Growing up fishing Queensland beaches, the Alvey side cast reel has been a huge part of my tackle collection for many years. Even though they continue to develop over the years, they have always retained the simplicity and durability that have made them legendary.
The new version of the 6000BCVRR landed on my lap with the request to put it through its paces and report on what I think.
Being a surf fishing fanatic, I took one look at the reel and thought that it was nothing new, having owned one for a few years. However, removing the reel from the box, I saw it’d had an up-grade: a new release system to turn the reel to its side casting position, as well as a new drag on and off leaver. The reel still retained it smooth drag system, rapid retrieve handle and full graphite construction, but it is now simpler to use and more durable.
I spooled the reel with 300m of 4kg mono, which in my opinion is plenty but can leave the reel looking a little under-spooled. However, trial and error over the years has proven that even though it will take another 200m of thin diameter 4kg line to completely fill a 6” Alvey, 500m of spooled line is really just a waste. Having around three-quarters of the spool filled on thin 4kg line is about right, but on thicker, heavier line, fill the spool completely otherwise casting will be compromised.
The new side casting position lever had me fumbling around at first, as I was so familiar with the old system. But the new leaver is a lot simpler to use and, unlike the old trigger, it did not get sticky with grit. Now that I am well and truly used to the new leaver, I much prefer it to the old system.
The full graphite construction not only makes it one of the toughest reels on the market but also makes the outfit incredibly light. I have a couple of the old fibreglass and metal construction models that are still as good as the day they were bought, but are almost twice as heavy. The old days of heavy Alveys sitting on heavy glass rods that forced surf anglers using light gimble belts to help hold these heavy outfits are now over.
The rapid retrieve system is not new and when first introduced it seemed to be more of a gimmick then a genuine functional part of the reel but, after using the system for a few years, it is a great addition to the reel. I am not convinced that the Alvey is a viable option for working lures in the surf so I used the quick retrieve handle after a missed bite. It also comes in handy when spooling 300m of line.
Drag systems on the Alveys have been ridiculed by some tackle purest, but keeping the drag maintained and replacing the very cheap and easily available washers every now and again keeps the drag very smooth.
Old hands with an Alvey will know that the best way to control a struggling fish is to place a hand under the bottom of the reel to apply manual drag pressure. And things haven’t really changed now that there is a genuine drag in the reel. However, I like to have the drag set very lightly and add some additional pressure with my hand on the bottom of the spool. This gives fish plenty of line if they turn and run in a receding wave and, matched to the stretchy nylon line, even a big tailor can be landed on the light surf outfit.
The drag on the brand new 6000 was given a run on numerous flathead that I caught during testing, but persistent northerlies kept the tailor from the beach at the time. Nevertheless, the drag was tested a couple of times close to the beach and was perfect.
The one-to-one gear ratio gives awesome feel and fish control and, with a 6” diameter spool, the speed of retrieve is still relatively quick. The fish alert for fishing at night or having the rod in a rod holder is nice and loud, however, I have found it breaks regularly but is simple to fix. Lucky I hardly ever use it and once broken, I don’t bother repairing it but having stripped down hundreds of Alveys, repairs are cheap and simple.
There is a lot of marketing about the casting of the new reels and after reading and then playing with the reel, there is no doubt that the 6000 casts like a dream. It takes a little practice to cast an Alvey right and having it matched to the right rod and getting some quality line in it is vital. A number 3 sinker and little more than a flick on the 12ft rod had me in the middle of the gutter and right where the fish were. Read all the hype if you like but be assured that the old Alvey is getting better and with a little practice, casting is simple.
The new 6000BCVRR still retains the simplicity of the Alvey but has a few features that makes the reel more durable, simple to use and as reliable as ever. Dunk it in the surf, drop it in the sand and give her a rinse when you get home and apply some Alvey grease every few trips and the reel will see many years of use with very little trouble.
The Alvey 6000BCVRR will set you back around $130 but will outlast every other reel you have ever owned.Reads: 3161