A Low-Cost Reel with High-End Innovation

I had just finished writing the other day about how some quality fishing tackle is getting less expensive when a really good example of that landed on my desk. The new U.S. Reel Supercaster 600 offers good looks, solid performance, and--significantly--genuine innovation in a baitcast reel selling for $60.00. Not bad. Especially considering that the average price among all baitcasters is around $140.00.

The most unique feature of this reel is the absence of a conventional level-wind. Instead, incoming line rocks back and forth against the gold-color bar at the reel's front (shown in photo). The see-saw bar movement pushes the line across the spool as you crank, so the level-wind effect is there but there's no worm gear, pawl, and level-wind eyelet.

Because there's no eyelet for the line to travel through, there's much less friction in casting. Less casting force is required, and fewer backlashes result.

This design won a "Best of the Best" award from us for innovation a few years ago. That was for a reel model selling for about $250.00. The $60.00 version is new for 2011.

So why so cheap? The reel body and frame appear to be of a molded composite instead of machined aluminum, which is probably the biggest cost savings. It seems sufficiently rigid on my sample, and I have no special qualms about it. The sideplates are apparently plastic. I might be able to break one with a hammer, but I don't fish with hammers. The reel's gears are brass, the spool shaft is stainless steel, and the line spool is forged aluminum. There's an adjustable magnetic cast-control on the left sideplate.

Company president Fred Kemp tells me that this design will cast farther than conventional baitcasters, keeping crankbaits in a strike zone longer, for example, and also allowing the effective pitching of lighter baits. I know Fred to be a straight-up guy, and I believe him. Besides, I found the same points to be true with earlier, more expensive versions, so they should pertain to this model also.

Some people will be turned off by the composite and plastic parts. Look, it's a $60 reel. So what do you want? Pay another $200 to get a machined aluminum frame on your next reel. Or don't. I'm not calling you stupid either way.

Meanwhile, I really like this product (even though it's made in China). The price is right, plus real innovation in baitcasting--which this reel offers--is a very rare thing. This is so new it's not even on the company's website yet, but you can explore the concepts at www.usreel.com.