Your choice of casting reels can have a tremendous influence on the enjoyment of your fishing trips. It’s possible to “get by” with a rickety spinning reel but a poorly constructed baitcaster can result in huge backlashes, ruined fishing line and some PG-13 language. None of which contribute to a fun day on the water.
I’ve been able to fish with the new Quantum Smoke 100XPT Casting Reel for several months and have made a concerted effort to beat the heck out of it. I’ve used it with everything from weightless soft plastics to 1/2-ounce spinnerbaits and it has proven to be an outstanding reel.
There are 4 things I’ve really enjoyed about this reel.
- Drag performance
I have a special affinity for fast reels. Of course I’ll use ‘em on jigs and Texas rigs—that’s what they’re designed for. But I’ve also started using them when I’m fishing crankbaits, spinnerbaits and weightless soft plastics. In my opinion, I think a lot of anglers don’t fish these lures fast enough. I like to “make” inactive bass react with a speedy retrieve.
The Quantum Smoke 100XPT has a 8.1:1 gear ratio which translates to 35 Inches Per Turn (IPT). In other words, one revolution of the handle will turn the spool 8.1 times and retrieve 35 inches of line.
The high gear ratio this reel offers has proven to be advantageous in many different situations throughout my testing.
- Jigs and Texas rigs— When you’re fishing with a slow reel and a bass knocks your jig or Texas rig towards you, I call it “getting caught with your pants down”. It’s a tough situation because you have a lot of work to do in order to recover and get a tight line on the fish. As we all know, slack line is your worst enemy when fighting a bass. The 100XPT eliminates this problem. It eats slack line quickly, allowing you to make a quick, hard hookset before the bass has an opportunity to dislodge your bait. Whether I’m fishing docks, grass or thick laydowns, I’ve been able to use this 8.1:1 gear ratio to my advantage.
- Spinnerbaits— Burning spinnerbaits on emergent grass lines is an excellent way to catch big bass on my home lakes. Slow reels make it a pretty tiring endeavor, though. It’s not much fun to wind your handle until your arm starts to cramp. I got a wild hair to rig a willow leaf spinnerbait on the 100XPT this fall and I’m telling you— it’s nasty. This fast retrieve was calling bass from inside of the grass beds to gag on my spinnerbait. When I hooked ‘em, I was able to easily keep them away from the salad and get ‘em in the boat quickly.
- Crankbaits—I fish squarebills ridiculously fast. I’m not quite sure if this technique is something specific to my home fisheries, but it increases my catch considerably. It hasn’t been uncommon for me to throw them on 7.1:1 reels, so I had to try ‘em on the 100XPT. I caught a lot of fish cranking riprap banks with this setup and I found the gear ratio to be especially effective when these shallow-water fish jumped towards the boat. I was able to keep mild tension on them throughout the jump and as a result, I can’t remember losing a single squarebill fish on this setup.
- Weightless soft plastics—I’m pretty sure this is the reel I’ll be using this year for all of my floating worm and soft jerkbait fishing. These fish often eat on the pause, which leaves you in a pretty precarious situation—you don’t have much time to get a tight line on ‘em. But I’ve had a blast using these baits on this particular reel. I can set the hook quickly and eat up a lot of line in-between twitches of my rod tip.
Easy to adjust
I own several casting reels that are very difficult to tune. It seems like it takes forever to dial them in and God forbid you change your weight or lure size because the whole process starts from the very beginning. As a result, I rarely use ‘em.
I’ve been impressed by the adjustability of the Quantum Smoke 100XPT. The external brakes have 13 individual settings and the tension knob clicks with each adjustment, making it easy to keep track of each change—no matter how small.
This is a great choice if you like to skip docks. The line stays packed on the spool nicely as the jig skips across the surface and very rarely do you have to strip tangled line from the spool after the cast.
The 100XPT can, however, be a bit finicky with weightless soft plastics. But to be honest, most casting reels are. It’s very possible to get it tuned for skipping these lures underneath cover but it will probably take you a while to optimize your settings.
Powerful and smooth drag
One of the biggest knocks on casting reels is their perceived inability to distribute drag evenly and smoothly. I’ve encountered this problem many times, so I actually tighten the drag as much as possible in order to eliminate the issue. When a fish runs or surges, I prefer to click the thumb bar manually.
When you cinch the drag down on this reel, you’re not going to pull any line out. It doesn’t matter if you’re wrestling a fish over a dock cross beam or yanking them out of a thick grass bed—it’s not going to give. There’s not much else to say about it. It’s very powerful.
If you don’t like to tighten it down, I think you’ll be happy with the smoothness of the drag. It doesn’t take a big surge to “get it going”, which is a great feature. It handles boatside runs quite well and makes boating treble-hooked bass simple.
This is kind of hard to explain in words, but I’ll give a good ol’ college try. Some reels feel like a brick—plain and simple. You can shift your hand every way imaginable and guess what? They still feel like a brick.
The 100XPT, however, feels really darn good in your hand. It’s very lightweight, you can palm it easily and the external brakes are recessed into the sideplate, keeping them out of the way. I’ve also really enjoyed the EVA knobs on this reel. They provide outstanding grip when your hands are wet and covered with fish slime and the 3 holes in each grip surprisingly add a fair amount of grip as well.
Lastly, the drag start seems to stay out of the way on the hookset. I’ve had problems in the past with busting my knuckles on the star when I’m making a big hookset, but my knuckles have remained blood-free while using the 100XPT. They finally got a chance to heal.
If you’re in the market for a new casting reel, I definitely recommend checking out the Quantum Smoke 100XPT. It’s fast, versatile, strong and very comfortable throughout an entire day of fishing.