Every now and again a company comes along that does things differently. They cast away the tried and true and do it their way. Their swagger exudes confidence, their products cut new ground and they seem to align themselves with like-minded people and dreamers. Personally speaking, I put 13 Fishing in that category.
A few weeks ago I finally got my hands on the new 13 Fishing Concept A Casting Reel to run through the wringer. As impressed as I’ve been by their rods, I had high expectations for this reel—and as it turns out, I wasn’t let down.
Lightweight, but a definite workhorse
Finding heavy duty casting reels isn’t too entirely difficult, but finding one that blends ergonomics and weightlessness can prove to be a challenge. While many tough reels are bulky and tiring to use, the 13 Fishing Concept A Casting Reel is an absolute pleasure to fish with for days on end.
It only weighs 6.7 ounces and the model I tested features an 8.1:1 gear ratio. I’ve been using it for pitching and flipping and it’s been an absolute monster. It eats up line quickly and efficiently, allowing you to get big bass out and away from thick cover in a hurry.
This reel also has a 22 pound Bulldog Drag System that, when cinched down, will not slip or release any line whatsoever at any point throughout the day. It doesn’t matter if you stick a 6-pounder in a thick brush pile or accidentally set the hook on an infamous “tree bass”—there is absolutely no give in this drag system. I’ve wrapped the line around my hand and pulled until the line almost cut me and still cannot make the drag slip. This is a huge plus, especially for shallow water anglers that fancy huge hooksets.
Great handle and paddles
Over time, you’ll find some low profile casting reels that may actually be a little too low profile. The handle will be small and difficult to locate at times without looking and the miniature paddles will make it hard to control unruly fish. This isn’t the case with the Concept A Casting Reel.
13 Fishing designed this reel with an oversized handle that gives you the definite upper-hand when fighting big fish. If you get surprised by a bite, it’s easy to locate the handle without any fumbling or wasted time. I’ve also been very impressed by the compressed cork paddles on the handle. Some anglers worry about the durability and longevity of cork, but I have personally made thousands and thousands of pitches with it and it looks the exact same as the day I took it out of the box. No color fading, no cracking and no separation to speak of.
You’ll also notice a very handy rubberized insert on the thumb bar. If you’ve just handled a fish or you’re fishing in inclement weather, this insert eliminates all slipping and helps you engage the thumb bar very easily.
For a reel that retails at $169.99, the Concept A is remarkably smooth and performs like some reels double its price. It has six ball bearings, three being anti-corrosion and three being stainless steel, with a super smooth roller bearing that allows for ridiculous casting distance and very smooth retrieval, even when it’s under a big load.
The chassis of this reel is made from very lightweight aluminum, but it has proven to be durable in every situation I’ve put it in. I’ve dropped it and banged it around in my truck and boat without any loss of structural or mechanical integrity.
I’ve also been pretty blown away by its Arrowhead line guide system. Basically, this system automatically levels the spool on the cast and retrieve, which facilitates flawless line management throughout its operation. Whether you flip it, pitch it or cast it, the line rests evenly on the spool each time—no lumps, tangles or knots.
If you’re in the market for a new bass fishing reel, I definitely suggest checking out the 13 Fishing Concept A Casting Reel. It’s lightweight, strong, ergonomic and super smooth—I don’t know what else you could ask for in a quality fishing reel.