Introduction –What Is "Super Tuning"? How does it improve your Baitcasting reel? Are the results of "Super Tuning" measurable or just a bunch of hype? Can I do it myself? Can I send my reel to you and get it done? These are some of the questions we will address in explaining this subject to you.
I guess a little history is in order so lets start there! I am an associate Engineer by trade and a reel repair Technician working for North Alabama Outdoors as a hobby. I am a life long fisherman, whom like many I suppose grew up using spin casting and spinning gear! I always hated Baitcasters as every time I attempted to throw one it would "Backlash" on me! I wasn't particularly thrilled with Spinning reels either, seems they would always mess up during the most inopportune time with the way they twist the line and produce their own "backlashes". They also seemed uncontrollable, as there was no true mechanical interaction preformed by a spinning reel during outcasting! One day my Dad showed me a couple key actions that one must perform in order to keep a baitcaster from backlashing when you cast it. Much to my surprise I was able to quickly master these fundamental techniques and after that I was "hooked" on baitcasters! They are amazing little machines that are far superior to spinning and spincasting reels! They do however have their limitations, especially when throwing light lures and when one has a need for a high speed line take-up. These limitations, coupled with my growing hatred of spinning reels, is what has prompted me to explore the possibilities of improvement in these little machines known as baitcasting reels.
I purchased four Shimano Curados in the mid 1990's because they were about the only high quality baitcasting reel available in left hand retrieve at that time. I am a bit of a perfectionist (which gets me a lot of eye rolling and ridicule from my fishing friends sometimes) so I began to clean and service these reels myself. I became very familiar with how the internals of these baitcasting reels worked and I noticed that whenever one of my Curados would begin to cast a little "poorly", even after a thorough cleaning and service, that adding a drop of lubricant to the spool shaft around the pinion gear would restore the castability of the reel. This experience is what started me down the road that lead to a process I now call "Super Tuning". Much time as been invested by way of experimentation and comparison to obtain the results you will read about here. In a nutshell, Super Tuning is a process whereby you do fine sanding and polishing on the vital friction points of a baitcasting reel. This causes the reel to perform to its fullest potential by reducing the resistance it has to work under during typical outcasting. The advantages to this process are many. Here is a quick list of some of the major advantages to "Super Tuning"
1) A Super Tuned baitcaster will far out distance a normal "off the shelf" baitcaster in any casting contest or real life fishing situation. A must have advantage if you fish from the back of the boat!
2) A Super Tuned baitcaster is much more controllable than a normal baitcaster as the angler can cast a lure the same distance as a normal baitcaster with much less speed input to the rod, reducing angler fatigue and giving the angler more time to thumb the spool and place the lure right were it needs to be.
3) A Super Tuned baitcaster will give consistent and linear tension adjustment throughout the entire cast control range thus eliminating the "not enough tension" to "too much tension" dilemma inherit in many baitcasting reels.
By the fall of 2000 I had collected quite a unique inventory of left hand retrieve Shimano Baitcasters, two of which were only available from Japan. The Shimano Scorpion 1001 (which is the Japanese version of the Curado 101) and the other, a Shimano Scorpion Metanium Mg left ( which is the Japanese version of the Chronarch Mg sold in this country). Both of these reels feature a Titanium coated wiffle spool and Shimano's new "SUPER FREE SYSTEM" of spool alignment as well as higher quality bearings than what are found in their American Shimano counterparts. These are fairly pricey reels but I purchased them because I had grown to appreciate quality Baitcasting reels and these were the best available in the world! I wanted to upgrade my fishing gear and get away from my "old" Curados. By this time I had pretty well perfected my "SUPER TUNING" Process so I was tearing down every new reel I purchased and "SUPER TUNING" them right out of the box! After I completed the "SUPER TUNING" process on the Scorpions I decided to conduct a little casting contest using the following reels: a Shimano SG201, Calcutta 151, Curado 201, Scorpion 1001 and the above mentioned Metanium Mg. All of these reels where "SUPER TUNED" prior to contest.
I had already picked the winner in my mind, surely the expensive Metanium would win hands down and I could finally justify getting rid of all those tired old Curados I had! But things didn't go as I thought they would! Bottom line was the old "SUPER TUNED" Curado blew the competition away, and I mean easily! I was shocked! The expensive Metanium though it cast like a dream in short to mid range distances came in fourth place behind the Calcutta 151, Sg 201 and Curado in distance casting! Theories are great till they are put to the test! Facts can be hard to take! I spent all that money on these new reels and they can't outdistance a common Curado! My mind began to search for an answer. What I found out was that the "SUPER TUNING" process had "leveled the playing field" as it were, i.e. every reel had about the same amount of friction to deal with, and that being the case then the law of physics took over! You see a Curado has more line capacity than all the other reels that it cast against, and more line capacity means more weight. A Curado spool filled with line will weight approximately 34.85 grams, whereas a Metanium Mg spool weights 21.25 grams when full, a scorpion 1001 spool full of line will weight 19.35 grams, a Calcutta 151 weights 30.95 grams. The more it weights, the harder it is to stop. i.e. the laws of mass and inertia with of course the friction factor thrown in, but if friction is equal which reel will throw the furthest? The friction factor has been eliminated by "SUPER TUNING".
At the time I performed the above mentioned contest didn't have any concrete distances to give anybody about the effects that "SUPER TUNING" has on a reel so I took a brand new Shimano Curado off the shelf and put it on a Loomis MBR 783C GL3 ( a 6'6" fairly stiff tipped rod for ¼ to ¾ oz. lures) and spooled it with 12 LB Trilene XL then put a 1/4 oz casting plug on it and took it in the lot to test it. Please note that I used the GL3 because its stiff tip is not going to "launch" the casting plug the way a softer tip rod would. I wanted the rod to have minimal impact on the results and a GL3 loaded at its minimum rating wont give the reel a lot of help in casting.
I cast each combination you will read about here over 30 times and then we averaged the distances and recorded the longest cast at each stage. New out of the box the Curado cast an average of 124 ft. With a long cast of 130 ft. Then I tore the reel down and thoroughly cleaned it, flushed the bearings and re-lubed them. (if you haven't noticed Shimano puts a LOT of grease in their reels this is for preservation purposes but it can hinder casting when it gets in the wrong place). After the cleaning we tested the Curado again, the average cast distance went to 135 feet with a long cast of 138 feet, that is an 11 foot difference just from cleaning a brand new reel!! Then I went and "SUPER TUNED" the Curado! The average distance went to 148 feet!! With a long cast of 153 feet! Wow! That's 50 yards + with a 1/4 oz weight! Super Tuning works!
I will give you the results of one more contest I performed on what are now my absolute favorite reels in the world, the Shimano Calcutta 200/250 series baitcasting reels! These are the only reels I know of that will out distance a Curado when "SUPER TUNED". I used a Calcutta 251 for this test spooling it with 12lb Pline Xtra strong and put it on a G.Loomis GL2 MBR783C rod (6'6" even stiffer tipped than a GL3) with the same ¼ oz casting plug. These Calcutta 200 series reels are amazing! Prior to the "SUPER TUNE" new out of the box the Calcutta 251's average cast distance was 128 feet with a long cast of 137 feet. After the "SUPER TUNE" my average cast distance went to 154 feet with a long cast of 163 feet! WOW again! These long casts are due to the inertia factor again as the Calcutta 200 series spools weight 39.05 grams full of line, the heaviest so far of all of the reels I have tested. SEE NOTE in conclusion about ABU GARCIA reels and their spool mass.
I wanted to see how one of these Calcutta's would throw on a rod that did give the reel a little help so I "SUPER TUNED" a Calcutta 250 and put it on a Loomis IM6 722c (6') rod with a ¼ oz casting plug and 12LB Stren. With this moderate action rod I had a long cast that pulled 168 feet of line off the spool. Can you say unbelievable! I almost didn't put that in this write up as I figured many would think I am lying, but its true."SUPER TUNING" works by greatly reducing unwanted friction letting a reel cast to its fullest potential! Let me give you an interesting chart to look at with the data I have collected concerning spool weights, it will help explain some of the long casts we are talking about here! SEE SPOOL WEIGHTS