Youre aching to get into a brawl with those fish, and you need a new reel? One new option Ive been testing this season is Penns Battle, a spinning reel thats designed to stand up to heavy-duty conflict.
The Battle is made with an all-metal body, to maintain its shape and keep perfect gear alignment no matter how much stress its under. The main shaft is stainless-steel, the spool is machined anodized aluminum, ball-bearings are stainless-steel, the handle is machined and anodized aluminum, and the drag washers are Penns HT-100. In other words this reel is made to be as rugged as any on the market.
Battle reels are available in a wide range of sizes, from the BTL1000 (which is an ultra-light that holds 115 yards of four pound test mono and weight a mere 7.9 ounces, yet can put out up to seven pounds of drag), to the BTL8000 (a heavy-weight spinner which weighs 29.2 ounces and holds 260 yards of 30-pound mono or 550 yards of 50-pound braid, and can put out up to 25 pounds of drag). All of the reels in this model line also feature fast retrieves, with gear ratios of between 5.2:1 and 6.2:1, and---of course---infinite anti-reverse systems.
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The model Ive been testing is the BTL2000, which I spooled up with 260 yards of eight pound braid, for casting light lures to redfish in the one to four pound class. Theyve been lurking around many of the rip-rapped shorelines nearby this season, but since theyve been feeding on small crabs and minnow, they didnt want large baits. In order to offer them the 1/8th ounce jigs and spinners that were most effective, it required the light-weight touch that a small rig like this provided. And the BTL2000 proved perfect for the job. Retrieving 29 inches of line with every rotation of the handle, this reel was fast enough to "bloop" spinners across the surface, and once I hooked up, the drag was as smooth as they come. And since this model weighs in at 9.6 ounces, it didnt tire out my casting arm no matter how much time I put in at the rip-rap---nor how many battles the fish provided.
Battle prices range from $99 to $119. For more information, check out www.pennreels.com.
Streamlined Micro Red Dot
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Red dot sights have become extremely popular in the shooting, hunting and tactical world. Their acquisition speed and low light use are unmatched among all traditional iron sights and scopes. Aimpoint has become the most trusted name in red dot sights and they have stepped up the bar again with their new Micro models. True to Aimpoints roots, the Micro series has adjustable brightness settings, is parallax free, and has over 50,000 hours of battery life. Thats over five years of use powered with an inexpensive watch battery. The Micro series is a streamlined and advanced model of the battle proven CompM2, and even though smaller and lighter, the Micro H1 and T1 series have five times the battery life of the older models. For the past few months Ive been testing the Micro H1 and found this lightweight 3 ounce version of Aimpoint extremely reliable and accurate. Smaller optics are the future and the older, larger, heavier models now seem ancient. One might think a smaller optic limits your field of view, but the technology has advanced enough that your vision is hardly blocked at all. There is only a thin black ring with a dot inside on your target and you still have full awareness of everything downrange. The Micro is available for a variety of mounting options from rifle, pistol, shotguns to even piggybacking on a full size scope. I was able to test it with the low factory Picatinny rail mount as well as LaRue Tacticals high quick disconnect mount for my AR. The sight is easily adjusted for windage and elevation by removing the small knob caps and turning the dials using the tops of the caps as tools. Since the Micro is so compact, it is ideal for a mounting on anything from a lightweight rifle, bow, or even hunting pistol. The T-Series is setup for night vision use with 4 NV settings and 8 daylight settings, even up to an extra bright function for desert sunlight. The H series has a slightly different coating with a lower price point and 12 brightness settings from low light to bright sunlight. The Micro is available with 2 moa or 4 moa reticles with the H1 series retailing around $600 and the T1 at $650. You can find out more at www.aimpoint.com.
Why are many of todays small outboards tough to start? EPA regs have forced manufacturers to lean-down the fuel on carbureted four-strokes, so much so that they dont always run right. And unfortunately, to put EFI on an engine as small as, say 15 or 20 horses, wouldnt make sense, right? Enter, the Suzuki DF20A and DF15A. With these little powerhouses, Suzuki has found a way to provide EFI without needing the traditional electrical supply and without sending cost through the roof.
Forget about a battery; the engine feeds the EFI system and the engines computer a consistent supply of all the juice it needs from the moment you pull the cord, via a magneto and an ignition timing indexing system. Fuel efficiency is further boosted by Suzukis Lean Burn Control System, which leans out the mix to a peak of 18:1. That gives it an economy boost of up to 14-percent.
Of course, motors this small dont burn all that much fuel in the first place. What I find a lot more attractive is the easy and reliable starting---after living with a multi-yank outboard on my duck boat for many years, I feel the single pull starting is a big, big deal. And this isnt just the result of EFI. The DF15A and DF20A also feature a decompression system that reduces the force needed to turn the motor by about 20-percent. And if youd rather not pull-start in the first place, theyre also available with an electric starting system.
The DF15A and DF20A come in both 15 and 20 inch lengths, and if you want to permanently mount them on a boat, you can also get a remote control kit. Surprise Bonus: These motors tip the scales at 97 pounds, which is about 10 to 15 percent less than some competing engines of this size.
Wait a sec - what about cost? Didnt we note that EFI could drive up the price substantially on such a small motor? The lowest MSRP for one of these powerplants is a hair over three grand, which lands it in the upper-middle price range, not at the top, for engines of this size. For more information, go to www.suzukimarine.com.