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Rogers: Use spring catalogs to gauge reel needs

Published: Thursday, April 17, 2014 9:19 p.m. CST

Deals, deals, and more deals. The spring catalogs come flying in the through the mailbox and offer us incentives to come and buy the latest and the greatest. I don’t know how you are but I love to look at these catalogs and flyers. What’s new? What do I need? What do I want?

The key question there is what do I need? We all have things that we want, but are they what we need?  During my years traveling across the country and selling fishing and hunting products to retailers I learned a lot about marketing and manufacturing. This information I gained applies to all types of products but I'm going to focus just on fishing gear, specifically fishing reels.

The technology that goes into quality reels these days is quite amazing. The durability, finish, and castability is impressive compared to the first reels I bought. I remember saving, and saving, and saving some more to scrape together enough pennies to buy what I considered at the time to be a top-end baitcast reel. I was so proud the day I walked into that store and leaned over the glass cabinet and stared at that fish-hauling wonder.

When the clerk behind the counter handed me that beauty I could hardly get home fast enough to try it out. In fact, I still have the box that reel came in sitting in my garage. Even though I never use the reel anymore, I still see it every now and then and think back to the day I bought it.

If we so eagerly purchase new reels, then how do we know when we get a good one? Do we have to spend an extreme amount of money? Or are there more reasonably priced models that will serve us just as well?

First I should probably define the different price ranges. I would first categorize the $1-$50 reel as entry level baitcast and spinning equipment. These reels are priced to get anglers to move from the simpler push-button, or spincast equipment. These reels will work, but their durability and castability do not stand up to the better models.

The next range I would say is in that $51-$100 area. These reels are definitely easier to cast than their entry-level counterparts and their durability is better. These reels can serve those anglers that go out several times a month and last quite a long time if maintained properly.  

After that, you find a large group of reels in that $101-$200 area. These reels will find themselves in the hands of the serious amateur and also in the boats of many semi-pro and professional anglers. The components in these reels are of a much better quality and can last a long time. The biggest different someone will notice when moving to a reel in this price range is the castability. Many of these models are smooth and your accuracy will greatly increase with a tool of this caliber.

The last range of reels is that $201+ and believe me; there are quite a few out there. Many more than there were just a few years ago. It is not uncommon to see a reel hit $400. These models, for the most part, are silky smooth and lightweight yet very strong. Top components are used from start to finish and make for a piece of equipment that anyone would be proud of.

There is one thing to keep in mind though. Every manufacturer strives to make as many models as they can while being fiscally responsible to their bottom line. Their goal is to have an offering at as many different price-points as possible. If you have $80 to spend, guess what, there will be a reel at that price-point. If you have $150, same thing. There is something there for you.

Look carefully at the reel counter next time you go to a major fishing retail store. You will be shocked how just one manufacturer can cover the full range of prices in $10 increments from $30-$200. It’s all about shelf space. A company that makes just one reel at one price-point will have their product get lost at a reel cabinet with a hundred models to choose from.

Fishing reels definitely fall into the category of you-get-what-you-pay-for. If you spend $15 on a baitcaster, don’t expect it to last very long or perform the way you would like it to. The companies that make them have to shave costs somewhere to hit that price-point. With that said though, you don’t have to spend $400 to get something that will service you well.  

I always recommend that you base your decision on how much you are on the water. If you fish a few weekends a year, there is no need to spend too much unless you want to. If you are a more serious angler, then you will want to consider that the money you spend will be a wise investment, because of the quality time you will spend with the equipment.

Have fun this year with your new reel. Enjoy browsing and trying out the latest and greatest. If you have any questions, you can always contact me.

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