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Ask any seasoned angler – the spinning reel you’re using can mean all the difference between a successful catch and a lost one. There are so many different kinds of spinning reels around though (competition, mid-range and budget lines are only nominal categorizations), that even experienced fishers can find it difficult to pick the right one.
If you’re in a similar pickle, one spinning reel manufacturer worth taking a look at is Okuma: they’ve got a diverse lineup of fishing reels to match all budgets and levels of interest in fishing: from low-investment, low-risk spinning reels to state-of-the-art, competition ready models. The catch is that they use a lot of technical jargon that can easily cause a rookie’s head to spin!
With that in mind, I’ve put together a guide to help you in finding the best Okuma spinning reel without having to make sense of the technical stuff at all!
Max Drag Pressure (lbs.)
Cedros High Speed CJ-55S
Okuma Fishing Tackle, in their own words, take fishing as an adventure that lasts a lifetime. They understand that enjoying fishing has more to do with the experience than with the achievements, which is why they aim to create products that don’t just work but also let the angler enjoy the whole exercise.
While originally known for their quality products targeted at the entry level and casual anglers, they have recently expanded to competition grade products. That being said, all of their products are designed using sophisticated machining processes, and with durability – a crucial property for a spinning reel – in mind.
One of the most noteworthy features of Okuma’s lineup is, as mentioned before, the diversity of its pricing. You’ll find prices as low as $20 for throwaway products suited to casual holiday fishing and as high as $500+ for products geared towards professional anglers that go for big fish in harsh waters.
The manufacturer ensures a gear ratio of at least 4.5:1, even for its lightest models – this a good starting point that should work for those who aren’t particular about the type of fish they want to catch. However, if you intend to fish species that require fast retrievals, Okuma has products with 6:1 and higher ratios that will fit the bill admirably.
A healthy number of bearings are necessary for the smooth handling of any spinning reel system and Okuma doesn’t disappoint in this regard: barring a few, all Okuma models come with 6 or more ball bearings (experts recommend at least 5) to ensure smooth reeling of the line.
All Okuma spinning reels also have a dedicated anti-reverse handle system in place (again, except for the cheapest ones): it is an anti-reverse ball bearing which eliminates play in the reel that can compromise the success of an accurate hook.
Using a hybrid aluminum / graphite body for most of their lineup, Okuma ensures excellent structural strength and robustness for their products; even their cheapest models have a graphite body that is inherently resistant to saltwater damage.
Furthermore, the entire lineup (except for the ultra-cheap models) has dedicated corrosion resistant coatings on critical components to withstand the effects of salt water – if it is able to get past the water tight drag seal that is. The manufacturer also ensures a longer lasting bail wire by making it corrosion resistant as well!
It is slightly disappointing that they use older oiled felt drag washers instead of modern carbon fiber ones for most of their product range though, since the former are not designed for higher drag levels. If you’re planning to push your spinning reel to the limit, you may want to consider replacing them with aftermarket CF washers.
This is a fancy term for a mechanism that regulates the speed of the reel’s spindle stroke so that the line gets wound in a consistent and uniform manner on the spool. Ultimately, this results in better casting and longer life span of the reel, and also evens out the drag pressures.
Even for their least expensive models, Okuma has a 1 year warranty in place that covers defects in materials and workmanship. Unfortunately, the warranty is limited to the original owner and is not applicable to damage resulting from modification of the spinning reel (in this case, you will be charged a nominal fee for the repair / replacement).
Higher end models are covered by a warranty as extensive as 5 years, with the policy also including complimentary one-time servicing and lubrication. Note that the manufacturer does not foot the shipping cost for any of its products.
This is a proprietary drag system design that makes use of the generous underside of the spinning reel spool to yield a greater amount of secondary drag surface that works in tandem with the conventional top drag stack. In simple terms, this ensures superior heat dissipation, enhanced lifetime, uniform force on the reel spool and improved drag ranges.
Compare this to traditional drag systems that place a lot of pressure on the line which can lead to breakage at weak spots, unless they’ve got an ultra-smooth spooling system in place.
An augmented version of this is present in the manufacturer’s ultra-high end series: it has a special ‘micro adjustable power drag’ that works similar to a traditional lever drag system with a preset, while also allowing for fine adjustment inside the range. In a nutshell, this enables you to push the fishing line to its breaking point without actually damaging it!
With the high end DFD system practically guaranteeing a higher than normal drag output, Okuma has also included a dual anti-reverse system. Besides the expected one-way clutch bearing, it also uses a ratcheting anti-reverse system, which even the largest fish won’t be able to escape. Furthermore, this removes even the slightest hint of play in the handle.
Packing Okuma’s signature Dual Force Drag System and a 6.2:1 gear ratio, the CJ-55S is perfectly suited to high-speed / high-strength jigging for species such as jack, snapper and tuna.
The Dual Force Drag System is capable of withstanding up to 24 lbs. of drag force so it will stop your quarry with remarkable balance and smoothness; the model has an impressively fast 40 inches per turn line retrieval, which has earned a lot of praise from both novices and pros alike for its butter smooth operation (thanks to the high performance gear system and patented EOS incorporated into the product).
The CJ-55S is built to be both convenient and durable: it has been machined exclusively from aluminum that is given a corrosion resistant coating to help it weather salty waters; the bail wire is also aluminum and is gold anodized to enhance its lifetime; and the handle has been designed to allow for easy jigging without any blistering.
The Cedros comes with a 1 year warranty from the manufacturer.
The Trio 55, with its slower but more powerful 4.5:1 gear ratio, is best suited for freshwater as well as inshore saltwater fishing applications where you’ll be going fishing for species that are heavier but slower.
Packing an ensemble of Okuma’s signature technologies such as Dual Force Drag, EOS and High Performance Bearings, the Trio 55 performs with the smoothness and uniformity expected from the manufacturer. The IPTs are a bit low – at 34, but this is to be expected from a spinning reel that focuses more on power than speed.
The Trio 55 can handle a maximum drag pressure of 24 lbs., and is made to be both agile and sturdy thanks to its hybrid graphite and aluminum body, which is given a high density corrosion resistant coating so it can hold out against salt water. Users have given high ratings to the spinning reel due the lightness of its build which makes it easy to operate in trying conditions.
For casual fishers who only head out on occasion, the Trio 55’s balance of performance, durability and price make it a fine choice. The product comes with a 1 year warranty from the manufacturer.
In keeping with the manufacturer’s aim to revolutionize fishing gear, the Helios line of spinning reels sports an ultra-strong yet ultra-light C-40X carbon fiber construction that is ideal for those who will be casting their reel for hours on end in endurance testing situations.
The excellent strength to weight ratio is achieved through the use of long strand carbon fiber as opposed to regular resin with powder filler. When long strand carbon fiber is interwoven thousands of times, the overall strength gets a 50% boost – while the weight is brought down by 25% (as compared to graphite). Ultimately, you’ve got a product that, according to some consumers, feels like it isn’t there on the rod at all, yet is capable of being stretched to the limit.
The carbon fiber construction also means that the spinning reel will be far less prone to salt water damage (the parts that are made from metal e.g. gears, spools and bearings, have also been given adequate dedicated protection through corrosion resistant coatings and/or anodization).
As far as core performance is concerned, the machined aluminum spool, and AlumiLite alloy main gears and oscillating gears, work smoothly and efficiently thanks to the Precision Elliptical Gearing System and 8 high performance ball bearings incorporated into the spinning reel. Unfortunately, the HX-40S’s lighter Carbonite drag system cannot withstand more than 13 lbs. of drag pressure, so it is only good for fishing relatively lightweight species.
The product is backed by a 1 year warranty from the manufacturer.
If you’re just getting into the fishing game or are a weekend fisher who does not want to invest a great deal into the gear, the Avenger AV-40B is an option that guarantees dependable performance without asking for a premium.
Packing a corrosion resistant graphite body, machine cut brass pinion gear and corrosion-resistant stainless steel bail wire, this 5:1 gear ratio spinning reel will do fine for casual freshwater fishers. The 6 ball bearings are arranged into the manufacturer’s signature Elliptical Oscillating System that yields smooth and even line retrieval. You shouldn’t expect any miracles though, since it lacks the patented Dual Force Drag system found in its pricier siblings.
Also note that the AV-40B does not feature any water sealing technology, so it is inadvisable to use it for saltwater applications. The product comes with a 1 year warranty from the manufacturer.
With its rigid die cast aluminum body coated with a heavy duty corrosion resistant material, the Azores Z-90s is designed to meet the needs of professional saltwater anglers looking for a big catch.
The Dual Force Drag system present in this spinning reel uses both felt and Carbonite drag washers, churning out an impressive 44 lbs. of maximum drag, slamming the brakes on even the big fish once they’re hooked. You can also fine tune the drag setting thanks to the precision click drag adjustment feature.
To handle that kind of drag pressure, the manufacturer has included a ratchet system in addition to the standard anti-reverse bearing.
Reeling the line in feels smooth thanks to 6 grease packed high performance ball bearings incorporated into the gear system, which can yield a whopping 46 IPT (even with its slower 5.4:1 gear ratio) because of its oversized spool. In other words, whether you’re intent on catching quick and lithe fish species, or bulky and powerful ones, the Z-90s will be a worthy companion.
The gear system, besides being made corrosion resistant, also incorporates a carbon fiber mechanical stabilization system that further stoppers saltwater electrolysis. The flipside to getting the best of both worlds is that the product is quite bulky, at 25.5oz, so it may not work for everyone for extended fishing expeditions.
The product comes with a 1 year warranty from the manufacturer.
Once you start getting serious about it, fishing is a specialized hobby – you need the right kind of gear for the type of fishing you’ll be doing if you want to bring in a good catch: freshwater vs saltwater, heavyweight vs lightweight, professional vs casual, these are all considerations you need to carefully contemplate before you decide on a spinning reel.
Having gone through the freshwater and Saltwater Okuma spinning reel reviews above though, you will have realized that spinning reel comparisons boil down to the following factors: line retrieval, gear ratio, drag pressure and durability, and oftentimes, the consumer has to compromise on one (or more) of the these in order to match their requirements or their budget.
Fortunately, the Azores Z-90S is a spinning reel that manages to provide excellent values for all these determinants, while simultaneously pricing itself very affordably. For this reason, I have rated it the best Okuma spinning reel in the market. Obviously, there are other offerings from this manufacturer that may suit your needs better, but, in my opinion, this one provides the best bang for the buck for any moderately serious angler.
Loves everything to do with fishing and gear.
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