REVIEWED BY CAPT. MIKE SCHOONVELD
When braided line was introduced and became popular with salt water anglers, reel makers adapted. They quickly developed new models specifically for the new, skinny line. These braid-crankers were scaled down in overall size, fitted with relatively massive drag systems and engineered with super-high gear ratios. Size, strictly to increase line capacity, wasn’t needed. Six hundred yards of braid will fit on a reel with only a 200 yard capacity for monofilament.
Just half-filling a reel is a lousy option. A reel with a full spool of line may wind on 24 inches of line with each turn of the handle. The same reel with only a half-filled spool will wind on only 12 inches per handle revolution.
By the same token, a tough fighting fish pulling line off a reel at 10 feet per second, spins the spool against the drag mechanism twice as fast with a half-filled reel. A drag system which may handle 100 rpms may fail completely at 200.
Reels for the Great Lakes market didn’t adapt. Though the use of braid (or equally skinny wire line) increased, almost all braid and wire line guys continued to use the same reels they formerly spooled with mono. To make it work, they wound on enough mono to nearly fill the reel’s spool, then topped off the spool with braid or wire. The line under the braid or wire on top was filler used solely to insure a reasonable amount of line was retrieved with each turn of the handle and to make the drag work efficiently.
I don’t know if Shimano’s newly designed Tekota A models were designed specifically to bridge the gap between braid and mono, but they do and quite nicely. Shimano Tekotas (the original model) are, in the opinion of many, the best Great Lakes trolling reel ever made. I have Shimano Tekotas on my boat, I’ve fished with them on other boats and have nary a complaint about them. So why change?
The change isn’t just cosmetic between the old and new versions. Available (at this writing) in 500 and 600 sizes with the same line capacity as the “non-A” Tekota 500 and 600s, that’s where the comparison ends. The originals had a gear ratio of 4.2:1. The “A-Team” has a gear ratio of 6.3:1. (Rough math comparison, with full spools, the A model winds on 37 inches of line, the original 25 inches with each handle revolution.)
The drag on the originals maxed out at 18 pounds; the Tek-As torque down to 24 pounds. The increased power tells me the drag will perform better, smoother and reliably, however tight it’s set, however full the spool.
My test reels (Tekota 500As in the line counter version) performed flawlessly, one spooled with 30-pound braided line, the other with 40-pound 19-Strand Torpedo Wire. I needed a bit of mono backing to bring 500 feet of wire and 200 yards of braid to “full spool.” The reels were mounted on diver rods and used for diver trolling.
I normally use Tekota 600s for trolling divers because the larger spool diameter gave me an adequate line retrieval per crank. The higher gear ratio more than made up for the smaller diameter spool. In use, the smaller, 500A was noticeably lighter, the drag held nicely against the pressure on the troll and slipped smoothly when a big fish hit the lure. I ran each diver, at times, with as much as 200 feet of line out. I really appreciated the high speed retrieve when reeling in just the diver and lure – no fish – on these longer sets.
Tekota lovers, if you are buying another reel, the Tekota As are as good or better than the original Tekotas and the better means you can easily get by with the smaller 500A if the line capacity suits your needs.