Friday, January 21, 2011

Okuma Avenger Review

My garage is filled with different brands of rods and reels.  From bait casters, to spinning reels, to the old-school push button models that remind me of my younger (and skinnier) years, I have owned almost every notable brand.  So how is it that I have gone this long without trying out Okuma’s lineup?  Much like unicorns and leprechauns, the manufacturer Okuma successfully eluded my detection…that is until recently. 

While making the rounds (i.e. Lowe’s, Dicks Sporting Goods, Sam’s Club, etc) on a cold and rainy Saturday morning in October, one of the guys at Sportsman’s Warehouse in Columbia turned me on to the Okuma brand.  Disregarding the fact that the company’s name for some reason began to conjure up images of Sea World’s newest feature whale, I decided to hear what this “salesman” had to say.

He was an older gentleman that clearly wasn’t trying to push me into buying anything – my kind of guy.  Within three minutes I realized that he knew what he was talking about (something you won’t find in many large retail stores these days) and he even convinced me to downgrade from purchasing a competitor’s reel that cost twice as much.  Well played sir. I shelled out the very reasonable $35 for the reel and paired it with a 7’ Lite Ugly Stick.  More on that model of Ugly Stick later.  
As it turns out, Okuma has an impressive track record of quality and a loyal following.  Just looking at the craftsmanship of the model that I purchased - the Avenger AV40a - had me wondering why I hadn’t tried one of these sooner.  Six ball bearing drive system, an included extra spool, and most notably, a super smooth drag had me also questioning the price tags that came with a few of my more expensive reels.

In addition, the company’s Hydro Block water tight drag seal is designed to keep water from corroding the drag system.  Because I am almost always fishing from a kayak, my equipment tends to get much wetter than the average angler fishing from a boat.  A few of my older reels have recently gone to die in a drawer in my garage because of drag failure from corrosion.  Time will tell if the sealed drag system actually holds up. 

Back in Virginia for Thanksgiving, I had a chance to wrestle with a handful of small Chesapeake Bay rockfish using this rig.  I must say, when the bigger fish started taking line, the drag was smooth - impressively smooth.  Almost any manufacturer can get the “reeling in” part right, but there is often a sharp contrast in how most reels react when a slab starts peeling off line, especially in this price range.  The Avenger AV40 gets high marks here and everywhere else for that matter. 

My testing phase is not over yet, but considering I tend to beat my equipment like a rented mule, this product has (so far) come out on the other side.  If you are in the market for a new spinning reel, whether you fish saltwater or fresh, you might want to take a look at the Avenger series.  For the price, I challenge you to find a better reel. 

- Paul Davis

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1 comment:

  1. I have used the bigger epixor baitfeeder model
    by okuma in the surf and am a huge fan. their
    flawless drag system and smooth operation are
    hard to beat in any price range.i recently scored an avenger av 30a /ugly stik 9 footer
    and went after snakeheads in northern Virginia.
    long spot casting and hauling a 12 lb fish out
    of heavy weeds was a breeze.