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Small $200ish Conventional Reels

Old 03-09-2019, 11:46 PM
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Default Small $200ish Conventional Reels

I'm looking for some small conventional reels for bottom fishing and jigging in 250' of water and less for snapper, Cobia and ajs. I have been seeing people fishing with these small lightweight reels with braid and would like to get a couple. Any recommendations on small reels around $200-250 would be appreciated.
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Old 03-09-2019, 11:54 PM
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Take a look at Avet SX or SXJ. Great little reels for bottom jigging.

-Dre
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Old 03-10-2019, 01:57 AM
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If you want a lever drag the best bang for your buck will be Penn fathoms IMO. Single speeds are around $220. FTH25NLD
https://m.tackledirect.com/penn-fath...NVb0%253Z26kIh

2-speeds are around 250-300. I highly, HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend getting 2 speeds. FTH25NLD2
https://m.tackledirect.com/penn-fath...NVb0%253Z26kIh

If you really want a beast of a reel I would step up to a FTH40NLD2. https://m.tackledirect.com/penn-fath...NVb0%253Z26kIh

Get on YouTube and search the model numbers. J&H tackle has videos of them and you can get a feel for the size of the reels.


I agree that Avets are very nice reels but I wouldn't recommend the regular models for heavy duty bottom fishing. They have handle binding and are prone to bearing failures when fishing high drag. Also the non raptors do not put out enough drag to really be considered bottom fishing reels to me, especially for AJs. You would need to step up to Raptors which are $4-500 a pop. If I was deadset on buying a non raptor Avet for snapper, cobia, and AJs I would get a JX G2 4.6.

Last edited by mdees88; 03-10-2019 at 08:54 PM.
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:07 AM
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Shimano toriums. The 16,20,and 30 all have the same drag force, the line capacity is all that changes between models. All are lightweight and smooth. I put 50 lb braid on them to jig and bottom fish. I’ve caught several 6 ft sharks on them.
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:15 AM
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I would go with a avet the new g2 models have plenty of drag. I'll agree the fathoms are very nice but after 2 years with very limited use needs a service. my 4 year old avers that see more service are still good to go. for the first year I had the fathom I thought man I might switch over to all fathoms for less money but now I'm gonna stick with avets
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Old 03-10-2019, 07:26 AM
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My bottom fishing set up. An Avet SXJ MC with 30 lbs braid on a custom, spiral wrapped rod. Very happy with it so far.

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Old 03-10-2019, 07:29 AM
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With the narrow spool of the SXJ, keeping the line even is nearly automatic.

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Old 03-10-2019, 08:52 AM
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Tsunami Forged is a very good reel, especially at a price point of $179-$189.
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Old 03-10-2019, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Tawn View Post
My bottom fishing set up. An Avet SXJ MC with 30 lbs braid on a custom, spiral wrapped rod. Very happy with it so far.

That's a fine looking rig you have.

The OP said he wants to catch Amberjack. Not sure about where he fishes but where I fish Amberjack hold over big structure and average in the 20-50lb range. It's not too uncommon to catch some over 50, just uncommon to land them if you know what I mean. It has been my observation, for where I fish, to consistently LAND 20-50lb AJs you need to fish around 20lbs of drag or they're just going to pull you right back in the wreck. I typically fish over 25lbs of drag for them.

The single speed non raptor Avets just don't have the guts for doing that. I'm not saying you can't catch a decent size AJ on an SX. I'm saying you will break off 10:1 and/or likely end up blowing a pinion bearing from over tightening the drag. If all he wanted to catch was snapper I could see a regular Avet working okay for him but I would still go G2 if it were me.
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Last edited by mdees88; 03-10-2019 at 11:41 AM.
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Old 03-10-2019, 01:49 PM
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This would be worth a try if you want lightweight.

https://tackleworld.com/jigging-worl...ver-gun-metal/
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Old 03-10-2019, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Jack Hexter View Post
Tsunami Forged is a very good reel, especially at a price point of $179-$189.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSyg5e_rTgM
I have bad luck with Tsunami rods. Maybe their reels are better?
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by mdees88 View Post
That's a fine looking rig you have.

The OP said he wants to catch Amberjack. Not sure about where he fishes but where I fish Amberjack hold over big structure and average in the 20-50lb range. It's not too uncommon to catch some over 50, just uncommon to land them if you know what I mean. It has been my observation, for where I fish, to consistently LAND 20-50lb AJs you need to fish around 20lbs of drag or they're just going to pull you right back in the wreck. I typically fish over 25lbs of drag for them.

The single speed non raptor Avets just don't have the guts for doing that. I'm not saying you can't catch a decent size AJ on an SX. I'm saying you will break off 10:1 and/or likely end up blowing a pinion bearing from over tightening the drag. If all he wanted to catch was snapper I could see a regular Avet working okay for him but I would still go G2 if it were me.
Thank you and you have a very good point - I am not using it on fish that size.
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:42 PM
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Originally Posted by SailFishQuepos View Post
I have bad luck with Tsunami rods. Maybe their reels are better?
In our area their rods are known well for one species, striped bass. Not technical fights, and you could catch many on bamboo or a 1" wood dowel for that matter. Great for striper and cost effective, though. I'd be wary of their reels personally.
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Old 03-10-2019, 05:59 PM
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I bottom fish lots with Okuma Andros 5Nii. Super small.

I bottom in 300 plus always with at least 2# of weight for halibut.

Also use lots of Avet 2 speeds. JX, LX, HX, and HXW all 2 speeds. Been using them for years and they have held up fine so far. They have caught hundreds of pacific albacore and halibuts up to 100# with ease.
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Old 03-10-2019, 06:04 PM
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Originally Posted by wstanford277 View Post
Shimano toriums. The 16,20,and 30 all have the same drag force, the line capacity is all that changes between models. All are lightweight and smooth. I put 50 lb braid on them to jig and bottom fish. I’ve caught several 6 ft sharks on them.
I agree
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Old 03-10-2019, 06:07 PM
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Toriums are tough to beat for a dependable and economical reel.
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Old 03-10-2019, 06:58 PM
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My go-to jigging reels are Seigler LGN with 60# hollow braid. These reels put out plenty of drag to handle AJs, just make sure you’re arms and back are up to the task. It’s not unusual for a client to go to the rail with the rod. I prefer a lever drag in this situation so that I can assist less-experienced anglers with adjustments on the fly. The narrow spool design of the LGN (rather than the LG) is nice for keeping line lay evenly distributed. If you want more of a multi-purpose reel you could use the wider LG and run a mono topshot for trolling, and I have a couple of those rigged thusly.

Discussion above referenced the Avet SX/SXJ, and those are similar in size to the Seigler SG/SGN, but I wouldn’t suggest any of those as the top choice for your intended purpose. It’s not so much that the reels are physically too small, but the smaller drag surface doesn’t provide enough drag for some of your targets such as big AJs. Yes, there are plenty of AJs, snapper, and cobia that you can catch with SG / SX sized reels, but if you want to tackle the largest of these species consistently you’ll want larger reels. I’ve used lots of Avets over the years before I switched to Seiglers, and the better comparison to the LGN that I suggested above would be the MXJ ‘Raptor’ as far as size and drag performance. Both of these reels are admittedly a bit beyond your “$200-$250” budget. Since you are looking for a pair, I would suggest finding a pair of used ones if you can and I think you’ll get close to your budget and there’s not really a downside to buying them secondhand. The Seigler reels carry a lifetime guarantee, so we don’t see a lot of them re-sold but I recall a few LG models listed here in the last few months. From a charter perspective, my Seigler reels have been among the best investments I’ve ever made in reels or gear in general, and I think as a recreational angler I’d consider these true “lifetime” investments and worth the money.

On the other hand, if you’re not so much concerned about drag and consistently battling the larger of the above species, then the SG/SGN might be a good choice that fits in the $250 range of your budget. This might be the case depending on your fishery and whether you have structure to contend with. If I’m around complex structure, I want more drag to keep a fish from digging in. But if it’s just live bottom and not too many hidey-holes then you can fight it out with the fish on more moderate drag. Sometimes my arms and back prefer this approach, but the tackle I carry is for my guests, so I’m typically going to gear them higher than necessary so we worry less when the “big one” takes the hook.

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Old 03-10-2019, 10:53 PM
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Originally Posted by A Live One View Post
My go-to jigging reels are Seigler LGN with 60# hollow braid. These reels put out plenty of drag to handle AJs, just make sure you’re arms and back are up to the task. It’s not unusual for a client to go to the rail with the rod. I prefer a lever drag in this situation so that I can assist less-experienced anglers with adjustments on the fly. The narrow spool design of the LGN (rather than the LG) is nice for keeping line lay evenly distributed. If you want more of a multi-purpose reel you could use the wider LG and run a mono topshot for trolling, and I have a couple of those rigged thusly.

Discussion above referenced the Avet SX/SXJ, and those are similar in size to the Seigler SG/SGN, but I wouldn’t suggest any of those as the top choice for your intended purpose. It’s not so much that the reels are physically too small, but the smaller drag surface doesn’t provide enough drag for some of your targets such as big AJs. Yes, there are plenty of AJs, snapper, and cobia that you can catch with SG / SX sized reels, but if you want to tackle the largest of these species consistently you’ll want larger reels. I’ve used lots of Avets over the years before I switched to Seiglers, and the better comparison to the LGN that I suggested above would be the MXJ ‘Raptor’ as far as size and drag performance. Both of these reels are admittedly a bit beyond your “$200-$250” budget. Since you are looking for a pair, I would suggest finding a pair of used ones if you can and I think you’ll get close to your budget and there’s not really a downside to buying them secondhand. The Seigler reels carry a lifetime guarantee, so we don’t see a lot of them re-sold but I recall a few LG models listed here in the last few months. From a charter perspective, my Seigler reels have been among the best investments I’ve ever made in reels or gear in general, and I think as a recreational angler I’d consider these true “lifetime” investments and worth the money.

On the other hand, if you’re not so much concerned about drag and consistently battling the larger of the above species, then the SG/SGN might be a good choice that fits in the $250 range of your budget. This might be the case depending on your fishery and whether you have structure to contend with. If I’m around complex structure, I want more drag to keep a fish from digging in. But if it’s just live bottom and not too many hidey-holes then you can fight it out with the fish on more moderate drag. Sometimes my arms and back prefer this approach, but the tackle I carry is for my guests, so I’m typically going to gear them higher than necessary so we worry less when the “big one” takes the hook.


Solid Advice.

Thanks for pointing out the difference between fishing live bottom and large wrecks/reefs. I went on a YF tuna trip a few years back and we were catching 40-70lb tunas with at most.... 8lbs of drag. It really surprised me. This is because we weren't fishing near any big structure and the fish can make several runs without any issue. When AJ and snapper fishing in 120ft of water on wrecks that are 25-100ft wide and have 40ft of vertical relief, 8lbs of drag ain't gunna cut it. Heck 15lbs of drag won't cut it a lot of time. If the fish pulls drag for more than a couple seconds he's going to break you off in the wreck....

I was in the OP's position just a few years ago. I wanted exactly what he is looking for but I wanted something made in the USA. I ended up purchasing a Seigler SG and an SGN. They were very nice reels but unfortunately they were not up to the task of AJ jigging. The manufacturer rates the max drag at 28lbs. So I spooled the SG with 65 and the SGN with 50lb braid. Well the most drag I could "comfortably" fish was 10lbs at strike which is around 16lbs at full. This is because the handle binding was severe over those drags. IMO the SG/SGN are 30lb line class reels and should not be fished any higher 8lbs of drag at strike. Both my Seiglers failed on the very first AJ trip, one catastrophically. After losing several AJ's I quickly realized 16lbs of drag wasn't enough so I increased the drag to 20-22 at full and the SG stayed at full on every drop. The handle was a little hard to turn and eventually the reel started making slight grinding noises. Then the sideplate bearing completely failed causing the reel to lose all of it's drag. I tightened the knob as tight as it would go and the reel would only put out 5lbs of drag. The SGN worked the entire trip but the same bearing was starting to go out in it (making the light grinding noise).

I'm not knocking the SG's but I will knock Seigler for listing the max drag at 28lbs. That is honestly ridiculous. These reels would make awesome 30lb outfits and I bet they would last forever that way, and honestly 90% of fishermen probably fish them that way. In hindsight I should have purchased the LGN's. I think they would have more than likely been up to the task.

So I returned both the Seiglers and purchased an Avet JX Raptor. It made short work of the AJ's and the two speed gearing was an absolute game changer. My 68 year old mother whipped a 30lb AJ with low gear. The performance of the Raptors is unbelievable but they do require routine cleaning and maintenance. I ended up replacing 3 pinion bearings in 3 out of 5 Raptors in just 2 seasons. None of these bearings actually failed but I could feel some "unsmoothness" when turning the handle. Best I could tell they started to fail due to saltwater intrusion, especially on the 2 HXJ Raptors at the harness lugs, these reels don't seem to handle salt spray well. I replaced the pinion bearings with hybrid ceramic Boca bearings and haven't had any issues yet.

My reels are fished pretty hard on a regular basis. I fish them between 25 and 30lbs of drag at full and fish them full drag, low gear on almost every drop. That's a lot different than fishing 6-8lbs like most people do. (I snapper fished with a TLD 15 for probably 6 years. Spooled it with 65lb braid and set my drag by hand like most people do, I had never used a scale before. Caught tons of snapper but lost my fair share of "big" fish too from getting pulled into the wrecks. One day I decided to check it with a scale and it was set to 5lbs.... completely blew my mind. At 10lbs I physically couldn't pull line off the reel with my hand. So if you are setting your drag by hand you are almost certainly fishing with less than 10lbs of drag).

I mentioned choosing Penn fathoms for the OP earlier but I will say I haven't had any first hand experience with them. I don't recommend Avet's for heavy duty bottom fishing quite as much as I used to because of the required cleaning/maintenance these reels need (when fishing them at high drags). That being said, I do enjoy fully tearing down my reels and cleaning them after each season. That Okuma Andros 5Nii seems like it would be a very good choice at reasonable price and it being a 2 speed is a huge plus in my book. I kind of assumed he was looking for a lever drag but those Toriums do make good jigging reels. I have bottom fished with one before. Star drags do tend to be a little less finicky than lever drags but after using my 2 speeds I can't go back to single speeds anymore....
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Old 03-11-2019, 07:07 AM
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Shimano Torium is a beast and will last forever. Look at the drag specs....
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Old 03-11-2019, 07:16 AM
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you couldn't pay me to fish an Avet or a Seigler for amberjack. I've only seen a handful of people with the Seigler SG reel and twice the reel has broken internals an hour into the trip. Seigler was good and replaced my buddies reel but he sold it, got an accurate boss, and hasn't looked back.

I have a whole fleet of accurate DFS reels -- if jigging is your game, you'll want to invest. You truly get what you pay for while jigging.

Shimano Torium 16 HGA, Benn Baja or Dawia Saltist 20H are my only options in your price point

2 speeds are not for jig fishermen either, 2 speeds are for your parents, children and bottom fishermen
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