Jigging combo for inchiku lures & small jigs!
Having used predominantly low-profile baitcast-type reels for light jigging in the past it was clear to me that this little beauty was definitely a cut above them in both feel and power. The reel has a classic jigging design but is small, weighing just 378g - yet it boasts a massive 13kg of drag. It fits around 300m of PE2 braid, and the gear ratio is 6.0.1 which produces an impressive 93cm of line retrieve per crank of the handle.
The exterior finish on the reel is superb and looks beautifully made - but it’s not until you look inside that the Hybrid’s true quality is revealed. Before pulling it apart for close inspection I put the reel through its paces on a large number of fishing adventures, both from the kayak and boat. I never really appreciated what this type of quality reel provides until my first couple of outings - where it just ate up every bit of punishment thrown its way.
The Hybrid reel is perfectly balanced and comfortable in your hand, which makes it easy to operate. The thumb bar is smooth, yet feels very positive when you’re releasing the spool to lower the jig. It also boasts a cast control system which is probably more designed around casting jigs up-current or ahead of the boat drift and offers excellent control, preventing overruns of the spool that usually cause bird nests in the line. Because the thumb is positioned across the release bar it’s easy to stop the spool, causing the jig to stall as it drops down. The retrieve ratio is nothing short of spot-on; it can be fast-cranked or used much more slowly with quarter winds, allowing you to create different actions. This certainly assists with increased hook ups, and the powerful winding into the fish also sets the hook better. Once you have a decent fish on, the drag runs super smooth - not surprising, with a good number of drag washers inside the reel. The drag is a star type system and has really nice adjustment with a clicker to help refine this. Just prior to my writing this, the reel was dismantled for further inspection; and its exterior look of quality was true of the internals, too. The reel’s main frame is one piece, machined out of aluminium - but it’s the amount of precision-machined stainless steel components that really impressed me the most.
This is a stunning piece of engineering; everything about the Maxel Hybrid 20C reel just oozes good quality.
The rod arrived a short time after the reel and I knew it would be a good match, as both are made with light jigging in mind. I was curious to check the rod out though, as Pioneer is a brand I’m not that familiar with. It was clear once the sleeve was removed that this had some nice features. Reading the tags, the rod is made using silicon carbide rings in the guides, but it’s the rating and design which really grabbed my attention. Rated for PE 1 and 2 or 5.4 to 13.6kg, the blank is designed for jigs from 60 to 150 grams. The six-foot Zion has a really nice grip configuration that allows the rod blank to bend from butt end to tip. The butt section is perfect with enough length to place under the arm: excellent for working jigs. The reel seat uses a carbon tube that screws up to secure the reel and holds it rock-solid on the rod. The guides are well-positioned and placed just right to allow even load of the rod, and the blank has a nice action.
Once out on the the tip section really impressed me, offering just the right amount of suppleness to assist with working the jig on the retrieve. It also did really well when sitting in the rod holder hooking fish all on its own, and proved strong - even holding my kayak when the jig managed to snag on the bottom! The fast action proved deadly and this meant better hook ups overall - but also the rod had enough power to lift fish away from the sea floor.
Both the rod and reel performed well, and as a combo the set proved ideal, especially for inchiku lures and jigs up to 150g. The reel was loaded with 30lb braid that is perfect for this combination and it was excellent in both shallow and deeper water - even making light work of dropping down to 70 metres. I have caught lots of kingfish and snapper on this rod and reel set, with the most memorable catch so far being an over-10kg snapper that took a 60g Octo Angler at Cuvier Island, while I was fishing on one of the deep reefs further out.
Both the rod and the reel are well made, particularly the reel. I reckon it is a standout in its class.