After reviewing more than 10,000 products over the course of two decades, not a lot really blows my skirt up when it comes to new developments in fishing. That being said, however, on rare occasions, something new in fishing still wows me. The new Bates Hundo baitcaster reel would be something new that caused one of those rare occasions of curiosity and anticipation for me. I picked up the reel for the first time at the new product showcase, the night before the 2023 ICAST show opened. And, holding it my hand the first time and turning the handle, I knew it was special. It felt incredibly solid for being so remarkably light. So I left the show with that being the No. 1 product I wanted to test after the show.
I have had it on the water now for roughly 2 months and have purposely waited to do this review because frankly, every reel is great the first time you use it. So I wanted to have a lot of trips to the water and enough wear and tear on the reel before I put my review together.
While picking up a product at a trade show anymore gives me about 80% of what I need to know on wether the product will be legit or not, fishing with the products proves their worth and value. So the folks at Bates were kind enough to send a reel to test, and I couldn’t wait to get some line on it. I spooled it with 15-pound Seaguar InvizX Fluorocarbon to start and my first intent was to fish either a spinnerbait or a medium soft body swimbait on weighted swimbait hook on it. I put the reel on a Trika 6X 7-foot, 3-inch MHF rod. That pairing made for one of the lightest combos on my deck or that I’ve fished in a number of years.
So the big test was to put an average-weight lure on there and see how it casted and how finely I could adjust the reel. The first cast impressed me immensely. It’s very fluid with a moderate casting motion. The reel casts a 1/2-ounce bait as far as I’ve thrown on conventional baitcasters. It’s a very impressive smooth casting reel for a multitude of reasons.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL
The Hundo like the other Bates reels comes with a solid aluminum frame that is not molded but rather it is CNC cut from 6061-T6 bar stock aluminum. This is the same aluminum they use for aviation parts, and high end technology parts. The fact that this is cut from solid aluminum bar stock instead of poured and molded from molten aluminum gives it an incredibly light but incredibly strong frame as its foundation. The reel weighs just 5 ounces even though it’s probably as solid a reel as I’ve ever held in my hand.
The first thing you notice when fishing it is how tightly and smoothly the gears mesh together, how freely the spool spins on a cast and how smoothly the handle turns on a retrieve. The drag is very consistent and smooth too. I don’t know if this tight, fluid feeling comes from having a more rigid frame, but it’s very noticeable how solid and precise the reel feels overall while fishing.
SPECS ON THE HUNDO
The Hundo is a 100 size reel and holds roughly 100 yards of 14-pound monofilament line or 100 yards of 30-pound braid. So I probably had 85-90 yards of 15-pound fluorocarbon on the reel and could roll cast and bomb cast alike with ease. You are able to finely tune your drag, tension and braking on this reel. I had my reel dialed in so well, that I was throwing spinnerbaits and swimbaits nearly to the end of my spool. It was incredible the distance I was getting.
The reel features 10+2+1 bearings, an 88mm swept handle, 14 pounds of drag, in 7.1:1 and 8.1:1 gear ratios. And unique, orange, easy-to-grip, soft rubber knobs on the handle complete this remarkably different baitcaster.
The dials and knobs are all very easy to tune from the external brakes, to the tension and drag on the handle plate. This reel is the total package.
ADDITIONAL DETAILS ON HUNDO
The Bates Hundo baitcasting reel came in a very nice box with the real seated firmly in a die cut foam insert. It also included a very nice custom reel cover. Those added details make you feel like you are getting something special. So kudos to them for the few added elements on the packaging.
The reel is a small footprint. It easily palms in your hand. If you’re someone who likes bigger reels, this will be a bit smaller feeling and more palmable in your hand than you are used to. But if you like high-end, smaller, low-profile baitcasters for finesse applications, throwing small baits that require precision casting in a presentation, flipping, or making long casts with smaller line, you are going to love the new Hundo.
ON THE WATER WITH THE HUNDO
I’ve been going after smallmouths with my Hundo mostly and also getting into some white bass hot and heavy to really put the reel through its paces. I am still super impressed with how well it handles whatever you throw at it. One minute I was throwing 1/4-ounce baits at white bass. At the next pocket, I’m was launching a topwater over breaking bass. Then I got a swimbait on it winding it over brush piles and stumps, and finally, then, I had a spinnerbait on it. The next time out I fished it with jerkbaits and this last time jigs and small swimbaits on it.
The casting distance really impressed me, but even more stirring was the smoothness of everything from the retrieve to the drag. This reel feels like a million bucks in your hand. No matter how you fish, this reel will be able to handle it. I think it will be a good flipping reel. A good jerkbait reel. A good topwater reel. A good small swimbait reel. A good lipless crankbait reel, a good small casting jig reel and a whole lot more.
I was winding a swimbait over and through stumps on flats, and with the Hundo / Trika combo, I was feeling stuff I wasn’t use to feeling on the retrieve. I want to say that bar stock aluminum frame almost makes the reel more sensitive. Or maybe just because it palms so well in your hand you are getting a lot more contact area and that is transmitting more feel on things. My first fish on it was a spicy 3-pound smallmouth that gobbled up the swimbait. I went on to catch a few more smallies on that first trip. The next trip I took it off and put it on a jerkbait rod and jerked a jerkbait fast and rapidly over flats and caught several bass, white bass, even a couple crappie doing that.
The Hundo drag starts easily and comes off steadily and smoothly. I’ve had up to 4 1/4-pound bass on this reel so far. Meanwhile the reel handle still felt very solid on a hookset.
WHERE TO GET THE BATES HUNDO BAITCASTER
Right now, the Bates Hundo is in a pre-order scenario where they are asking people to put in pre-orders and they will ship the reels by October 15. At some point there will be an update to that timeline and hopefully some more online retailers will start carrying them. TackleWarehouse.com has the Bates Reel lineup on their site now except for the brand new Hundo that will hopefully will be coming soon after their pre-order builds. I have one and am on the list to get 4 more of them. That’s how much I liked them. So much so, that I’m plunking down $1,500 of my money to get enough to fish multiple rods with them.
To learn more about the Bates Hundo or to pre-order, visit BaitsFishingCo.com.