Selecting a Florida medium class inshore casting reel

Last October I was lucky enough to get a place in Florida on Little Torch Key and spent a lot of my winter chasing grouper, snapper and particularly Tarpon with the gear I brought with me from Washington.

While I caught a lot of fish and some nice juvenile Tarpon while in Florida I came to realize that the gear I brought down wasn’t ideal as it was designed for Pacific Ocean Sea Bass, Ling Cod and Salmon….All with moderate to slow action rods and reals that are designed more for drop and trolling than casting 100’s of times per trip.

For light gear this was easily resolved with getting a 7 fast extension rod for my Azores-4000 Series spinning reel. -This set up with a ¼ jig head* and a 4″ paddle tail is my go-to for practically everything around Little Torch Key.

For larger fish, medium sized tackle and fishing live baits I would trade back and forth from my Okuma Komodo 364 (just an “okay” casting reel) to my Lexa 400 (a little too big for casting those ¼ jig heads) with one of my custom three-piece rods I wrapped….

While this medium sized setup “worked”, due to the size I found myself always gravitating back to the light gear….and ended up hooking enough large sharks and monster Barracuda on that light set up to realize this 4000-class spinning gear was outclassed for a lot of the fish I wanted to be targeting.

Clearly a new Medium-Heavy class setup was called for!

As I wrap my own rods, picking a heavy fast action 7′ – 7’6″ blank and acid wrap it, is an easy solution.

The challenge came to selecting the reel as there a several great choices and not certain how they really line up.

Starting with what I didn’t like in my current gear:

  • Lexa 400 Great casting reel but a little large
  • Komoda 364 Great Size, Great Drag not a great casting reel due to non-disengaging level Wind.

With that information went out and collected all the information about the Shimano and Daiwa reels in this size.

I eliminated all the Okuma’s and Penn reels ‘s as they do not have disengaging level winds and removed ABU Garcia as don’t see many of them in the shops down in the Keys and don’t seem to be as well known for Saltwater.

With that being the case let’s take a look at the characteristics of these reels!

company

model

weight

price

line capacity 14lb

Line Crank

URL

Daiwa

ProRex 400

12.2

$ 319.00

284.375

43

https://daiwa.us/collections/baitcasting-reels/products/prorex-tw

Daiwa

Lexa 300

11.6

$ 200.00

190

32

https://daiwa.us/collections/baitcasting-reels/products/lexa-wn

Daiwa

Lexa 400

16.4

$ 249.00

308.75

33

https://daiwa.us/collections/baitcasting-reels/products/lexa-wn

Daiwa

Tatula 300

11.5

$ 269.00

215

29

https://daiwa.us/collections/baitcasting-reels/products/tatula-300

Shimano

Tranx 300

11.6

$ 279.00

180

30

https://fish.shimano.com/content/fish/northamerica/us/en/homepage/Shimano_Product_Page.P-TRANX_300_400.html

Shimano

Tranx 400

12

$ 299.00

260

40

https://fish.shimano.com/content/fish/northamerica/us/en/homepage/Shimano_Product_Page.P-TRANX_300_400.html

Shimano

Curado 300

10.6

$ 199.00

180

35

https://fish.shimano.com/content/fish/northamerica/us/en/homepage/Shimano_Product_Page.P-CURADO_K.html

 

Weight

While weight isn’t really the issue, it is often an indicator for a reel’s size and the ability to be palmed while casting and should give insight into how comfortable it will be for 8+ hours of casting.

While the Lexa 400 is clearly the standout heaviest reel in the collection is was amazing is how similar the rest of these reels were at that 11-12 ounces and it seemed any of these reels would work in terms of size and weight.


Line Capacity

As this is to be my medium-heavy rig it needed the line capacity to let fish run! With most of the reel weights being the same it seemed having a reel with larger line capacity being preferred so either the Prorex or Tranx 400.

Price

Like weight is an indicator of size price can inform you of build quality…Must admit surprised to see the ProRex more expensive than the Tranx!

 

External Anti-Lash Brakes

Must admit I started this effort to justify buying a Tranx but after I found out Shimano uses an anti lash braking system that forces taking the side cover off leveled the playing field!

In Florida I fish a very small (13′) technical skiff and have found “If something can fall into the water…it will!”

 

Conclusion

After using a couple of Lexa’s and Curado’s I was confident any of these reels would be a great companion for my slightly too large Lexa 400.

After looking at the data and their price points, I decided on getting a Tatula 300.

While looking for a good price on a Tatula 300 I found a Prorex 400 sitting in SportCo for $230!!!

While not the reel I had decided on; getting the most expensive reel in the roundup for the cheapest price was simply too good a deal to pass up!

Winner: Prorex 400 Daiwa

*One issue I am finding here in the USA is most the ¼ jig heads have small wire hooks….In Australia it is pretty common to have 1/8 and ¼ jig heads with larger 5/0 and 7/0 hooks

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