As a subtle breeze gently rippled the water, my fishing partner, Ron, and I were working our way down a row of docks. We were fishing a bass tournament on Lake Wylie, which straddles the NC/SC border. It was early spring, right around the spawn; and I was fishing a wacky rigged worm on a spinning outfit using 15lb test braided line with an 8lb test flourocarbon leader. I pitched my worm ahead of the boat next to a dock piling. As it softly touched down in the water, it was as if someone had just flushed a toilet in the lake! The strike was hard and fast, and I had missed it! I immediately reeled in and pitched my worm to the same spot – this time being at the ready. She struck again! Only this time my reflexes didn’t fail me. As I set the hook, she immediately surged for deeper water. I yelled to Ron that I had a good fish on the line and to get the net. I loosened the drag on my reel some to allow this big girl to make the run she seemed intent on making. With the trolling motor on the boat, I followed her movements into deeper water. She was bucking and bulldogging and I could feel her violently shaking her head as she stripped line off my reel. She started to come up towards the surface and I told Ron to get ready. As she came into view, we could see that she was 6+ pounds and hooked well. She saw us at the same time we saw her only she wasn’t as impressed by our ugly mugs as we were impressed with her fat belly. She again surged towards the depths making my drag sing in the process. After some more wrangling, I was able to coax her toward the surface again and Ron was able to get the net around her to bring her into the boat. This was the kicker fish that we needed to anchor our 16+lbs of bass and win the tournament. This was the kicker fish that was landed with my tough, battle-tested Pflueger PRESSP30X President Spinning Fishing Reel.
There are spinning reels you can buy that cost $800. That is a wee bit out of my price range especially considering that we have about $3000 into our bass boat. I needed a spinning reel that was fairly lightweight, smooth, reliable and most importantly affordable. The President by Pflueger checks all those boxes. These reels come in a variety of sizes from a 20 series up to a 40 series that can handle braided line up to 20lb test. They feature a 10 bearing system with stainless steel corrosion resistant bearings and instant anti-reverse. With their graphite body, rotor and aluminum spool, the overall weight is kept to a minimum (the 30 series reel is 7.2 oz.). A sealed drag system keeps its components lubricated and always smooth. The price tag is right around $45-$65 depending on size.
I’ve been fishing with my Presidents (I have several) for around 9 years now including 4 years of hard tournament fishing. With the exception of cleaning and lubricating my reels once a season, I have not had to repair any of them. I trust them to perform correctly on every trip, including when there is money on the line. You can buy the $800 reel, and I’m sure it has its advantages, or you can buy a $15-$25 reel and it’ll work okay for a while as well. But for my money, I will stick with the President series that has far and above paid for itself ten times over. Pflueger also has a President XT model which is said to be lighter and faster and a price tag of about $20 more for the smaller size. I don’t have any experience with these, so I cannot honestly give a review of them.
Authors note: I want to talk about ball bearings for a minute. I formerly worked at a big box sporting goods store. Customers would come in looking for a fishing reel and after determining what they were looking for, I would show them some reels. 99% of the time the first question they asked was, “How many ball bearings does it have because I don’t want a reel with less than 10 bearings?” It is generally believed that the more bearings, the better the reel is. This is a common misnomer in regards to bearings. I would rather have 4 quality ball bearings than 12 crappy ball bearings. The quality of the bearings is what makes the reel have a smooth, consistent retrieve – not the quantity.