Dec 10

My Bonefishing Reels

Since I was talking a bit about reels, I figure I should let you know what I actually am throwing out there…

My primary bonefishing reel is the TFO LA 375.  It is a good, solid reel with a composite disk drag.  I used this on my last trip to the Bahamas (Jan. 2010) and had no complaints (and only compliments) on that reel.  It retails for about $290.

I also have a Ross CLA that I tend to have my 9 wt. line on.  I have not hooked that many fish on this reel and haven’t really given it a real test in the salt.  It retails for about $230.

If I’m going lighter, I tend toward my Okuma Helios.  It is the least expensive of the group and cost me about $173.

I’ve had two spectacular reel meltdowns… the first was a Redington, I don’t even know the model number.  I was on Kauai and the drag just… well… stopped working and I couldn’t figure out  why.  I didn’t even send it back.  This was bought about 8 years ago and wasn’t even a large arbor reel.  I recall it doing well on the Babine River for big steelhead, but after 2 days in the salt it just crapped out.

The other reel implosion was a Cabela’s large arbor something-or-other that chunked out on me down in Mexico with a decent jack on the line.  I landed the jack and tossed the reel.  It was TOAST.

Recently I got to play with a Nautilus NV and Orvis Mirage down in Belize and both are just fantastic pieces of fishing art.

There are so many reels on my wish-list… that Nautilus was just damn sexy.  My friend Shane loves is Galvan Torque 8.

The number one reel I’d like is probably a Zane Ti from Hardy… since it sells for $8,000.  I’d like it so I can sell it and buy a Nautilus and a Galvan, a Sage Xi3 and Orvis Hydros and have enough left over to head to Andros South for a week (and leave a big tip).

Jan 10

Okuma Helios Review

Today I leave for Grand Bahama.  I don’t know if I’ll be posting reports while I’m there, or if I’ll wait until I get back.  I will, however, schedule some reports to post while I’m gone so that my goal of a post a day is met.

A couple years ago I picked up an Okuma reel at my local fly shop, Off the Hook.  I had never had an Okuma before, but the reel looked good and I needed a new reel for my 7 weight.  The price was right too… about $173.

I recently wrote a review of the Okuma Helios for the Off the Hook fly shop… here is my review, as found on the Off the Hook website.

A couple years back I picked up an Okuma Helios for my 7 wt. I planned to use the Okuma for heavy trout (Lower Sacramento, primarily) as well as whatever other trouble I could get into with my 7 wt… shad, light steelhead, bass and even bonefish.


Nice looking bit of gear

My first impression of the Helios was that it was relatively light weight with a good drag system, an attractive design and good durability.  Okuma touts the Helios as “nearly maintenance free,” which is a bonus for me as I am unusually harsh on equipment.  The waterproof drag makes it a good solution for me for saltwater applications like bonefish or jack crevalle.  The weight balances well with both the St. Croix Legend Ultra and Sage RPL that I’ve fished it on.  I’ll be putting it on a TFO Axiom 7  wt. for my upcoming trip.

Before I could take the reel to the Lower Sacramento, it went with me on a trip to catch my first bonefish in Grand Bahama in the winter of 2008.  I was unsure how a reel at this price point would deal with the famously strong fish.  At $173, the Okuma is about $100 less than comparable Ross Reels and well over $300 less than the heavy weights like Tibor or Able.  In bonefishing the reel is a lot more important than the rod, unlike most of the trout fishing I’ve done in my lifetime.

My Helios was put to the ultimate test when I hooked into a 7.5 pound bonefish on the East End of Grand Bahama.  I was in my backing in maybe 2 seconds.  The drag was smooth, no jerking, no hesitation.  The large arbor design helped me pick up line quickly.

Since then the Helios has landed shad on the American River and 20”+ bows on the Lower Sacramento .  The reel is still in mint condition and will be making another trip with me to the Bahamas .  I trust it with the fiercest of gamefish.

** for the record, I purchased this reel at full market value ***