Centrepin reels look and function very similarly to a fly reel, with several notable exceptions. The main exception is that the line does not have to be peeled off by hand. Instead, the reel spins freely around the ‘centre pin’, such that the sheer momentum of the casting action allows the reel to spin and the line to unspool.
- 1 Why Centerpin Reels are Unique
- 2 Centrepin Reels: Features
- 3 Choosing a Centrepin Reel
- 4 Recommended Centrepin Reels
- 4.1 Best Value Centrepin Reel
- 4.2 Best Mid-Range Centrepin Reel
- 4.3 Best Centrepin Reel That’s Not By Okuma!
- 4.4 Overall Best Centrepin Reel
Why Centerpin Reels are Unique
The free-spinning nature of these reels makes them unique, in that they allow for drag-free drifts when trotting or floating. Just set the depth and let the wind or current help you present your bait as naturally as possible. It may sound odd, but try this with any other kind of reel and you’ll see how difficult it is.
A unique feature of most centrepin reels is that they can rotate 90 degrees, into a position that is perpendicular to the rod. This can facilitate casting, and help minimise friction and interference. They can subsequently rotate back to the normal position for line retrieval. It is not absolutely necessary to use this function, as there are several different ways to cast with a centrepin, but as a feature it can be nice to have.
Centrepin reels have no mechanically assisted drag mechanism. Instead, the reel is designed to be large enough and mounted close enough to the rod that the angler can control drag by applying manual finger pressure with the thumb. Generally, thumb pressure is used to control both casting and the retrieval of hooked fish. Some anglers opt for specialised gloves to make this more comfortable, especially if targeting larger specimens or species that might make a long run.
NOTE: These reels are currently very popular amongst coarse fisherman and are routinely used for fishing the margin as well as for float rigs.
Centrepin Reels: Features
- Manual or mechanical drag system. Centrepin reels are generally designed for manual drag only. Nowadays, mechanical drag systems are available, if not common, and are usually adjustable by means of a star wheel or knob, located on the back face. Some reels give you the option to switch the drag system on/off with the flip of a lever located on the front face of the reel.
- Clicker. Used primarily during transport, this feature prevents the reel from free spinning – similar to an emergency brake on a car. Even if you’re a master at getting tangles, at least you’ll arrive at your fishing hole with your line intact. After that, it’s up to your angling skills!
- Varied construction materials. Centrepin reels may use the same materials as fly reels, and share many of the same features. They’re generally lightweight, and typically moderately priced. For aficionados there are always higher-end models, that use carbon fibre or machined aluminium, and you can always pay a lot for something unique or hand-made. (See fly reel features for more details)
- Ambidextrous handle. Given the free-wheeling spool, it is almost always possible to choose which side (left or right) the handle is placed. However, don’t assume it’s the case. Not all manufacturers offer this as an interchangeable feature – some require you to pre-determine this before fabrication.
Choosing a Centrepin Reel
Given their simplicity there isn’t much advice to offer on how choose a centrepin. As long as there are no obvious design flaws, like gaps or snags where your line may become trapped, it’s basically a matter of design, colour and personal preference.
Recommended Centrepin Reels
Best Value Centrepin Reel
Okuma Raw II Mooching & Float Reels
This nice-looking centrepin reel is a blend of coated aluminium and stainless steel shaft. As with most centrepins, its design focuses on balance. Like the Okuma Aventa above, this reel relies on good old fashioned German ball-bearing engineering, while its charcoal and burnt orange exterior make it easy on the eye.
Best Mid-Range Centrepin Reel
Okuma Aventa Centrepin Float Reel
Apparently this reel was ‘designed for maximum free spool’, which is pretty much the only reason you’d buy a centrepin in the first place. Not a bad start? It’s actually quite a simple reel – made from solid aluminium bar stock, which is said to be good ‘for precision spool alignment’. It features two stainless steel ball bearings from Germany (probably efficient then), as well as a precision machined stainless steel spool shaft – all designed to keep you free spooling until the cows come home (or until the fish get fried, as the case may be). The exposed spool rim is important, as it allows for easy rim control – a must have for ‘pinners’ – but it also comes with an on/off click ratchet for easily applying additional spool tension when desired.
If you’re a float fishing enthusiast it’s hard to go wrong, and we think this centrepin won’t leave you disappointed.
Best Centrepin Reel That’s Not By Okuma!
Islander Steelheader Float Reel – IS (apologies we can’t find this reel online at present)
In our opinion, this is one of the finest centrepin float reels on the market. It is a definite upgrade, both in terms of price and quality, from the Okuma Aventa (our other featured centrepin). However, we strongly feel you get what you pay for with this model. From its CNC precision machined parts, to the thick, anodised aerospace grade aluminium frame and spool, to the high polish stainless steel spindle – this baby was built to take a beating and still keep spinning super smooth! Plus, with a classically refined design and finish, it looks as good as it performs!
There are also some nice features that make the reel extremely user-friendly. One such feature is the ambidextrous retrieval design. With two real wood handles fixed to each side of the reel, there is no need to waste time switching from left-right. Additionally, the highly polished palming rim should provide all the surface area and friction you will ever need but there is also a clicker drag mechanism (mainly used to prevent line over run) which can easily be engaged/disengaged using the conveniently located frame side button.
The Islander is a top-of-the-line reel (no pun intended), so if you are looking to spoil the angler in your life or you simply wish to own a high quality, durable centrepin – this is the one you’re looking for!
Not currently available
Overall Best Centrepin Reel
Okuma Sheffield Float Fishing Reel
Nice-looking… machined aluminium and stainless steel shaft… two German ball-bearings… You’ve guessed it, this centrepin sounds suspiciously like the other reels from Okuma. Perhaps it’s a winning formula. Without much in the way of mechanics to go wrong, we’d guess it’s a fairly safe bet. Nevertheless, the ‘Sheffield’ appears to be one of Okuma’s favourite models.