About the Author:
John Merwin lives in Vermont, where, when he's not tying flies, building lures, or digging up worms with his backhoe, he writes the monthly Fishing Column for Field & Stream magazine.

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January 05, 2009

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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....


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Chad Love

Holy cow, this is what I need. Others may disagree, but I'm a reasonably coordinated person of at least low-average intelligence and I'll be damned if I can figure out how to keep a spinning reel, any spinning reel, from ending up in a truly epic mess.

If Shimano ever did offer a cheaper or freshwater version I'd buy one in a heartbeat...


Wow, this is very interesting. I want to try this. Thank You

Dr. Ralph

I've never even heard of one of these until now... sounds good but I'd have to get my hands on one before I really knew if I liked it or not.

Another thing... I know we all just got the new Bass Pro catalog and have been drooling over the goodies inside but what about those new reels? Is it just me or did every manufacturer suddenly discover neon paint? It's like they saw the new pink rifles for girls and said "Hey we need brightly colored reels!". It kind of hurts my sensibilities, I'm just now getting used to Ambassadeur's that aren't red.