Over the past two decades fishing I’ve tried many different styles of reels.
I first started out with a spincast reel, mainly because that’s my father’s favorite reel. From what I remember I used a Zebco reel. Now that’s a great reel to start off with for a youngster, I think I used it for 5 years or so between the age 5-10. But as I grew up I started find it was a reel you couldn’t use on big fish such as pike, muskie or smallmouth bass. Mainly because the drag really couldn’t handle it!
Right around the years 11-13, my friend Da Greek Yooper introduced me to spinning reels. When I first looked at the reel, it really turned me off because it had an open faced face spool. All I thought of was line twists and sun exposure, which can be very bad for a fisherman to mess with when he’s out and about. But, I forgot about those elements and took Da Greek Yooper’s word for it.
My first spinning reel was the Shimano R1000, while it was the cheapest spinning reel on the market, it was the only one I liked and could afford.
The primary feature I liked was the back drag. During a fish fight it allows you easy access to adjust your drag when you have a big fish on, unlike the front drag spinning reels and the Zebco spincast reels with a small dial.
During this time my brother and Da Greek Yooper tried out baitcasting reels. They let me try out their baitcasting reels when we were out fishing. Overall the baitcasting reels felt more solid and had a unique smoothness to them, but I did not like casting them. Still found that casting my spinning reel allowed me to cast further and more accurate. The baitcasting reels never caught on with me.
The Shimano R1000 stayed on my rod for about a decade. I ended up landing some really big fish with the reel, it helped me reel in some decent size northern pike and some really large bass. When I looked the reel up on Shimano’s website, they said they still make it, funny huh? As I grew older and got a job, I had more money in the bank. And since I had more money, all I thought was upgrading my reel. A few years ago I decided to take a trip to Lakeside Fishing Shop, started trying out all the spinning reels. I really couldn’t believe how much smoother they felt compared to my old Shimano R1000.
Even the cheaper reels now had more ball bearings now and a smoother feel.
While most spinning reels have the front drag now, I was set in my own ways and didn’t want to change. I never understood why anyone would want to fiddle with their drag on the front of the reel where the line comes out, just seems too awkward for me. As I was looking through them I discovered another back drag Shimano. Seems as though Shimano is the only fishing company that still keeps the back drag technology alive. Soon as I picked up the reel I loved it, the reeling was smooth and the back drag was very comfortable to use. The model was the Shimano Sidestab 2500RE.
Since that time, it’s been the only reel I’ve been using. It’s caught some really big fish for me, all the pictures I posted including that monster pike were caught with the Shimano Sidestab 2500RE. At the time I think I payed around $30-$40 bucks for it. That’s pretty reasonable, some spinning reels can get into the $200 range very easy. While some fishermen would read this and probably say it’s a cheap reel. Well I’m here to tell those fishermen, you don’t need to spend big money to catch big fish. The 2500RE does the job perfectly and I have plenty pictures of big fish to prove it. Overall I think it’s a reliable reel, I haven’t really had many problems with it.
This summer I did have a small clicking noise, somewhere in the reel there was a rubbing of some sort. But after dissembling the reel and lubing up the bail, joints, and oiling the bearings, the reel felt like brand new. That’s expected to happen after years of hard use.
Today in this modern age of fishing, it seems like the pros still prefer the baitcasting reels over the spinning. Especially when it comes to the Bassmasters. I gave them a try once again this past summer at Bass Pro Shops, but again, never really got the hang of it. I can cast fine with it, but I’m still worried getting backlash here an there, and I still love having my drag reachable like on my Shimano 2500RE. I just love that back drag!
However, for trolling I’m definitely going to be picking up a heavier duty reel for Muskie and other larger fish. I plan on doing some Muskie trolling this spring, while the Shimano probably could handle some of the 40 inch Muskie, the bigger ones are going to be able to burn that drag right up. So I’ll be stepping up my trolling rods and reels come this spring.
Oh yeah, I also want to mention that the rod I like is the Shakespeare Ugly Stik, I like my rod exactly at 6 feet and with a medium action. The fishing line I use is 8 pound Berkley Trilene XT.
The line casts super smooth and I’m still able to land some big fish with it. Of course I’ve had break offs here and there, but overall it’s held up pretty good. I still can’t see paying more money for the braided line and fluorocarbon. I tried that Fireline in my reel once, it made a lot of noise in my rod’s eye lids and I think the fish could see it, definitely didn’t catch as much fish with the Berkley XT monofilament. And the fluorocarbon is a better option nowadays, but I can’t see paying that much more fishing line that they say fish can’t see. I’ve put it next to mono in the water, I really can’t see much of a difference. Talked to a few fishermen at fishing shops and they’ve said it’s a bit overrated.