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Bottom fishing reel

Old 08-17-2020, 03:02 PM
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Default Bottom fishing reel

I'm looking to spend some more time bottom fishing and I've read some of the old threads on the topic. It seems like the Torium is a good choice but have kind of a dumb question. Why is it better to have a star drag versus a lever drag for bottom fishing?
Old 08-17-2020, 03:19 PM
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I've got star and lever. I use locked down drag on my star drags and pretty much full on my lever. The lever drags are lighter reels which I like, but for grouper fishing I use the star drags on a solid glass rod.
Old 08-17-2020, 03:22 PM
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somebody here was selling a torium for a good $
Old 08-17-2020, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by garysmo View Post
I'm looking to spend some more time bottom fishing and I've read some of the old threads on the topic. It seems like the Torium is a good choice but have kind of a dumb question. Why is it better to have a star drag versus a lever drag for bottom fishing?
Fishing very high drag with lever drags (especially exceeding the max rated drag of the reel) tends to crush the pinion bearings. In star drags you can beat the star as tight as it will go and fish the reel without causing problems.

I prefer lever drags and bottom fish with 6 of them. They require a little more maintenance than stars but the performance of low gear and the repeatability of the drag pressures far outweigh the extra maintenence to me....

it just boils down to personal preference.

Last edited by mdees88; 08-17-2020 at 05:39 PM.
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Old 08-17-2020, 05:25 PM
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I just started a thread about this very thing a few weeks ago. Excellent information from many participants.
Grouper Reel
Old 08-18-2020, 03:05 PM
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Some generalizations:
  1. star drag reels tend to be cheaper
  2. some lever drag reels have backlash that bothers some jig fishermen
  3. Binding can be an issue with lever drag reels if pushing the limits
  4. an open lever drag invites water penetration to the drag on every drop
  5. the benefits of lever drag when trolling or live baiting are absent when jigging

theres probably some others as well
Old 08-18-2020, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by tarpononecharter View Post
I just started a thread about this very thing a few weeks ago. Excellent information from many participants.
Grouper Reel
thanks I'll take a look....
Old 08-19-2020, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by BACKTOTHESEA View Post
Some generalizations
  1. some lever drag reels have backlash that bothers some jig fishermen
theres probably some others as well

Why wouldn’t that be the case with a star drag? Usually star drags have better free spool especially at higher drag settings when compared to lever drags since drag completely disengages from the spool.

For me, the main benefit of the star is you can hammer down the drag and fully engage/disengage the drag with a quick flip. The main benefit of a lever drag is the option for a two speed setup. You can bump into lower gear and just winch the fish in without having to pump the rod.

Some of these reels are better protected than others but all of these reels will get water intrusion if you fish them enough.
Old 08-19-2020, 09:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Y&R View Post
Why wouldn’t that be the case with a star drag? Usually star drags have better free spool especially at higher drag settings when compared to lever drags since drag completely disengages from the spool.

For me, the main benefit of the star is you can hammer down the drag and fully engage/disengage the drag with a quick flip. The main benefit of a lever drag is the option for a two speed setup. You can bump into lower gear and just winch the fish in without having to pump the rod.

Some of these reels are better protected than others but all of these reels will get water intrusion if you fish them enough.
Many star drag reels have an ARB that may also be combined with dogs.

Any reel can be prone to water intrusion. Star drags which are always engaged have a lower likelihood of water intrusion into the drag stack. One of the reasons a lever drag should always be engaged unless in storage or actually in use. My offshore reels always have their hats on and drags locked down when running offshore as many are often stored in the gunwale rod holders and are prone to some extreme saltwater spray.

I personally use both but that does not mean the differences simply don’t exist. Depends on the reel, the particular type of jigging and personal preference.
Old 08-19-2020, 11:30 AM
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Depending how heavy you want to go: Penn Baja Special. I won't fish anything else for tilefish here in NJ. Very comparable to grouper fishing deep.
Old 08-19-2020, 12:46 PM
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Originally Posted by HookMeUpII View Post
Depending how heavy you want to go: Penn Baja Special. I won't fish anything else for tilefish here in NJ. Very comparable to grouper fishing deep.
Does Penn still make the Baja Special?
Old 08-19-2020, 12:51 PM
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Originally Posted by BACKTOTHESEA View Post
Many star drag reels have an ARB that may also be combined with dogs.

Any reel can be prone to water intrusion. Star drags which are always engaged have a lower likelihood of water intrusion into the drag stack. One of the reasons a lever drag should always be engaged unless in storage or actually in use. My offshore reels always have their hats on and drags locked down when running offshore as many are often stored in the gunwale rod holders and are prone to some extreme saltwater spray.

I personally use both but that does not mean the differences simply don’t exist. Depends on the reel, the particular type of jigging and personal preference.
The ARB and anti-reverse dogs don’t do anything to prevent backlash when a star drag reel is in freespool. Any conventional reel without a brake system is going to be prone to backlash regardless of its drag design.
Old 08-19-2020, 01:08 PM
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Originally Posted by tarpononecharter View Post
Does Penn still make the Baja Special?
No, not exactly, they made a couple changes and renamed it US113...
I have 4 of the "N" (narrow) models and they have been flawless. A little trickier to tear down and clean than the standard Senators.

https://www.pennfishing.com/products/us-senator-1347900
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Old 08-19-2020, 01:29 PM
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Originally Posted by tarpononecharter View Post
Does Penn still make the Baja Special?
They make a new version of it called the US113N and it's made in the USA. I had one and it was a great bottom reel. The flimsy spring on the dogs is the only complaint and its a tad on the heavy side. Cortez conversation has an upgrade that fixes the AR dog issue and makes that reel bulletproof.

Here's a thread Rick did on them and you can see the beefed up aftermarket bridge assembly for it.
New USA Penn 113N

I used mine for snapper and AJs and it worked great but it got to the point where no one on the boat would pick it before they grabbed a two speed lever drag so I sold it and bought another raptor.

Last edited by mdees88; 08-20-2020 at 12:46 PM.
Old 08-19-2020, 01:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Y&R View Post
The ARB and anti-reverse dogs don’t do anything to prevent backlash when a star drag reel is in freespool. Any conventional reel without a brake system is going to be prone to backlash regardless of its drag design.
Pretty sure he was talking about handle play when he said backlash, not bird nesting the reel.

Most lever drags use only dogs so the handle has some play/slop in it and people who jig don't like it (it never bothered me). Most star drags have an AR bearing and have no play in the handle...
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Old 08-20-2020, 11:56 AM
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Originally Posted by tarpononecharter View Post
Does Penn still make the Baja Special?
As others have said, it's the special N model now. They're great reels. 26 lbs of drag and a 4.3:1 retrieve. For me, that makes all the difference in the world. I personally don't like high speed reels for heavy bottom fishing. In the next price-range I'd be looking at 2 speed. Especially if your dropping lighter (6-10 oz) jigs deep for AJ's and grouper.

I should also note we use them to slow pitch/diamond jig YFT here in NJ. They have no problem at all with 40-70 lb class fish.
Old 08-21-2020, 05:55 AM
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My faves are the Tern 500 and Accurate 1000 (seamonster special)
Old 08-21-2020, 07:19 PM
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One more vote for the N model Penn I think also known as the US Senator now. Solid reel, I bkiught 1 and 2 more when BPS had them on sale. Zero complaints so far
Old 08-22-2020, 07:43 AM
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Chicks dig the lever drags.

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