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  • By Ken Perrotte

Military Times Fishing Gear Guide: Reels and combos

Updated: Sep 25, 2020

Lew’s continues its winning ways with this combo featuring an SLP, or Super Low Profile, compact Speed Spool reel with a one-piece IM8 graphite blank constructed using Lew’s proprietary Nano technology. The 7.5:1 gear-ratio reel has a graphite frame and sideplates. It has 10 double-shielded, stainless steel bearings and ZeroReverse anti-reverse.

The main gear and crankshaft are solid brass. The 32mm machined and anodized U-shape aluminum spool helps the reel achieve its compact design. Other features include multisetting braking, 95mm bowed aluminum handle with Winn Dri-Tac knobs, a 20-pound carbon drag system, and American Tackle Airwave rod guides. Available in right- and left-hand models. $199.99. Available in October.

Kids can fish with favorite Star Wars combos in this Zebco line extension, targeted toward specific age and ability levels. Kids 3 and up might like the BB-8 droid combo, which features a 30-inch rod with a closed-face reel. Zebco’s new patent-pending tangle-free rod tip on this combo helps reduce the problem of kids wrapping line around the tip. The reel’s thumb button is oversized for easy activation.

The rod also contains a safe hook storage chamber. And the whole thing floats, in case kids accidentally drop it in the lake. $14.99. Older Star Wars fans can get the Rey and Kylo Ren combo (ages 6-9, $17.99) or the Darth Vader spinning combo or 6-foot telescoping Vader combo (both $29). All are available now.

These affordable combos debuted last year and became available for use last winter. We tried a couple on frozen Lake Champlain in Vermont. The rods vary in length from 27 to 38 inches, each designed for different types of ice fishing — from close-quarters work inside a shelter to jigging deepwater for suspended fish.

The rods are made from a solid graphite blank and sport stainless steel ice guides. The handles are tapered cork. The reels have a machined aluminum spool and 4 bearings. MSRP is about $60, but combos are selling for about $40 at many retailers.

The Concept Z from 13 Fishing is touted as the world’s first high-performance reel with zero metal ball bearings. Instead, the reel has “Concept Zero Bearings” made of a polymer. The difference, over time, is that the polymer bearings can’t corrode. How long they hold up compared to traditional bearings is the big variable.

People using the new reel during on-the-water tests noted it performed as well as many other baitcasters they had handled. It weighs 6.1 ounces, has Arrowhead line guides, six-way centrifugal braking, 22 pounds of drag, saltwater protection treatment and Japanese Hamai cut gearing. $200. Available in February.

Pflueger’s new, award-winning Supreme QRS, short for Quick Release Spool, is among the most affordable of the newer fly fishing reels. It has an interchangeable large arbor, polycarbonate cassette spool system. The reel is a machined aluminum alloy and includes a dual spool four-line rating, a quick release line sliding system and a line indication system. $149.99. Available in September.

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