Electrifying Results

Broaden Your Horizons with Modern Electric Reels

Capt. Steve Dougherty October 14, 2013

When it comes to sport fishing, there’s not much that tops the actual strike. There’s really nothing more visually appealing than feeding a sailfish a live threadfin or watching a tarpon turn on a fly, but unfortunately we just don’t get the opportunity to watch every fish take the bait. This impressive sight of nature simply isn’t possible with every species in every venue due to the preferred habitat and hunting characteristics of particular game fish. Some species thrive in environments so hostile that seeing them is out of the question and fishing without power assist equipment is not only borderline impossible, but simply impractical.

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Photo: doughertyphotos.com

Some call it unethical, but whether you are a believer or adamantly oppose of their use, electric reels are part of sport fishing and here to stay. Some say electric reels take the sport out of fishing, but the fact is that turning the handle is actually a small part of your time spent on the water. No matter what type of fishing you enjoy there are a host of factors and preparations that must be considered long before you’re given the opportunity to start gaining line. There’s a lot of skill involved in simply finding fish and in this endeavor reaching a level of consistency is far from simple. Deep dropping with electric reels enables anglers to target rather uncharted depths and contrary to popular belief, the only task your reel will accomplish is winding.

Some species thrive in environments so hostile that seeing them is out of the question and fishing without power assist equipment is not only borderline impossible, but simply impractical.

Grunting it out and battling the world’s most capable game fish is certainly an adrenaline rush, but electric and power assist fishing reels enable anglers to fish more effectively and efficiently than ever before. It’s obvious to everyone they aren’t for every day use or for every scenario, but they are certainly applicable for numerous situations even though purists claim their use will lead to the demise of the ocean’s most prized predators.

Fishing for swordfish with electric reels is likely the most shunned of all acts because those against the practice claim it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. Let me tell you that searching out a fish that migrates along the entire Eastern Seaboard and hunts throughout the entire water column is a true challenge no matter how it is accomplished. Now you may be against the use of electric reels for bringing big fish to the surface, but you’d be a hypocrite if you routinely use electric reels to retrieve kites, downriggers and teasers. With either situation you are effectively using electric assist equipment to aid in your ability to present baits efficiently and effectively.

As the world of sport fishing continues to advance and adapt to modern times, it’s clear that electric reels aren’t going anywhere. Some anglers continue to look down upon their use, but those willing to think outside the box understand the benefits associated with power assist equipment and their ability to keep baits in the strike zone. As the need for high quality electric reels increases, manufacturers continue to develop extremely powerful and compact options for a host of species and scenarios. When it comes to selecting a specialized electric reel, you’ll want to be honest with yourself and what you plan on accomplishing. Are you interested in winching monster swordfish from the deep, or can you get by with a light duty electric reel to cover shallow drops and kite fishing duties? If you are pulling a heavy dredge day in and day out you’ll definitely want a superb reel that can withstand repeated harsh strain. Fortunately, the cumbersome electric reels of years past are long gone and the newest electric options are powerful, streamlined and ready to work long hours with no rest.

Daiwa manufactures a wide range of 12V electric reels in compact packages that feature integrated handles and power assist levers for variable rate of retrieve. Additional features include digital readouts, programmable stopping at a particular depth, jigging functions and more. The Tanacom series of power assist reels from Daiwa are superbly designed, with the Tanacom Bull 1000 featuring line capacity for 1,100 yards of 60 lb. braid in a lightweight 52.5 ounce package. For light tackle deep dropping duties you’d be hard pressed to find a package as streamlined, powerful and easy to handle.

When it comes to pulling larger predators to the surface there are a host of options available. Lindgren-Pitman is the authority on swordfishing and their S-1200 is a force to be reckoned with. This custom crafted masterpiece is an engineering marvel and features a level of performance not common with 12V DC systems. The cantilever spool design features a level wind and the reel includes a large, easy-to-view electronic counter and big buttons for the most user-friendly operation. Interchangeable spools allow anglers to adapt to specific scenarios in a breeze, with the two-stage drag system providing more than enough stopping power. For drawn out battles there’s no worry when you’ve got an LP on your side and if you ever need service you’ll be happy to know help is right around the corner.

Kristal Fishing has been in the game a long time and provides a host of options for anglers looking to deep drop, kite fish, or retrieve dredges and teasers. Digital control panels, low amp draw motors and quiet operation make these workhorses the choice of professionals. The newest Kristal reels feature an internal computer that accurately displays the line readout. While many electric reels feature digital line counters, it’s difficult to accurately determine the amount of line due to variances in braided line diameter and amount of line on the spool. To combat this issue, users can program the line test and amount of line on the spool. A sensor in the spool assembly counts the revolutions while the computer uses a formula that automatically adjusts the amount of line released or retrieved based on how much line is on the spool at any given time.

If you’re strictly in the market for an electric teaser reel you should take a good look at the units offered by Miya Epoch. Mounted in the bridge of the world’s most successful game boats, Miya Epoch teaser reels feature impressive attributes like recall stop, slow start and slow stop, digital line counters and overload protection.

In addition to self-contained units, there are also a host of electric reel drives available from Electra-Mate, Dolphin Electreel and Hooker Electric. Reel drives are compatible with many big game conventional reels from leading manufacturers and retain all of the integral parts of the reel including drag, bearings, handle, anti-reverse, etc. Hooker Electric is the latest entry to this game and manufactures impressive units that add only three pounds to the original reel. The tiny 12V DC motor is capable of producing 1,500 watts of power—that’s over two horsepower! While the handle provides the ability to manually crank, a RF remote enables anglers to operate the reel from anywhere on the boat. Anglers across the southeast coast of Florida claim the Hooker Electric kite reel mounted to a Tiagra 30 is the fastest option on the market! How about a 500 feet-per-minute retrieval rate?

Elecra-Mate has been producing no-nonsense electric reel drive units since the 70s. With options ranging from handheld electric spinning reels for physically challenged anglers, to powerful drive units for the largest conventional reels, Electra-Mate has you covered. They offer 28 different models that can be fitted to 48 Penn, Fin-Nor and Shimano reels. With Electra-Mate, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to electric reel solutions.

There are those anglers who oppose electric reels no matter the occasion, claiming that the sport of fishing requires a set of standards and regulations that must be applied. I fully agree that it’s important to protect game fish stocks from overfishing, but recreational anglers utilizing electric reels for specific applications won’t ever diminish game fish stocks.

Juiced Up

If you routinely fish with power assist reels, it will be in your best interest to install several 30 Amp outlets around your vessel to keep the deck clear of cables. While the newest electric reels don’t draw a lot of power, when combined with a host of entertainment, navigation and fish finding equipment it’s critical you have a reliable battery bank. Combining the benefits of cranking and deep cycle batteries, ODYSSEY dual-purpose batteries are a popular choice for anglers with a serious penchant for power.

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