Retrieve ratio: 5.1:1
Bearings: 9+1 ball-bearing
There is an argument that your choice of reel does not make any difference to your angling. It is a view that is most often spoken by those who practice the noble art of fly-fishing. In their world, rod and angler must combine effortlessly to create the cast, and a reel is little more than a practical container for an expensive line.
In the lure casting world it is a big mistake to think in the same manner. Your reel is at least as important as your rod, and more important than your choice of line.
Get your choice of reel right and the experience of casting and retrieving a lure will be a pleasure that brings the reward of hook-ups on fish. Get the choice wrong, and it can ruin your day quicker than a grumpy wife.
In my world, the world of the professional angling guide, choosing a set of reels becomes ever more complicated. I need functionality, reliability and durability, and I need all of that at a cost that allows a profit margin.
I could choose to equip the six bass lure rods and six LRF rods that I carry aboard my boat 3 Fishes, out of New Quay, with reels costing more than £400. I could also choose to rig them up with something from the bottom end of the market, thereby saving pounds, but probably failing the other significant
tests that they need to fulfil day in, day out.
Last season I started using HTO’s Lure Game reel in their 3000 size. This season, all of my bass kit will be rigged with them. They have proven adept at answering all of the challenges they have faced, and have brought bass after bass to the net. Better news still, for me, is that in they come at a price that makes business sense.
With 9 + 1 bearings, the Lure Game reel is smooth but positive in the crank. HTO’s 3000 size sits perfectly on a lightweight lure rod and in the hand (please, tackle manufacturers, let us have a standardised sizing system and, be warned, internet shopping is going to demand it sooner rather than later).
Its retrieve ratio is 5.1:1, which is around the industry standard and seems to make my lures swim perfectly. The spool is wide and has a nice forward-facing angle on the casting rim; both of these additions I like as I load various braid sizes on all my reels, and these fixtures help casting no end.
Line lay is very important when using braid, and I look for a pronounced zigzag weave across the spool. On the Lure Game the lay is more far more subtle, but it works with braid and I am content with that. The crank handle has a soft feel grip and is warm to the touch (particularly great in early season when fingers are cold). The forward drag is fine, albeit I would be wary matching it against a tarpon, but it is more than adept at subduing a bass.
Your reels will most likely never work as hard as mine, which are in action day in, day out. To be in my stable they have to be workhorses, not thoroughbreds, and the Lure Game has willingly cast and retrieved miles of line.
Of course, I still must carry spare unused reels aboard for the unexpected, but inevitable, breakdowns. These are loaded with braid and ready to go. Only once last season did I go diving into the wheelhouse to grab a spare one; a crank handle had clean broken in two rendering a reel useless. It may have been a build issue, but I suspect it was more likely to be user-induced. If you whack a reel against 3 Fishes marine grade stainless steel railings enough times, it will always break.
As a businessman, I take the strategic decision to replace the majority of all of my fishing kit annually. Only this year I will not be replacing the Lure Game stock because they have weathered and worn gracefully.
Although on close inspection some now show their age, I know that they will all plod on, doing an excellent job for me during 2016.
HTO’s Lure Game 3000 will continue to form an essential part of my bassing and LRF kit this summer. It does the job it is built to do perfectly and does it at a price mark that suits my business needs.