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Forging a New Breed of Spinning Reel

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Transformative. That’s what a forge is. It’s a super-heated torture chamber for metals that softens them, reshapes them, and spits them out stronger than they could have ever been on their own. It’s a process that’s not unlike the sensation of catching a big game fish—it’s a process that Okuma is leveraging to build an all-new, forged spinning reel that will debut at ICAST 2016.

The all-new Makaira Spinning Reel is set to emerge from the forge in Orlando, and it could quickly become one of the best big game spinning reels on the market.

“It’s about design, drive, drag and durability,” says Okuma’s Director of Product Development, John Bretza. “Makaira Spinning is built 100-percent from scratch. We took every component into consideration and built it from the ground up.”

Nearly every component on Okuma’s new reel is made of forged aluminum. Nearly every component, from body to side plate and rotor, has been through the fire and the flame and emerged stronger than before. “The forge compresses more material into the same space using extreme heat and pressure,” Bretza says. “The result is better integrity for those parts, and everything is more reliable than stock aluminum, because you’re not relying on material alone—you’re enhancing its integrity.”

Okuma’s forged approach contrasts other materials in a category that typically includes weaker materials like die cast aluminum, machine cut aluminum (which is strong, but not as) and injected long strand carbon.

Carrying on a legacy

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“We’ve had so much success with the Makaira name,” Bretza says. “We knew we had to build a spinning reel that could measure up. Building a reel out of forged aluminum meant we had higher startup costs, but the results are incredible. As far as we know, there is not another reel on the market that’s all forged.”

To build the new reel, Okuma’s California-based U.S. offices worked directly with their manufacturing team in Taiwan, along with the Taiwanese government and local universities to offer a special, forged stainless steel main gear for superior strength and reduced weight. Okuma says the gear is incredibly strong, which allows it to be ported to save weight without sacrificing integrity.

Delving deeper inside the Makaira’s workings, a forged 304 grade stainless steel main gear keeps saltwater at bay in a big game reel that can output 66 pounds of drag. A 17-4 grade machine cut stainless steel pinion gear and spool shaft are designed to handle the rigors of daily work with heavy, braided line. “These are materials that nobody else is using,” says Bretza. “They’re strong. We’ve been testing it for close to two years, and the biggest fish we’ve caught on it is a 305-pound bluefin tuna.”

To haul that kind of fish in, the Makaira Spinning Reel deploys a dual force drag system with carbon drag washers that allows anglers to set up to 60 different drag levels. “There’s a silver dial on the drag knob that works exactly the same way as a lever drag. That’s something the reel inherited from the original Makaira line,” says Bretza.

To fight saltwater, every reel is put through our CRC, Corrosion Resistant Coating, process, which gives the reel an internal and external coating of Corrosion-X HD that penetrates and bonds to the reel’s metal parts. Then, each reel receives Okuma’s Hydroseal treatmeant, comprised of a series of 23 different oil-retaining gaskets or O-rings on this reel. “There’s no way for water to get in,” Bretza says.

Lofty goals

Okuma says that throughout the design process, their goal was to make the strongest spinning reel possible. “We didn’t want to have a weak point,” Bretza says. “That’s why we offer the reel in either a right hand or left hand model. We listened to our product testers, and they all said they’d rather have a reel whose strength is not compromised by reversible handle ports.”

Key Selling Points, Okuma Makaira Spinning Reel:

  • 66 pounds of drag
  • Backed by a 5 year limited warranty
  • Forged cyclonic flow rotor to promote rapid drying under spool and rotor
  • Available in right hand specific or left hand specific retrieve
  • CRC process bonds to the reel’s metal for protection against saltwater
  • Hyrdoseal comprises 23 O-rings that keep water out

Joe Sills Hi there, did you know? Each week, we curate a list of the Top 5 stories in fishing and send them right to your inbox. Reading Tackle’s Top 5 is one of the best ways to become or remain an industry expert. -Joe Sills, Digital Editor

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