Monday, March 14, 2011

Curado 201E7 Love and Hate

Last July 2010, I bought myself a Curado 201E7. This is especially noteworthy for me because I haven't felt real love for Shimano reels, not yet at least. The first reel I had from them was a Technium 2500 spinning reel and the quality is not really that great. It was so smooth when I first got it from the store. It looked great and felt great. But somehow, after a month or so, it started to get rough. The materials can easily be noticed as cheap. You will notice this especially if you service your own reel.  I just thought that maybe because it was subcontracted by Shimano. (No disrespect to all things that were subcontracted. I understand that its about economics and nothing else.)  I decided that the next Shimano reel I should get should be a Japan made reel or none at all. So after that reel, I became a Daiwa fan for a long time. After a few years, I got introduced to baitcasting and the reel that taught me to baitcast was an antique Shimano Bantam reel. It was made in Japan. It was old but it was hot. So hot that it convinced me to get rid of spinning reels and convert to baitcasting. I transitioned to Baitcasting outfits and I bought a few Abus and a bit of Daiwas. Then Curado came to my mind. It's made in Japan, very popular among anglers in the US, and it's relatively inexpensive (especially in eBay). So, July 2010, I got myself a Curado 201E7 from eBay. I said to myself, It's Japan made, it's popular. I think I am going to love it. Then the reel arrived. I picked it up, opened the box and played with it. After about an hour of trying to get a feel for the reel and matching it with my rods,  it somehow felt off. I don't know why. It just didn't felt right. So, a few hours after getting the reel from the courier, I sold it. The next morning it was out of my hands.

After a few months, I was able to purchase a Citica. Unfortunately, it was also not a very hot product in my opinion, even when it is made in Japan. It is understandable because it's relatively cheap.It still a best value reel. Unfortunately, it was not the Shimano for me. So, after less than a month, I sold it as well. Even after tuning it with Scorpion bearings and all.

Then, my trusted Abu Revo Inshore failed. The drag star stripped. I fixed the problem with a Silvermax drag star and clicker assembly. With this, I lost confidence again on a subcontracted reel (Abu Garcia Revo series reels are made in Korea. Abu Garcia Salty Stage Orra (the Asian equivalent of  Revo Inshore) is made in China.) That's it, I said to myself. It's made in Japan for reels or none at all. It doesn't matter if I have to wait long to save some cash. It should be worth it --- like my Daiwa Sol and Millionaire.

I needed a backup reel for my Revo so I again looked to Curado as the relatively cheapest Japanese reel that I can afford which has a lot of following from hardcore American anglers. I again looked to eBay and got myself a new Curado 201E7. To be honest, it still don't know what to make of it. I tested it yesterday with my Clarus rod and tried frogs and WTD. It still doesn't feel right. I don't know. I cannot make the frog and the stick baits move the way they should using this reel. Maybe the retrieve speed, the width of the reel, the plastic side plates, or the width of the spool which makes me touch the spool all the time when retrieving. I just can't figure out what the issue is. At least it can cast great. No doubt about that.

Anyway, I will try again. Maybe after a couple more use, I can get a feel for it. If not, it's going back to the trading post.

Here's the dilemma. What other low profile reels are out there that are Made in Japan, good for Inshore duty (including Saltwater), has a good reputation, and comparable price with Revo Series, aside from Curado, and Citica?  I don't think there is anything else.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Choosing a Rod and Reel according to Alan Tani

This is by far the best advise that I have read so far. The most common mistake that I usually do is that I almost always buy the reel first before I buy the rod. I usually end up selling the reel because I cannot find the correct rod for it. I now believe that it should be the other way around.

This article from Alan Tani explains why.

Selecting a rod - "The Wand Picks the Wizard, Mr. Potter."
by Alan Tani from

To establish the proper rating for a rod, here is the procedure....

1. Place any reel on the rod with any heavy line (it does not matter). run the line through the guides and tie the water jug at the end. place the rod in a holder of some sort so that the rod butt rests at a 45 degree angle. now add water or weight (cut a hole in the jug) until the rod bends to the desired flex that you want.

I usually look for the rod tip to bend until the tip is midway between the top of the arc and the butt cap of the rod. you may desire more or less. it depends upon the type of rod and your personal preferences.

2. Now measure or total up the weight. let's say that you have a medium weight rod that flexes to a desired amount with only 10 pounds. you have now determined the proper drag setting for your rod.

3. Now choose a line weight. different people have different preferences. you might typically fish as heavy a drag setting as 33% or as light as 25%. anything more risks line breakage. anything less is wasted unless line abrasion resistance is a concern. admittedly, i fish some rigs as heavy as 50% and others as light as 12%. let's just say that we will stay within average parameters. with a desired 10 pound drag setting at a 33%, you need a 30 pound mono.

4. Now chose a line capacity. typically people look for 300 of line capacity. what fish can take a 100 yard run on you if the drags are properly set? that is the length of a football field. why in the world would anyone want 500 yards of line for fish under 60 pounds? in the vast majority of situations, it is lack of confidence and low drag settings. very few fishermen actually check the drag settings with a scale. i'm sorry that this is so harsh, but unless the fish is larger than 5 times the line weight, i see no reason for getting "spooled." in open water, you typically fight a 40 pound fish with only the first 100 yards of 40 pound mono. in moving water or fish up to twice the line rating, that fight might occur in the first 150 yards. i use 300 yards for smaller tuna, 500 yards for the big ones.

5. Now pick the size of the reel. are you fishing with straight mono or spectra with a mono topshot. what ever the situation, you pick the size of the spool to fit the required amount of line. and make sure it can deliver the required amount of drag and still maintain good free spool.

I think you can use a digital scale instead of a water jug.
This is especially applicable for Lure anglers or light tackle anglers like us. The rod will determine how many casts you can make for the duration of your fishing trip. Too heavy a rod or an unbalanced combo will tire you quickly and will not cast properly.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Gear Talk: Abu Garcia Revo Inshore

This is a tough reel --- at least in terms of corrosion resistance.  I bought it 2 years ago and still hasn't shown any hint of corrosion. It's safe to say that it is reliable in the salt but it has some problems. On its first few months, the titanium coated line guide pops out while casting. I had to put super glue to fix it. It has happened twice already. The first glue I used was a Super Glue from Mighty Bond. A month later, it popped out again while casting. I then used 2 part 5minute clear epoxy. So far so good. It's holding quite well. Another issue with the reel is the finish. It gets scratched easily compared with a Revo SX. Another issue is the Drag star, it's crappy. At first, the reel was steadily losing drag pressure. I noticed that the threads on the drag star was showing rounding. Then eventually, it gave out. Almost all the threads stripped. I noticed that the material was not suited for threads ---  it's susceptible to stripping. The hard part is getting parts for it. I had to email Purefishing to get the part. After a month, the reseller here contacted me to give me the prices of the parts. During that time, I already found a solution. I bought the star, spring washers, the base of the washers, and clicker from a thrashed Abu Garcia Silvermax. You will notice that the thread in Silvermax drag star is made from hardened stainless steel insert. It sure looks stronger than the stock drag star of the Revo Inshore. Currently, it's holding well and the drag pressure seems to be holding quite well. Just a note, it is not 24lbs as what the manufacturer claims. More like 15lbs at the most. If you have a Revo reel that is losing drag, check the drag star thread. I am sure that its slowly stripping away.

What do I like about the reel? It can withstand the salt even when I'm too lazy to wash it. The Revo SX doesn't have that resistance to Salt. Another thing, it has the line capacity needed for inshore fishing. The downside of that capacity is that it is not a great caster because of the deeper spool. But this can be fixed by replacing the spool bearings with Ceramic ABEC7 bearings. Another plus for the reel is the long handles for extra cranking speed and the power handle for extra torque in cranking.

A 7.7kg Barramundi caught on Revo Inshore. The lure I used was a Duel 3D 3inch Suspending Jerkbait.
Would I recommend this reel to anyone? Yes, but be prepared to replace the drag star. It will eventually strip.  I hope that Abu Garcia will upgrade the reel and replace the crappy drag star with a stronger metal insert to prevent stripping. They can also replace the main shaft with a shaft that has bigger threads for more power. They can also upgrade their drag star design to what Shimano has. And lastly, they can replace the housing of the line guide with aluminum. That plastic base is too crappy for a reel with this price.

Would I buy another reel from Abu Garcia? Yes, but only those reels that are made in Sweden. The same applies to Shimano and Daiwa reels. I will not buy a Shimano or Daiwa reel if it is not made in Japan.

Abu Garcia reels (Revo) or even Daiwa (Saltist, Apollo, Regal, etc) and Shimano (Technium, Alivio, etc)  that are made in countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, or China, appears to have been made with poor materials. I agree that Quality control may not be a factor anymore because these Japanese or American companies probably have strict quality control for their products that are being made overseas. But the problem is the poor quality of materials that were used --- the metals, graphite, and plastics used to be specific. The aluminum frames, drag star, and side plates seem to be prone to stripping, cracking or warping. The "stainless" bearings, springs, and washers are prone to rusting. The plastic/graphite parts chip, crack, or suddenly compress. From experience, these things rarely happen on Japanese reels such as Daiwa Millionaire and Daiwa Sol or Swedish reels such as Abu Garcia Classic Inshore, 4601/5601C3.

Addition: Abu Garcia and Daiwa should talk to their outsourced manufacturers. They should insist that if the material is aluminum, as those in Drag Stars, they should use coarse threads instead of fine threads. Aluminum is an exception to rule that fine threads are stronger than coarse threads in nuts and bolts. A better solution is to use stronger metals instead of aluminum, such as brass or stainless shafts and thread inserts. They can use fine threads for strength without fear of stripping if the material used is not aluminum or similar soft materials.

Gear Talk: Abu Garcia Revo SX 2008 Model

The Abu Garcia Revo SX 2008 is the first Baitcaster that I ever bought. Way back then, I was an avid spinner fan having grown old without knowing anything else other than spinning reels. Then came Bong, my Haruan Hunter master. He introduced me to Haruan fishing, the use of lures, and the beauty of baitcasters. He started me into BC fishing using a really old but well preserved Shimano Bantam reel -- which was a righty, by the way. After a week of use, I saw the merits of using BCs against spinning reels and decided to buy myself a decent combo --- a lefty. It was a really perfect timing since Gordon of Fishing Buddy, a popular tackle shop here, offered his very first Abu Garcia Revo SX for sale. I believe I was the first who bought this only lefty reel on stock. This reel is awesome. Casting was not perfect due to the defect on the brake magnets (weak magnets). Backlash is a regular occurrence because the brake was not really functioning. That defect taught me how to thumb the reel properly. After I got the hang of  thumbing, I was able to cast accurately and with good distance. I caught a lot of freshwater and saltwater fish with this reel. The drag was awesome and the build and materials were comparable to a really expensive reel. And, it was absolutely smooth. It's paddles in the handle has 4 ball bearings (2 per paddle) giving it it's noticeable smoothness. So smooth  that Bong got so convinced he got his own Revo SX.

This is 5kg Barra I caught with the reel. Only one of the many Barras caught with it.

The reel does not have a drag pressure of 24lbs as stated by the manufacturer. It's more like 10lbs at the most. But the drag was really smooth due to the carbontex washer that was used. It was so smooth that an 8kg barra was no match to it. It's finish is so tough (aside from looking hot), I barely noticed any scratch on my reel after 3 years of use.

Would I recommend it? Yes, if you are patient enough to learn how to thumb the reel. The 2008 models are selling cheap in eBay. If money is not an issue, get the Revo SX 2010 model with Swept handle and an improved magnetic drag. You can't beat this reel.