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So, I'm pretty tough on my spinning reels. Years of blowing up Penn spinners steered me to other brands about 10 years ago.

Plugging is tough on gears and jigging is brutal on anti reverse systems. Fireline doesn't help either. Lots of shock to the reel. My reels are stored outdoors and receive only a freshwater rinse every trip. And then once a year I tear them down.

Here's the results of this year's maintenance.

Shimano Sahara
($55, 2000 model).
This reel has at least 10,000 fish on it. I've trusted it on 100 fish days and 40 pound fish days. On tear down, the innards still look great, gears are tight. This reel requires a mid-season drop of oil on the bail pivot points and the line roller. The one weakness with this reel is the handle - My second replacement is on order. Still, has been an excellent value and I still trust the reel.



Shimano Spheros ($80 2002 models)
I have two of these with many thousands of fish on them. They are a super value - zero corrosion, tough (one of mine flew off the truck at 55mph 5 years ago! Still works fine.) They have a waterproof drag that can handle any fish in the bay just fine. Annual maintenance is the only requirement and they always look great inside when I open them up.



Then, in my quest to find slightly more clearance for my knuckles, I bought a Cabo Catalyst. It fought me for two trips, and locked up on the third. No more Cabos for me.

Shimano Stradic ($120, 2005)
So, this reel was seductively smooth out of the box. And it has handled everything I've thrown at it. However, I won't buy any more of them. They are just not able to handle the salty environment of the bay. The bail roller locks up without frequent oiling, the drive shaft and various other parts have corrosion when I open it up for maintenance. In fact, you can see corrosion on the pivot pin on the handle. And it just behaves poorly in temps below 40 degrees. The anti reverse slips, and the drag sometimes slips.



Cabelas Salt Striker ($40 2006)
I bought this to put on a guest rod. But I use it interchangeably these days with my other reels. It's surprisingly smooth, tough and corrosion resistant. It has several thousand fish to it's credit, including at least one 30 pounder. It's not a sexy as the rest, but a super value. Requires only annual maintenance and the daily rinse.



Diawa Tierra ($92 2008)
And, still searching for my bail-to-knuckle clearance, I just received this one. It will have big shoes to fill against the Spheros - I'll report back after a couple of seasons. It has a somewhat wider spool than the Shimanos, and more drag surface. We shall see.



Hopefully this helps in your Christmas wish list decisions.
 

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cheap shimanos are all i use. i beat up my stuff pretty bad, NO way im paying 100$ or more for a stinking spinner. this summer i bought a bunch of slades, very cheap. its the cheapest anti-reverse reel they make. i love em. paired with my favorite rod, each combo is 45$!.

i have many siennas too. they have an additional ball bearing i think.

i finally had a sienna wear out after about 8 years and 100's of fish and hours of abuse last year.

brett
 

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Excellent post, Pax! Great to hear some long term, high use opinions on gear. I'm like a lot of the Shimano reels, too. Don't have quite as many fish on mine as you do - but they perform well and require minimal maintenance to keep 'em in good shape.
 

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Thanks for the excellent review. I've had the same experience with the Stradic. I had to replace one of the bearings after one season, and I rinsed the reel thoroughly after every use. The roller bearing makes all kinds of noise if I don't oil it after every few trips.

I also killed a Daiwa Laguna after one season, and I have a Tica Sportera that limps along with frequent lubing. None of these reels have even seen big fish...

I just figured that fishing from a kayak was harder on reels since they're so much closer to the water, but your review of the Stradic suggests that may not be the case. I'll have to check to see if I can find some old Spheros on eBay.
 

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The Diawa Tierra really looks nice on that rod in the last pic :thumbup: I hope the rod still holding up OK for you.
 

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PAX -

great review. i found the SAHARA last winter. I have a 2500 and 4000 sahara and i also have a 2500 and 4000 stradic. I use the sahara's WAY more than the stradics.

They are surprisingly smooth and a good bargain. They have withstood alot on my boat this year. I even used them flounder fishing the back bays all spring long. I popped one open the other day, no corrosion at all and still looks new in there.

I will service them after the CBBT is over, but they are by far my favorite reel.
 

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I noticed the Sahara is a 4000. I have two of them that I mostly use on the flats with bait, live-lining or bottom fishing. Thought they might be too heavy for all day jigging and casting, interesed to hear what you've experienced and if you've used a smaller sahara (if one exists). They are certainly alot cheaper than the stradics.

Nice write up.
 

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Excellent post, Pax. Good stuff. :thumbup: I haven't been fishing so much, so my Stradics don't get much abuse, but they won't be replaced by the same model once they give up the ghost. I haven't been happy with them for two or three generations now.
 

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Chris -

Would you consider the vintage of the reels a factor? What I mean is that your year 2000 Shimanos have served you so well - I wonder if a Stradic from that era is built better than the newer ones??

Just a thought the old saying "They don't build them like they used to"

BTW -

I like my 4 stradics (2-4000 & 2-2000) - but my old 2000 model was slipping on its anti reverse last trip - so it will get serviced -

I have really found that I like the Penn Slammer 260 & 360 - No copmplaints on those reels at all.
 

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DirtyFrank -

They do have 2500 sahara's, i have one. It is a few OZ lighter and you're right, i use it for all day jigging.
 

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Great post Chris.

That vintage of Stradic is JUNK- in my humble opinion of course! I have two of them and do not like them at all! The older Stradics with the wood handles were awesome. I have four of them and use them all the time. And, I think the newer Stradics are good too but the price went up and they stopped making them white. I will give them one more shot.

Agree with you about the Spheros. Since you showed me yours, I bought two. I like them a whole bunch, but they are slightly heavier than the Stradics.

Also agree with you about the Sahara's. I think I now have 12 of them. I love love love them. They are the best bargain out there. I have replaced the handle on two of them as well. Curiously, both were 4000's.

Great to get good advice from people who fish a lot and catch a lot of fish. It doesn't really help me when people who fish once a month tell me about a reel they like.
 

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Hey Francis -

are you using any BPS extreme rods? That is a deadly combo, a 2500 sahara and a 6' BPS extreme MH.

I have yet to find a rod i like better than the BPS extreme. Broke one this spring and they replaced it at the store, no receipt, no questions asked.
 

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Great post :clapping2::clapping2:. I'll post a photo of my rod "cemetery" :D - with desciptions like you did.

Big fish,tight drags and braided line will kill most reels (and rods ).

Thanks for taking time to test all these reels for us :thumbup::pp.
 

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Great report Chris. I have a series of Stradic reels ranging from the next to current model back to the early 1990s. The old ones look a bit bedraggled and scraped up, but they sure work well. That is my favorite reel. Most of them are in the 2000 or 2500 series, with several others in the 4000 series for heavier rods.

My only gripe with the Stradics is that the handle locking nut often works loose and makes the handle feel sloppy. It makes we worry that a guest won't realize what is going on -- the handle or the nut could fall overboard.
 

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Mike,
Yeah. A long time ago the older Woo Daves series of BPS Extreme rods went in the clearance barrel at Bass Pro. I think they were like 35 bucks. I bought every one the store had left. I have over 40 6' and 6'6" Extremes siting in my basement in reserve.

The only rod I like more is a Loomis GLX, but, that's a few hundred dollars!
 

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DirtyFrank -

They do have 2500 sahara's, i have one. It is a few OZ lighter and you're right, i use it for all day jigging.
Bought two of these last year, very light, work very well on a "Steve F." rod. They are light and make a nice balanced package. Wife can use one for hours without getting tired. We've been using 15lb fireline on these, no problems so far.
 

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i found that the Okuma Epixor is a nice, affordable, reel.
10 bearings and very stout drag system and smoooooth.
only issue i have had is that the chrome plating is coming off of the plastic caps & covers.

mine get a fresh water rinse every time out and a soap & water wash followed by reel magic after every weekend.
 

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All of my Epixors are holding up well (10s through 40s but mostly 20s for fresh and 30s for salt). However I don't use them as much as Pax, Francis etc. I have them serviced by Phil the R & R guy in Arlington every 2 years or so and he keeps them going for me!

Ernie
 
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