Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 43

Thread: Best Utility-Grade, Level-Wind Halibut Reel for the Money

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Interior Alaska
    Posts
    893

    Default Best Utility-Grade, Level-Wind Halibut Reel for the Money

    I'm requesting information from experienced parties who've actually used (preferably extensively) the reels they might recommend.

    My old Penn broke after nearly 20 years of infrequent, albeit annual use. I may get it repaired, but I know there've been some specific advancements in reel designs. With that in mind, I'm considering a new reel purchase for my halibut rod.

    My halibut partner also broke his much newer reel this last season on the same day mine failed (though we still managed to limit out), so I may be buying two, and looking into whether or not that gets even a minor break in price.

    All of that said, what's your opinion on the most reasonably-priced, rugged, long-lasting, utility-grade, well-made (preferably in the U.S.), level-wind reel that'll handle even large 'but, and keep on ticking for years to come, and which can hold upwards of 300-350 yds of 120 lb.-test Spider Wire or other fine, braided, reduced-diameter line?

    I've been seriously considering the Penn 345gti2 or 345gti. Okuma also seems to have some nice stuff once you get above their skid-row reels.

    Any thoughts? Complaints? Due to the forum rules re. bad-mouthing specific products and businesses, PMs are also appreciated re. what to avoid...

    If someone makes a killer, heavy-duty halibut reel for $90 to $125 I'd love to hear about it!

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Member Soundfisher's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    312

    Default

    For the money, the Penn GTI reels are hard to beat. I have been using them for years. I have a 345gti, but mostley I fish with the 330gti. I have about 6-7 of them. The 345 is rigged with 120# Tuffline. I hardly ever use it. The 330s have 80# Tuffline. These reels get used and abused. I normally fish in about 300+ feet of water,so there is alot of winding. What I have found is that the guide that moves the line back and forth wears out, but its easy to just remove the screw that holds it in and replace. I have lots of fish between 80-220 pounds caught on these, and have never lost one due to the reel. The other good thing is that if one of my guest or family members lets it go, it does not hurt so much! (Only happened once so far, but it was retrieved in 330 feet of water with the fish still attached by another 330 gti!)

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Interior Alaska
    Posts
    893

    Default

    Thanks for the information, soundfisher.

    I've looked at the 320 and the 330 too. Not up close, but in scanning ads for reasonable reels that might fit the bill.

    Any thoughts on the newer two-speed reels in this group of Penns, as compared to the more traditional single-speed? My niitial thoughts included the hypothesis that 'shifting gears' under stress is apt to lead to more worn or broken parts, as opposed to simply/strictly using the second speed to do bait checks..

    I also engaged in a search on the forum for similar discussions (perhaps I should've done that before posting this query), and found a couple of them from about a month ago, and ending more recently than that after some unfortunate jousting detracted a bit from the discussion. I'll go back to those posts as I get more time, and read more carefully therein, as well.

    Thanks again.

  4. #4
    Member Trakn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Soldotna
    Posts
    241

    Default

    I agree for the money the Penn 330 or 320 can't go wrong. I like the Pro Power line in the 100lb. and 80lb. weights. To me it fishes better and is more forgiving to work with.

  5. #5
    Member AKluvr95's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Location
    Eagle River, Alaska
    Posts
    646

    Default

    SOUNDFISHER ~ I'm curious why you don't use your 345. I am outfitting a boat we've recently purchased researching the 330 and 345 reels and really like their feel. My initial thought was to get 2 of each of these reels [pair with affordable Cabelas Salt Striker Stand-Up rods CSS-SU40100 for the 330's and CSS-SU50130* for the 345's] and see what works best for our application. While I expect most of our fishing will be PWS and Resurrection Bay, I've heard the strong tides/heavy line weights in Cook Inlet might tear up level winds... Do you fish Cook Inlet and if so, have you had similar issues?
    Can't remember who said just carry spare parts [I like that idea] and change out in 2 minutes. I have found the Penn Illustrated Parts Breakdown very user friendly and believe the items he was referring to were 46 line guide, 47 pawl, and 48 pawl cover screw ~ regardless of GTi, GT2 or the LD model they are all the same.

    Respectfully,

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Interior Alaska
    Posts
    893

    Default

    The specific injury that my friend's reel incurred last summer involved his level-wind function letting loose at the bottom, where the 'wires' or 'rods' that capture the line for distribution to the spool. The result was that during reeling in a (thankfully small) halibut (yes, in Cook Inlet), those metal wires to either side of his line dug into his spool, resulting in a wrestling match between he and his reel for an intense and modestly profane moment or two.

    In the end, he simply jerked the things out of there, and continued reeling in his fish, stacking line on the spool manually. Pain in the butt, but it worked out. The fish died..

    If there's a decent reel out there that will perform the way I want, without the weakest links being the gears, anti-reverse lock-up (my old reel's affliction), or the level-wind feature taking a dump (my friend's, and apparently others' experience), then -that's- the reel I'm looking for.

    Short of that, I'm beginning to lean more heavily toward the Penn 345 series. And perhaps getting my old beast fixed as well.

    Though rarely, we sometimes fish Seal Rocks area in Prince William Sound. There's spots there where it rapidly drops from 150 ft. down to 500 or 600+ ft. It's in places like that where I like to have a spool with substantial line on it.

    Thanks for everyone's help.

  7. #7
    Member Cap'n Ron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Idaho/Valdez
    Posts
    980

    Default

    For your price range, completely agree with the Penn 320, 330, 345 recommendations. One reason to use the smaller reels is fatigue, that 345 is a load, and you don't really need it, the 320 or 330 will hold plenty of 80# spectra, and also agree with the PowerPro over others. The Penn 2-speed reels especially the internationals are even better, but way over your price range by 3-times.

    Now...maybe you are putting too much pressure on your reels? By that, I mean leaning the rod on the gunnel and just cranking on a tight drag reel. You should let the rod do the work by pumping the rod up, winding as you lower it down, pump and wind etc. Going on 12 years on 2 Penn 320GT@ reels with 80# super braid, still fine but of course we are a private boat, not a charter using them every day during the season, ours get maybe a month or so of nearly daily fishing use per year.

  8. #8
    Member jrogers's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    1,539

    Default

    In regards to you wanting to have a lot of line available, you may want to consider dropping down a bit from 120# line, at least to 80, maybe lower. I am sure some will disagree with me, but I got my first two speed reel a couple of years ago, and I really don't see a lot of advantage to it. Maybe if you are able to run really light lead and you are doing a bait check the two speed is nice, but for me a single speed reel is fine.
    2009 Seawolf 31'
    www.seawolfmarine.com
    Fully Loaded

  9. #9

    Default Good Question

    Good question, Ruffle. I took 5 reels in to a good reel repair shop here in Anchorage--two Shimano Toriums, 2 Okumas and one ancient Penn. The two Shimanos and the old Penn are still in good working order--I just wanted them lubed and tuned. My two Okumas are two and three years old, respectively. The gears are shot on one, and the drag isn't working on the other. I had been unable to get any parts from the Okuma site. The reel repairman said he couldn't get any parts either--that my best bet would be to send them back to Okuma for repair or replacement. So I'm going to do that.

    I have now owned 3 Okuma heavy duty salt water reels, and, when working, they're awesome. Unfortunately, none have lasted over 3 seasons for me. May be my fault, may be the reels. My old Penn still works fine--must be 20 or 25 years old. The two Shimanos are wonderful reels, still going stong, but only two seasons on them. Time will tell.

    I asked the reel repairman the same question you asked the forum--he said the easiest to repair, with parts most readily available, are the Penns--and, in addition, they seem to last a long time before needing repair (as per my ancient Penn). He did offer one caveat, however--some of the Penn reels are now made in China, and some of the drag discs are not lasting as long as the American made Penns. However, the good news is when the Chinese discs wear out, you can easily and cheaply replace them with the American made variety.

    So I just purchased two new American-made Penn Senators on ebay--$85 each plus $10 shipping. One has arrived. Great looking reel.

    May the Fish be with you.

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Juneau
    Posts
    1,098

    Default

    The guy at Taku Reel Repair here in Juneau recommends not using the 320 for halibut. He said they aren't designed for the heavy weight and the spool gradually warps. The 330's and 345's are a better bet. He also suggested the Shimano Tekota as a more rugged replacement.
    I'd agree with you, but then we'd both be wrong.

  11. #11
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    5,594

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by jrogers View Post
    In regards to you wanting to have a lot of line available, you may want to consider dropping down a bit from 120# line, at least to 80, maybe lower. I am sure some will disagree with me, but I got my first two speed reel a couple of years ago, and I really don't see a lot of advantage to it. Maybe if you are able to run really light lead and you are doing a bait check the two speed is nice, but for me a single speed reel is fine.
    Go to a jigging setup and you can go to a lighter rod, reel and weights. I've yet to use a meat stick after going to jigging.

    I agree that very heavy line is seldom needed, I use mostly 50# and 65#, but do use a top shot of 80# mono for abrasion resistance. I like level winds for salmon and rockfish rods, but for halibut and lings, you aren't realing in that fast, so a conventional reel works fine. As far as 2 speeds, I had a pair of shimano tld 20 II's, sold one, and will likely be selling the other. I just haven't seen the advantage of two speeds, they're heavier and more expensive.

  12. #12
    Member Soundfisher's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    312

    Default

    Ruffle, I agree with Cap'n Ron. There really is no need to use heavier line than 80# for most bottom fishing. Also, the reason that I don't like to use my 345 is because of the size and weight of it. I always have it on the boat, just in case I see some sharks, and feel like a little challange! Otherwise, the 320,330 always seem to be easier on the arms. For $100 +/- they seem to get the job done. Because I fish mostly in 300 feet or deeper, I have considered going to a 2 speed AVET, but they are not level wind. Mug stump, I have some Penn Senators that I have had for 20 or so years, and they are still in great shape. They just are a little heavier and more bulky, but they hold up great.

  13. #13
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Interior Alaska
    Posts
    893

    Default

    I sincerely appreciate all the help, folks.

    Any opinions re. the Penn Senator vs. the Special Senator/Senator Special? Comparison to the 320, 330, and 345?

    In either case, I'm inclined to lean toward a 3.6:1 or 4:1 ratio in gearing, and it sounds like the cost of the 2-speed reels is a waste, other than for bait-checks in strong current or deep water. In either of those cases, unless we're really hitting fish hot and heavy, I'm simply more apt to check bait less frequently. But, admittedly, as I age, bait checks at the earlier mentioned ratios -does- become a pain in the keister about half-way through the day.

    CptRon (Not Kurt Russel, I presume?), it's possible, or even likely, that toward the end of any given long fishing day, we end up leaning the base of rods across the gunnels, though we typically try to use the hoist-and-reel strategy for bait checks, as well as for reeling in fish (*see the earlier age comment; using strictly the reel's gear-reduction system leads to all sorts of aches, pains, and grumbling, both from the rods and the fisher-persons. ;^>) )

    Coupla' years back, at that steep drop near Seal Rocks, I had my drag set ever so slightly too tight (on another individual's rod that had been decked out with brand new 120 lb. test and a brand new rig). I hooked into what was quite likely -the- largest 'but I've ever hooked into. A true monster of a 'but. I tried to horse it up at about the same time it was apparnetly, about 165' under the waves, yelling, "DIVE, DIVE, DIVE...." The result sounded like a .22 rifle going off next to my ear.. My eyes reflexively closed, not wanting to catch splinters from the glass rod, which I was nearly -positive- was a stump of shards of fiber attaqched to a nice handle by that point. Both to my surprise and relief, when I looked down, the pole was totally intact. The brand new 120-lb.-test line and awesome rig at the other end of it, however, were, no doubt, by that time, adorning the lips of some over-grown, gargantuan halibut that probably appeared to the other nearby fish to have fallen into a developmental phase heavily involving punk-rock attire... Ever since that day (and let me clarify that I bemoaned that moment in fishing discussions for years to come, as I likely forfeited the weekly derby prize, and perhaps the $15,000.00 derby's grand prize all in one fell swoop.. OUCH!! Shame!! Self-hatred!! And much more..), I've kept 120-lb. test line on-hand, just to compensate for those moments of costly forgetfulness... and I try to check my drag more frequently, too! ;^>)

    My friends got tired of the negativity involved in the re-living of that moment...

    Anyway, I understand that the benefits of the Penn 320, 330, and 345 include the one-piece body (avoiding the likelihood of the frame splitting during moments of heavy use, which is apt to happen to my crew as much or more opften than anyone, as Murphy seems to live with us at least as often as he rooms with anyone else I know...)

    It also sounds as though the U.S.A. manufactured parts are avilable to change out the Chinese parts when catastrophe -does- eventually strike. However, I'm wondering if there's a more permanent fix (perhaps involving U.S.-made parts?) for the weak link in the level-wind system??

    Thanks again.

  14. #14
    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    5,594

    Default

    If you don't have to have a level wind, you want to consider the shimano tld 15, with a carbontex drag washer installed. After having tried lever drag reels, I won't go back to a star drag. The beuty of the lever drags is once you get the drag set, you'll get the same drag each time put the drag on. With a star drag, you have to reset it each time you use (assuming you back off the drag at the end of each trip). I also feel the lever drags are smoother at high drag settings.

  15. #15
    Member breausaw's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    830

    Default

    Cebela’s Depthmaster Gold, think Penn makes them..they look like it. You can buy the reel and a rod combo for around $150, the real is 99.00 to 109.99 with the depth counter.
    Have one, love it!
    Jay
    07 C-Dory 25 Cruiser
    OurPlayground.


  16. #16
    Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    Palmer
    Posts
    28

    Default Another option

    One of my halibut rods has a 354 GTI on it but I bought a new rod this summer and coupled it with a Shimano Tekota 800. The reel is a little more modern and I think a bit more robust. My buddy bought a new rod at the same time and equiped it with the same reel. After several trips to Homer and a lot of halibut I will be equiping all of my new rods with this reel. You can check them out at sportsmans wharehouse, they carry them.

  17. #17
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Interior Alaska
    Posts
    893

    Default

    Paul, I have to admit that I've become spoiled by the level-wind feature. Not having the line bunched up in the middle of the spool, and bumping the frame, without having to manually attend to it, has been a major plus.

    For those folks who've lent a hand in this discussion, but haven't received rep points from me yet, it's because the forum tells me that I've given too much reputation out in the past 24 hours. it's not because I don't appreciate the input.... I do.

    I think what I'm going to do is make a list of 2-4 reels that seem to meet my requirements/wants/needs, and then, after doing further research on-line, find as many of them as I can in the local area, and view, handle, etc., the reels, and go from there.

    There's also a reel repair guy in Ninilchik. I spoke with him the other day. He also sells refurbished reels that he's repaired, and his prices seemed fairly reasonable. I may take my old reel there, look at what he has in the way of refurbs from the list in this thread, and go that way, too; potentially fixing mine and buying a back-up, or letting my older one be a back-up. I'm not sure yet.

    Again, thanks for the help folks.

  18. #18
    Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Anchorage
    Posts
    401

    Default

    The guy at Taku Reel Repair here in Juneau recommends not using the 320 for halibut. He said they aren't designed for the heavy weight and the spool gradually warps
    It works fine for the halibut that I catch. I think my daughters Barby pole would work just as good though.

  19. #19
    Member
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    3,568

    Default

    Diawa Tekota 800. We used Penn 330's and 345's for years and slowly changed them out for Avets. But then we wanted a couple of lighter weight level wind rigs for jigging and bought a couple of these. They might be a tad more expensive than the Penns but their smoothness makes up for it.
    Fill em with 60-80 pound braid and add about 4-5 feet of heavy mono on the end to make it easy to grab the line.
    The more we fish for halibut it seems the more we lean towards lighter lines and smaller reels.
    Tennessee

  20. #20

    Default

    Ruffle; I think you'd find much better enjoyment out of going smaller/lighter. Bummer you lost that fish but there may have been some other factor to contribute to the line parting (frayed, knot, another fish finning the line as it's going by, etc.). The reason I say this is it's important to consider the max drag (in lbs.) that a reel can produce/sustain and none of the reels discussed can provide even remotely enough drag to part 120 lb. line. You mentioned outfitting/fishing cook inlet, I'd recommend getting out there and seeing (if not already) what's really up. Different strokes for different folks. I've fished many times out of Deep Creek, some out of Homer, Seward, PWS and deckhanded years in Hawaii and have seen all types of tackle and the trend, as pointed out a few times above (snowolfe, paul, etc.) that the newer, lighter stuff is wonderful.
    I'm a diehard Senator fan for here (Kauai) but times change and while they work fine, they are antiques; heavy & nearly bulletproof yes, but IMO fishing (including bait checking) should be done by the rod primarily, not just winching on the reel.
    Charter fishing can be another ball of wax as sometimes it's best to just let the fisherman keep the rod in a welded holder on a rail and just crank it up, in which case, yes the Senators or 345's do/can handle the abuse.
    My next rod/reel combo which I'm currently in search of will be light & short; thinking of a Penn Torque w/65 lb. braid and a light jigging rod (penn, trevala); won't break the bank and most importantly will be able to do all the saltwater fishing in Alaska I want.
    Good luck! Love spending money on tackle!
    I'm not bashing Avets & others by any means but they seem beyond the budget constraints of this conversation (plus I've been known to screw my shoes on!)
    Jim
    Just reminded myself that you're looking specifically for a level wind; if it's mandatory then my vote is for the 320/330.
    w/lighter line, you'll get the capacity you want and again would be hard pressed to break it just by the drag resistance of the reels we're discussing.
    Last edited by Big Jim; 01-28-2011 at 07:46. Reason: adde info

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •