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Phu Man

First Baitcaster

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I figured this is the best place to ask for advice.  I've been reading for a while and realize everyone has their favorites and opinions, so, I'm just looking for some feedback.  I've fished spinning rods and reels since I was young.  One of my reels had finally just about met it's end (it's 25 years old).  I want to try to learn to use a bit casting set-up.  I don't want to break the bank only to find out I don't enjoy it as much, so I'm looking to stay around $150-200.  I looked at tackle warehouse and they have the "American Hero" combo from Lew's in my target range.  My question is... Is this a set-up that I am going to be happy with or will it frustrate me to the point of just going back to the spinning set-up?  What are some others options you guys would recommend in my target range?  Thank you for the advice.

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Depends on how you like to fish. Personally, I fish a lot of reaction baits with resistance, so I spend more money on my reels than rods... But if you like to fish contact baits then a nicer rod would be a good investment. There are plenty of good ways to get setup in that price range though. Since it will be your first casting combo, I'd go with a basic all around setup w/a 6'6" MH rod and a reel with a gear ratio of around 6:1. Reels that I've personally used and would recommend are the Lew's Speed Spool, The Cabela's Tournament ZX, and the Lew's Laser MG. As for rods, I like the Berkley Lightning Rod... But somebody with a little more experience with nicer rod might be able to give you some advice on that.

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? Isn't that reel like 50 bucks? Not 150-200 range.

If you have more spend more. 

For 150-200 you can get any reel, any brand that looks good to you and it will perform flawlessly.

that being said I do like and own 10 Quantum Energy PT reels. They have all performed great for me. Tackle Warehouse also has a reel demo program.

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Thank you both for the quick responses.  I am just starting my search so I appreciate the input.  Zeth, yes, that reel is only 50 bucks or so.  I picked that one as a starting point, because I've read good things about Lew's reels and I liked that, being one myself, a portion (I'm sure it's small) goes to help veterans.  I will definitely check out the Quantum reels though to expand my search.

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Thank you both for the quick responses.  I am just starting my search so I appreciate the input.  Zeth, yes, that reel is only 50 bucks or so.  I picked that one as a starting point, because I've read good things about Lew's reels and I liked that, being one myself, a portion (I'm sure it's small) goes to help veterans.  I will definitely check out the Quantum reels though to expand my search.

Quantum reels were one described by Mike at DVT, a Site Sponsor that works on reels for a living, as the worst of the best. 

 

http://www.bassresource.com/bass-fishing-forums/topic/134624-quantum-why-the-hate/

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The two top reels in that price range are the Curado I's and the Daiwa Tatulas. If you wanna go under a hundred bucks, the BPS PQ can't be beat, but the Curado and Tat are definitely better reels.

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I couldn't find any combos on TW's site.  I did see the Lews American Hero rods.  No experience with Lews rods.  I would go with one of the 7' models.  Medium or MH would depend on cover and lure weight being used.  Another combo to consider is the H2O Mettle and Ethos rod from Academy Sports.  I have no experience with them either, but they both get good reviews.  Academy also has the Curado I on sale for $129.99 if you want to spend a bit more.  No experience with that model, but have other model Curados and Chronarchs.  Don't think you could go wrong with that choice if willing to spend the extra money.

 

The Berkley Lightning is a good rod in its price range.  It and the H2O Mettle (on sale) would be about the least you could spend for a decent combo.  Total with reel on sale would be less than $100.  Reel has an aluminum frame which is going to be hard to find at that price.

 

At the $200 price, I would look at the standard Tatula and a Fenwick HMG rod.  There are also some good house brand combos for that or less, but I have no experience with any of them other than Cabela's Prodigy rods and an older Prodigy reel.  No idea about the new Prodigy reels. but the older gray model was a bargain.  Excellent reel made for them by Daiwa.  A tournament fisherman friend of mine says he prefers the Prodigy to some of the other house brand rods.

 

Like my Tatula reels (and rods) a lot.  My HMG is an older model and is used on a finesse set-up.  Nice rod.  I hear the new models are even lighter.  Also well built for the price with an excellent warranty and good sensitivity.

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The Chronarch 200E6 is still on sale for $150 at Cabelas. Slap it on a matching white Shimano Sellus MHF rod for $50 and you are done for $200!!!!! You can always upgrade the rod to something nicer later, but you won't find a better reel, even for $200.

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To the OP, you will be given ton's of opinions as far as what reel you should get. Regardless of reel you decide to buy, using a b/c for the first time will have its learning curve. Which ever reel you get at this time, you will have no reference point to compare it to. Buying an expensive reel would not make sense imho. I would start with a BPS Pro Qualifier. Learning how to use a b/c should become become your focus. Training that thumb takes time and practice. Glenn has a pretty informative video on how to set up a b/c. Once you learn how to proficiently use a b/c then I would spend the $$ and get nicer reel down the road. 

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I recommend investing the majority of your money in a good reel on sale. Check ebay for sale prices on rods but more importantly reels.

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Buy a good reel first then upgrade to a good rod. Do your self a favor and get a reel with dual breaking. Lews speed spool is a good reel in its own right but probabaly not for you. Or if you get a Diawa they have mag force Z and that breaking is very good. I would really spend all 150 on a reel and scrape up 30 more and get one of those berkleys from wall mart and your good to go.

The BPS PQ is a decent reel and can last you but something like a Lews tournament or tournament pro are the same reels but much nicer. I will say a Diawa Tatula is so hard to beat and it's under $100 and in my opinion Diawa has the best braking system in the game and that's a big plus for a beginner.

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Thank you all for you opinions.  I agree with what Lou said about the learning curve.  It's gonna be a big change and probably not as easy as I would like.  You've all given me some excellant choices.  Now to continue researching and hopefully give updates of my progress and decision.  I'm sure my wife will have a good laugh watching me "yard fish" with it the first time.

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OP:  I can't afford the expensive reels so I have no idea if the DC Shimanos are relatively backlash free.  I've got at least 7 different brands of reels.  Several models from some.  The absolute best reel I have used for backlash free casting is the T3 1016 line of Daiwa reels with their Magforce 3D braking.  Try one if at all possible.  Unfortunately one will leave you nothing left for a rod.

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Shimano Chronarch would be my choice.  It's easy to set up, cast well and I rarely get backlashes.  All things you would want to look for in a first time reel.

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Shimano Chronarch would be my choice.  It's easy to set up, cast well and I rarely get backlashes.  All things you would want to look for in a first time reel.

 

Except you are experienced.  You can only learn once.  I learned on a Fuego.  Love my Daiwas, but have to admit some are definitely more backlash prone than my Shimanos.  Now that I have both, I have to believe I would have been better off learning on what I had planned to be my first baitcast reel had the Fuegos not been on closeout.....a Curado 201E7.  Most backlashes occur at the beginning of the cast which is where the centrifugal brake has an advantage over a magnetic brake.  Of course this is only conjecture since I knew how to cast by the time I got my first Shimano.

 

I am a casting expert.  I can backlash any reel.  :teeth:  Only exception so far are my Daiwa reels with Magforce 3D braking.  My older Chronarchs and Curado 201E7 are hard to backlash.  I am much more apt to backlash one of my Curado 51Es.  Probably because they are used with light lures (normally 5/16 oz. and below), and I am not that great with light lures on a casting rod.

 

I can understand why there is such a large Shimano fan club on this site.  My Chronarch 100B and Curado 201E7 are pleasures to use.  Casting distance is very good, and as you stated, they hardly ever backlash although I am sure they would have been more backlash prone while I was learning.  :teeth3:

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Fan club or not ask any top reputable reel mechanic on the long term life of higher end shimano and Daiwa reelss and see what they say compared to Quantium, Pinnacle, Ardent, Lews, and other lessor know brands. Yes there is always exceptions to the rule, but if you stick with midlevel and above reels from the "Big Two" you will be fine and not fustrated!

 

So here is my recommendation for the newbie on baitcasters........Daiwa Tatula Type R, in my opinion for the price point and beyond, it smoothness, ease of adjustments, and casting ability will leave not only newbies impressed but seasoned bass fishermen too!

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