Reel Review 5

Posted on August 15, 2007

Guest Review by Bill Schultz

This is my fifth reel review article and based on the e-mails I get, I think most of you enjoy these articles and appreciate the information I’m sharing. During the three months of testing, I have fished some of the reels more than others, but feel I’ve fished all of them enough to form an opinion. I’ve mentioned in past reviews that I’m easy on equipment and have not given these reels any sort of torture test, except for some very big smallies I’ve caught with them. Even though I rarely dunk a reel, both the Abu Garcia Cardinal 801 and Team Diawa Tierra 2000 were dunked and with no problems.

Overall, I have been extremely impressed with the nine reels I will be telling you about. I hope you find this information helpful, and I welcome e-mails with any questions you might have.

Spinning Reels

This year’s spinning reels have been a pleasure to fish with. I’m looking forward to using all of them for the rest of this season and beyond. As a group, these reels give you some very good choices at a number of price points.

Abu Garcia Cardinal 801 and 802:

It’s hard not to like this reel, especially having caught 110 smallies with it the day before I began writing this article. I always take two rods and reels on my walking/wading trips, and I’ve had this reel with me on most of my trips this year. I tend to change rod and reel combos, but have left this reel on a St. Croix 6’6” light-action Legend Elite. I’ve had it spooled with 6-pound Silver Thread Excalibur line and have used it mostly to fish the Rebel Teeny Wee-Crawfish. The 801 is perfect for light and medium-light rods, holding 110 yards of 6-pound diameter line.

Out of the box, I liked the 801 so much I ordered an 802, which I used extensively on a 7’ medium-action St. Croix Legend Elite. I spooled it with 20/8 Berkley Fireline Crystal for big water smallies in Door County. I have been very impressed with the Fireline Crystal and have used it enough this summer to suggest that you might want to give it a try.

The 800 series reels are conservatively attractive and built to withstand maximum wear and corrosion using an innovative Armor Guard coating on the body and rotor. It’s a matte black finish with a slight texture to it. I wasn’t sure how I’d like it when I took it out of the box, but after fishing with it, I like the look and the feel.

I usually prefer to backreel rather than rely on the drag, but for test purposes, I used the drag on all the reels in this review, and I can tell you that the drag on the 801 and 802 are extremely smooth across the drag settings. Some reels are designed so a very small turn tightens the drag significantly and most of the drag tightening happens when the drag knob is tightened almost all the way down. I prefer a drag that takes a total turn or two to go through the range of drag settings. Four of the five reels in this review are the way I like it, and I’ll comment on the other when I get to that reel. Also, I do like the thread-on style handle. For me, this has always been an easier method of breaking down the reel for storage. The stainless steel handle has a very comfortable grip knob.

Over the years, I’ve tested a number of very nice Abu Garcia spinning reels, but this is the first Abu Garcia spinning reel that falls into that “higher-end” classification.
I’ll bet you’ll like the 800 series reels as much as I do. For the river smallie fishing most of us do, I think the $119.99 801 or 802 will be your best choice. For you guys who like a bigger reel, the 804 holds 210 yards of ten-pound test and lists for $129.99.

• Aluminum body and rotor construction
• High performance gearing
• Nine HPCR (High Performance Corrosion Resistant) stainless steel bearings with instant anti-reverse
• Waterproof dual bearing supported Carbon Matrix drag system
• Accu-Balanced rotor with Everlast bail spring
• Everslik coated stainless steel mainshaft
• Armor Guard flake resistant coating
• Forged aluminum spool and spare spool
• One-piece stainless handle (C806 & C807 models)


Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier Spinning Reel

I included last year’s Pro Qualifier spinning reel in my Reel Review IV and liked it. When I saw how Bass Pro redesigned the Pro Qualifier for 2007, I was immediately intrigued. The two things that jumped out at me are the Mag Spool technology, which has a larger diameter spool to enhance casting distance and enables a smoother, faster retrieve. The other is the ultra-compact body for comfort and tighter precision.

I’ve fished the PQ1000 quite a bit during the past three months. Overall, I’ve been impressed. The one I’ve been using has performed very well and seems quite smooth. I’ve mostly fished it on a St. Croix medium-light Legend Elite or Avid. I have it spooled with 14/6 Berkley Fireline Crystal, which has worked great.

The PQ1000 is an impressive 7.5 ounce and with the light St. Croix rods makes for a comfortable well-balanced outfit. The larger diameter spool is supposed to add casting distance. I didn’t do any measuring, but do feel the reel had some outstanding distance on casts. The gear ratio is 5.3:1. Combine this with a line recovery of 31” per handle revolution and you have a reel with plenty of power and a fast retrieve, which I like. Also, I found the drag to be smooth across the drag settings.

This reel has a suggested retail of $69.99. But, keep an eye out for sales. I think at this price point and especially if it’s on sale, you might want to take a close look. The PQ1000 holds 90 yards of 6-pound test line, which has been fine. The PQ 2000B is the next size and holds 80 yards of 8 -pound test, but jumps to 10.4 ounces. I prefer the lighter version. It would be nice if a spare spool was included. The soft-touch knob on the end of the machined aluminum handle is comfortable. I don’t know what you’ve heard about this reel, but the one I’ve been using has been a pleasure to use.

• 8-bearing system – double shielded stainless steel ball bearings
• PowerLock instant anti-reverse
• Anodized aluminum body and side-cover
• Machined aluminum spool
• Stainless steel bail wire
• Titanium-coated line roller
• Stainless steel mainshaft
• Machined aluminum handle with soft touch knob


Team Daiwa Tierra

In last year’s Reel Review, I said the Team Daiwa TD Sol may be the best spinning reel I’ve ever used. For that reason I’ve spent a lot of time with the Team Daiwa Tierra 2000 and love the reel. I actually find it hard to tell the difference between it and the TD Sol. That’s not to say there isn’t a difference beyond the $85 difference in price, but it’s something I’m not picking up on.

I’ve been using this reel with 6’6” and 7’ medium-light St. Croix rods and have 14/6 Fireline Crystal on one spool and Excalibur 6-pound test on the other. The reel performed superbly with both. The blue finish of the Tierra looks great and is very durable. I also like that Daiwa provides a second spool that is the same as the one the reel comes with. This is a nice touch. At 8.7 ounces it meets my desire to fish lighter reels, and as with the TD Sol, one of my favorite features Daiwa Air Bail. It has a great feel and is more compact than any bail I’ve seen.

As a backreeler, I wish all reels had the backreel switch on the back of the reel like the Tierra rather than underneath the body. For me this is easier to find, and I like how large it is, which adds to the ease of finding and using it. I did use the drag to test it, and it was very smooth throughout the settings. This reel has a 4.7:1 gear ratio, which is slower than I like, but as great as this reel feels, I hardly noticed. Also, many of you like this gear ratio.

If you are looking for a high-quality spinning reel that is perfect for chasing river smallies, you need to consider the Team Daiwa Tierra 2000.

• Eight ball and roller bearings including corrosion-fighting CRBB bearings
• HardBodyz aluminum body
• ABS Aluminum spool
• Super strong tubular stainless Air Bail
• Digigear digital gear design for an ultra smooth, ultra powerful retrieve
• Washable design with sealed, waterproof drag system
• Twist Buster line twist reduction
• Infinite Anti-Reverse
• Gyro Spin balanced
• Free spare aluminum spool


Mitchell 308XGe

This is a very nice reel for $59.95 and at my local Sportsman’s Warehouse they have it for $49.95, which is a good deal. I used this reel 8-pound Excalibur on a 7’ medium St. Croix Legend Elite and had a great time catching three to four-pound smallies on the big waters of Green Bay.

The reel performed well, with a smooth drag throughout the drag settings. I love the feel of the Comfort Touch body coating. I’ve never felt this on a reel before. Also, for a reel that holds 175 yards of 6-pound test, the 308XGe is a light 9.7 ounces. I would consider this an excellent reel for those of you who like to use 6 and 8-pound test, and probably can also handle 10-pound nicely. The bail has a light feel and reminds me of the Diawa Air Bail, just bigger. The gear ratio for the 308XGe is 5.1:1.

For anyone, but especially someone on a budget, this is a reel you should take a close look at.

• Advanced Polymeric Body and Rotor – stronger than conventional polymeric and graphite materials
• Comfort Touch body coating
• Instant anti-reverse
• High performance gearing for perfect gear mesh
• Aluminum handle
• Oversized bail wire and line roller
• NeverFail compression bail spring


Pflueger Supreme 8030 MG:

When I was gathering the reels for this article, I received an e-mail from one of our River Smallie brethren and was asked to review the new Pflueger Supreme, which he’d already heard some good things about. I’m very happy I included it.

The Pflueger Supreme has an interesting look and only weighs 7.4 ounces. As light as the 8030MG is, it’s amazing that it holds 160 yards of 6-pound test line. I also like the faster retrieve that comes with the 6.2:1 gear ratio. I primarily fished this reel on a St. Croix 6’6” medium Legend Elite spooled with 20/8 Fireline Crystal. As light and compact as this reel is you’d think of it as a 4 and 6-pound test reel, but it holds plenty of 8-pound test line and probably could handle a reasonable amount of 10-pound.

The drag is smooth, but the range that most of us would have the drag set at comes when the drag is close to being totally tightened down. Just a couple of clicks either way will change the tension. The spool comes with large holes cut out to reduce weight, but the spare is simply a traditional aluminum spool. The Sure-Click bail is the traditional thin wire style and nicely compact, which I like. When opened, the audible click is noticeably louder than any of the other reels. This is a design feature to let the angler know the bail is completely open and ready to cast. The Supreme has a comfortable grip knob on the machined aluminum handle, which is the thread-on style.

The Pflueger Supreme also comes in two larger sizes that have amazing line capacities for the weight of the reels. The 8035 MG is 8.8 ounces and is rated for 200 yards of 8-pound test and the 8040MG at 9.6 ounces is rated for 250 yards of 10-pound test. For any river smallie enthusiast, I truly feel you should look at the 8030MG. With all bells and whistles on this reel, the price is a reasonable $99.95.

• Lightweight durable magnesium body & rotor
• 9 stainless steel ball bearings
• One-way clutch instant anti-reverse bearing
• Double anodized machined aluminum spool with holes and spare aluminum spool
• Aluminum side plate
• Sure-Click bail provides an audible signal when bail is fully opened and ready to cast
• Anti-twist titanium line roller
• Machined aluminum handle with soft touch knob
• Sealed drag system
• Spare aluminum spool


All four of the baitcasters in this year’s review are extremely impressive. As many of you know, I’m more of a spinning reel guy, but just love using baitcasters for spinnerbaits, some soft plastics, buzzbaits and other topwaters.

Abu Garcia REVO SX

The REVO series of low-profile baitcast reels are the fastest Abu Garcia has ever designed. The REVO comes in an S, SX and STX version. All three are compact, comfortable and very light, weighing between 8.6 and 8.8 ounces. The S has 8 stainless steel ball bearings and one roller bearing, while the SX and STX have 10 + 1.

I’ve been using the SX version, which looks great with its black finish. It has a fast 6.4:1 ratio, but also comes in a high-speed 7.1:1 ratio as does the STX, which has a silver finish. All versions of the reel are rated for 140 yards of 12-pound test line, which is great for such a compact reel. I’ve been fishing the SX with 12-pound Excalibur on St. Croix medium Legend Tournament rods. It has performed superbly.

The compact size of the REVO and the recessed reel foot has a great feel on the rod, especially if you like to palm your reels. The drag is very smooth and adjusting the reel for casting and braking is very easy. The Linear Magnetic Brake system is very easy to adjust with a dial on the side plate and is easy to fine-tune to whatever type of line and lure you may be fishing. Sometimes it’s easy to over look the comfort of the grip knob on a reel’s handle. I always pay attention to this feature. If it’s not comfortable, you’ll know after a long day of fishing. The grip knobs are very comfortable on the REVO.

The suggested retail price for the S is $99.99, the SX is $149.99 and the STX is $199.99. Along with all the items listed below in the features, the STX has Abu Garcia’s Infini Spool pinion design, Titanium nitride worm shaft and Eversilk coated pinion shaft and paw. The S version along with fewer ball bearings does not have the Linear Magnetic Brake system the other two models have.

The SX is a fun reel to use and performed great. The REVO has been getting many great reviews and after using it I know why. If you’re a baitcast fan, you need to consider one of the three REVO models.

• Ten stainless steel ball bearings + one roller bearing (SX and STX)
• One-piece aluminum frame and crank side cover
• Carbon Matrix Drag System
• Precision machined Duragear brass gears
• Linear Magnetic Brake system
• Oversized main gear
• Recessed reel foot – allows the reel to sit closer to the rod for comfort and maneuverability
• Right and left-handed models


Bass Pro Shops Johnny Morris Signature Series Baitcast Reel – JMX10SHA

In last year’s review, you’ll remember that I liked the Bass Pro Shops Pro Qualifier Baitcaster. The Johnny Morris Signature Series Baitcast Reel is a step up and a truly great reel. The reel comes in a three different gear ratios, 5.4:1, 6.4:1 and the high-speed 7.1:1, which is the one I’ve been using. The reel is rated for 120 yards of 12-pound test, weighs a fairly light 9.4 ounces and comes in a compact size that is very comfortable to fish with and easy to palm. I’ve been using the high-speed JMX10SHA.

The Titanium deposition finish looks great on the Johnny Morris Signature Series and seems to be very durable. I matched this reel with St. Croix Legend Tournament 6’6” and 7’ medium action rods and used 12-pound Excalibur

The drag is very smooth and the brake system was easy to adjust and worked great. I had no major backlashes and was very happy with how well it performed, even casting into the wind, which can be a disaster for the more inexperienced baitcaster. Casting was very smooth, as was the retrieve. Also, as with all four of the baitcast reels in this article, the handle grip knobs are very comfortable.

If you’re a baitcast fan and are in the market for a new reel, you’ll be making a mistake by not taking a close look at this reel, which retails for $179.99. Keep your eye out if Bass Pro ever has it on sale. I like this baitcaster as much as any I’ve used.

• Low-profile 1-piece double anodized aluminum frame
• Titanium deposition finish for cool looks and durability
• Advanced powerful drag system
• Perforated machined-aluminum spool
• Gem quality 10-bearing system with 9 double-shielded Japanese stainless steel ball bearings
• PowerLock instant anti-reverse
• Revolutionary dual braking system
• Positive-click star drag
• Recessed reel foot
• Cast control knob
• Right and left-handed models


Team Daiwa Zillion

Over the years, I would rate most of the reels I’ve tested as good to great. Last year my “Wow” reel was the Team Daiwa TD Sol, and this year, the Zillion is definitely a “Wow” reel. Being a little “corny”, I can’t give you a zillion reasons why you will really like this reel, but I’ll give you a bunch.

As soon as I took it out of the box it caught my eye with its very compact design and great looking silver finish and red accents. The Zillion comes with a choice of two gear ratios. One is a fast 6.3:1 and the very fast 7.1:1, which is the one I used. The Zillion is only 8.8 ounces and, for its size, holds an amazing 150 yards of 12-pound test line. The 8-disc drag is silky smooth and the micro-click Magforce-Z automatic anti-backlash system is extremely convenient and lets the angler adjust it for any skill level or lure presentation.

The swept handle is unlike anything I’ve used on a baitcast reel. I really like the way it brings your hand closer to the reel and seems to assist in winding leverage. Also, the handle is a ¼” to 3/8” inch longer than the other three baitcast reels in the article, which I like. The grip knobs are some of the most comfortable I’ve used. I matched the reel with St. Croix 6’6” and 7’ medium Legend Tournament rods and pooled it with Power Pro 40/10. I plan to replace this with 12-pound Excalibur, which I’m looking forward to.

I truly enjoyed using this reel and feel those of you who are baitcaster “pros” will love the Zillion, but for those who are less experienced it will make fishing a baitcaster a pleasure. I’ve had a chance to read 20 or so reviews by anglers who have been using it and all rated it five stars out of five. If you’re looking for a high-end baitcast reel take a look at the Team Daiwa Zillion, which retails for $249.99.

• Choice of ultra-fast 7.1:1 retrieve or all-purpose 6.3:1
• Six ball bearings (including CRBB), plus roller bearing
• Swept handle for less wobble, better feel and maximum winding leverage
• Free-Floating perforated aluminum spool starts faster, spins longer
• Fast spool change
• Magforce-Z automatic anti-backlash system
• Eight-disc wet drag with precision click adjustment
• Aluminum guard plate protects finish on top of reel
• Rigid aluminum frame and handle-side sideplate firmly support the drive train
• Recessed reel foot
• Soft Touch grips
• Right and left-handed models


Shimano Curado D

Last year when writing about the Shimano Citica D, I mentioned that I’d never used the old or new Curado D. Well, I had a chance to get a Curado 200DHSV and jumped at the opportunity to use it on the big waters of Door County, Wisconsin. The Curado D comes in a 100 size with a 6.2:1 gear ratio, the 200 comes in both the high-speed 7.0:1, which is the one I have, and a powerful 5.0:1 gear ratio. It also comes in a 300 size for the trophy hunters, which handles 190 yards of 14-pound test and has over-sized power paddles.

The Curado D is a low-profile reel and not that big, but compared to the other three baitcast reels in this article the 200 size is noticeably bigger and heavier, weighing about an ounce more at 9.8. The line capacity is 155 yards of 10-pound test line and 110 yards of 14 pound test, so it will probably hold about the same as the other reels when using 12-pound test. The smaller Curado CU100D only weighs 7.4 ounces with a line capacity of 105 yards of 10-pound test line.

I found the Curado 200DHSV super easy to use and a true pleasure to fish. I fished this on the 7’ medium-heavy Legend Tournament rod and have primarily used it to throw spinnerbaits on the waters of Green Bay, where I fished 12 days during May and June. Unlike the other three reels, the Curado has an internal break adjustment that appears to be very easy; however it worked so well with the factory setting, I didn’t adjust the break weights. If the brake weights need to be adjusted they are accessed by using the ¼ Turn Easy Access Sideplate. The way the reel was set right out of the box was producing impressive distance on my casts.

The drag on the Curado is very smooth and I found the Power Paddles (grips on the handle) have a nice ergonomic design that fits the thumb and forefinger perfectly. Casting and retrieving was extremely smooth and I had no problems with backlashes. If you’re looking for a higher-end baitcaster you won’t go wrong with the Shimano Curado D. It has a suggested retail of $199.99.

• Magnumlite Spool
• Super Free bearing supported pinion gear system
• High Efficiency Gearing
• Variable Brake System
• Super Stopper and Assist Stopper
• ¼ Turn Easy Access Sideplate
• Septon handle grip material is soft and doesn’t slip when wet
• Reduced Mass VBS hub
• PV Power Paddles
• Drilled Handle Shank
• Dartainium Drag
• Clicking Drag Adjustment
• Aluminum Frame
• Aluminum Handle Side Sideplate
• Recessed reel foot
• Right and left-handed models

Over the past five years I’ve had the pleasure to test many outstanding reels. Overall, this year’s group has been the best I’ve tested.

Now it’s time to stop writing, get in the car and head somewhere to fish.


Copyright © 2007 Bill Schultz
Published on with permission.

Bill Schultz lives in Wisconsin and is a member of the St. Croix Pro Staff and sponsored by a variety of other companies. He is a popular sports show speaker and contributing writer for this site, various outdoor magazines.

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