I’m realizing where I’ve made miscalculations and misjudgements in my fishing at times. I’m a huge fan of big fat round reels. I am born and raised on Don Iovino “doodling” where short Phenix Rods, w Excalibur Handles and round Abu-Garcia reels where how you caught fish in Southern California. Now, at a macro level, understand that Iovino was both right and wrong. At that same time, a guy like Dean Rojas was smashing fish with reaction baits, challenging the finesse only / shaking 4″ worms on 8 pound line in >20 feet of water to get a bit. My point being, I’ve made mistakes in REEL SELECTION at times. Low profile reels tend to be way more easy to fish. They weigh ounces less than the big gold Shimano Calcutta TE or D Series. Low profile reels have way better gears than they used to, they have quicker gear ratios and line pickup speeds, and can handle all your bigbaits. I like the slowness of the round TE 400 for specialized Huddleston fishing. I can’t see myself not having a few 400 TEs in the boat with me, but the 300 Series of low profile swimbait reels continues to grow on me. Anywho, besides ergonomic and aesthetic advantages, they tend to have faster gear ratios. I suppose I need to say, the Shimano Curado 300 is and will remain a sick ass low profile swimbait reel that can handle bigbaits and big fish. However, Shimano is no longer in the position they enjoyed historically. Insert Okuma.
Okuma provides a great value product. They have made outstanding rods in the bigbait fishing department for years. The Guide Select Series has been what I and many other recommend to beginning swimbait fisherman. I know Mark Rogers and Mike Bennett a little bit, and know these guys charge hard and do a lot of hardcore charging. They keep hardcore swimbait fishing happy and treat them with respect and aloha. Check out what Oliver Ngy (Big Bass Dreams) and Kevin Mattson (Bass King) fish with. Okuma wisely has decided to engage subject matter experts and figure out ways to partner and team up with them. The result is what can be seen and felt in the Okuma Komodo 364. Let’s be honest., the Okuma reels couldn’t compete in the quality department years ago, but now they can. They’ve proven it now for the last few years, and the work of buys in both salt and freshwater are all the validation you should need.
You need a few 300 Series, low profile reels in your swimbait game. Skipping 6″ Weedless Huddlestons under docks was a favorite past time of mine for years. Low profile reels and dock skipping make a lot of sense. A new trend in my Triple Trout fishing is fishing the 7-8″ Triple Trout on the Curado 300. The quicker gear ratio (vs the Calcutta 300 or 400) made fishing the Triple Trout way easier. So, I find the mid range hardbaits to be an outstanding application of the 300 Series of reels. What Kevin Mattson and Oliver Ngy have really opened my eyes to is the application of the 300 series, with the Komodo 364 to the megabaits, the bigger bigbaits like the Slide Swimmer 250. The Slide Swimmer 250 and the magnum glide baits like the Roman Mades, Gan Craft and big Rago Glideaor, need to be a staple in your swimbait fishing, as are the Huddleston Deluxe, Triple Trout, MS Slammer and the rat baits of your choice.
Here’s the deal, you can spend $250 on a Curado 300 and be happy. Shimano is not a company that can be engaged if you are interested in fishing for a living and want to partner with them in any shape or form. Just leave it at that. Fish their stuff, and be stoked, it’s awesome. Or you could spend $ 220, buy an Okuma Komodo 364, and align yourself with a company and group of guys the welcomes and engages the swimbait fishing community and subject matter experts. When there are alternatives out there, like Okuma and Abu Garcia that are making great value products that are high quality, capitalism and free markets take their course. I would definitely recommend the Okuma Komodo 364 now after fishing it hard. I haven’t caught the uber giants with it yet, but I did fish the gamut of my favorite mid size and magnum sized baits, and have wipped some nice fish. I keep a pulse on what reels guys are really catching their fish with, and the Komodo 364 across both salt and freshwater continues to impress and amaze. Check out Okuma’s facebook page to get a pulse on their community and O’hana HERE.
For what it’s worth, I highly recommend you invest in a Komodo 364, a spool of 65 or 80# braid, and pair it with the swimbait rod of your choice and application. Braid and the low profile bigbait reel with the faster gear ratio have changed my fishing. It works and is my system for many baits now with the exception of slow rolling Huddlestons , fishing for the ‘one’ in some super clear / super pressured situation. I use florocarbon leaders where applicable. Braid gives you WAY MORE control and play with your hardbaits. You can make turns and stalls and cut water WAY BETTER than with mono or floro. There is only usually a foot or two of line actually in the water ahead of the bait, because you tend to ‘high stick’ your rod tip on your retrieve with braid. You don’t have the line sag and drag challenges you do with mono or floro.
Click HERE to purchase the Okuma 364 Komodo.