need advice: baitcaster
Can anyone reccomend a good heavy duty bait caster for under $200?
Now that ihave boat iwant to target the big blues cats in the james as well as big drum in the bay occasionally.
I would also appreciate some insight into theadvantages/disadvantages of levelwind vs non-levelwind reels
Thanking you in advance
If you are looking for a true bait caster, and not a conventional level wind reel, there are only a few choices in my opinion. The choices are the Abu Garcias and a Shimano Calcutta 400. The reason is the level wind itself. The level wind on these reels tracks as the drag is being pulled out. If you take a look at any other bait caster I know of and pull line out, the level wind never moves. If the level wind is pegged to one side and the line is all the way at the other, and these fish continue to make huge runs, the line is taking a hit. Look at the angle of the line coming off the reel and you can see that eventually this system will let you down.
I use the Abu Garcia reels and the 5500 C3s hold plenty of braid. If you would like a clicker for catfishing or if you'd like increased line capacity, then size up; the bigger reels come with both. The Abus are plenty strong, simple to work on, easy to upgrade, and they are very reasonable. Abu calls the level wind feature a 'sychronized level wind'. fyi the Revos DONT have this feature.
The Shimano Calcutta 400s are out of your price range, but I like Shimanos and they deserve to be mentioned.
You may very well find this level wind feature in other baitcast reels. You can find it in conventional reels, but their castability is not what the forementioned reels offer.
The advantages of a level wind are ease of use and organization. Most of my rods have level winds with the exception of off shore gear and jigging set ups. If you are to hand a reel to a novice angler with no level wind, you may get a line lump on your spool in return. This could cause the line to bury in itself if a fish makes a big run and it looks terrible...
The advantages of not having a level wind are stronger gears focusing towards turning that fish towards your boat.
I fish the James for big Bluecats and eel for stripers in the bay in December. I have a hodge Podge of reels with my favorites being Shimano Charter Special 2000 and the old Quantum Iron 435cx reels when I can find them. The Charter specials have a level wind and the Irons do not. Both are tough as nails and easily handle any Catfish in the river, big ocean stripers, and big drum. Both have plenty of line capacity so you can use inexpensive 40 lb. Berkeley Big Game Mono. Both are well under your $200 price limit
Since you will be fishing from a boat and casting far is not a big concern. I would recomend a Shimano Tekota.
If your looking for a good level wind reel look at the Daiwa Luna 300. with this suggestion and no knowing how big of fish you are tring to catch you may want to look at somthing bigger like the Shimano TLD 20 or 25
One of the most common line weights used in Northern California is 20 pound test. For inshore fishing on the day boats out of any local Norcal port, it's pretty much all you'll ever need. Match it up any of these reels with a lightweight 8 foot stick and you've got a great little 20 pound outfit. We're looking for a reel that will hold 200 yards of straight 20# monofilament. Star drag or lever drag is fine, but no two speeds and no levelwinds for the sake of this discussion. Just so we all get to start at the same point, we will clean out the bearings or bushings and then lube them with your lube of choice. We will also upgrade the drags to greased carbon fiber. That means that the only differences in our list of reels will be gear ratio, retrieve rate and price.
All of the reels listed below will deliver an easy 5 pounds of drag, which represents a 25% drag setting for 20 pound mono. Only the discontinued Penns would have trouble delivering more than 8 pounds of drag. The more modern reels could easily be rigged with up to 400 yards of 50 pound spectra and a short topshot of 40 pound fluorocarbon. A typical drag setting for 40 pound fluorocarbon would be 12 to 14 pounds of drag. So, whether you are old school or new, these would be your choices for a 20 pound non-levelwind single speed reel!
Accurate 400 BX Narrow - 225 yards of 20# mono, 4:1 gear ratio, 23 inches per crank ($409)
Avet SX - 220 yards of 20# mono, 5.3:1 gear ratio, 30 inches per crank ($159)
Daiwa Black Gold STTBG20H - 210 yards of 20# mono, 6.1:1 gear ratio, 35 inchest per crank ($179)
Daiwa Saltiga SA20 - 170 yards of 20# mono, 5.4:1 gear ratio, 35 inches per crank ($379)
Daiwa Saltiga SALD20HS - 210 yards of 20# mono, 7.3:1 gear ratio, 42 inches per crank ($409)
Daiwa Saltist Lever Drag Hyperspeed STTLD20HSH - 210 yards of 20# mono, 7.3:1 gear ratio, 42 inches per crank ($239)
Daiwa Saltist Lever Drag STTLD20H - 210 yards of 20# mono, 6.3:1 gear ratio, 36 inches per crank ($229)
Daiwa Seagate 20H - 210 yards of 20# mono, 6.1:1 gear ratio, 35 inches per crank ($149)
Daiwa Sealine SL20SH - 210 yards of 20# mono, 6.1:1 gear ratio, 35 inches per crank ($115)
Daiwa SL-X20SHA (disengaging spool) - 210 yards of 20# mono, 6.1:1 gear ratio, 35 inches per crank ($125)
Newell 220 - 200 yards of 20# mono, 5:1 gear ratio, 27 inches per crank ($150)
Penn Fathom 15 - 190 yards of 20# mono, 6.1:1 gear ratio, 28 inches per crank ($199)
Penn Jigmaster 501 (narrow 500) - 200 yards of 20# mono, 4:1 gear ratio, 27 inches per retrieve (discontinued)
Penn Squall 15 - 190 yards of 20# mono, 6:1 gear ratio, 28 inches per crank ($149)
Penn Squidder 146 (narrow 140) - 220 yards of 20# mono, 3.3:1 gear ratio, 18 inches per crank (discontinued)
Penn Surfmaster 100 - 200 yards of 20# mono, 3:1 gear ratio, 16 inches per crank (discontinued)
Penn Torque 15 Black - 190 yards of 20# mono, 6.1:1 gear ratio, 28 inches per crank ($400)
Penn Torque 15 Gold - 190 yards of 20# mono, 6.1:1 gear ratio, 28 inches per crank ($400)
Progear Classic Series 501 - 200 yards of 20# mono (approx), 6:1 gear ratio, 36 inches per crank (discontinued)
Shimano Charter Special with topless frame - 190 yards of 20# mono, 4.2:1 gear ratio, 23 inches per crank (Alan Tani conversion)
Shimano Torium 14 - 200 yards of 20# mono, 6.2:1 gear ratio, 36 inches per crank ($180)
Shimano Trinidad 14a - 200 yards of 20# mono, 6.3:1 gear ratio, 38 inches per crank ($470)
Shimano Trinidad 16na - 200 yards of 20# mono, 6.2: gear ratio, 46 inches per crank ($480)
Shimano Tyrnos 8 - 170 yards of 20# mono, 6:1 gear ratio, 37 inches per crank ($180)