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A gentleman emailed me a few days ago and asked me to do an article on competition casting and reels ... I did the reel cleaning and lubrication yesterday and thought I'd take a crack at writing a little on competition casting ... I've missed my prime on my competition since I didn't find any info on it until well after my health had deteriorated to the point that I could not travel and compete as I'd hoped ... back problems and then heart trouble took the stuffin out of me so there's not a lot that I can tell you about competition casting other than where to go for info and what I've learned and taught myself.
A lot of emphasis is being placed on reels these days as the less accomplished casters are thinking there's a magic reel out there .... there is no magic reel, so we'll put that to rest now. It's all in the caster's technique, strength, hand/eye coordination and weather conditions. The only difference the reel makes is how easy it is to get off the magnets and smoothness ... if the reel is smooth and holds about 300 yds of .325mm line and ease of use. The old ABU UltraMag xlt III is ideal for competition casting with an ultracast spool (this means the bearings are in the spool like the abu 6500's), and the magnet adjustment is easily located during the cast on the side of the LeftHand sideplate and made easier to use by gluing a wire nut or something similar to it so it's easily backed off during the cast. This is what makes the ultramags the prime reel for the serious casters ... here is a photo of a fully converted UltraMag xlt III. The next best reel would be the 525 mag T from Penn and then the abu 6500 c3ct. The Ultramags have not been in production for many years and are very rare. The Penn would be the next best bet for a good reel but some have unballanced spools so you've got to check them out real well b4 you purchase them or if you get a bad one send it back and get Penn to send you another one ... the last I heard the Penn was about $280. The ABU 6500 c3ct mag elite would be a great choice to start with ... they're good reels and the only draw back is letting off the magnets as it's just a sliding button on the top side of the left hand side plate and not nearly as easy to back off of as the ultramag or the penn mag T. You can get a 6500 or other abu reels from Steve Barratt Reels
Rods are the most important part of the combo ... the Zziplex rod from England are known to be the most advanced rods but they're very expensive after you pay shipping and custom's fees and hard to get built the way you want them as most I've heard of for the US market prefab, meaning they're already made up and will cost over $500. Pretty expensive rod to buy if it doesn't fit you.
I think for most US casters the best choice would be the Breakaway 2pc/1pc 13ft 4in custom built rod as it does well on the competition court and you can also fish with them ... they're the rods I use to throw 6 and 8 oz sinkers over 200 yds with an overhand cast fishing behind Keystone Dam. I'd highly recommend getting this rod and Cabelas carries prefab 12.5 ft 2piece/1piece rods as well as all their other rods like the 11.9 and 10 ft. These are the ultimate fishing rods and what most are using to surf fish for reds, black drum, shark, rays, specs, jacks and a whole bunch of different species in the gulf and on the eastern shores of the US. They make dandy catfishing rods also. Here are some links to rod builders that I'd recommend. Another good source for information is Nick Meyers at Breakaway Tackle and tell him Tiny sent ya. Nick will help you get going on whatever you need info on and his phone number is (800) 94BREAK. You can also check out the S.F.C.C.I. message boards for info at sfcci.org