David "Wahoodad" Choate

Dave fishes mostly Long Range out of San Diego, California. Very fortunate to have become a product tester for many tackle companies, but he really enjoys helping others learn to enjoy this sport and improve their techniques.

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December 20, 2011

New Kids on the Block

by Wahoodad

Lord knows, I love my job!

Because I've been lucky enough to snag a few large fish while long ranging, when new products come out, I become the guinea pig.

And there are some great new products out in recent times, and I wanted to share about these hot items.

First, and foremost, the Okuma Makaira line of two speed lever drag reels.

There are several different sizes available of this fantastic new reel. From a small MK8II (a 30-40# reel), up to an MK80II (130# and up reel). I have purchased several of the MK10II (40-50#), 2 of the MK20II (100-130#)2 of the MK30IISE (again, a 100-130# reel), and 2 of the MK50II (130-150#).

Although in the past, Okuma had some products that were disappointments, they did their homework, made adjustments where necessary, sought advice from many sources, and corrected these features that were causing problems before. Kudos to a company that will listen to customer feedback.

I realize that many of us don't pay too much attention to packaging, as once we take the reel out of the box and use it, it rarely goes back in the box. But I must say, they spared no expense on the box. And it's pleasant to be able to take a reel out of a box, turn the handle a few times, push the lever back and forth, try out the clicker, and then be able to get it back in the box without a visit to David Copperfield.

Another nice addition to the whole package of buying a Makaira, is they provide a nice multi-tool that has all the Torx sizes you would need for all their reels. A hex opening in the tool fits all the nut sizes of all the reels. It's nice to have something that works- I've bought reels from other manufacturers that have a really cool looking reel wrench, that fits nothing on the reel I've bought.

A set of harness lugs comes installed on the larger reels, and in the box is a set of plugs, flush with the frame, for those of us who use the rail and like our palms on top of the reel for control and added drag pressure. A nice foam and material reel cover and a bottle of oil round out the items in the box.

A tech out at Okuma has opened the reels up and shown them to me inside and out, quality all the way throughout. Very good grade bearings, and the freespool is one of the best I've ever experienced, even including reels taken to the best of reel tinkerers. The anodizing is a grade two anodizing, so this finish will not scratch as easy as some reels. The whole reel is dipped in the heavy duty Corrosion X, to make sure spool, frame, and all parts are very well protected against oxidation.

BTW, Okuma boasts a 48 hour turn around on service of their reels. And they have a 5 year warranty.

Shifting from high gear to low gear, and then back from low to high, can be a challenge on some reels, either buttons that are tough to push in, or push the button and pull the handle out. Okuma made it very simple, just push the button in for low, flick the small lever for back to high gear. I've always felt it much more important to get back to high from low, as when the fish darts towards the boat, you must keep the slack out of the line. I feel Okuma hit a homerun here.

I suppose if I were going to start chasing cow tuna on long range trips, and wanted one reel to get started with, I would have to recommend the MK20II. Now I realize, most times, a 20 size reel isn't up to the task of fishing for cows. But, this reel is much larger than other companies versions of 20 sized reels. I have filled mine up with 750 yards of hollow 100# Tuf Line Guides Choice hollow spectra, with 25 yards of 130# Tuf Line hollow 130# step spliced in, and room for either 100# or 130# Fluorocarbon topshot.

Here's a list of SoCal tackle stores that carry Makaira:

Bob Sands Fishing Tackle - Van Nuys, CA
E-Z Sporting Goods - Monterey Park, CA
The Rusty Hook - San Pedro, CA
Baja Fish Gear - Lomita, CA
Fishermen's Supplies - Lawndale, CA
Fisherman's Access - Brea, CA
Sav-on Tackle - Santa Fe Springs, CA
Melton International Tackle - Anaheim, CA
Charkbait - Huntington Beach, CA
Anglers Center - Newport Beach, CA
Maximum Angler - Irvine, CA
Angler's Choice - San Diego, CA
Fisherman's Landing - San Diego, CA

I looked up Charkbait, and found the MK20II costs $479. Check around, some of the shops include filling the reels with spectra.

Next new kid on the block, is the low cost high performance rods from Seeker, the all glass Rail Boss series. The first four models are out and being tested, and I'm lucky enough to get to do the testing on the two heavier models on my next trip, departing Monday, December 26th.

Randy Penny rated these rods a little on the low side, at least those of us who have pulled on the rods feel that way. The four models available are: 6465XH, 6465XXH, 6465XXXH, and the stout 6465XXXXH. Fuji guides were used, and a new type of foregrip was designed, as these are true "rail rods"! 3M Cold Shrink was used, but it is an extremely clean and classy application, and if the Cold Shrink ever wears out, a new piece can be installed at no harm to the rod or having to remove the guides.. The Cold Shrink ends up being flush with the hypalon, you only see a line between the two different materials.

Now, granted, these will feel heavier than a graphite composite rod, but when you see the sticker price, that extra weight feel will probably go away. They range from $365 to $378, and that is a very good deal for a rod designed to catch cow tuna!

Last, but not least, is the brand of spectra I used when I bought a bunch of Okuma Makairas. It is made by Western Filament, and the hollow spliceable spectra is called Tuf Line Guide's Choice. The solid spectra line is called Tuf Line XP.

An little background on Western Filament is that there are only a couple of companies that make spectra. Western Filament is one of them. Chances are very good that you have fished with Western Filament's spectra before, just under another name brand.

I found the Tuf Line hollow to be extremely easy to work with, as far as splicing goes. It has a great feel to it, not rough, and the weave is such that making topshots is not a problem at all.

Tuf Line has been around for a long time, but I was leery about it until I actually tried splicing some. My eyes were opened, there are other brands out there that are easy to work with. Give this new kid on the block a try, and my guess is you won't be disappointed.

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