Many reviewers have a limited number of criteria they use to assess the quality of a fishing spinning reel versus the cost. I take a stricter approach and measure every reel I evaluate against five criteria to be consistent, especially when comparing different models in different price categories. Following a standard process makes it easier to determine which spinning reel is the best for the price.
Size of Captain Spinning Reel
My first criterion is one that you would probably never think of and answers the question, "What size fishing reel?" Any spinning reel you select must offer the entire range of sizes for the species you are likely to pursue. The reason is simple. By sticking with the same model, whether you are using it for trout or giant saltwater fish, you do not have to readjust and relearn the "feel" as you move up in size. This is huge for maintenance as well. By sticking with a single model, you learn the ins and outs of its construction and can keep it working for years. Since the Captain spinning reel has models ranging from 2000 to 8000, it passes the first test, and I used the 3000 series model as the baseline for this review.
Spool Design of Captain Spinning Reel
The Captain spinning reel is unique in the Piscifun lineup since it features a traditional spool design rather than the X shape, long cast design standard on their other models. The long cast design allows the line to flow more smoothly off the spool when casting. When I tested casting the Captain reel against the Piscifun Carbon X reel, I found that the Carbon X achieved a slightly longer cast – certainly not enough to discourage me from using the Captain.
With that minor negative out of the way, let's get into the construction of the spool. It has all the premium features you expect from a more expensive reel, starting with a corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy spool instead of cheap graphite. Graphite might crack and deform as the line tightens through use – especially if you use monofilament since it may shrink. The spool has a "grippy" braid band, making loading the line onto the reel easy. In my test, the grip worked even on a loosely tied knot. As I reeled the line onto the spool, I verified that the line started precisely at the base of the spool and ended at the top with similar precision. I was surprised that Piscifun included two small washers with the reel to allow the user to make minor adjustments. I never needed to use these on any of the five Piscifun reels I tested.
I could detect no wobble around the shaft. This allows the bail to lay a line evenly across the length of the spool to ensure it exits smoothly in a cast.
Frame of Captain Spinning Reel
The reel is saltwater rated and specifically engineered to resist corrosion. Piscifun went the extra mile and made the body out of aircraft-grade aluminum. With saltwater-rated reels, the material used for the inner workings must also be protected. The series 2000 to 5000 use CNC-7075 aero-space quality metallic oxidized aluminum gears, while the series 6000 to 8000 feature upgraded CNC brass main gears and a brass pinion gear. With those components, it is unlikely the Captain series will ever fail as a result of exposure to saltwater. However, it is always prudent to rinse your rod and reel with freshwater after using them.
Smoothness of Captain Spinning Reel
The Captain spinning reel has eight bearings and one anti-reverse bearing. Reels with more than four bearings usually have smooth action. The more bearings, the better. However, the bearings' quality distinguishes a good reel from a poor one. A reel with ten poorly made bearings is not as good as a reel with fewer high-quality ones. The Captain spinning reel uses double-sealed stainless steel bearings. This is a fine point. Many reels advertise stainless steel bearings; stainless does not mean what we think it means. There are different grades of stainless steel, and while they are resistant to corrosion under regular conditions, they can rust when exposed to chemicals (think cleaning solvents), salt, grease, or even heat. Damage occurs even faster if the stainless steel is made of cheap ferritic stainless (chrome steel). Piscifun elected to double seal the bearings to protect them and not compromise quality.
Performance of Captain Spinning Reel
The gear ratio is a very fast 6.2:1. This means that for every turn of the handle, the spool rotates 6.2 times. You can always go slower, but a high gear ratio allows rapid and efficient retrieval when that is the appropriate way to work your lure. In addition, the fast ratio enables you to take the slack out of the line quickly after casting. And we've all had that instant hit when the lure hits the water!
Another critical aspect of performance is the drag. Is it smooth? Is it made of high-quality discs that will not abrade and dissolve under pressure? Can you make fine adjustments? Piscifun-recognized anglers would use this reel in saltwater, where they will routinely encounter colossal fish. As someone who has had my kayak pulled 100 yards by a 35-inch redfish, I can confirm that you need a good-quality drag! The drag on this reel is powerful and rated at 44 pounds. It features a five-disc carbon system for durability and performance. Carbon fiber-based systems are infinitely adjustable, easy to maintain, will not slip, and rarely gets flat spots.
Will you ever need 44 pounds? Probably not, unless you're up in the 8000 series pursuing monster fish using a 100-pound test line. Remember, the best practice is to set your drag at no more than half the breaking point of your line. This allows the drag to work in concert with your rod to protect the line and quickly retrieve the fish. A great feature of this drag is the incorporation of gentle clicks that allow you to audibly assess how much you are changing the drag when working a fish. This is an essential feature if you set your drag loosely to allow the fish to pick up your lure or bait without feeling significant resistance but need to activate the drag for the hook-up and retrieval.
Weight of Captain Spinning Reel
The 3000 series Captain weighs 9.1 ounces, and I checked how it compares to other saltwater-rated models. The Daiwa BG3000 ($130) weighs 10.8 ounces and only has 6+1 bearings, with a max drag of 15.4 pounds. The 3000 series Penn Battle ($120), highly recommended by the local tackle shops where I live in Wilmington, NC, weighs 11.6 ounces and only has 6+1 bearings, with a maximum drag of 15 pounds. Not much competition! The Captain comes in lighter – meaning less stress after a day of casting – with better drag and smoother reeling via the additional bearings! But what does this mean in the real world? A lighter reel makes selecting a rod that will balance with it easier. The heavier the reel, the heavier the rod. Since the Captain is lighter, you can match it with more options.
The Captain spinning reel offers great value, and I am pleasantly surprised Piscifun packed it with premium features unavailable on the name brands.