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Merwin: Going Bail-less
I happen to like manual spinning reels, meaning those with
no bails. Instead of the typical ungainly bail wire that flops back
and forth, there's just a round line button in front of the line
roller. Line is put on or off the line roller by hand (or your index
finger) for casting and retrieving. Here's an ultra-close-up of what
the line button looks like on one of my reels.
There are fewer line tangles because there's no bail to throw loops of slack line against the spool. You won't snap off any lures when casting, either, because there's no bail to close prematurely and unpredictably.
Unfortunately and until very recently, the only spinners available with manual bails have been the high-end Van Staals. Otherwise, you were left to modify your own reel by cutting off or otherwise removing the bail while trying to keep the line roller functionally intact. To its great credit, Shimano has introduced a manual-bail option on two spinning- reel lines for 2009. Both the Saragosa ($190 - $300) and the Spheros ($110 - $180) saltwater series allow the addition of a manual-bail kit ($20 - $30) in reel sizes 5000 through 18000. The kits include a line button, counterweights, screws and directions. If you're a surfcaster or inshore-saltwater angler, this is a very big deal for a fairly reasonable price.
Now if only Shimano would make some freshwater versions....