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August 9, 2011 / flogginwater

Hugs for Cabelas

A big thanks to the lady from Cabela’s who took the time to dig into my order and call me back to let me know my gear was indeed on it’s way. The reel, line, and cheap leader arrived today – before I went to work, which was way cool.

My initial impressions?

The rod is pretty nice, it’s what I expected from the Three Forks line up. It’s at least as nice in fit and finish as the Lamiglas 8 and 10 wt rods I’ve owned at the same pricepoint, if not a bit nicer. It’s by far the stiffest rod I own, which I could tell during a little get-to-know-each-other session in the parking lot during a slow period at work today. 54 feet was as far as I could regularly cast reasonably well. How do I know this? I measured, using 9′ wide parking spaces as a ruler. I could cast across 6 of those parking spaces and have the line lay out straight, without tailing loops, without cracking the leader, or piling the cast up about 80% of the time. When I try pushing beyond that range – things fall apart. Seems I need to work on my casting stroke more – a trout rod this is not – and while I’ve honed my close-in casting skills, my distance casting has turned to plain ol crap. I don’t blame the rod at all for that – it is what it is, it’s a good rod, with a fine action – it’s just a bit different than all my other rods. I will say that it honestly seems like Cabela’s is telling the truth when they labelled this rod an 8 weight (I’ve noticed a trend with a lot of makers to down-rate a blank, giving you a 6 or 7 weight blank and calling it a 5, for instance, so they can claim to have a really fast 5 weight) – it only takes about 30 feet of line to properly load this rod, though it WILL cast pretty well at ranges as short as 20 feet. Shorter than that, and it doesn’t play nice.

I still might get a 9 weight line to replace the one it came with, but I’ll get to that in a little.

The reel that came with this combo is Cabela’s “Prestige Plus” mid arbor reel. I got the 7/8 weight model, and it seems to balance the rod well. The frame and spool are cast aluminum – not cheap graphite crap. The drag is actually pretty smooth with a good range of settings. In many ways this reel reminds me of a much more refined Cortland CDM – not only do they look similar (the Prestige lacks the sharp edges the CDM comes with) – but the control knob is similar, as is the drag and arbor. It makes me wonder if maybe, just maybe, Cortland isn’t the OEM supplier for this line of reels, or at least might’ve helped with the design specs. I really dig the textured paddle handle on the reel, and it’s QUIET – which I love in a reel. I know it’s heresy, as a lot of guys live to hear their reels “sing”. Personally I hate noisy reels. I don’t even like the muffled “tick tick tick” some reels have. For a disc-drag style reel, I see no point at all in having a clicker, aside from making the noise-loving guys happy. That’s one reason I’m a huge fan of Okuma’s reels – they’re silent! The Sierra, the Helios, and the Integrity reels I owned from them were quiet as a church mouse. Love that.

Getting back to the Cabela’s reel – it seems very sturdy. The frame and reel foot are integral, as are just about every modern reel. It seems that the days of reel feet held in place by a pair of screws is gone with the wind – and I’m all for it. I like simplicity, and it’s got to be stronger, inherently to have it all one piece. The downside is, I guess if you do manage to break the foot off the reel, you’re boned, and you’ve got to buy a new reel (or get it warrantied), instead of just buying a new foot and forging on.

Time will tell how much abuse this reel can handle, and how the drag REALLY works – hopefully I can hook into some steelhead or coho salmon and really put it to the test soon. As it is, the first outing for this combo is going to be the lake, I’m heading there tomorrow with the singular goal of bass hunting. After getting two nice largemouth last week, I’ve got the itch to return and pick another fight with them. The 8 weight should have no problems hucking any flies I’ve got at them, so I’m taking the big ones with me, and I tied a few more up tonight.

The line that came with this combo was a big let down. I shouldn’t have been surprised, given my previous experience with Cabela’s lines. I don’t know who their vendor for such lines is anymore – I believe it used to be Rio – but I do know that the line that came with my combo was on par, quality wise, with the Cortland Fairplay – maybe a tad worse. The line itself, in this case, is a bright green (which I like) weight forward (which I’m alright with, though double tapers are my preferred lines for general fishing use) number 8 floater. It came coiled and secured with two pipe cleaners and stuck into a blank plastic baggie, without identifying the maker or anything else. Thankfully they at least had a little tag that said “this end to backing” so I wouldn’t waste time figuring out which was the running line and which was the working end.

The line was very stiff, held it’s coils stiffly, and was generally a tangled mess. It took me 10 minutes to untangle the night mare, lay it out flat, and get it wound onto the arbor of the reel (and it still wanted to twist together and coil back upon itself, like badly twisted monofilament onto a spinning reel.) I tried stretching the line a bit – maybe it’s just sat coiled up for a long time in some warehouse, I don’t know. So far, I’m not terribly impressed. It certainly isn’t a Scientific Anglers Pro or Mastery series line, nor is it at least a Cortland 333. I’m thinking lower budget Cortland, or South Bend, or Shakespeare line. It’s workable, but it’s no where near the best line I’ve used.

The leader they threw in was likewise unmarked, not even packaged in it’s own plastic baggie – it was tossed in with the backing, loosely coiled together. The packing invoice says it’s a “10 lb bass leader” – it’s a knotless tapered leader, didn’t have a perfection loop tied in the end, and the tippet looks thinner than 10lb test to me – looked more like 7 or 8lb line, but that’s fine. I used it more as a practice leader – as I said I spent a bit of time casting the new get up during some down time at work. I forgot to take along a practice fly, so I wound up snapping and cracking the end of the leader, it’s lost about a foot in length, and really is now a bit closer to typical 10lb test diameter line. I tied up a 7′ bassin’ leader earlier tonight – 30lb tapering down to 12lb, to use for real fishing purposes.

I cleaned the line as best I could when I got home – I didn’t have access to grass or a casting pond, and did my practicing on the asphalt behind a K-Mart store. Needless to say, the line got a bit dirty. I spent about half an hour running it through soapy water and a wet cloth, then another 10 minutes running it through a Rain-X treated paper towel. Got most of the grime off. I’m not horribly concerned with how it effected the line – given it’s a pretty low-rate line to begin with. It’ll work just fine for bassin, and for a few salmon/steelhead trips until I can get a nicer line.

Overall I’m highly pleased so far – the rod is a quality I expected, the reel seems to be solid – and that’s really all I was asking for. Much like the line that came with my first Three Forks rod – I wasn’t expecting a miracle. For the little I paid for this combo – I’m pleased as punch. Now I just have to pop the cherry and get some fish slime on the grip.

Pix of the whole getup shall be coming soon.

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