In the early years of my fishing career I did a lot of surf fishing along the east coast of Victoria and the south coast of New South Wales. The gear I used was pretty much what you might expect of a uni student.
Back in those days, cheap, nasty reels were teamed with stiff, heavy rods and used to chuck unwieldy baits into the briny attached to line so thick I could have pulled in a killer whale. The whole set up was unpleasant to cast and prone to disastrous failure at the slightest excuse – and when beach fishing there’s a lot of excuses.
I think it was this prior experience with dodgy surf fishing gear that made me so excited about getting hold of the latest Saltiga Surf 4500 reel – at the completely opposite end of the scale! As soon as I got the Surf 4500 into my hot little hands, I couldn’t help but think how much things have changed. This reel is a work of art, and I’m here to tell you it is an absolute pleasure to use.
Straight out of the box, the first thing I noticed was how smooth it is was. If it weren’t for the size of the thing, you’d think you were cranking the handle of one of Daiwa’s top-of-the-range bream spinning reels. It was faultlessly smooth, and silent as well.
The second thing I noticed was how light it was. The stats on the Daiwa website say it weighs 515g. I checked mine on the kitchen scales and it weighed 536g fully loaded with line – spot on. Out of curiosity I dragged my old clunker reel out of the shed, the brand of which shall remain nameless. It weighed 745g, with no line. Enough said.
The other thing that struck me before I even spooled it up was the reel’s appearance. The body has been magnesium treated for saltwater use, while the spool and handle are machined aluminium, so there is no shortage of shine. Every opportunity has been taken to eliminate unnecessary weight, right down to the perforated base of the spool, which gives the reel a real spaceage look. Finished with attractive red trim around the spool and the base of the handle, Saltiga Surf reels are bling for beach anglers!
“Yeah, yeah” I hear you say. ‘But how does it cast?” I was keen to find out too, and was quickly rifling around my drawers for some line. As backing I used some 22lb monofilament. Then, since the reel is designed for braid, I topshotted with 150 yards of 30lb Fins PRT Braid. To the end of the braid I tied a 4m shock leader of 50lb monofilament (enough to wrap around the reel a few times with the rig ready to cast). The leader was attached to the braid with a ‘slim beauty’ knot, to minimise friction on the way through the guides.
Then, rather crucially, I attached it to a rod - but not just any rod. I lovingly secured the Saltiga into the reel seat of a 12’ Sensor Surf rod, also from Daiwa. This magnificent piece of kit really deserves a review of its own.
Briefly the Sensor Surf is a constructed from a two-piece high structural density carbon blank. It is fitted with top of the line Fuji guides and reel seat, and a non-slip composite cork grip. It is strong, and very light – the perfect match for the Saltiga Surf. I ran the Sensor over the kitchen scales too, and found it weighed only 448g. That means the entire set up, reel plus rod, weighs less than 1kg. Easily light enough to hold for extended periods of time. As a point of reference my old rod weighs 832g, so that the total weight of my old outfit is nearly 1.6kg. Like I said, times change!
I was soon off to Woodside Beach to test things out. I’ve no real way of knowing how exactly far I was casting, but from the very first cast the line disappeared off the tapered long cast spool and out into the ocean faster and more easily than I can remember. I’m quite certain in my own mind that the Saltiga Surf reel, in combination with the Sensor Surf rod, allows me to cast further than I ever have before. It other words, it has turned an average caster into a good caster.
One feature of the Saltiga Surf reel that takes a little getting used to if you’ve not used it before is the manual bail release. This requires the bail to be manually closed after casting, rather than tripping it with a turn of the handle. This eliminates the need for bail springs so that there is less to go wrong in the harsh conditions encountered while beach fishing. When the bail arm is open, the rotor and handle are locked in place and cannot move during casting.
Another feature of the Surf that is worthy of mention is the drag system. It’s a tournament-grade, waterproof, multidisc drag system capable of putting out a hefty 15kg of drag pressure. I have to admit that during testing I haven’t landed a fish that required such drag – small salmon and tailor only so far – but it’s good too know that when that big gummy shark or mulloway does come along I will be well prepared.
For the techno-geeks out there, other features of the Saltiga Surf reel include full time infinite anti-reverse, silent oscillation, twist reducing line roller (Twistbuster II), digitally designed Digigear machined gears, seven ball bearings (including four anticorrosion bearings) and a roller bearing. The Saltiga Surf comes in two sizes, the 4500 and the 6000.
I have to warn you, they don’t give these things away. On the other hand, you get what you pay for. If you love surf fishing and you love owning good gear – and I mean really good gear – these reels are definitely worth some serious consideration. What you get is a quality, hard core surf reel that is tough, light, easy to cast and has the cranking power to handle the biggest surf predators you will encounter in Victorian waters. Not only that, it looks great and is a piece of gear you will be proud to own. On the beach with a Saltiga, no one will ever kick sand in your face again!
SALTIGA SURF SPECS
|Model||Gear ratio||Ball bearings||Weight (g)||Drag pressure||Line capacity (lbs/m)|
|Surf 4500||4.1||7+1*||515||15kg||12/320, 14/270|
|Surf 6000||3.6||7+1*||530||15kg||25/260, 30/210|
*Seven ball bearings plus one roller bearing