I paid $45 and change US for mine from Aliexpress. It arrived well packed and intact. Nothing remarkable during the unboxing .... The reel itself, a schematic, a quality control tag written in Chinese and a reel bag. Par for the course I suppose, aside from the bag. Nice little touch there, take it for what it's worth. The Reel Grips are mine, I'm not a fan of skinny metal handles. The reel itself weighs in at 7.3 oz. It's advertised as "carbon frame and side cover". There are two spool options when ordering, the shallow BFS spool and a deep spool. I opted for the shallow. The spools are both available for purchase separately. Fit and finish were fairly impressive, no excessive gaps or molding deformities noted. Mine felt 'chunky' and somewhat sluggish when reeling it out of the box before spooling it. I got it too late in the season to really get much quality fishing time on it. Mine was mounted on a 6'6" L power rod intended for smaller cranks from around 1/8 to 1/4 oz. Out of the box it did fairly well in the short time I did get to fish it but it was apparent there was room for improvement. I did get freight trained by something large, but never hooked up with it. The first red flag was the stutter of the drag on startup, not a good thing on light line applications.
Let's get to the good, the bad and the ugly ... First is it features a swept metal drag star and cast control cap. Both are clicker type. The handle is a swept 90mm featuring two bearings per paddle. Not bad for a reel at this price point.
Not so good ... gobs of grease on the A/R bearing. I've never seen that intentionally done. What were they thinking ? Going further inside reveals a completely different grease on the internals. Red on the A/R and blue inside. Points taken off for the A/R but I'll call it even for the inside grease job as I always tear down a new reel and lube it to my liking anyhow.
Plastic worm shaft drivetrain gearing. Common these days. Note the tiny brass bushings inserted into the clutch cam spring holes in the frame. Nice touch there as those holes would get wallowed out quickly after some time likely causing engagement issues. Further disassembly reveals another pleasant surprise, a bearing on the worm shaft. Not in and of itself a big deal but I wasn't expecting that on a sub $50 reel. The other end is supported by a bushing. The quality of the machining on the shaft itself as inspected under a magnifying lamp showed it to be acceptable.
Good - brass main gear and pinion. Bad - thick paper/cardboard (?) drag washer. That needs to go !
Let's address that pitiful drag. I'm a stickler for a smooth drag. I don't care about maximum drag strength, especially on light line applications. I want it butter smooth throughout the entire range especially at startup. That's why I go through the trouble of lapping (fancy talk for flattening) the metal washers in a drag stack. I do it to all of my reels, I haven't found any yet that couldn't be improved upon regardless of make or price paid. It's tedious, time consuming and boring but you only have to do it once. Basically what you achieve is uniform and consistent contact between the metal and fiber washers at all ranges of the drag. This all but eliminates stuttering and jerky drag engagement which can lead to breakoffs, especially if a brute slams your bait out of nowhere. I'll take you through the process ...
I use 3M double sided foam tape to affix the washer to a handle of some type. This is a handle from a cheap 4 in 1 screwdriver. Note it's sitting on a combination sharpening stone. You can tape sandpaper to a piece of tile or glass or use a diamond hone. As long as it's flat it really doesn't matter.
Firmly press down on the handle and take the washer for a few laps around the stone or whatever flat abrasive surface you choose. Use a figure 8 pattern, then a few ovals, X's, etc. to mix it up. Where you see the shiny areas are the high spots where material has been removed. The dull spots are the low areas. Drag washers are stamped from sheet steel, they may look flat to the naked eye but this is proof they're not. Follow the progression from the first picture to the last to see the final result. I go one step further and polish the washer using a felt wheel and jeweler's rouge on a dremel after the lapping. This isn't necessary but still an option. Regardless of whatever you choose, thoroughly clean and dry the washer of all traces of polish or other foreign material before reassembly.
Stroke of luck here ... Smoooooth Drag has a washer in their inventory that is a direct drop in replacement (stock # 40 A) ... it is .5mm thinner than the original but that does not affect the drag adversely. The carbon fiber washer, a dab of Cal's grease and a lapped washer have transformed this sad drag into a winner. Hat's off to Smooooth Drag, they are tops in customer service
On to the spool & braking. The stock spool bearings were ditched in favor of ceramics for obvious reasons ... no need to elaborate there. The spool weighed in at 12 grams minus the bearings. Simple magnetic brake, the brake clicker knob locks in the chosen setting securely. The side plate detaches via an external latch that slightly protrudes from the bottom of the side plate. I would prefer a screw for a bit more security but there is no slop with this setup. We'll just have to see how durable this is after some time.
After a thorough cleaning, proper lubrication and a some minor component upgrades it is measurably a much better feeling reel. Weather and work schedule are keeping me from proving any gains in performance at this time but I will update this thread as I get some more time on the water with it. Overall, especially for the price point, I have to say it's fairly impressive. Is it up there with Daiwa, Shimano, Abu, etc. ? ... of course not, but like I said in the beginning don't be so quick to dismiss it either. It's a fine choice for several situations ... those on the fence about BFS, those on a budget or those perhaps looking for a workable BFS rig to keep in the car. For trout, panfish and small bass it should do very well.
The line spooled is Sufix Performance Braid 10 lb test which is .008" in diameter with a leader of 4 lb. Sufix Elite mono which also has an advertised diameter of .008". The braid is fresh and not quite broken in and softened yet which likely will affect casting distance.
Here are some of the baits thrown today ...
Here are my post 'super tune' impressions ... stated distances are guesstimations
Casting performance has drastically improved. Different baits of equal weights obviously will behave differently. The 1/8 oz. Rattle Trap was easily bombed 70'+ while the Bagley balsa of roughly the same weight had a significantly shorter, but still respectable showing at around 50'+. The plastic Bomber crank with internal rattles had a bit more distance than the Bagley, no surprise there. The longer minnow type baits did equally well.
Getting down to the single hook Nano crank and the 1/16 jighead/tube combo resulted in the shortest distances at roughly 35'. Keep in mind this is a L power rod and not a UL so I expected somewhat shorter distances on the smallest baits. Despite this and most important to me was the fact that the reel was quite capable of casting all of these without backlashing. I did have a few overuns while dialing in the brake and cast control settings in an effort to maximize the potential, but once a particular bait was dialed in the performance was consistent throughout dozens of casts. Another factor that may have had a negative influence on overall casting distance was the fact I was using a leader. In spite of the thin lines involved there still is a knot that has to make it through all of those tiny rod guides and that surely adds resistance. I have some 4 lb Sufix Advanced copolymer line on order for this reel, that will be another day of experimentation when I get that together.
The reel's braking system proved itself very capable, with noticeable differences in performance between single clicks of the brake dial. The addition of ceramic spool bearings was obviously the biggest factor in the improvement, and they are nothing more than just generic ceramics sourced from ebay, no top name brands or anything like that were used. The reel was smooth and quiet, not an earthshaking revelation after only 2 hours but a positive is a positive and I'll take that any day.
I'm well under $100 invested in the reel & the upgrades so far and I have to say I'm happy. I still need to actually catch some fish with it to present a complete evaluation, so consider this a work in progress. I'll update as time goes on.
Yeah, I would say the UL would be the better choice for what you described. My setup can do it, but most likely not as well as a UL would.DirtyD64 wrote:Great review!!! I enjoy hearing about these products, BFS is confusing to get into and great detailed information like this is gold. Thanks again. Do you think the UL powered rod would be better set for 1/16 with small plastic???
I’ll post them later tonight when I get home from work.jvang wrote:Does anyone know the spool bearing size for the XF-50? Thanks in advance.
Spool bearing 1) 5 X 11 X 4
Spool bearing 2) 3 X 10 X 4
You've inspired me to tune my XF-50, which casts well but has terrible drag. Discovered this while catching a bunch of pickerel the other day.
I've never worked on a baitcast reel and was hoping you could help me with a few pointers? Do you degrease everything first and with what? Can you recommend some lubes and note which parts they're applied to? (please don't reference where you get supplies from, unless they're a TackleTour sponsor, as I see this is now prohibited)
Or are there any online tutorials you'd recommend?
Appreciate any advice. Thanks.
PS - Doing some TT searching it looks like this may be a sensitive subject, so I'll understand if you don't want to answer.
Anyway, thanks for the write up. I’ve had a couple of the Tsurinoya reels for a while now. Believe it or not, mated with a $29 bass pro crappie maxx rod makes for a fun little combo. I need to take your advice and upgrade the drag on both of mine. Do you know if the handle knobs are removable? Or if the handle is Daiwa type, Shimano, or ??