My thoughts on todays spinners

Started by Reeltyme, June 13, 2022, 11:31:52 PM

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I am quite sure that I will probably "ruffle a few feathers" with this commentary, but here goes. I have been servicing reels for quite a few years now (more than 10 and less than 20), and have noticed a decline in the quality of the reels as I am sure most of you have. The prices have gone up though, considerably! The area I live in, central west coast Florida, seems to be a haven for Shimano. I service and repair a LOT of them. To be perfectly honest, I think they are a very poor reel. What gears aren't plastic are a very poor quality brass. Daiwa seems to be pretty much the same. I have not worked on any of the newer Penns yet so I can not pass judgement on them though I have a feeling they will fall into the same category. Now I am referring to reels in the $100 to $250 category. I am well aware that each brand makes an excellent high dollar reel. I serviced 2 Shimano "Twin Power" 850's. VERY well made. Metal body, all metal gears and completely sealed with gaskets EVERYWHERE, but the average "Joe" can't afford a $600 + reel! All the main manufacturers have their high end reel but again, the everyday reel seems to be junk. Even ordering parts is a nightmare as most reel models change as quickly as computer software! Does anyone have a recommendation for a good quality affordable reel? As Penn is either not a force in my area of never breaks down, I can not recommend them to my customers. When my customers ask my opinion on what to buy, I tell them "anything over 25 years old".

Squidder Bidder

In South Florida (Miami/Keys), at least about 10 years ago, the Penn SS series was standard on charter boats fishing reefs and wrecks. Maybe a Senator or International or two on heavier bent butt rods to drop for grouper also.

I think what happened is what happened to a lot of American manufacturing - cheap resident manufacturing in Asia made it fiscally impossible to manufacture quality products at an entry price point in the U.S.

My recollection was that 20 years ago or so Van Staal hit the spinning reel market, directed at East Coast surf casters at first. I think that put upward pressure on other manufacturers to match its quality and durability (one of the big selling points early on was that VS was entirely sealed, and they paid a guy on Long Island who would surf fish in a wet suit with the reel routinely submersed to promote the reels). Out came the Stellas etc. after that.


I mean you're not entirely wrong on any of it. Most new reels below $200 are shiny and pretty on the outside with lots of cool looking cuts in the spool, etc. But you get inside and the gears are zinc or aluminum.

I still love my daiwa SS reels though. Aluminum gears, graphite body, and all. But those first came out in the 80s

And I will make a counter argument, that modern reels are on average more pleasant to use, and as long as you're servicing it regularly it'll be fine.

And I'm also on the west coast of FL (I've seen your ads on CL for reel service before) and I'd argue that penn is king around here, with shimano a close second. But that's just my observations closer to Tampa, i know you're a bit further up.
Any machine is a smoke machine if you use it wrong enough.


I have little experience with the reels that have been available the last 10-15 years.  Had already decided a few years back that I would enjoy fishing more with vintage reels than with anything I could afford to buy new,  Have never looked back.  Many nice reels from the late '50s  up through the mid-1980s.  Yeah, you can find some good ones from the '80s and '90s, but you gotta look close.  All my fishing is fresh water, and I have reels from most of the well-known names from the '60s and '70s, like Mitchell, DAM, Heddon, Shakespeare and Abu; also toss in some Zebcos, Berkleys and even Daiwas and Shimanos.  I would bet I could find some new reels that would be OK, quality and fishability-wise, but I don't feel like hunting when there are so many great older reels out there.



I went into my very well designed S. Ultegra 14000, recently. A great surfcaster, but my error, not to do so sooner. The zinc-composite parts(main, oscillation block, some line roller parts and that stupid lever-shaft that actuates the AR bearing on/off(have the same issues on 2-Srtatics with this piece)), were badly corroded. Rescued, thankfully, but I won't even try to replace them with more zinc junk.

I'm with Frank. Most NAME Vintage stuff from beyond the early '80's, can't be beat. Mitchell, M. Garcia, Abu/Zebco Cardinals, Penn Spinfishers, the Italian reels, Shakespeares, DAM Quicks. They are out there in droves, full functional reels as well as parts. If I had customers, I'd strongly recommend The DAM Q. reels. So, almost anything over 50 yrs. old, HA!
Fishing tackle is an art form and all fish caught on the right tackle are"Gfish"!


Agree 100% about great vintage spinners... that's why I'm taking my venerable Penn 704 on my upcoming 8-day. It's built like a bulldozer, didn't cost a stupid fortune, is easy to service, and is mercifully free of irrelevant eye-burning bling. No, it can't handle a cow BFT, but so what? Besides, that fabulous teal green color... well, what gal could resist??  ^-^


I don't suffer from insanity... I enjoy every minute of it!  :D


unfortunately, advertising/marketing combined w/ planned obsolescence,
are more profitable/cost-effective than better materials, manufacturing and R&D
don't blame the manufacturers -- blame the stupid, lazy, uneducated consumers (vast majority)
it's just cheaper to convince them something is good, than to make something good

also, shidaiwa gave us some good price:value for a couple decades, 
before they fully adapted the above Western[mostly US-made] concepts!!!
so can't really blame them for stomping on the bandwagon extra-hard, while jumping onto it a little late

Squidder Bidder

Quote from: philaroman on June 14, 2022, 02:26:40 PMunfortunately, advertising/marketing combined w/ planned obsolescence,
are more profitable/cost-effective than better materials, manufacturing and R&D
don't blame the manufacturers -- blame the stupid, lazy, uneducated consumers (vast majority)
it's just cheaper to convince them something is good, than to make something good

also, shidaiwa gave us some good price:value for a couple decades,
before they fully adapted the above Western[mostly US-made] concepts!!!
so can't really blame them for stomping on the bandwagon extra-hard, while jumping onto it a little late

My guess is that manufacturers had to adapt to a "throwaway" culture at some point - people want what they want now and cheap with bells and whistles. Perhaps the entry level reels are meant to be fished for a year or two and abused, and then thrown away after two seasons when the consumer buys a new reel with a graphics redesign and an irrelevant whizbang upgrade? Maybe you get the entry level Shimano while you save a few years for the Stella?

Edit: It's certainly a change in philosophy versus the more robust/durable stuff we play with here which permits at-home servicing and replacement parts compatibility.

Midway Tommy

In all reality, with the cost of labor nowadays, it's almost cheaper for the novice to buy a new reel every year or two than to pay to have his reels serviced yearly. The mechanical knowledge, ability and patience of the younger generations is somewhat limited.   :(
Love those open face spinning reels! (Especially ABU & ABU/Zebco Cardinals)

Tommy D (ORCA), NE

Favorite Activity? ............... In our boat fishing


if any of these guys with the new junk pisses you off, send them home with that nasty old 700, the one with half or more of the paint gone and that has the broken foot you keep on the shelf next to your bench.  They won't live long enough to wear it out and require your services again. I think the pros know and have the Penns, the amateurs no so much. 
Doomed from childhood


I like this type of thread. Still waitin for someone with "ruffled feathers" to comment. Jason had a good point, maybe it's a personal thing though, but I want stuff that is built to last. I'd pay good money for an Ultegra made out of quality parts, because of the "great for surfcasting" design/function.
Fishing tackle is an art form and all fish caught on the right tackle are"Gfish"!


With the Shimano reels it always bearing after bearing

Other than that they are great 👍
OCD Reel Service & Repair
Gulf Breeze, FL


Tommy is certainly on to something when he says it's the labor cost.  And, it's more than fishing reels.  Look at TVs; nobody, hardly, repairs a TV 'cause the cost to do so is prohibitive vis-a-vis the cost of a new TV.  Auto repair; few mechanics repair components; it's replace the entire alternator, starter or whatever part is involved.



Quote from: Gfish on June 14, 2022, 08:11:57 PMI'd pay good money for an Ultegra made out of quality parts, because of the "great for surfcasting" design/function.
figure out the year of production...  from around same time & w/ same basic design,
Biomaster/Stradic should be slightly better & TwinPower/Sustain should be noticeably better
you get a metal body tapped for fine-thread screws, rather than self-driving screws eroding graphite
every time the reel is disassembled...  IMO, that's a huge deal for frequent self-service of Surf reels

Paul Roberts

Interesting thread. Can't offer too much. I use mostly "vintage" stuff, much form the 70's and 80's. I have a YT channel and I get comments from viewers saying, "Hey, your retro!" To which I reply, "Nah, that's just my stuff!" Or... "You need new gear!" To which I reply. "No, I don't." :)

I have some newer reels though of course. My "newest" is a Pflueger President XT (light weight version). I haven't used it a whole lot, haven't yet opened it up. Kindof afraid to! ;D I have some US Reels spinners, and they are pretty chintzy. But, I'm careful of my gear for the most part and they've held up to what I've used them for, for over a decade now. Would not recommend though, even if they were still in business. My advice would be, "Go easy on them."

As to the turnover of new models... It's been gong on for some time now. I worked in a large tackle shop back in the 80's. People would come in to the shop with a magazine, pointing out the latest advertised reel. They weren't in our reel case, bc they were advertised well before they were released! We had "last year's" stuff. Frustrating. That "last year's stuff" were the Penn SS's, DAM 1000-5000 series, Sigma's, ABU C3's and 4's, Daiwa's BG's. I've been using some of those "last year's stuff" for decades since. So I can't say much about the new stuff.

Anyway, doesn't answer your question. We're stuck with what the industry produces. Or we're perusing ebay, taking our chances, and doing the work to bring those old reels back up to snuff. Not a useful recommendation for most people nowadays. But, then there are those like Fred Oakes who specialize where, apparently, the real quality lies, in "retro".