Fishing Products that Pass the Test: May 2008

Everett Johnson
Fishing Products that Pass the Test: May 2008

U.S. Reel Super Caster 230SX

Ask any salt who has given spinning reels a fair trial why they went back to baitcast reels and you might get an earful. Line twist is sure to come up. Line capacity can be a sore spot too. Some will complain that the drag systems didn't pass muster. Wade fishermen say one good dunking is all many reels can tolerate. And then there's the problem of sticky bail operation.

Personally, line twist has always been my chief hang up. As a guide, I tired years ago of untangling nasty knots in client's lines. I tried swivels, even double swivels, and gained only modest improvement. Line twist, I learned, does not always come from a poorly rigged or twirling lure. It is a natural product of wrapping line around a stationary spool and repeated casting with badly twisted line sets the stage for trouble.

A snappy cast can send line through the rod guides faster than it can flow. The bit of slack that builds in front of the guide will snarl into a spaghetti ball. When the lure pulls that ball into the guide it cinches into a headache. Quite often we find cutting the line the best solution.

The first thing you notice about the Super Caster 230SX is the diameter of the spool, it's huge. At 2.30-inches diameter it is nearly 40% larger than other reels I've tried of similar frame size. This equates to 40% fewer wraps required to reel in each cast and greatly reduced chance to twist line in the process. Imagine wrapping line around a pencil, and then a Coke can.

Casting distance is improved too. Fewer coils coming off the spool means your lure can fly farther before payout friction stops the cast; reaching distant targets requires less effort.

The 230SX also gets the nod for line capacity holding 240 yards of 20 pound braid without the accessory arbor bushing. While we will probably never need 240 yards to land a red or trout on the flats; jetty, surf, and offshore anglers encounter other species and get into this predicament often.

Another advantage of the oversize spool is greatly reduced line memory. Less memory means the spool can be filled to the lip without tendency for line to unfurl on its own. That floppy loop you are accustomed to seeing at the nose of your spool does not happen often with the Super Caster.

Now let's talk drag system. The Super Caster SX230's spool housing provides space for large diameter drag clutch discs that are made from a unique heat-dispersing material. The age-old problem of heat build up and "tightening" when fighting a fish is eliminated. The SDS drag is sealed to prevent moisture from entering, so once it's set it stays there. The absence of snatch at start-up and stutter during the fight make it a natural for use with braided lines.

Now for reliability. Exactly how well does this reel hold up in saltwater? I have waded with mine 23 days and fished it from the boat a dozen more. I know it has been dunked several times. The only maintenance has been rinsing and a shot of Reel Magic on the bail hinge, nothing yet inside. The bearings used in the 230SX are made of 316SS so they cannot rust, a great contributor to durability in saltwater service.

What do professional guides who depend on their tackle to make a living have to say about their experience with Super Caster 230SX?

Capt. Ernest Cisneros - Tight Lines Charters: "The durability of these reels is better than I've seen in any other spin cast. I've had customers dip them in saltwater while fishing and they continue to be as smooth as in the beginning."

Capt. Mike McBride - Skinny Water Adventures: "U.S. Reels solved our problems with spinning reel clients. Spooled with Sufix braid, they are casting farther with less hassle, so now they're landing more fish. Helps make us look better!

Capt. Tricia - Skinny Water Adventures: "The nightmare of having our loaner spinning equipment dunked seems over. Takes a dunkin' and keeps on chunkin'!"

Capt. Lynn Smith - Back Bay Guide Service: "When people set foot on my new Pathfinder they expect to have good tackle to go with it. They really like the size, smooth drag, and easy operation of the U.S. Reels on the 7 foot PL2 Fishing Tackle Unlimited spinning rod. This has proven to be a great combination."

In summation I say that tackle selection can be a highly personal thing. An angler learns to use one style of reel, length of rod or rod action, and changing his mind can be tough. Truth is, some guys would rather fight than switch. And while our purpose is hardly to start fights, we do want to pass along positive experiences and assist our readers in selecting gear that can improve their fishing. We think the U.S. Reel Super Caster 230SX can provide solutions to problems long associated with spinning tackle in saltwater. We also want to applaud the innovative engineering effort manufacturers contribute toward making us all better anglers.

Everett Johnson