Years ago when I was still a teenager, I saved up some money to buy my own “grown up” fishing pole. I was ready to move on from a spincast rod and reel, and wanted a spinning reel (like my dad’s, of course). Once I had the cash, we went to a local department store and I purchased a 6′ Zebco medium-action rod and a Shimano reel.
Why this rod and reel? Well, honestly, they were fairly cheap. Not the cheapest, but the next step up. I only had about $30 to spend on my new “grown up” rod and reel, and these fit the bill.
And for 20+ years, I used that rod and reel as my main fishing rig. I really only “retired” them because, well, when you are using a hose clamp to hold your reel on your rod because the reel seat is cracked, it’s time to consider something new (Though I fished for years with that stupid hose clamp on my rod.). I even wrote a post about that old fishing reel.
That old rig taught me two things. First, you don’t need fancy expensive gear to catch fish. In fact, that’s one of our core principles at ordinaryoutdoorsman.com. I think it’s ridiculous to buy reels that cost $100, $200 or more unless your a pro. Second, there were a couple features on that reel that I absolutely loved…features that aren’t on every reel.
So when it was time to upgrade, I searched for a reel that had my favorite features from my old one, but in an upgraded package. My search resulted in purchasing a Shimano Spirex 2500RG spinning reel. I have been using it for a few years now, and I LOVE it.
Why the Shimano is the best spinning reel.
The Quick Fire II mechanism.
A few Shimano reels have the Quick Fire II mechanism (even some cheap, entry level ones). This mechanism allows you to grab the string and flip the bail in one motion. The result is that you can cast using only one hand. There is no holding the string with one hand while reaching in with your other hand to flip the bail. I wish more spinning reels had this.
Shimano includes the Quick Fire II mechanism on a couple of lower end models including the Syncopate and the IX series. If you want to try one out, or just need a backup for an old pole, consider one of these.
Rear Drag adjustment.
This reel also has a rear drag adjustment. In my opinion, the rear drag is much easier and more intuitive to adjust in the heat of the moment when a big fish starts pulling. I’ve been told they are not as consistent as front drags, but I haven’t had any issues. When a 36 inch Northern Pike grabs your 8 pound test, you need to be able to act fast.
Course/Fine drag adjustment.
This was a nice addition that my first Shimano didn’t have. For those who say rear drags aren’t as sensitive or consistent, Shimano has added a fine adjustment lever. This makes quick, emergency adjustments even easier.
It’s reasonably affordable.
At around $60 for the 2500 model, it’s not cheap, but not a budget breaker. I asked for gift cards to Cabela’s for Christmas one year and managed to buy the reel without impacting my budget. There is an entry level model with QuickFire II and rear drag for around $15. I used one of these entry level models for more than 20 years without issue.
How about you? What are the favorite features on your reel?