Shimano has a new high speed light tackle lever drag reel out called the Talica, and they sent me one to put to the test while on a jigging trip off Cape Hatteras last week. (See a picture of the 148-pounder we gaffed on the trip at http://www.boats.com/boat-content/2010/03/jigging-for-huge-bluefin-tuna/) This is one mini-mite of a dual-speed reel, with 6.2:1/4.1:1 gear ratios, and a 535-yard capacity of 50-pound Power Pro. The lever drag, freespool, and drag system are as smooth as they get – no big surprise, considering that Shimano regularly sets the bar for high-speed lever drag jigging reels these days – and when a fish starts screaming off line there’s no jerking or hesitation.
Even though I used it for jigging and it does have the speed and power necessary for that task, the Talica was designed for “fly lining” baits, essentially, casting light baits like sardines or spot to large fish in a chum slick, or around a weed paddy. Most lever drag reels are clunky to cast (to say the least) but the Talica overcomes this problem with an “aggressively” machined aluminum spool that minimizes weight. And yes, when you flick your wrist and release your thumb, this spool just keeps spinning and spinning until your bait’s splash-down. Sound good? You bet – but there’s always a trade-off. And as is the case with most delightfully smooth, light, strong lever drag reels, the Talica’s down-side is found in its price tag: the 10 just barely scoots in under the $500 mark. In a word, ouch. Then again, you usually get what you pay for. So if you need a lightweight two-speed lever drag reel that you can cast to - and then break the will of - pelagic beasts like tunas, mahi, and sailfish, the Talica is a winner.