their mark in the sportfishing world faster than anyone realized. This was thanks in part due to their superior drag system, 9-ball bearings, and ideal gear design. As of current, Avet has not released an 130W model, perhaps the logic is that the unique design of the 80W accomodates users of a typical 130. However, enduring full drag hours on end is not just exhaustively painful, but dangerous. You truly cannot beat capacity if you are going for godzilla.

In 130 class design, you have your traditional workhorse, the Penn International... and you also have your simply put 'MACHINE' the Tiagra. While Shimano edges out with a full capacity of 1000yds of 130 mono (slightly higher than the International), it's main domination is with it's superior drag system - 99lbs of true brute force (compared to 70lbs from Penn). The Tiagra's are as near perfect as you can get with minimal maitenance. That is not to say Penn's V-series is not an acceptable solution to outfitting a boat, they are indeed a great powerful and reliable reel of their own... just Shimano really does have the edge. Everything from basic design to powerful drag system, to perfect alertness of the solid clicker... and even the feel of the Tiagra is just naturally more dynamic to the angler. Both reels are suitable of big-game trolling, as boats all around the world have proven.

Penn does excel in some areas though. Their 80VWS has a higher gear ratio and retrieval rate than both the Tiagra 80 and Avet EX Pro 80. The basic drag principals and mechanisms of the International are also top notch, but once again Tiagra beats Penn out in the drag rating. Many old-timers will stay loyal to Penn mainly because it is just tradition, and in the name of tradition International reels have proven their worth over time. Other anglers have never owned any other set of reels other than the Tiagra series because it has satisfied every need they could possibly want.

So where does Avet really fit in? Avet broke into the market with a solid product lead by it's design. It is not perfect but has great interest amongst anglers. It's design makes it lighter than it's counterparts and it's drag system is on par, and even slightly better than that of the Tiagra. As with it's glory, Avet's one major flaw however is also with it's design. They cut corners structurally to make it light as possible (though still a heavy reel). There are numerous reports from just about their entire line with screws and seat mounts becoming loose over a rather short period of vigorous use. I myself have experience this as well with their EX and LX series. Only true solution to this is keep an eye on all outer mechanisms and make sure screws are tight. It has been several years since these reels have been available and yet the problem still continues with several models. *IF* they can come up with a solution for this unacceptable problem, then Avet certainly has the opportunity to leap ahead and dominate the Big-Game market in the future.



*Respective content sourced from the official Websites of Avet, Penn, and Shimano.