Image courtesy of Piscifun
I'm going a little rogue on you here this week as I'm talking about a reel I use for inshore fishing. I know! How dare I switch it up and move over to an inshore story. FOR SHAME! In full disclosure, though, I am trying to become a better angler in all aspects of my saltwater fishing game, and it has been overdue that I moved into the inshore side of the house. Plus, I've been digging into my Salt Strong classes to try to get better as well, so the only way to know if it is working is to test myself. To do that, I needed to get out there and do it. There was only one thing missing, though: GEAR!
My friend Justin went fishing a lot in the evenings at our local causeway for trout and invited me along. I was excited to go and try something new and put my knowledge to work, so I loaded up the car with the Shimano FX rod and my Okuma Longitude to pitch lures and have a set rig. Looking back, I am ashamed of myself for doing that, as it yielded nothing good. I wind knotted my FX rod and Penn Battle 3 4000 on the second cast, my Okuma didn't bring up anything on my long cast to the middle of the bridge, and I was tired from throwing the FX over and over again. What was once my favorite rod for throwing jigs was not the bane of my existence. Don't get me wrong, the FX is still my jig rod, but I'm throwing heavier diamond jigs in the surf and not this light Rapala I was using. I digress.
I went back to the house and looked at my rod collection. I had a freshwater trout rod that I thought would be perfect, but the lure rating was just not there for this purpose. Then I remembered a rod I had put away because, well, I wasn't bass fishing. DISCLAIMER: Before I reveal this rod, please know that I had no idea about it when my wife bought it for me about ten years ago and it has been sitting neglected all this time. Then I saw my St. Croix Mojo Bass rod in the rack staring at me (yes, you read that right. I had an excellent rod just wasting away and didn't realize it). I picked it up and threw the Penn Battle 3 on there to see how it felt. It just wasn't balanced right and not comfortable, so it was time to hunt for a new reel.
Lure ratings on the rods and my flame reel on the Mojo
I reached out to Matt at Ninja Tackle and asked him about Piscifun (Pee-Cee-Fun) reels for inshore. He had mentioned them to me once when I was looking at reels, and I valued his insight into a starter reel. He told me that anything I chose from them would be top-notch, and I wouldn't regret it, so I started there. I found the Piscifun Flame 3000 for $26.99 on Amazon and ordered it up. I figured that if I didn't like it, I would send it back. Besides, a sub $30 reel wouldn't be unique, and I was starting something new, so no harm, no foul.
Two days later, my new shiny reel showed up, and I got to work checking it out. The action was extremely smooth, the spoon flipped smoothly, the spool had no play, and it was very light. I popped off the screws to see how it looked on the internals, and there was nothing out of the ordinary to report. Well lubed, and it looked like all of my other reels. I didn't see any cheap plastic (I expected to at that price point) or points that would have me concerned. So I reassembled it and got to work spooling it with 20 lbs Sakuma Nite Crystal co-polymer from Ninja Tackle (this stuff is incredible, and I will get something written on it soon). The next step was to test it, and what better way than to head out to the causeway with Justin?
I never knew about co-polymer until this, and it is impressive!
We hit up our spot at about 9:00 PM and got to work casting our Rapala Shadow Rap in hopes of finding the elusive trout in that zone. He has caught several different species there (ladyfish, trout, red drum, black drum, and even the unfortunate cow ray), so we knew we were in the right spot. I lined up for my first cast, and it sailed smooth as silk until my line got cut. Justin to the rescue, he launched his line out and managed to catch my running away fishing line with his lure. The dude can fish! I broke my end guide eye sometime in its ten-year life. Sad, I did what any good Marine would do: adapt, improvise, and overcome. I broke the rest of the chunks free and ran it on bare metal. It didn't fail again (and has since been replaced)!
Finally, my line took a huge hit, and it was game on. I lots of movement and shakes as I used the Flame to reel in my prize. It was a 14" ladyfish, putting on a show jumping out of the water. I unhooked it and sent it back out into the bay. The reel handled superbly. A slight modification to the drag and got back to fishing. A few casts later, another big hit but different this time. Again, the fight was smooth weight pulling against me. No jumping around and not too many shakes, my very first trout! Sadly, it wasn't a keeper, but I could finally check it off my list and was on cloud nine that I finally caught one.
After going home, I inspected the reel and found it was still perfect and ready for more work. I got the rod repaired and planned to go back out again. While talking to Justin about the line, he mentioned that a lighter braid might get me some more distance. So, I picked up some 15 lbs braid at Half Hitch Tackle Shop here in Navarre and spooled it up. When we went out again, he was right. I gained another 15 yards per cast. I reached out to a deeper part of the channel and was excited to see what would come next. I didn't have to wait long as yet again, a big hit happened, and the fight was on. This time, a little drag was coming off the reel, and I made a slight adjustment so the fish wouldn't take me to the pylons. A few moments later, my first keeper trout! Does it get any better?
These trout have some serious fangs!
To date, I have thrown Rapala's, jig heads, paddle tails, and a spoon with this reel, and it has been smooth retrieve each time. The fish caught have put up excellent fights, but the reel has maintained its strength on each one and has proven to be a fantastic match-up for my St. Croix Mojo. Yes, I have a sub $30 reel on my $130 rod, and I'm not even a little sad about it. Piscifun made a great reel, and I am glad to have it on my rod.
Now, I will have to grab one of these reels for my surf rod, but it won't be the Flame, unfortunately. I do not love the knob on the arm for that type of fishing. It's a personal choice, I know, and that is a grip that I prefer. This reel in the 5000 could probably be just fine in the surf. In total honesty, though, I have my eyes on the ViperX.
Do you have one of these reels? Tell me about your experience and thoughts of it in the comments section here or on the thread you found this on. Thanks for coming by and reading today! If you'd like to request something to be investigated or written about, please send me an email to email@example.com, and I will get on it. Thanks again, now go forth and do good things!